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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CHEESE, BACON AND POTATO PIE

Everyone in my family loved this - even my oldest son who tends to look at any new food with suspicion. He peered at it closely and poked it a bit with his fork - once his initial examination was done he tried a bite, then finished his entire piece, then asked for another.
We had planned to pick out our christmas tree then go out for dinner, but it was such a drizzly, miserable evening, we decided to postpone.
Since I was cooking for an event the next day, while attempting to develop an award winning cocktail, I thought I might as well cook my family a bit of dinner too.
Not bad for a dinner thrown together at the very last second.

CHEESE, BACON AND POTATO PIE


12 ounces of turkey bacon
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fontina cheese
1 onion
1 potato
6 eggs

Heat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch pie plate.
Cut bacon into pieces, fry until well cooked and crisp, set aside.
Grate cheese and peel and finely chop onion. Peel and grate potato.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add bacon, cheese, onion and potato, stir.
Pour mixture into prepared dish, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 2005

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CHOCOLATE CAKE COCKTAIL

After date night, my husband and I decided to indulge in a night cap - I thought this cocktail would be perfect - like dessert but without the calories of a slice of chocolate cake.
The description enchanted me, declaring that "this drink, when consumed in one gulp, followed by sucking the lemon slice, produces the flavor of having just taken a bite of warm chocolate cake" (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October, 2005).
However, I completely missed any chocolate taste! It may have been because I sipped my drink rather than guzzled, or because there is nothing in the recipe that remotely resembles chocolate.

CHOCOLATE CAKE COCKTAIL


lemon slice
sugar
ice
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce Frangelico

Rub shot glass rim with lemon. Dip rim in sugar to coat. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in vodka and Frangelico. Strain into shot glass.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2005
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Monday, November 26, 2012

LEMON BASIL PIZZA

On a recent family night, we thought it would be fun to bring crusts home from the store so we could all assemble our own pizzas. The kids chose sausage, pepperoni and lots of cheese, and had a wonderful time building their own personal creations. 
Rolf and I had seen this extraordinary recipe for a pizza with lemon and basil in the morning paper, and were inspired to try it. We were intrigued by the whole lemon slices on the pizza and couldn't wait to try it.



LEMON BASIL PIZZA


pizza dough of your choice
1 lemon, very thinly sliced
4 ounces mozzarella
8 to 10 basil leaves
1/4 cup feta cheese
olive oil

Heat oven to 550F, or as high as your oven will go and keep it at that temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak lemon slices in water for 15 minutes, then pat dry.
Place pizza dough on a rimmed baking sheet and stretch, using your fingers, until it is approximately 8 inches in diameter.
Sprinkle with mozzarella. Arrange lemon slices over the cheese, then basil leaves, then sprinkle with the feta. Drizzle lightly with oil. Place in oven and bake about 12 to 15 minutes.
Then turn on broiler and broil about 30 to 60 seconds, until the crust turns golden brown.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, October 2012
online.wsj.com/.../SB1000087239639044363540457803902246042...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

APPLE ORCHARD CAKE

This Apple Orchard Cake was absolutely delicious - so good in fact, that I baked and delivered it to a friend for her birthday
I appreciated that the ingredients were few and readily available, and loved that it was quick and easy to make. The batter will be thick, but the resulting cake is wonderfully textured, moist and flavorful.

APPLE ORCHARD CAKE


1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups chopped peeled apples
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Beat the oil and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla and mix well. Fold in the apples and pecans. Pour into a greased and floured 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes longer. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares when cool.
Makes 12 servings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Add Another Place Setting, Published by the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, 2008, Page 27
https://www.juniorleaguenwa.org/?nd=store_detail...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

SOUTHERN BISCUITS

My children woke up wanting biscuits, and it seemed nothing else would do! I must admit, we often have the frozen kind on hand for a quick and easy breakfast - I'm all about convenience on those rushed weekday mornings. However, the freezer was bare of biscuits, and being a weekend, I had time to indulge my family. They were delighted when I found this Paula Deen recipe, and devoured the warm biscuits so quickly I was lucky to get a picture and a taste.

