Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December Italian Gourmet Night

Third party was the December Gourmet Night:

Tony Caputo's Red Pesto

3 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup (or more) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmeasan Cheese
1 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic

Soften the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry. Combine with the olive oil, Parmeasan cheese, parsley and garlic in food processor and process until smooth. Serve with fresh bread or toasted baguette slices.

Baked Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil (Favorites Cookbook)

1 (8 oz.) log of goat cheese
4 oz. sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Oil small baking dish. Place log of cheese in dish and bake for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. Mix sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil. Top cheese with mixture and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

Italian Wedding Soup (Barefoot Contessa)

For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed (I put about half of the spinach)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Serves 8

I served this salad at this party and then took it to a different one and got great reviews at both! It is a fabulous recipe for a Ceasars Salad, truly the best!

Ceasar Salad (Karen Zanetti)

For the Croutons:

2 large garlic cloves
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 cups French baguette slices cut up into 1/2 inch cubes (white bread works too)

For the salad dressing:

1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 4 flat anchovies (I use the tubed anchovy paste)
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup virgin olive oil


2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese -- grated

Prepping the croutons - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a chef's knife (be very careful) or with a garlic press. Slice up the baguette and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.

Prepping the salad - Again crush the garlic. If you are using flat anchovies out of a can, mince one or two to make 1 1/2 teaspoons worth. Grate the Parmesan cheese. It's always better to grate it yourself if you have the opportunity.

Croutons - Combine garlic, oil, salt, and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until cubes are coated evenly. Spread the coated cubes onto a baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden. This should take about 10 minutes.

To make the salad - Bring a pot of boiling water to boil, add egg and cook for just 45 seconds....NO MORE. This is coddling the egg. Remove from heat and let it cool off.

Meanwhile, mix the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovy, mustard and capers in a bowl. Crack egg and add to these ingredients. Whisk until smooth.

Now for the tricky part. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking again until smooth. Reason: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will be separate and not emulsify.

To serve:

Tear the romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to a large bowl (wooden if you have one). Add half the dressing, toss, add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons and toss again. Serve on chilled plates.

Rigatoni "d" (Maggiano's) (Recipe Zaar #181230)

(Maggiano's Rigatoni "D" My spin on Maggiano's BEST pasta dish! Totally heavenly! Also...for anyone doing low carb-substitute low-carb pasta & you've got a meal that makes you swear you're cheating!!! (the sauce is thin-but if you've noticed, it's thin at Maggiano's too! If you like it thicker, just lower the heat and let the sauce reduce some more) Also-if you want to use a rotisserie chicken, you turns out quite well if you are pressed for time.)
by Erin101378)

55 min | 25 min prep


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces button mushrooms
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, pureed
salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 quart chicken stock
2-4 ounces marsala wine (Cribari)
2 ounces white wine
1/2 quart heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (and parsley mix)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 ounces garlic butter
parmesan cheese, shavings (garnish)
chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

Heat oil.
Caramelize onions.
Saute mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.
Add onions to the mushrooms.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add chicken.
Add chicken stock, Marsala, and white wine. Cook until reduced by half.
Add cream and bring to a boil.
Turn down heat and simmer to skim away any impurities.
Cook rigatoni al dente.
Add drained rigatoni to chicken mixture in pan and finish with basil-parsley mix, parmesan cheese, garlic butter, and salt and pepper.
Add more Marsala for flavor as needed.
Place in pasta bowl and garnish with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley.

Christmas Chocolate Mousse (Favorites Cookbook)

In top of double boiler melt:
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup of milk
1 (4 oz) Hershey Chocolate bar, broken

Stir over hot water until melted and cool.

Whip 1 cup of whipping cream and fold into cooled chocolate mixture. Pour into small dessert dishes and chill. When ready to serve, garnish with a daub of whipped cream and a small candy cane or a piece of fresh holly.
Makes 4 servings.

Whipping Cream (Jen Oettli)

This whipping cream is the best you have ever had! Truly Greg and I fight over the bowl and beaters. We had left over and put it on waffles with peaches and it was soooo yummy! Anyway it is restaurant good on every pie in the winter and strawberry shortcake all summer.

8 oz. whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2-2 teaspoons vanilla

Whip cream till almost firm. Add sugar and vanilla and then continue to whip till firm. Serve.

Super fun Christmas Dinner! Thanks for humoring me with the hats!

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Cranberry Pork Roast and Garlic Potatoes

Second party, the main course for a neighborhood progressive dinner:

Cranberry Pork Roast (Alison Beutler)

3 lb. boneless pork loin or tenderloin
16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard

Brown the roast on all sides in a skillet with vegetable oil. Place in a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over roast. Cook on high 4-5 hours. Remove roast and pull apart. Thicken sauce in slow cooker with water and cornstarch. Return roast to slow cooker. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Alison Beutler)

3 1/2 lb. russet potatoes
16 oz half and half or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 oz. shredded parmeasan cheese

Peel and cube potatoes. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add garlic. Drain when cooked and tender. Heat half and half in a saucepan until simmering. Add to potatoes. Add salt and cheese. Mash. Let stand 5 minutes to thicken.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


So, this is Liz's recipe, but I made them this morning, so I thought I'd post it.2 egg whites
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
4 T. butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk
1 + cup vegetable oil for frying

1. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they can hold a stiff peak. Set aside.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, and egg yolks, melted butter, and buttermilk and beat until smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites last.
3. Put about 1 T. of oil in the bottom of each aebleskiver pan cup and heat until hot. (med-high) Pour in about 2 T. of the batter into each cup. (I did a little less, I don't know if my cups are smaller than hers, but 2 T. were overflowing) As soon as they get bubbly around the edge, turn them quickly with a fork. Continue cooking, turing the ball to keep from burning.
4. Serve with syrup, honey, powdered sugar or jam.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Eggnog Bread

Another festive treat!

