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Thursday, January 31, 2013

SPICED BLOOD ORANGE SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND GLAZED WALNUTS and TARRAGON CHICKEN and CHOCOLATE POTS DE CREME WITH MAPLE CARAMEL AND SALT

Our babysitter, and friend, and her husband wanted to talk to my husband, a long time entrepreneur about starting their own business.
I invited them for a casual week night dinner, and put the kids to bed so we could sit, have a conversation, trade ideas, and dine in peace.
Their Boot Camp begins this Monday, February the 4th (https://www.facebook.com/fulloutfitness), and I cannot wait to get started!! I have rarely felt a hunger pang since before the holidays, and have been achieving the bare minimum of exercise - I am ready to get back to my healthier lifestyle. 
I had so much fun planning our dinner. I found blood oranges in the store, and I wanted to use them in place of regular oranges because they were a little more special. The Tarragon Chicken was wonderfully tender, and the sauce was absolutely delicious - I was literally spooning it up straight out of the pot (are you starting to see why I might need a little diet and exercise in my life). My Pots de Creme ended up being more like chocolate soup than pudding consistency, but I enjoyed the addition of the maple caramel and salt so much, I hardly noticed.
I am definitely ready to get started full on at Full Out Fitness, and burn off some of my indulgence.

SPICED BLOOD ORANGE SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND GLAZED WALNUTS


6 blood oranges
6 cups greens
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 package roasted and glazed walnut pieces

Peel oranges and cut into sections. Arrange greens on serving plate, top with orange segments.
Whisk together oil, vinegar, chives, brown sugar, ginger and salt, drizzle over salad.
Sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts.
Enjoy!

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

TARRAGON CHICKEN


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth
salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried tarragon, or 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped, divided use
1/3 cup cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Pour the broth into a slow cooker. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and top with the mustard. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and top with the garlic and 1 tablespoon of dried tarragon. Cover and cook on high heat, until the chicken is tender and a thermometer registers 165F. About 5 hours.
Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Strain the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the cream and cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan and cook until the sauce is thickened, stir in the lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, parsley and 1 tablespoon of tarragon. Top the chicken with the zest-herb mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine, October 2011
www.rachaelraymag.com › Recipes

CHOCOLATE POTS DE CREME WITH MAPLE CARAMEL AND SALT


2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup cream
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
4 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
flaky salt, for garnish

Heat oven to 325, set 4 ramekins in a baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until pale. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and milk to a boil. Off the heat, whisk in the chocolates, then the yolk mixture.
Pour the custard into the ramekins. Add enough hot water to the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil and bake for 22 minutes, until the pots de creme are almost set, but still slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In a small saucepan, cook the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the water over moderate heat until an amber caramel forms, 6 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup.
Pour the warm caramel over the chilled pots de creme. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of salt and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2010
www.foodandwine.com/.../chocolate-pots-de-creme-with-maple-cara...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WARM OLIVE SAUTE and WARM PIQUILLO CRAB DIP

We've not been the best of neighbors in the 11 years that we have lived in this house. Oh nothing awful like loud parties at all hours, hurling trash over the fence or having broken down cars on the front lawn, but we definitely haven't reached out as much as I think we should have.
We finally made a time to invite the wonderful people that surround us, both new and established, for an informal Happy Hour, and what a fabulous hour (or more) it was. 
It was fabulous even though my youngest sampled a "grape" - which was actually a very spicy olive from the warm olive saute - that not only burned his mouth and throat, but also his eyes which he had rubbed with his spice speckled fingers. It was fabulous even through my attempt to be a gracious hostess while rinsing eyes out with water and calming a wailing child, because at the end of it all, I simply remembered the warmth and joy of spending time with our neighbors.

