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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