Holiday Eggnog Bread
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. rum extract (I didn't use)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 - small box instant french vanilla or vanilla pudding

Eggnog Glaze
1 - Cup Powdered Sugar
Enough eggnog to make a glaze to drizzle over bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of bread pan or mini loaf pans. Beat eggs, add sugar, eggnog, butter, rum and vanilla. Blend well, add flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir until just moistened. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes for large loaf or for about 20-25 minutes for mini loaves. Bread will be golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool bread completely. To make glaze mix 1 cup powdered sugar with enough eggnog to make a glaze. Drizzle over cooled loaves. Let glaze set before storing bread.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

English Toffee

YUM! This toffee is going to be the death of me. It's super easy and sooooo good! Perfect holiday goodies for neighbors.

English Toffee
1/2 cup butter (4 ounces, or one stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or 3 ounces semisweet, dark, or milk chocolate
2-4 tablespoons sliced almonds, or other nuts

Lightly coat an 8 by 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and water and stir constantly until butter is melted and sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy (about 10 minutes). If sugar granules stick to the side, wipe them down with a wet pastry brush. When sugar is completely dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly until toffee becomes a medium caramel color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour toffee into prepared pan. Wait 7 minutes. Sprinkle toffee with chocolate and let stand a few minutes. Smooth chocolate with spatula and sprinkle with nuts. Wait until chocolate cools to break into pieces.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Kitchen Tips

Until I return to the land of the cooking {will the morning sickness ever end?!}, here are some useful hints:


To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh~if it rises to the surface, throw it away.

To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

Sweeten whipped cream with confectioners' sugar instead of granulated sugar~it will stay fluffy and hold it's shape better.

If you don't have enough batter to fill all cupcake tins, pour 1 tablespoon of water into the unfilled spots...this helps preserve the life of your pans.

Mash and freeze ripe bananas, in one-cup portions, for use in later baking~no wasted bananas (or you can freeze them whole, peeled, in plastic baggies)

To quickly use that frozen juice concentrate, simply mash it with a potato masher~no need to wait for it to thaw!

Spray your tupperware with non-stick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces~no more stains!

Transfer your jelly to a small plastic squeeze bottle~no more messy, sticky jars or knives! This also works well for homemade salad dressing!

When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead~no white mess on the outside of the cake!

Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator it will keep for weeks!

Substitute half applesauce for the vegetable oil in your baking recipes~you'll greatly reduce the fat content! (Example: 1/2 cup vegetable oil = 1/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup oil)

Place a slice of bread in hardened brown sugar to soften it back up.

Potatoes will take food stains off your fingers. Just slice and rub raw potato on the stains and rinse with water.

Instead of throwing away a sponge that has a stale odor, simply toss it in the dishwasher and wash it with the next load of dishes. It will come out clean and fresh smelling and will kill any bacteria in the sponge, so it's a good idea to toss your sponges into the dishwasher often.

Save celery leaves. Spread them out on paper towels or a paper plate and let them dry. Crumble them into soups, salads and stuffing's. They will add an extra zippy flavor for free.

Make giant ice cubes in muffin tins or plastic margarine bowls. These are perfect for using in picnic coolers or punch bowls. They look pretty and keep your drinks or food cold longer.

Don't throw those single serving gelatin plastic cups away, make your own single servings. Place the cups in a muffin holder, fill the cups and place in the refrigerator. It only takes a few minutes and no mess.

Fruit Freshener - Use 2 vitamin C tablets in a big bowl of water...let them dissolve and stir...dunk any veggie or fruit and it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks and vitamin C won't hurt you either! Try it out on a potato... dunk the potato and leave it out on the won't discolor... It's the short version of "fruit fresh ".

Brown sugar will not harden if stored in the freezer.

A good trick when you go away on vacation is to place a baggie with a few ice cubes in the freezer. If a power failure occurs while you are gone and the food thaws and then refreezes you will know about it when you get home.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Gourmet Night

Dreamy Brie
(Sunni B.)

2 wedges of Brie
Heat in 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until it starts melting out of the rind

In small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together on low heat.
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tbl. butter

Pour this mixture over warmed Brie. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Serve with crackers and apples or pears.

Cranberry Punch
8 cups cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups orange juice
24 oz. Diet lemon-lime soda
Whole cranberries

Combine juices in punch bowl. Pour pop down the sides of the bowl. Float cranberries on the top.

Fall Fruit Salad

1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces
1 good eating apple, cored and cubed
1 ripe pear, cored and cubed
1 tangerine, peeled, segmented, and diced
6 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup cashew halves
3/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Toss the lettuce, apple, pear, tangerine, cheese, nuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar, juices, mustard, and salt until smooth. Slowly beat in the oil to form a smooth dressing. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately. The dressing can be made up to 24 hours in advance and remixed before tossing with the salad.

Butternut Squash Soup
(Barbara Keller)

I love this soup and have to make it every fall.

3 leeks (white portion only), sliced
4 medium carrots, chopped
5 tablespoons butter
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
3 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced (I do only 1-2)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 cup milk
Grated parmesan cheese and chives, optional

In a Dutch oven (large pot) over medium heat, sauté the leeks and carrots in butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash, broth zucchini, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. In a food processor, puree soup in small amounts until smooth and return to Dutch oven. Add cream and milk and mix well. Heat through but do not boil. Garnish with parmesan and chives if desired.