WARM OLIVE SAUTE 


Saute peel from 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, in 1/3 cup of hot olive oil in a skillet, for 1 minute. 
Add 1 1/2 cups mixed olives, 10 peppadew peppers, 1 cored and sliced fennel bulb and 1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted almonds.
Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until fennel is crisp tender.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2009

WARM PIQUILLO CRAB DIP


1 pound lump crab, picked over
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup manchego cheese, shredded
9 ounces of piquillo peppers, drained and cut into strips

Heat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, parsley, chives, mustard, lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the manchego cheese. Spread the crab mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and top with the piquillos. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the dip is warmed through.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, September 2008
www.foodandwine.com/monthly/september-2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

JERK CHICKEN

My husband and I took a very quick trip to Jamaica, work for him, pleasure for me. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which was fun, although a bit bland. So we attempted to venture out briefly one morning during a lull in seminars, but it was too early for things to be open. It was disappointing to miss out on authentic local food, but strolling the streets, we definitely experienced a little local flavor.
We arrived home with scarcely a souvenir for the kids, but we were able to give them a taste of the Caribbean at the dinner table, transporting them across the ocean with this delicious Jerk Chicken. Even my picky Son enjoyed this tasty dish and went back for seconds.

JERK CHICKEN


1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup shallots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 garlic cloves
1 serrano chile, stemmed and roughly diced
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper

Combine green onions, shallots, brown sugar, lime juice, olive oil, allspice, garlic and serrano chile in a food processor, process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the onion mixture and the chicken in a medium bowl, toss well. Let marinate 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350F.
Place chicken in a lightly greased dish, bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Enjoy!

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

During one of my many visits to Crystal Bridges, I dined in their wonderful restaurant, Eleven, then, allowed my guest to leisurely enjoy the magnificent art collection, while I retired to a comfy chair to lose myself in my book.
However, through the din, I distinctly overheard several different people ask what a "smoothie" was, after they read the nearby coffee bar menu. I was rather surprised, and wondered if Smoothies were a relatively new development. Upon researching the history of this blended beverage, I learned that they were originally sold in Health Food stores in the 1930's, inspired by concoctions from Brazil, and, it would seem, increased in popularity throughout the decades in direct relation to an emphasis on healthy eating (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoothie).
My Daughter loved this Chocolate Peanut Butter version, and by adding skim milk and fat free Greek yogurt in combination with the fruits, it stays true to its healthy origins.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE


1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 frozen sliced ripe banana (I would recommend peeling and slicing before freezing)
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, process until smooth.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, July 2003
www.cookinglight.com/static/pdfs/2003annualindex.pdf

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH BROCCOLI PUREE

From the moment I read the words "The angel hair pasta soaks up all the sauce and it becomes really creamy." I knew this was a recipe I had to try. It sounded healthy but decadent - perfect.
Although I felt it lacked something in flavor and taste, I still find myself longing for a big bowl of it.
It was an easy recipe to follow, and quick to cook, which was very much appreciated as I was having a wonderful chat with my sister in law in New Zealand, and I was more focused on my conversation than what I was making. Also, the boys both had karate until late - so we needed to walk in the door and sit down for dinner.

ANGEL HAIR PASTA WITH BROCCOLI PUREE


3 cups chicken stock
1 head broccoli, including stalk, roughly chopped (about 3 loosely packed cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 clove garlic
2 egg yolks
salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound angel hair pasta

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring stock to a boil. Add broccoli and cook until stalks are fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer stock and broccoli to a blender (or use an immersion blender), add cheese and garlic. Blend until combined. Adding one egg yolk at a time, pulse until mixture is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer back to a medium size saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until just pliant - about 30 seconds to one minute - then transfer immediately to the simmering sauce.
Finish cooking pasta in sauce over medium heat until the pasta is al dente and sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.  Serve with extra Parmesan.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Wall Street Journal, May 2012
online.wsj.com/.../SB1000142405270230391690457737600185884...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

BOURBON CHOCOLATE CHUNK PIE

My husbands birthday falls as December is drawing to a close, and as we happened to be out of town for his most recent one, I wasn't able to bake him a cake. I always feel like he gets a bit cheated with all the festivities and creativity being exhausted during Christmas and for the upcoming New Year, so to acknowledge his special day and how special he is, I wanted to bake a cake for him our very first night back.
However, we were out of butter, and as my purse had been stolen during our travels, I had no cash, credit card or check book with which to purchase any. Rolf was at work, and I wanted to surprise him with the birthday treat, so cake turned into pie - no butter needed.
This bourbon delight came highly recommended. Kat Robinson, who is passionate about pie and did extensive research all over Arkansas, for her book "Arkansas Pie", (www.arkansaspie.com) said this slice was her favorite, and I loved that it's from the Greenhouse Grille, right here in Fayetteville. I left out the pecans, and unintentionally overcooked it, as I became distracted taking down the Christmas tree. Thankfully it still tasted wonderful. I especially loved the subtle taste of the bourbon and the delightful burst of sweetness when encountering a chunk of chocolate.