SOUTHERN BISCUITS


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 450F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to combine the dry ingredients. Add the shortening and process until the shortening is completely incorporated. Add 1/3 cup of milk and pulse four times. If the dough holds together, stop adding milk. If you need more, add a little more.
When the dough holds together, turn it onto a floured board. Roll or pat out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a 2 inch cutter. Place the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
Let cool on wire racks.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen & Friends, 2005
www.pauladeen.com/recipes/

Thursday, November 22, 2012

GLAZED BUTTERNUT SQUASH and MAPLE GINGER ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH PECANS

Thanksgiving dinner is always a shared undertaking, an array of wonderful food that we look forward to all year, and with everyone contributing, there is always time for a big family walk Thanksgiving morning. Some dishes have become a tradition, while others are tried once, never to reappear.
Both of these side dishes are ones I have made many times - it seems as soon as the weather starts to cool, I find a way to incorporate them into the menu.

GLAZED BUTTERNUT SQUASH


3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon dried sage

Stir together squash, apple cider, water, butter, sugar, salt and pepper. Place in a skillet over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and cook five minutes, or until liquid thickens and squash is tender. Gently stir in walnuts and sage until well combined.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, October 2006
www.southernliving.com/static/sitemap/996_997_1.html


MAPLE GINGER ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH PECANS


1 1/2 cups of pecans
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch dice
1 pound of brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Heat the oven to 425F.
Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant about 6 minutes. Let cool.
In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, squash and brussels sprouts with the olive oil and nutmeg and season generously with salt and black pepper. Spread the vegetables on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Scatter the pecans and ginger over the vegetables and drizzle with the maple syrup, toss well.
Continue to roast the vegetables for 25 minutes longer, until they are tender and golden. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CRANBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE

Each year at Thanksgiving, we meet up with my Husbands family. In a legacy from his parents, three families gather in three condos, and after a day filled with activities or relaxation, we meet up for dinner, hosted by a different family each night.
This year we hosted a simple meal, and finished it off with this modest crumble. The buttery topping, and scattering of sugar and orange juice highlighting the freshness of the fruit.

CRANBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE


1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
10 tablespoons butter, softened, and cut into small pieces
5 cups apples, cut into cubes
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat oven to 375F.
Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar and butter in a bowl. Using fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Combine apples and cranberries in a large bowl. Combine juice, sugar and cornstarch, pour over apple mixture. Toss well, spoon into a baking dish, sprinkle flour mixture over the top.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ORANGE CRANBERRY FLORENTINES

When I offered my thin, crunchy florentines to a friend to try, she made the comment that "Florentine" usually implies it includes spinach - after reassuring her my cookies weren't hiding anything green that could potentially get stuck in her teeth, I proceeded to look up the difference between Florentine and Florentines!
When "Florentine" is used in the name of a dish, it does indeed suggest spinach is included. This appears to originate from Florence, Italy, but stories differ on how it came about.
It would seem that these cookies have no connection to Florence, Italy - one definition has them invented by Austrian bakers, and another by Australian, with no explanation on the name - once again, the actual beginnings seem to be lost back somewhere in their obscure history.
However these cookies were baked into existence, they are a wonderful treat, and I am thankful to have discovered them on a Home Tour I recently went on with a group of friends.

ORANGE CRANBERRY FLORENTINES


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cream
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cups slivered almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup candied orange peel, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup flour
9 ounces of milk chocolate, finely chopped

Place butter, sugar, cream and honey in a medium saucepan, attach a candy thermometer to the side of pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and boil without stirring until candy thermometer registers 230F, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat, immediately add chopped almonds, candied orange peel, cranberries and flour, stir until evenly distributed. Cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon generous teaspoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 4 inches apart.
Bake until cookies spread out, bubble and are golden brown, about 16 minutes. If cookies are misshapen, use butter knife to push the irregular edges in, forming round cookies. Slide parchment paper with cookies onto racks, cool completely.
Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and heat until chocolate is melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Using a fork, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Chill to set chocolate, about 20 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2009
www.bonappetit.com/magazine/toc/december_2009_toc

Monday, November 19, 2012

GREEN BEANS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS AND DRIED CHERRY VINAIGRETTE

I have made this dish several times before, and have always loved it. We had friends over for dinner, and I thought this would fit perfectly into the menu. A delicious cheese with rustic bread, a very special, velvety soup, these green beans as a complimentary side to the roasted salmon we served, all finished off with a light and airy pavlova.
I decorated the table with parsley in different clay pots, and gave them to our guests at the end of the evening, along with homemade granola.
It was a wonderful evening, with dear friends and great conversation abounding throughout every course.