(Nicole Ward)

Usually half this:

2 pkg. dry yeast

2 c. lukewarm water

1 c. sugar +2 Tbl

1 c. butter, melted

6 beaten eggs

1 ½ tsp. salt

9 c. flour

Mix yeast with 2 T. sugar and lukewarm water. Add butter (not too hot). Add sugar, and eggs. Mix well w/wire whip (or Kitchenaid). Add 4 c. flour & salt. Whisk again. Change to dough hook. Add 4 ½ c. flour. Cover w/saran wrap. Let rise until double in size (about 2 hours). Put in fridge. Divide in ¼’s (or ½’s if you halved the recipe). Roll into circle. Brush w/melted butter. Cut like a pie into 12 pieces w/pizza cutter. Roll from wide end to point. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover w/towel. Rise 2-4 hrs. Bake 400 degrees 10 min. Brush top with butter.

Pumpkin Butter

1 (29 ounce) can canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
2.Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Aunt Amy's Delicious Pork Tenderloin
Favorites (Ivory cookbook)

1 1/4 Cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbl. dry mustard
1 Tbl. pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbl. parsley
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

Blend the above marinade ingredients in blender. Pour over tenderloins and marinate for 3 to 4 hours. Grill pork on the barvecue at medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning and basting occasionally. Add mushrooms to remaining marinade and heat (I boil it). Slice tenderloins and pour marinade over top to serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
5 lb. Potatoes
1- 8oz Cream Cheese (softened)
8 oz Sour Cream
3/4 cup Butter (melted)
Pepper and Garlic Salt to taste

Peel and cut potatoes in half. Place in a large pot of water to boil. Boil until easily mashed. Drain water and use beaters to smooth potatoes. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, garlic salt and pepper to taste. Place in a baking dish and cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole
This is the dreamiest sweet potato recipe. My family has it every Thanksgiving. I also make it throughout the year as a side dish with various dinners, but it's especially fall-ish. If the butter and sugar content freaks you out, you can reduce to 1/3 c. each (in the sweet potato part, not topping) and it's still good. I usually do the full amount, though. Oh, and if some people don't like nuts, just put the pecans on half.

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (peel, boil or bake, mix/mash. I use my Kitchenaid mixer.)
½ cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
½ cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat and whip, put in casserole dish

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
mix and sprinkle over potato mixture
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sesame Green Beans
(Nicole Ward)

Fresh or frozen green beans, about 1 lb.
1/3 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. soy sauce
1 Tbl. toasted sesame seeds

Cook beans in boiling water until tender. Mix remaining ingredients in small saucepan and heat until butter is melted and sauce is hot. Serve over beans.

Apple Cake

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
2 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 ½ c. shredded, peeled apples
Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs. Beat; stir in dry ingreds. Fold in apples. Pour into
9 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 min.

½ c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
dash nutmeg
Heat & stir – Do not boil. Pour over warm cake. Serve with whip cream or ice cream.

Soft Gingersnaps

¾ c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
¼ c. molasses
1 egg
Mix above ingredients, then add:
1 t. ginger
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
2 t. soda
Beat in:2 ¼ c. flour

Mix. Roll into balls and roll into white sugar.
Bake on sheet.Bake 7-9 min, on 375
Leave SOFT, even if you think they're a little underbaked.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Marshmallow Popcorn Cake

Marshmallow Popcorn Cake

2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
1 10.5 ounce bag marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter
assorted Halloween mix-ins - I used M&Ms, candy corn and peanuts

Melt butter and marshmallows together. Add popcorn and mix slightly. Add in mix-ins and mix until the melted marshmallow mixture has coated all the popcorn.

Pour mixture into a bundt pan that has either been sprayed with cooking spray or buttered. Turn out onto a serving dish when cooled a little.

*I love this treat because you can switch up the candies for any holiday. Kids love to help make {and eat} it!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Allspice Snaps

Allspice Snaps
Adapted from Didi Emmons

6 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more later)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon allspice (plus more later)
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in egg yolk. Add allspice, salt, soda, and flour. Form cookie dough into one inch balls. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon allspice. Roll cookies in sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with hand. Bake at 350 degrees6-8 minutes, or until puffed in the center and crinkled on the edges.

*Makes about 16 cookies.

If you like Allspice these are a yummy fall treat and a good variation on ginger snaps. Some of my kids loved them, others did not.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October Gourmet Night 2009 at Jill's

Almond Punch
2 c. water
2 c. sugar
2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

2 qt. water added when ready to serve

Heat the sugar and 2 c. water and boil 5 minutes. Then add orange juice, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Refrigerate to cool. This syrup is made in advance. When ready to serve, add 2 quarts of water. Makes 3 quarts total.

This is a nice subtle drink. If you want a little more kick add sprite or 7-up.
Artichoke Dip

1 cup mayo
1 cup mozzerella cheese
1 can artichoke hearts chopped
1 large clove garlic minced
1/2 med. onion diced

mix together and heat in oven at 350 until bubbly. serve with crackers. Garden Vegetable Soup

2 lbs mild Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
3 4 cloves garlic, minced
3 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
3-4 cans beef broth
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 med. green pepper, diced
3 Tbsp basil
3 Tbsp parsley
8 oz. bowtie pasta
1/8 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil. Add sausage and cook. Drain excess grease. Add all other ingredients except pasta. Simmer 2 hours. Cook pasta and add 15 minutes before serving. Can serve with fresh parmesan cheese and bread bowls.

This makes a BIG pot full! Spinach Salad

1 bag of fresh spinach
cottage cheese
mozzarella cheese, shredded
bacon, cooked and crumbled

mushrooms, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
3/4 c. white vinegar
1 1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. mustard

mix dressing ingredients in blender then add mushrooms and onions to marinate. Add to salad just before serving. Cheese Pumpkins (and honestly, these are cuter than they are delicious, but they're kind of fun and my kids LOVE them, both to make and to eat.)