BOURBON CHOCOLATE CHUNK PIE


6 eggs
2 cups corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cup bourbon
5 ounces chocolate chunks
2 pie crusts, blind baked

Heat oven to 350F.
Beat eggs until smooth. Slowly add syrup and brown sugar. Pour in bourbon and mix thoroughly.
Place chocolate chunks across bottom of pie shells. Pour batter over the chocolate.
Place on sheet pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until center is firm.
Makes two pies.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Northwest Arkansas Times, December 2012
www.nwaonline.com/life/

Monday, January 21, 2013

SHORTBREAD

A friend invited us to an after school play date. It was an absolutely fabulous group of Mums and kids, and a super fun and wonderful gathering. We all brought refreshments to share, and since I was craving shortbread, I made a batch to contribute.
It was a basic recipe with the familiar buttery, rich shortbread taste.

SHORTBREAD


1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 350F.
Cream butter, then add sugar gradually, beating well.
Combine flour, salt and baking powder, add to butter mixture, combining thoroughly.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rectangles and place on cookie sheets. Prick each cookie several times with fork tines. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cookies turn lightly brown at edges.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, December 2004

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BREAKFAST PUDDING and HAM AND EGG BRUNCH

Here are a couple of breakfast dishes I made for my family over the holidays. They were both absolutely wonderful, and would be great for breakfast, brunch or lunch - paired with fruit or a simple green salad - perfect.

HAM AND EGG BRUNCH


2 1/2 cups cooked diced ham
5 hard boiled eggs, quartered
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of hot, buttered English muffins
dash of paprika
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

Gently heat ham and eggs in a heavy skillet. Blend cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta cheese in a separate bowl, add to the skillet and mix. Heat on low 2 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle over hot muffins. Sprinkle tops with paprika and parsley, and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Invitation Tupelo, December 2012/January 2013
www.invitationtupelo.com/

BREAKFAST PUDDING


16 slices of home made style bread
8 slices ham
8 slices aged cheddar cheese
6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon worcester sauce
dash of tabasco

Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
Trim crusts off 8 slices of bread and layer in bottom of pan, then add one layer of ham and one layer of cheese.
Trim crusts off remaining bread and layer on top of cheese. Beat eggs with milk, stir in onion, pepper, worcester sauce, mustard, tabasco and chopped peppers.
Pour evenly over bread and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Next day, bake in a 350F degree oven for 1 hour, or until brown, and set in the middle. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Breakfast for a Christmas Day by Sheila Laird

Saturday, January 19, 2013

LEAFY GREENS, APPLES AND ALMONDS WITH TARRAGON DRESSING and BACON WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CARAMELIZED LEEKS AND ROASTED VEGETABLES and CRANBERRY ORANGE BARS

A friend was not feeling well through the first part of December - no time is a good time to be sick, but it seems that the holidays are a particularly cruel time to be confined to the bed.
Although I wanted to snap my fingers (or even drive over and actually do it myself) and have her tree put up, presents bought and wrapped and all Christmas baking done, the only offer she would accept was to allow me to cook her and her family dinner.
Along with the salad, pork tenderloin and cranberry orange bars, I also included a cheese and relish appetizer and a bottle of wine for her and her husband for when she was feeling better.
I have made all of these dishes since, and they have been enjoyed immensely every time. Each course comes together quickly and is elegant and tasty - perfect for any occasion.

LEAFY GREENS, APPLES AND ALMONDS WITH TARRAGON DRESSING


4 cups torn romaine and red leaf lettuce, or leafy greens of your choice
2 apples, cored and diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped smoke flavored almonds
Tarragon Dressing (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, combine greens and apples. Toss lightly, sprinkle with almonds.
Prepare tarragon dressing. Serve salad at once, passing dressing separately at the table.