GREEN BEANS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS AND DRIED CHERRY VINAIGRETTE


1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons cooking sherry
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 pound haricots verts
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Whisk olive oil, shallots, sherry, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Stir in dried cherries.
Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and toss with vinaigrette and walnuts.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010

www.bonappetit.com/magazine/toc/november_2010_toc

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SPICY SWEET POTATO DIP

A friend had just got back from a fabulous trip to Italy, and I was so excited to see her and hear about her adventures. I took along this spicy sweet potato dip - although a little unconventional, it was rather healthy and oddly delicious, especially when spread on a warm piece of crusty bread.

SPICY SWEET POTATO DIP


2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into small chunks, and cooked
3/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
crusty bread to serve

In a food processor, combine the cooked sweet potatoes, toasted nuts, chipotle pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice, smoked paprika, cumin and olive oil.
Process until completely smooth. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately or at room temperature, with crusty bread.
Enjoy!

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CAKE

I voted for the first time in this election, and it was quite an emotional moment. I was thinking of all that had led to this point - my own personal journey and that of the people who fought for the freedom and rights we enjoy.
I definitely wanted champagne to celebrate and thought this cake would pair well with my drink of choice - it seemed right for the occasion, or maybe just an excuse to treat myself and make merry! My wonderful husband surprised me with a fabulous bottle of bubbles, and another cake! With plenty of treats to go around, there was enough "Celebration Cake"(as I named this chocolate pumpkin cake) to share with my two neighbors who had also recently become Naturalized Citizens and had the opportunity to vote for the first time.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CAKE


1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, plus one yolk

Heat oven to 375F.
Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in thirds. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Cool layers completely before icing.
FROSTING
Beat 6 ounces of softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, 2 1/4 teaspoons cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla and beat on low until well combined.
In a separate bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups cream with 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, until soft peaks are formed.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.
Spread 1 cup frosting between the two layers and using the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the cake. Chill 30 minutes, then proceed to the next step.
GLAZE
Place 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl.
Bring 1/2 cup cream to boil. Pour it over the chocolate and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, until the glaze thickens slightly. Pour the glaze onto the center of the frosted cake and smooth out to the edges to allow the glaze to drip over the sides.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2008

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EGG SALAD SANDWICH WITH DILL

I know an "egg salad sandwich" recipe must seem a little odd for this time of year - with most magazine, newspaper, television and on-line posts gearing up for the Holidays. As much as I love cooking for an occasion, I also enjoy quiet, plain food. I give my thanks for simple, quick and easy dining - and this sandwich is ideal for an effortless, uncomplicated lunch or dinner.

EGG SALAD SANDWICH WITH DILL


8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
8 slices of bread of your choice

Chop or grate the eggs. Stir in the onion, celery, mustard, vinegar, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Divide the egg salad among 4 slices of bread, place lettuce on top of egg salad and sprinkle with dill-tarragon mixture. Top with the remaining bread slices. Cut in half and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, April 2004

Monday, November 12, 2012

GORGONZOLA ROASTED PEAR CROSTINI and ASIAGO PECAN SHORTBREAD

Beautiful friends were getting married, and I always like to show my love with food. These appetizers were wonderful for the bridal shower, but would work just as well for any holiday party.
There is something so appealing about soft cheese, roasted pear, and a drizzle of honey! Although my shortbread came out crumbly, the pieces I did manage to salvage were tasty - next time I will make sure to follow the recipe, and refrigerate it for more than a couple of hours, and maybe add a little extra butter to the mix.

GORGONZOLA ROASTED PEAR CROSTINI


3 pears, cut into wedges
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 tablespoons sherry
french bread baguette slices, toasted
1/2 cup finely chopped, roasted pecans
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup honey

Heat oven to 350F.
Roast pear wedges, 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
Stir together cream cheese, blue cheese, butter, creme fraiche and sherry. Spread about 1 tablespoon on each baguette slice. Top with 1 slice of grilled pear, sprinkle with pecans and rosemary and drizzle with honey.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011
www.southernliving.com › Food › Recipes

ASIAGO PECAN SHORTBREAD


2 cups shredded asiago cheese
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Beat cheese, butter and red pepper at medium speed with an electric stand mixer, until blended.
Gradually add flour, beating at low speed just until blended. Shape dough into 2 logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap, chill 8 hours.
Heat oven to 350F.
Cut logs into 1/3 inch thick rounds, and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011
www.southernliving.com › Food › Recipes

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

We invited some of my children's friends over for a play date, and I wanted to make something yummy, quick and easy for an after school snack. The bonus - I was able to use up the ripe bananas languishing in the fruit bowl.
I saw this recipe made two loaves, and I thought we would enjoy one, and give one away. However, the first loaf was finished off quickly, with the kids still wanting more! So we cut into the second loaf to keep the hunger at bay, and to fuel the fun the friends were having!