Just buy some cheddar cold pack cheese, usually found by cheeseballs.
Thick pretzels
Cilantro or parsley

Make sure cheese is cold. Then roll cheese into small balls. Stick pretzels in for the stems. And cilantro for the leaves. Chopped up some peanuts and sprinkle on the ground. Easy.
Potato Pepper Jack Soup (all time favorite!)
4 Cups diced potato
3 Cups shredded chicken breast
4 strips thick bacon chopped
1 or 2 large jalapenos diced (I just use 1 and it still had kick)
1 med. Red bell pepper diced
1 carrot peeled and diced
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 lb. shredded pepperjack cheese
3 Cups Chicken broth
1 Qt. heavy cream
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 Cup butter

Cook bacon in the bottom of pot thoroughly. Add to the bacon: peppers, onion, garlic, and carrot. Saute on medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add chicken broth and let simmer. In separate pan boil potatoes in water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and add to soup. Add cream, cheese, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Prepare roux by melting butter and stirring in flour to make a paste. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add roux to soup mixture, stirring to desired thickness. *note* this soup is a little spicy.Creamy Pumpkin Soup

1/2 c. butter
1 yellow onion diced
2 shallots minced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 c. water
1 29 oz. can plain pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and saute onion until just translucent but not browned. Add garlic and shallots and stir frequently, being careful not to let garlic burn. Lower heat if needed. Sprinkle brown sugar over onion mixture in pan and continue to saute until onion, garlic, and shallot are tender and caramelized.

Add broth and water to mixture in pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add pumpkin puree and evaporated milk to simmering broth. Stir until well combined. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from heat.

Using a blender, process soup until smooth.

Stuffed Peppers

bell peppers (depending on the # of people you are feeding)- yellow, orange, or red.
wheat or white rice
mozzarella cheese
sausage or ground beef (1/2 pound or so)

1) Gut the bell peppers. Broil or cook on grill the bell peppers till they are SOFT, a little brown/black spots are ok.
2) Cook rice according to directions. set aside.
3) Cook sausage in a pan- into small pieces. drain- set aside.
4) Slices up tomatoes into small pieces.
5) Mix: sausage, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, rice in a large bowl.
6) Stuff peppers full with mixture. top with mozzarella cheese.
7) Bake in over on 350 for 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted.

We eat them like a pita.

Peach Cream Cheese Tart

Graham Cracker Crust of choice:
graham crackers

1/2 pt. whipping cream
1 c. powdered sugar, divided
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 whole peaches

1 c. sugar
1 c. mashed peaches
1 c. water
4 Tbsp. corn starch

Make your favorite graham cracker crust in a large pie pan.

Combine whipping cream and 1/2 c. powdered sugar. In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese and remaining powdered sugar. Combine both powdered sugar mixtures and pour into graham cracker crust. Thinly slice peaches and place on top of cream cheese.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, mashed peaches, water, and corn starch and cook over medium heat until mixture becomes translucent. Pour over sliced peaches. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Bowls

Pumpkin Bread Bowls
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups tepid water
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 package yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
7 cups unbleached flour

Pour the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes to activate the yeast. Once the top is foamy with bubbles, pour the yeast mixture into your mixing bowl. Also add the other cups of water and the salt. Mix this together. Add some drops of food coloring to color the water a nice orange color. I used liquid food coloring and put about 8 drops of red and 12 drops of yellow.

Next, attach the dough hook to the mixer. Add the flour a little bit at a time. Keep kneading the dough for another 2 minutes after all the flour is in. You'll see a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Spray a large bowl with oil. Place dough into the oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Place in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour. It should double in size.

Flour your surface and rolling pin. Punch down the dough and remove it from the bowl. Remove a small handful of dough and add some green food coloring to it. Knead the dough to mix the color as thoroughly as possible and set aside. Knead the rest of your orange dough. Separate into 8 round balls.

Set your round dough balls on a greased cookie sheet. Take the green dough and make 8 small stems by making little round balls. Place the stems on the top and middle of your orange dough balls. Cover it again with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the dough is ready, bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. When you tap it, it should sound hollow. Allow it to cool before slicing. Slice the top of the pumpkin bowl off and hollow out the inside of the pumpkin to make a hole for your soup to sit in. Now, fill with your favorite soup {I made Jaime's Cauliflower soup}!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brooke's Mexican Gourmet Night

I'm taking the liberty to post Brooke's fabulous gourmet night. She put it on her blog, but I thought it needed to be on here, too Ü

Thanks for the great feast, Brooke!

7 Layer Mex-Tex Dip
from my mom

1 can refried beans
1 can frito lay bean dip
2 medium very ripe avocados
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 to 1 full package taco seasonin
3 tomatoes cored and chopped
1 can chopped pitted black olives
1 small can green chilis
grated Monterey Jack cheese

First Layer: Mix refried beans and bean dip together and spread over bottom of pan
Second Layer: Peel and pit avocados and mash with fork. Add salt and pepper to taste
Third Layer: Mix together mayo, sour cream and taco seasoning
Fourth Layer: chopped olives
Fifth Layer: chopped tomatoes
Sixth Layer: green chilis
Seventh Layer: cover with cheese

Refridgerate. Serve with tortilla chips.

Kiwi-Lime Slush

2 cans lime-ade concentrate
1 cup sugar
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple
4 kiwi, peeled and smashed
2 Liters 7-up

Reconstitute the 2 cans of limeade concentrate with 1 cup of sugar, then add enough water to make two quarts. In a blender mix the limeade and crushed pineapple. Add kiwi, Put in Ziploc gallon bag and freeze for several days. Just before serving combine frozen mixture with 2 liter bottle of 7-Up until slushy.

I know this didn't go with the Mexican theme but it's always a hit so I had to serve it.