TARRAGON DRESSING

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of half a lemon

In a medium bowl, mix vinegar, mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper, and shallot. Using a whisk, slowly and gradually beat in oil until dressing thickens. Add lemon juice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2008

BACON WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CARAMELIZED LEEKS AND ROASTED VEGETABLES


1/2 pound potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 cup carrots, sliced
2 generous handfuls brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided use
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
4 leeks. trimmed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup beer
5 slices thick cut bacon
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)

Heat oven to 350F.
In a baking dish, combine potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts and about 1 clove of the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, cut each leek into half lengthwise, then cut into thin half circles. Place sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water and let stand for 5 minutes, to allow any dirt or grit to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Heat butter in a small skillet until foamy. Using a slotted spoon, remove leeks from water, squeezing out excess water. Add leeks to butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes, Stir in remaining garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in beer, increase heat to medium-high and simmer 5 minutes. Season with ground black pepper, set aside.
Wrap pork tenderloin in bacon (it may take more than the recipe states to cover your tenderloin). Spoon leek mixture into a small roasting dish. Arrange bacon wrapped tenderloin over leek mixture and roast until internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees, about 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve pork with roasted vegetables.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 2012
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

CRANBERRY ORANGE BARS


8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350F.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange peel, cranberries and powdered sugar. Then stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Spread and pat the dough into an ungreased 8-inch baking pan. Bake until the bars are golden and firm at the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack for 2 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into 16 squares. Let the bars cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing them with a small spatula.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Northwest Arkansas Times, December 1999



Friday, January 18, 2013

CHALLAH FRENCH TOAST

One of the the very best Christmas gifts we received this year was a loaf of Challah bread, with a recipe attached.
I was able to rise out of the flurry of wrapping paper and ribbon for long enough to make this incredible Challah French Toast for my family one morning.
The subtle eggy sweetness of the bread really enhanced this dish, and made for an absolutely delicious breakfast. My children could not get enough of it, in fact my youngest son proclaimed it was something he wanted to eat every day, and although I don't usually care for French Toast - this was truly the best I have ever tried!! I also could eat it every day!!

CHALLAH FRENCH TOAST




1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
use 3/4 inch thick, day old bread

Heat skillet.
Beat egg, whisk in butter then milk and vanilla and finally sugar, salt and flour. Whisk until well blended.
Soak bread 30 seconds per side. Let the excess drip off.
Swirl 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet, cook bread for 1 minute and 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the other side.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

VANILLA BUTTERCAKE WITH BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

My daughters riding instructor is undergoing treatment for cancer - an incredibly strong and brave lady - she has barely missed a day.
I had taken food out to the lessons a few times, and when I most recently asked her what she was craving, she mentioned vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream frosting - so I searched through my recipes and baked up a batch of cupcakes. Although I found the cake to be a little on the dry side, the frosting was perfectly luscious - thick and rich and creamy.

VANILLA BUTTERCAKE


6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self rising flour
3 tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper baking cups.
Beat butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler color.
Divide mixture among baking cups, smooth surface.
Bake cakes for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack to cool.
Make butter cream frosting, spread frosting over cakes.

BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Beat butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, beat in vanilla and powdered sugar and milk.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cupcakes, Pamela Clark, 2007

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SAUSAGE MINESTRONE and SMASHED PUMPKIN SOUP WITH MASCARPONE and CHICKPEA AND ROSEMARY SOUP and TOMATO WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH PESTO and CREAMY CAULIFLOWER CHOWDER WITH SWISS CHEESE

There was a light flurry of snow outside my window this morning, and I was very excited - I love the feeling of warmth and coziness it brings (when I am able to be inside) and the sense of anticipation that our everyday world may soon be covered in a crisp, clean, very cold, white blanket.
The cold weather also turns my thoughts toward one of my cherished comfort foods - soup.
This is often a dish I will make on a Monday night - after a weekend full of rich food and excessive cooking, I love the simplicity of one pan cooking - all of the ingredients thrown in together and allowed to merge and blend into one delicious, flavorful bowl.