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD


1 box white cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant banana cream pudding and pie filling
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Mix all the ingredients well. Pour into two greased loaf pans.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Real Simple, November 2004
www.realsimple.com/magazine.../real-simple...2004.../index.html

Thursday, November 8, 2012

GINGER ORANGE SHORT RIBS

I made these short ribs to deliver to a friend who had recently had her own delivery. It was so much fun to plan the meal with another friend, a beautiful cook and fabulous entertainer. We dropped off dinner, drooled over the sweet, adorable baby, visited and enjoyed a glass of wine with our gracious, impromptu hostess.
I love that these cook slowly all day, resulting in a tender, fall off the bone delicious dish. It is wonderful to smell their enticing aroma, and the ginger and orange flavors are subtle but delectable.
Quick and easy enough for a weeknight family dinner, but elegant enough for entertaining.

GINGER ORANGE SHORT RIBS


4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs
3 medium leeks, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sherry
1/4 cup beef broth
peel of 1 orange, in 1 inch strips
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Place ribs on a broiler pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 10 minutes or until browned.
Place leeks in a slow cooker. Place ribs on top of leeks. Add garlic and ginger. Combine sherry, beef broth, orange juice, soy sauce and sugar. Pour over ribs in cooker. Cover, cook on low heat for 11 to 12 hours, or on high heat for 5 to 6 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer ribs and leeks to platter, sprinkle ribs with cilantro.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, March 2012
www.bhg.com › Food › Recipes from the Magazine

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

APPLE PIE SALAD WITH BROWN BUTTER VINAIGRETTE

I was very intrigued by both of these recipes - the interesting assortment of ingredients, the streusel on the Apple Pie salad and the roasted grapes in the Insalata Rustica.
I loved the flavors in these two salads, delectable, delightful and perfect for this time of year - apples, pumpkin seeds, brown butter, pears and cherries.

APPLE PIE SALAD WITH BROWN BUTTER VINAIGRETTE


STREUSEL
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
SALAD
1 head of lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces, or salad greens of your choice
1 apple, cored and sliced thin
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

STREUSEL
Heat oven to 350F.
Combine the flour, pumpkin seeds, oats, brown sugar, salt and butter (cut into small pieces) in a small bowl. Use your fingers to blend the ingredients, until you're left with large crumbles.
Spread the streusel on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool slightly.
VINAIGRETTE
Melt 1/4 cup butter n a small pan over low heat. When the foaming has subsided and the butter has started to brown, add the shallot and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in lemon juice, thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.
SALAD
Toss the lettuce, apple and feta with a few tablespoons of the brown butter vinaigrette. Add dressing as needed until leaves are nicely coated. Sprinkle with the streusel (I also added a little cinnamon on top).
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2011
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/


INSALATA RUSTICA


1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ounces proscuitto, chopped
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes
1/2 cup cherries, pitted
salad greens
2 pears, cored and chopped
balsamic glaze or aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces parmesan cheese, sliced

Heat oven to 350F.
Whisk 1/4 cup oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. 
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add proscuitto and sauté until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Toss grapes with 1 tablespoon of oil, place on baking sheet, roast until grapes begin to shrivel, about 15 minutes. Cool grapes on the baking sheet.
Mix greens, pears, dressing, proscuitto, grapes and cherries in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates, drizzle with vinegar, sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2008

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PUMPKIN CHEDDAR MUFFINS and ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHOCOLATE MUFFINS and BUTTERY ROSEMARY ORANGE SHORTBREAD

It was such a pleasure to welcome Wendy and Phil from CitiScapes Magazine into my home and kitchen, both so lovely, gracious and fun! We spent a wonderful afternoon centered around food - cooking, tasting, talking and photographing. 
I wanted to feel confident during the interview, so chose a recipe that I have made many times before, always with great results. The Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins came together quickly and easily, and are always delicious. I was able to make the Butternut Squash muffins and Rosemary Orange shortbread in advance, so if they didn't turn out, it was ok, and it really just came down to the fact that I was so excited and privileged to spend time with these two fabulous people.