Baked Chicken Taquitos
makes 14-16

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used light cream cheese)
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 green onion, sliced finely (white and green parts to equal about 2 tablespoons)--I left this out
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I cook large batches of chicken in my crockpot with a little chicken broth and salt, shred it and freeze it for meals like this.)
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese (use pepperjack for a litte heat)

small yellow or white corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat overn to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare this step ahead of time and keep the mixture in the fridge.

Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don't crack when rolling. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a soft tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up tight as you can.

Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don't touch each other. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and lightly sprinkle some kosher (coarse) salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately. Taquitos can be dipped in salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice and zest of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin

In a skillet, melt butter and add rice. Let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 18-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

from Cafe Rio
Why mess with perfection?


1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup milk

Add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be runny--don't be alarmed!) Bake in an 8" square pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9x13 inch pan.

Honey Butter

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

Whip all together with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated and softened.)

Brandi's Chocolate Bundt Cake
from my friend Brandi

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup oil
1 small carton sour cream
1 package chocolate chips

Combine ingredients. Pour into bundt cake pan. Bake 350 for 1 hour.
Sprinkle powder sugar on top.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oreo Truffles

I made these for our block party this weekend and they were a huge hit! They were gone before the meat was off the grill. They're easy, and they look fancier then they really are.1 package Oreos
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 package almond bark
white chocolate chips or vanilla almond bark

1. Grind up the Oreos (Including cream filling) in a blender or food processor until they become a powder
2. Pour Oreos into a bowl, add cream cheese (it is easier if it is at room temperature) and blend with a hand mixer
3. Roll into small balls and place on a cookie sheet
4. Chill for a while...15 to 30 minutes
5. Melt almond bark, about 1/2 of the block, dip balls into almond bark and place back on the cookie sheet. They will set in about 5 minutes.
6. Melt white chocolate. If too thick add a little oil. Drizzle on top to make them pretty.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hearty Meatball Soup

Perfect soup for the dreamy fall weather we've been having!

Hearty Meatball Soup
from the Ivory Cookbook

1 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB. butter

3 (10 3/4-ounce) cans beef broth
2 cups water
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 cup rotini pasta

Combine meatball ingredients; form into balls (can use small cookie scoop) and brown in butter for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together broth, water and crushed tomatoes in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add celery, carrots, oregano and basil. Cover and simmer. Add pasta and meatballs 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

*I often use the frozen meatballs from Costco.

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Rich Zucchini Bread

Rich Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup cooking oil (I use 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 cups sugar (I usually use 1 cup)
3 tsp. vanilla
2 cups raw, unpeeled, grated zucchini
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Icing glaze- blend together:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. melted butter
1 tsp. milk (or more to reach desired consistency)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla; beat thoroughly.

Add sifted dry ingredients and blend well. Stir in zucchini and nuts.

Put in 2 loaf pans or a bundt pan. Bake at 325º for 60-70 minutes. Cool; turn out on plate and drizzle with icing.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teriyaki Salmon

4 salmon filets

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, diced

1/4 c. cooking sake or white wine
1 Tbl. grated ginger
2 shallots, diced

Marinate fillets in fridge 2 hours. Brush fillets with oil. Grill 6 to 10 minues. Turn and cook other side. Cook remaining marinade. Bring to a boil, add cornstarch diluted in water to thicken. Serve on top of salmon.
Can also serve cream sauce: Saute 1 Tbl. butter and 12 green onions, diced, then add 1/3 c. heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fish Tacos

I've got almost 100 lbs of Alaskan fish in my freezer, so I'm cooking fish, fish and more fish these days. Here is a recipe you can use with any white fish (tilapia, halibut, cod, mahi mahi, etc.).

I sprinkled a generous amount of Spicy Chipotle Rub on the fish. This seasoning I used is from Williams Sonoma. I'm sure a grocery store would have something similar. You could also use a Cajun rub. Then cook the fish however you want (grill, bake, pan fry, whatever).

White Sauce:
3 Tbl. mayo
3 Tbl. sour cream
1/4 c. green onions
1/4 c. cilantro
1 clove garlic
lime juice

Mix in food processor.

Put fish, white sauce, cabbage, and avocado in corn tortillas. Enjoy!

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Friday, August 28, 2009


Beets from the garden + Goat Cheese from Ile De France = Yummy Salad!

roasted beet and goat cheese salad

from sophistimom

4 medium beets (all read, or a mixture of golden and red), cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
1 sprig of fresh thyme
4 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius). On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, toss beet pieces with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, turn with a spatula, and roast for 10 minutes more. Let cool completely.

2. Toss the beets with crumbled goat cheese, thyme, basil and vinegar.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cake Mix Cookies

I was searching for an easy cookie recipe with ingredients I had on hand & this one took the cake {if you will}! Super easy and delicious. You could use this recipe with pretty much any cake mix/frosting combo you like. I'm thinking lemon cake & cream cheese frosting would be good.....

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box devil's food cake mix (I used chocolate)
3/4 cup shortening or 1/2 cup oil & 1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
Cheesecake or vanilla frosting (I had coconut pecan frosting on hand & used that)

In medium bowl mix cake mix, shortening, and eggs. Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough int 1/2 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 5-8 minutes. Let cookies cool. Sandwich two cookies together with your choice of frosting.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baked Lemon Pasta

This was lovely, and refreshing. Matt wanted more substance & had it as a side dish, but it was my entree. Delish!

Baked Lemon Pasta

from Pioneer Woman

1 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste if desired
Plenty of grated Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Extra lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.
In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT.
When butter is melted, add minced garlic.
Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.
Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary.
Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish.
Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)
When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top.
Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley.
Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Serve with crusty French bread and a simple green salad.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Lisa's Gourmet Night- March 2009

Lisa got the recipes to me from her last two gourmet nights! Yeah!! I've been dying to make them. Thanks, Lis!