SAUSAGE MINESTRONE


8 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 zucchini, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
half of a cauliflower, chopped
1 cup small pasta, such as macaroni
grated parmesan cheese

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausages and break up, fry until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
Drain fat from skillet. Fry onions, carrots, celery, garlic, oregano and salt, stirring until onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker.
Add beans, 5 cups of water, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and bay leaf to slow cooker. Stir gently, cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.
Add zucchini and parsley. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower and pasta for 6 to 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm. Drain and add to slow cooker.
Serve with cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Canadian Living
www.canadianliving.com/food/sausage_minestrone.php - Canada

SMASHED PUMPKIN SOUP WITH MASCARPONE


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese

In a medium pot set over low heat, heat the olive oil with the garlic and fennel seeds. Stir often, until seeds are fragrant about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in squash and potatoes. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking that the vegetables are just submerged.
Once vegetables are tender, remove pot from the heat and mash with a potato masher. The soup should be thick and creamy.
Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with shaved parmesan and a dollop of mascarpone cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, January 2011
online.wsj.com/.../SB1000142405274870339660457608818297639...

CHICKPEA AND ROSEMARY SOUP


3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon
salt

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, let cool slightly.
Blend with an immersion blender until just smooth. Stir lemon juice and salt into soup to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from O Magazine, September 2005
www.oprah.com/food/Chickpea-and-Rosemary-Soup

TOMATO WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH PESTO


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock (add more if you like a thinner style soup)
1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 packed cups fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and garlic, cook, stirring until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add wine, stir to scrape brown bits of bottom of pot. Add stock, beans, tomatoes, bay leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, until carrots are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a blender, puree basil, walnuts, black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of water and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
Remove bay leaves from soup, discard. Use an immersion blender to puree soup.
Divide soup among 4 bowls, dollop each with 1/4 of the pesto, and swirl in.
Enjoy!

CREAMY CAULIFLOWER CHOWDER WITH SWISS CHEESE


1/2 stick butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
10 ounces swiss cheese, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound of cauliflower florets

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large stockpot.
Add the onion, celery and carrots, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 cup water, broth and half and half.
Heat to a simmer, but do not boil.
Add the pepper, curry powder and cheese and heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese melts.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining water. Add to the soup and increase heat to medium. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, or until thickened.
Add the cauliflower, and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, May 2004

Sunday, January 13, 2013

INSALATA RUSTICA

This is a wonderful cool weather salad, with a yummy and interesting assortment of ingredients and flavors that come together perfectly. I was especially intrigued by the roasting of the grapes, and was excited to try the recipe.
I first made this for my Uncle, when he was visiting in the Fall, and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and each others company. It's too cold to dine Al Fresco in Fayetteville in January, but thankfully I have the warmth of wonderful memories and the mantle of good food to keep me warm.

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 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

Saturday, January 12, 2013

MORTADELLA AND EGG SANDWICH

Oh my goodness - this sandwich is absolutely heavenly!! I had never heard of mortadella until I read about it in the newspaper - and then came across it in a local supermarket!! I bought a packet of the Italian cured sausage in anticipation of making this incredible sandwich.
We hosted a play date after school, which turned into a spontaneous dinner invitation - as my husband was working late, I wanted to keep dinner simple, and thought it would be the perfect time to try out this recipe. I promptly assembled the sandwich ingredients and got to work. Such a fabulous evening - effortless and fun!!
There were so many layers in this delightful dish, that every bite tasted just a bit different - mouthfuls of wonderful deliciousness!! I am already looking forward to making it again!

MORTADELLA AND EGG SANDWICH


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 green bell peppers
1 tomato, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices mortadella
1 onion, sliced
2 eggs
2 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices gruyere cheese
6 pickle rounds
handful of arugula

Heat oven to 350F.
Heat oil in a pan, over medium high heat. Add peppers and fry until black on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a covered bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice open. Scrape away seeds, stem and membrane.
Season tomato slices with salt and pepper.
Wipe pan clean and reduce heat to medium. Add mortadella slices and fry until crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside. Add onions, and fry until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
Crack eggs into pan. Fry until whites are just set, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Flip and cook until just sealed, about 20 seconds.
Place sliced ciabatta rolls in the oven, on the racks. Heat through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
To assemble sandwich, spread mayonnaise on each cut side of the roll, top 2 slices with mortadella, egg, cheese, onion, peppers, tomato, pickles and arugula. Top with second slice of ciabatta.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, September 2012
online.wsj.com/.../SB1000087239639044470900457764977034272...