PUMPKIN CHEDDAR MUFFINS


STREUSEL TOPPING
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (optional)
MUFFINS
1 cup flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin
1/4 cup chopped canned green chiles

Heat oven to 400F.
To prepare the streusel, combine butter and flour with your fingers or a pastry blender, until crumbly. Add cheese, brown sugar and cayenne. Stir in pumpkin seeds if using.
Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine egg, buttermilk, sugar, butter and pumpkin, whisk well. Stir into flour mixture. Add green chiles and stir gently. Spoon into muffin cups. Sprinkle streusel topping over each muffin.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine
relish.com/articles/pumpkin-cheddar-muffins/


ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHOCOLATE MUFFINS


CAKE
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 pound butternut squash, roasted, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 chocolate kisses, unwrapped
FROSTING
12 ounces chocolate, chopped
14 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on low, beat in eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl between additions. Add butternut squash, milk and vanilla. Beat on low just until combined.
Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full with batter. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Gently press kisses about halfway into each cup. Bake 14 minutes more or until tops spring back when touched. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely on wire rack.
For frosting, melt chocolate in saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes, with an electric mixer on low, beat chocolate for 30 seconds. Beat in butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Add sugar, beat until smooth. Spread over tops of cupcakes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, November 2011


BUTTERY ROSEMARY ORANGE SHORTBREAD


1 cup butter, chilled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg white
sugar for sprinkling

Combine butter, rosemary, orange zest and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until ingredients are combined and butter is very smooth.
Add salt and flour until a cohesive dough forms, but do not over mix.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured board, and press it into a smooth rectangle.
Roll dough into a 1/2 inch high rectangle, and cut into bars.
Transfer bars to as cookie sheet. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Brush bars with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
Heat oven to 350F.
Bake bars until they are light brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, July 2002

Monday, November 5, 2012

SPIRITED SHRIMP COCKTAIL and POTATO CHEESE MUFFINS WITH PORK AND CINNAMON PLUM CHUTNEY and WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKES WITH PATRON XO CAFE CARAMEL SAUCE and BACON TEQUILA TRUFFLES

I had a lot of fun cooking for the Arkansas game this past weekend. Being from New Zealand, I don't know much about Football, but I know I love the Tailgating!! I have recently discovered Patron XO Cafe - absolutely divine - and wanted to incorporate it into my recipes, along with the time-honored Patron Silver. The inclusion of these definitely added depth and deliciousness to the fare.
I easily could have removed the shrimp from the SPIRITED SHRIMP COCKTAIL, added a little more Patron Silver, and been left with a very respectable and tasty Bloody Mary - and I loved, loved, loved the BACON PATRON XO CAFE TRUFFLES - the clever combination of bacon and chocolate with a hint of coffee - perfect any time of day, but they seemed especially fitting for a morning gathering.
In the words of a wonderful friend of mine, after trying these treats at a recent Social Media social my husband and I hosted, "I will now want all my party foods to have Patron in them!". Thanks Whitney, I couldn't have said it better myself!

SPIRITED SHRIMP COCKTAIL


FOR THE SHRIMP
24 shrimp
1 heaping tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup Patron Silver
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
zest of 1 orange
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups ketchup
1 serrano chili, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
FOR THE GARNISH
1 avocado
1 cup popped popcorn
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

FOR THE SHRIMP
Add seasoning to a pot of boiling water, reduce heat to a simmer.
Add shrimp and cook until they just begin to turn pink, 30 to 45 seconds.
Cool shrimp in refrigerator, peel and devein.
FOR THE SAUCE
Mix all ingredients together, chill until needed.
FOR THE GARNISH
To serve, mix cooked shrimp with sauce. Place shrimp in a glass, spoon extra sauce over, then top with a little avocado, popcorn and cilantro if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, June 2012
online.wsj.com/.../SB1000142405270230367400457743455074201...

POTATO CHEESE MUFFINS WITH PORK AND CINNAMON PLUM CHUTNEY


FOR THE MUFFINS
3/4 cup peeled, cooked and mashed potatoes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
2/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

Heat oven to 375F.
Place paper liners into 24 cups of a mini muffin pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes with buttermilk, egg, salt and sugar. Add the flour and baking soda, and mix just until combined. Fold in butter, Herbs de Provence and cheese.
Fill each paper cup 3/4 full of batter. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

FOR THE PORK
3 pound pork tenderloin
18 ounce bottle barbecue sauce
12 ounce can Dr Pepper

Place tenderloin in a lightly greased slow cooker, pour barbecue sauce and Dr Pepper over the top. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours or until meat is tender. Transfer pork to a cutting board, shred or slice.

FOR THE CINNAMON PLUM CHUTNEY
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 pounds ripe plums, pitted and diced
1 cup golden brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 onion, diced
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons Patron

Stir mustard seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until seeds darken slightly and begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to a saucepan. Add plums, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, cinnamon sticks and salt. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until liquid is thick and syrupy and mixture is reduced, stirring frequently, about 55 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Mix in Patron.