Walnut Crostini With Gorgonzola & Pear
Walnut bread, 7 slices
Gorgonzola cheese 7oz at room temperature
Pear, 1, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
Ground pepper

Cut each slice of bread in half crosswise. Spread the cheese evenly on each bread slice and top with two think slices of pear. Transfer the crostini to a platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

Cranberry Walnut Salad
Mixed salad greens
Dried cranberries
Chopped walnuts
Crumbled goat cheese
Sweet Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
¼ cup sugar

1. Using a food processor or whisk, combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.
2. Keep refrigerated.
3. Blend dressing before each use. Makes 12 servings.

Mini Caprese Salad
16 ounces fresh mini mozzarella balls
1 pound grape tomatoes, about 2 cups
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1 cup live oil
6 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. In a large glass or non-reactive bowl, combine mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
2. In a separate small bowl, blend olive oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic salt and oregano.
3. Stir the dressing into the salad.

Cheddar Biscuits
2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¾ cup cold whole milk
4 tablespoons cold butter (½ stick)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese
Brush on Top:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don’t want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix.
3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter oven the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Pesto-Glazed Chicken Breast with Spaghetti
2 garlic cloves
1 ½ bunches fresh basil leaves (about 1 ½ cups lightly packed)
1/3 cup plus ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
9 ounces dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved, for garnish
2 tablespoons torn basil leaves, for garnish
To make pesto: Using a bump and grind or another large mortar and pestle, smash the garlic into a coarse puree. Add 1 ½ bunches of basil and pound until it is coarsely chopped. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1/3 cup of pine nuts and smash to break them up. Slowly mix in ¼ cup of olive oil. Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper. Set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breast generously with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken breasts just until golden brown but not yet cooked through. About 2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat. Spread the pesto over the top of the chicken breasts. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 minutes.

To prepare the pasta: Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking, about 8 minutes. Drain the spaghetti, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
Whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the reserved pasta cooking water to blend well. Add the spaghetti and parsley and toss to coat.

Using a two-pronged carving fork, swirl some of the pasta around the fork. Slide the pasta off the fork and mound it in the center of the plate. Repeated for each serving. Cut each chicken breast crosswise and on a slight diagonal into 4 slices. Arrange the chicken slices alongside the spaghetti. Garnish with the remaining ¼ cup of pine nuts, shaved Parmesan cheese, and torn basil. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over and serve.

Chocolate Mint Brownies
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk, or as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
6 drops green food coloring
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a cup or small bowl in the microwave. Stir at 15 second intervals until chocolate is smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and spread evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until the surface appears dry and the sides are beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan, 20 to 25 minutes. The brownies may look more like cake and may jiggle slightly in the center- this is normal. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan set over a wire rack.

To make the middle layer, beat 1/2 cup of butter with confectioners' sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add milk as needed to get a spreadable consistency. Stir in the peppermint extract and green food coloring. Spread this over the cooled pan of brownies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips with the butter until melted. Stir every 20 seconds until chocolate is smooth. Stir in vanilla and then pour over the chilled brownies and quickly spread to cover the surface. Cool again until firm, about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

*If anyone is having trouble with the top chocolate layer here's a tip: Melt ingredients over low heat on the stove. Turn off heat and add vanilla. Then with a wooden spoon beat it for about 2 minutes until it starts to shine.

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Lisa's Gourmet Night- Feb. 2008

Spiced Almonds
2 ½ C almonds

Spice Mix
¼ C sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt

1 T water
1 T honey
1 tsp canola oil

To toast almonds, spread on baking sheet & place in 325 preheated oven 15 min. Set aside. Combine spice mix in a bowl & set aside. Combine base mix in a saucepan & heat to boiling. Add nuts & stir until completely coated & no moisture remains in pan. Remove from heat & quickly toss with spice mix until coated. Spread on baking paper & allow to dry 2-3 hours.

Orange Tossed Salad
3 tsp sugar
½ C slivered almonds
1 head red leaf or green leaf lettuce
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 11oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1 jicama, julienne

½ tsp orange peel, grated
1/3 C orange juice
2 tsp wine vinegar
½ C oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry Italian salad dressing seasonings from dressing package

Put sugar & almonds is a heavy saucepan. Heat until sugar melts and cots almonds. Pure on wax paper and break apart with two forks while still hot. Set aside to cool.

Toss lettuce, onion, oranges and jicama together. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients.

Toss with salad & sugared almonds. Serve immediately.

Butterscotch Apple Dip
1 (14-0z) can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. butterscotch flavored chips
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. white vinegar
¼-½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Apple wedges

In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, combine condensed milk chips and salt. Cook and stir until chips melt.
Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and cinnamon. Serve warm with apples. Refrigerate leftovers.

To Reheat: in small heavy saucepan, combined desired amount of sauce with small amounts of water. Over low heat, stir constantly until heated through.

Velvet Chocolate Sauce
2 C powdered sugar
1 C evaporated milk
½ C margarine
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Combine powdered sugar, evaporated milk, margarine, corn syrup and chocolate chips in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it boils (occasionally stirring) then let it boil for 8 minutes. Add Vanilla.

Glazed Almond Broccoli
2 lb fresh broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
½ C butter
½ C flour
¾ C chicken broth
1C light cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
¼ C slivered almonds

Heat oven to 350.

Steam broccoli in vegetable steamer for 5-8 minutes. Melt butter in a small saucepan, mix in flour and stir until well blended. Add chicken broth, cream and lemon juice. Cook, stirring until thickened. Arrange broccoli in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking pan. Pour white sauce over broccoli. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds. Bake 25 minutes.