Friday, January 11, 2013

BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

We have a new oven and I am very excited!! I wanted to do a whole kitchen remodel, and my husband was happy with the way our kitchen was, so we reached a compromise. A new appliance, a fresh coat of paint, storing the kitchen aid and microwave under the counter, removing the pot rack and adding a plush throw rug, and it seemed like a different space.
I needed to familiarize myself with the latest addition to our kitchen and I deemed it essential to make something that wouldn't upset my family too much if it went wrong. I chose an easy, dependable recipe that would be difficult to ruin and apparently I managed rather well, as my son proclaimed this Broccoli Casserole to be the best ever!!

BROCCOLI CASSEROLE


5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1 (10.75 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 12 ounce package of chopped, frozen broccoli, thawed
14 buttery round crackers, finely crushed

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion until golden.
In a bowl, mix together onion, cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup of cheese, mayonnaise, eggs, garlic powder, pepper, salt and lemon juice. Stir in the broccoli. Place in casserole dish, top with crushed crackers, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until heated through and browned on top.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
allrecipes.com/recipe/broccoli-casserole-2/

Thursday, January 10, 2013

BANANA HONEY MUFFINS and CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA SNACK CAKE

The kids started back to school last week, after the Christmas holiday. Being the first day back for 2013, I wanted to do something a little special for breakfast. Something a little different from the usual rushed bowl of cereal, or hurriedly fried egg.
We had some bruised bananas left over from our trip down to Atlanta in the RV, which may not sound too special. But once mixed with thick, rich sour cream and a little honey and orange zest, and lovingly served fresh and warm out of the oven, they were quite a wonderful school day indulgence.

BANANA HONEY MUFFINS


1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
3/4 cup ripe mashed bananas
1 cup sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
60 grams butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Heat oven to 375F.
Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin pan, or line with muffin liners.
Combine the flour, soda, sugar and orange rind in a bowl.
Combine bananas, sour cream, egg, butter and honey in a separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients all at once, mix until just combined. Spoon mixture evenly into prepared pan. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked when tested. Stand for 2 minutes, remove from pan, place on a wire rack.
Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA SNACK CAKE


1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8X8 inch baking pan, set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and salt, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beating until combined. Beat in egg until well combined. Beat in banana and vanilla until combined. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low after each addition just until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces. Spread in prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorites, 2012
www.bhg.com/recipe/layer-cakes/chocolate-chip-banana-snack-cake/

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SUNDAY ROAST CHICKEN

I will often roast a chicken at the end of a Weekend, reminiscent of the Sunday roast that was common while I was growing up. After, what seems like a constant struggle to encourage my boys to try new foods - it was a relief to be serving something the whole family was excited about. There was nothing but bones and a few greens left on the platter at the end of the meal. The kids even enjoyed the pan juices, although it could have been that they got to pour them from a gravy boat. It seldom makes an appearance, and seems rather fancy.

SUNDAY ROAST CHICKEN


2 potatoes, unpeeled, and cut into cubes
1 sweet potato or kumara, peeled and cut into cubes
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 4-pound chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups sliced mustard greens
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 400F.
Place vegetables in a large roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with olive oil.
Mix butter, sage, and garlic in a bowl. Place chicken in center of vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Using fingertips, loosen skin from breast. Spread 1 tablespoon of sage butter under skin. Rub remaining butter over entire chicken.
Roast chicken and vegetables for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F, continue roasting until thermometer inserted into chicken registers 165, and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
Place greens and shallot on a large platter. Spoon 3 tablespoons of juices from the pan, and drizzle over the greens, toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables and chicken over greens.
Add wine and water to the roasting pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a gravy boat. Serve chicken, passing pan juices alongside.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
www.bonappetit.com/.../special_sunday_roast_chic...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ROASTED PUMPKIN GUACAMOLE

After all the whirl and wonderful fun of holiday entertainingI was ready to appreciate a little simple, unembellished eating.
I was charmed by this Roasted Pumpkin Guacamole - by the twist on a familiar dish. I loved the crunch of the pumpkin seeds and the freshness of the lime juice and avocados mixed with the earthiness of the pumpkin. It was delicious with corn chips and lightly toasted bread, but would also work well as an accompaniment to fish or chicken, or tossed with salad greens.