TO ASSEMBLE
Split the muffins horizontally, spread with plum chutney and fill with pork.
Enjoy!

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKES WITH PATRON XO CAFE CARAMEL SAUCE


300 grams brown sugar
200 grams butter
225 ml cream
4 tablespoons Patron Cafe xo
Filo pastry cases
360 grams white chocolate
250 grams cream cheese
250 grams creme fraiche or sour cream
200 grams Russian fudge, diced

To make caramel sauce, simmer together the sugar, 150 grams of the butter and the cream in a saucepan for 5 minutes, then cool. Add Patron Cafe xo and stir well.
Break up chocolate and put into an oiled microwave dish, microwave for 2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals, until just melted. Process the cream cheese and creme fraiche in a food processor. When smooth add the melted chocolate, until just combined. Transfer to a bowl, add the fudge and mix.
Place a teaspoonful of the cheesecake mixture into the pastry cases. Drizzle with a teaspoonful of the caramel sauce.
Enjoy!

BACON TEQUILA TRUFFLES


2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
6 thick bacon slices, cooked
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons Patron xo cafe
8 ounces chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon shortening

Process sugar, salt, peanuts and bacon in a food processor 20 to 30 seconds, or until finely ground. Stir together bacon mixture, peanut butter and Patron cafe xo in a small bowl until smooth. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Shape teaspoonfuls of bacon mixture into balls. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, chill for 1 hour.
Microwave chocolate and shortening for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals. Dip truffles into chocolate mixture then place on a cooking rack. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, March 2011
www.southernliving.com › Food › Entertaining

Sunday, November 4, 2012

SPICED PUMPKIN AND BROWN SUGAR GRANOLA

I recently had friends over for brunch and made this wonderful granola for them to take home as a party favor. I have tried making granola many times before, but never with much success. However, this recipe was very easy to follow and turned out beautifully. The fabulous combination of flavors would make a delicious gift for friends or family, or just a great gift to yourself. I packaged mine in clear plastic gift bags, tied with raffia ribbon and with labels I found at the incredible local store Shindig Paperie  shindigpaperie.com/ - delightful!

SPICED PUMPKIN AND BROWN SUGAR GRANOLA


3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 cup pistachios
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 325F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and salt. Add oats, pecans, pistachios and toss to coat. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, stirring half way through. Stir in raisins and cranberries and continue baking until oats are just crisp, about 15 minutes more. Stir one last time, then set aside to cool completely. When hard, break into chunks and store in an airtight container.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from O Magazine, December 2010
www.oprah.com/food/Spiced-Pumpkin-and-Brown-Sugar-Granola

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE POTS de CREME and LEFTOVER HALLOWEEN CANDY COOKIES

Does all the candy gathered from Trick-or-Treating seem a little overwhelming?
The kids received a huge amount this year, but I learned today there are a few options to dispose of the candy, that doesn't involve me methodically eating my way through it! I was at the Dentist for my routine check up and discovered they have a program to buy back candy! My kids would get $2 for every pound, and then the sweet treats are sent to the troops overseas - how awesome is that!! Way to go Dr Kifer (479-521-2002) - all 3 kids are very excited to trade in their candy haul for cash.
Another great way to reduce the candy stash, is to cook with it - I found a couple of recipes that allowed me to dig in to our kids candy guilt free. The Pots de Creme were absolutely delicious , and the cookies were a big hit at the party I took them to!

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE POTS de CREME


1 cup cream
3/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 egg yolks
5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed chocolate toffee candies

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine the cream, half and half, sugar and vanilla bean in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat just until bubbles form around the edges.
Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk. Add a little of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks and whisk again, then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan of hot cream. Add chocolate chips, let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.
Pour mixture into 6 ramekins. Divide crushed candies between ramekins.
Place ramekins in a large baking pan. Fill the pan with hot water to the same height as the mixture in the ramekins. Cover with foil, bake until set, about 35 minutes. Remove ramekins from the pan and let cool at room temperature for about an hour. Then refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2011
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

LEFTOVER HALLOWEEN CANDY COOKIES


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
2 to 3 cups chopped chocolate candy bars

Heat the oven to 350F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, as the melted candy can be very sticky.
Cream butter and sugars together, then beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. Add vanilla, then the baking soda and flour. Stir in the remaining ingredients with a spoon.
Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2009