Caramel Brownies
1 box German chocolate cake mix
1 cube butter
½ C. evaporated milk

50 caramels
1/3 C. evaporated milk
1 large Hershey bar

Mix brownie ingredients and spread half in a 9x13 pan. Make sure entire bottom is covered. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

While brownies are baking, melt 50 caramels with 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Melt and stir in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Be careful not o scorch. Sprinkle chopped chocolate bar over brownies (while still hot) and pour melted caramels over that. Finger drop the rest of the cake mix on the top. Return to oven for 15 minutes. Let cool for a long time.

Brownies are even better the second day!

Farfalle Salad With Caesar Dressing

5 qt water
2 tsp salt
12 oz dried farfalle
1 tsp & ¼ C extra-virgin olive oil
Caesar Dressing
¼ lb country style bread, crest removed, cut into ¾-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Freshly ground pepper
½ C. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the 2 teaspoons, and the farfalle and cook according to the package directions or until al dente, 10-12 minutes.

Drain the farfalle and toss it immediately with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Prepare the Caesar Dressing.

To make the croutons, toss the bread with the ¼ cup olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet and bake, tossing with a spatula occasionally, until golden and crisp, 10-15 minutes.

To serve, place the farfalle in a serving bowl. Add the Caesar Dressing and slat and pepper to taste. Toss to mix well. Garnish with the croutons and Parmesan cheese.

Caesar Dressing

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and mashed (I decided that this can be optional)
½ C. bottled mayonnaise
¼ C. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ C. heavy cream

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, lemon juice, anchovies and mayonnaise. In a slow, steady steam, whisk in the oil. Gradually stir in the cream.

BBQ Mushroom Chicken
8 chicken breasts
10 oz mushrooms, washed and sliced
3 tbsp butter
1tsp Italian seasoning
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 C Mesquite 30 min. marinade with lime
2 limes, wedged

Wash chicken. Put chicken in bowl and pour the marinade on top. Refrigerate for at least a hour.

Grill chicken on medium heat, turning chicken over about every 8 minutes until done (about 25 minutes total).

While chicken is cooking, put butter in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and Italian seasoning, stir occasionally. Remove from heat when mushrooms start to shrink and brown.

Keep the chicken on the grill when finished cooking. Put the cheese and mushrooms on top of the chicken until cheese starts to melt (about 3 minutes). Remove from grill and squirt the fresh lime juice on top.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Caramel Bars

These are the bars that I served at the Gourmet Dinner out night for those of you who came and those who didn't missed out! These are so yummy and very easy! A couple tips, the caramels are a little hard to find when it is not near Halloween. Target sells them year round and sells them without wrappers which unwrapping is the biggest pain, but Lisa told me that Kraft caramels have wrappers that come off easy and she was right. So...enjoy!

Caramel Bars

3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

1 bag caramels
3 T. Half and Half (I used whole milk)
3 T. butter
6 oz. milk chocolate chips

Mix butter, flour oats, brown sugar, salt and soda. Press 3/4 of mixture in bottom of a 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

While baking, melt caramels, cream and 3T. butter in sauce pan. Pour over cooked crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and crumble remaining oat mixture on top. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Put in fridge for another 10 minutes pull out and cut into squares, put on serving dish and then put back into the fridge. If you don't have time for all the steps just make sure and cut into bars before refrigerating for a long period because the caramel gets hard to cut through.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fresh Cherry Pie

The kids had a great time yesterday picking cherries at my parents house. We came home with a TON and I wanted to be able to use them before they went bad. I've never been a fan of cherry pie, but I thought maybe a fresh cherry pie would change my tune.

Boy, did it ever! I'll never eat a pie made from canned cherries again.

Fresh Cherry Pie
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

2 prepared pie crusts (store bought or homemade), rolled and ready to use

5 cups pitted sour or Bing cherries (2 to 2 1/2 lbs.)
1 1/4 cups sugar (3/4 cup for Bing cherries)
3 to 3 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch or quick-cooking tapioca
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 to 2 drops red food coloring (optional–I didn’t use it)
2 to 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fit one of the rolled pie crusts in a 9 to 10″ deep dish pie plate.

Place the pitted cherries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and cornstarch. Toss. Add water, lemon juice, almond extract, and food coloring (if using). Toss again to coat, making sure no lumps of sugar or cornstarch remain.

Pour the cherries into the prepared pie plate. Dot with the 2-3 Tbsp. unsalted butter.

Fit the second rolled pie crust on top of the filling and crimp the edge to seal the top and bottom crust together. Use a fork to poke holes along the top of the pie. Use any extra pie crust scraps for decoration, if desired. Place the pie plate on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet to catch any overflowing juices.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Lower oven to 350 degrees F, and let the pie continue to bake for an additional 30-45 minutes, or until the top and bottom are golden brown, and the juices are bubbling and syrupy. Cool the finished pie on a rack until ready to serve.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

This recipe was a great one, and gave me the chance to try out some of the spinach from our garden.
Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

1-1/2 cups multi-grain penne pasta, uncooked (use whatever pasta you have)
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh spinach leaves
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 jar (14-1/2 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

COOK pasta as directed on package, adding spinach to the boiling water the last minute.

COOK and stir chicken and basil in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat 3 min. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 3 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in cream cheese.

DRAIN pasta mixture; return to pan. Stir in chicken mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole or 8-inch square baking dish.

BAKE 20 min. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake 3 min.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 2009 Gourmet Dinner Group

Lemon Chicken with Guacamole Sauce

juice of 4 lemons
6 T olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place all ingredients in ziplock bag and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill chicken over medium low heat. Serve with guacamole sauce.

Guacamole Sauce

2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup sour cream
6 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 water (or more to get desired consistency)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

Zesty Spring Salad
(slightly modified from Ivory Cookbook)

2/3 cup pecan pieces
4 T sugar
1 T butter

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 orange, peeled and sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 avocado, chopped
spring greens

1/3 cup olive oil
2 T sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 green onion, finely minced

Carmelize pecans by mixing with sugar and butter in small skillet over low heat until sugar melts. Spread on foil and cool, then break into pieces.