ROASTED PUMPKIN GUACAMOLE


1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
2 avocados
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375F.
Place pumpkin on a cookie sheet, toss with half the olive oil and season with salt. Roast pumpkin about 15 minutes, until just tender. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature.
Halve the avocados, remove pits, leaving the skin intact. Cup one half at a time in palm, score flesh with paring knife in a grid. Spoon avocado flesh into bowl. Add onion, lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, remaining olive oil, cumin and pumpkin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir together.
Enjoy!

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

Saturday, January 5, 2013

BEANS AND GREENS WITH CORNBREAD CROUTONS and TORTELLINI SOUP

I wanted to use the last of a pile of greens we had, and came across these delicious recipes.
A dear friend made the tortellini soup for me a while back and I have been looking forward to making it for my family. My husband and children all loved the wonderful combination of cheesy pasta and chicken in the rich, flavorful broth, with most of us enjoying a second helping.

BEANS AND GREENS WITH CORNBREAD CROUTONS


purchased or prepared cornbread
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini or great northern beans
1 pound of collard and spinach greens, sliced
parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400F.
Cut cornbread into 1 inch cubes, place on a baking pan, heat for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
Remove from oven.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, cook onion for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Add beans and greens, cook until beans are heated through and greens are wilted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, drizzle with remaining vinegar. To serve, top with croutons and cheese.
Enjoy!

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

TORTELLINI SOUP


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can of chopped tomatoes
6 to 8 cups of chicken broth
3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 cup pesto
1 package of cheese tortellini
1 pound of spinach or swiss chard, rinsed and sliced

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat to medium and add pesto and tortellini and simmer for 5 minutes. Add greens and simmer for 5 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

CREAMY ROASTED MUSHROOM SOUP and CARAMEL CREAM PIE

My husband and I were inspired to gather a group of wonderful people together for dinner.
Two of our guests were local chefs and restaurant owners and I must admit that I felt a little nervous. However, I was excited to see our friends and to give the culinary artists a night out of the kitchen - although I did solicit their advice a time or two while cooking.
I kept the menu simple, and tried to do as much in advance as possible, knowing that a gathering is about spending time together.

CREAMY ROASTED MUSHROOM SOUP


1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
32 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup marsala
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 to 1 cup cream
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400F.
Line two baking sheets with foil. Spread mushrooms out on prepared baking sheets, drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking until mushrooms are tender and still moist, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly.
Melt butter in a large pot, add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Add marsala and simmer until almost all of the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Add broth, cream and thyme. Stir in mushrooms, puree using an immersion blender. Simmer until heated through and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2002
www.epicurious.com › recipes & menus

CARAMEL CREAM PIE


CRUST
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons butter, melted
CARAMEL PUDDING
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
CRISPY RICE
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
whipped cream for serving

MAKE THE CRUST
Mix together the almond flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter, until evenly moistened.
Press the crumbs over the bottom of 8 to 10 individual serving dishes.
MAKE THE CARAMEL PUDDING
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, gently swirling the pan until the sugar dissolves. Cook over moderate heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully add 1 cup of the milk, then cook over moderately low heat, whisking gently, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
In a small glass bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the vanilla, sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand until softened. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the remaining 2 3/4 cups of milk with the cornstarch and salt. Pour the milk mixture into the caramel and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Return the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened once again, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the gelatin mixture.
Gently divide the caramel pudding evenly over the crust. Press plastic on top of the puddings and refrigerate overnight.
MAKE THE RICE TOPPING
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over moderately high heat. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer undisturbed until a deep amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the salt and rice cereal. Scrape the caramelized cereal onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool for 30 minutes, until it is hardened.
Break the crispy rice into pieces, spread whipped cream on top of individual pies, and top with crispy rice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2008
www.foodandwine.com/.../caramel-cream-pie-with-crispy-rice-toppi...