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Toss salad ingredient together with pecan peices, add dressing to coat and serve.

Asparagus with Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette

2 pounds asparagus spears
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
4 T raspberry vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dijon-style mustard
7 T olive oil
4 T sour cream or plain yogurt
pepper to taste
1 cup fresh raspberries

Toss asparagus in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and salt and stir with whisk until dissolved. Stir in mustard. Gradually stir in oil until blended. Add the sour cream and pepper to taste. To serve, place the asparagus on plates and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with the fresh berries and enjoy.

French Peasant Bread

1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
4 cups flour
corn meal
melted butter

Place year, water, sugar and salt in warm bowl and stif until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size. Oil hands, remove dough from the bowl and place in 2 rounds on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the top with melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with butter. Serve warm.

Luscious Lemon Water

5 quarts water
3 cups sugar
1 T citric acid
1 T lemon extract

Stir together all ingredients until dissolved. Chill and serve!

Lemon Ice Cream

2 quarts whole milk
1 pint whipping cream
4 cups sugar

Combine ingredients in ice cream freezer and let churn for about 5 minutes. Open and add:

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 tablespoon lemon extract

Continue running ice cream freezer until ice cream is frozen.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Free Copycat Recipes

Download this booklet of copycat recipes from A&W, Bennigan's, McDonald's, Red Lobster and more..

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kiwi Muffins

This recipe was a great way to use up all the extra kiwi I had from our family festivities last week. The whole family enjoyed these.

Kiwi Muffins
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 kiwi fruits, diced (I used 3)

Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Fold in kiwi. Pour into muffin cups. Make sure the cups (or pan if you don't use cups) is greased very well. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

*yields about 16 muffins

For the frosting:
3 ounces cold cream cheese
4 teaspoons butter (room temperature)
¾ cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp. lime juice

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add sugar and lime juice and blend. Top cooled muffins with frosting & diced kiwi.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Strawberry Bread

5 T, plus 1 tsp butter
1 pint strawberries, mashed or blended
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 by 4 in loaf pan. Bring strawberries to a boil over med heat. Cook, stiffing for 1 min. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in another bowl til fluffy. Add flour mixture slowly and fold in strawberries. Pour in buttered pan, smooth top. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Tent with foil if top gets too dark. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Cool completely. Serve with cream cheese or butter.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Monkey Cake & yummy cupcake icing

This is the cake I made for Jackson's 2nd birthday. The cake itself is super yummy, and the buttercream frosting was extra good for some reason (although I did have to add a splash or two of milk to get it to the consistency I wanted) so I thought it was worth sharing, even if you don't make it into a monkey!!

Also, the burnt butter icing I used for the cupcakes was to die for!!

Monkey Cake
from Martha Stewart
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
Fluffy Chocolate and Yellow Buttercreams
2 black-licorice drop candies
Black-licorice rope, for decorating
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 1/2-inch-diameter 3-quart stainless-steel or ovenproof bowl and 1 cup of a large (1-cup capacity) muffin tin; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and brown sugar; mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to medium; mix in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with banana mixture. Stir in pecans.
Fill prepared muffin cup three-quarters full. Transfer remaining batter to prepared baking bowl. Transfer to oven, side by side. Bake cupcake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Let cool in tin on a wire rack. Continue baking large cake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes more (1 hour and 40 minutes total). Let cool in bowl on a wire rack 30 minutes. Invert bowl to remove cake; let cool completely.
Trim flat side of cake to be level. Trim away top of cupcake to be level. Cut cupcake in half vertically for the two monkey ears. Cut bowl cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Spread 3/4 cup chocolate buttercream on top of flat layer. Top with domed layer. Transfer to a cake plate. Spread a thick layer of chocolate buttercream over entire monkey head. Spread buttercream over cupcake ears. Attach ears to sides of head, top of cupcake facing forward, securing with toothpicks.
Place remaining chocolate frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #5). Pipe dots around bottom edge of cake in a continuous line. Switch to a small multi-opening tip (such as Ateco #233); pipe hair on top of head.Fill another piping bag fitted with a large plain round tip (such as Ateco #11) with yellow buttercream. Pipe an oval near the front base of cake. Fill in with frosting, and smooth. Place 2 small pieces of licorice rope inside for nose. Add a long piece of rope for mouth. Place licorice drops above oval for eyes. Pipe yellow half-circles in centers of ears; fill in with frosting, and smooth. Decorated cake can be refrigerated up to 3 hours.

Fluffy Chocolate and Yellow Buttercreams
Makes 3 3/4 cups chocolate frosting and 1 1/4 cups yellow frosting.
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Yellow food coloring
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 stick butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups sugar; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in food coloring to make pale yellow. Transfer to a small bowl; cover.
Put remaining 3 sticks butter in mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; add cocoa. Mix until smooth. With mixer running, add remaining 3 3/4 cups sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on high speed until incorporated, 10 to 20 seconds more.
Burnt-Butter Icing
from Conversations with a Cupcake

4 T. butter
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1-3 tsp. milk
In a medium saucepan, bring butter to a boil over extremely high heat. Do not stir. Allow butter to boil just until it takes on a medium brown hue (you want to burn it, not scorch it!). Once browned, immediately add marshmallows to the pan. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, powdered sugar and 1 tsp. of the milk. Now start to whip it with your electric mixer. Just whip and whip (and stop to taste and adore.) Then whip and whip some more. Add milk as needed. The consistency should be thick, but spoonably soft. The flavor of fresh caramel on a vanilla fudge cloud. Place a heaping spoonful atop cooled cupcakes.

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