Friday, November 9, 2012

Gourmet Night- November 2012


Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear
 Rosemary and Cranberry Spread

THE party punch

 Fall Salad with Maple Dressing

Main Course 
Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Soup
Cheese Ravioli With Pumpkin Sage Sauce 
Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries

Apple Pie in a Jar with homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Pear

Yield: 16 appetizers

16 thin slices pancetta
16 teaspoons soft fresh goat cheese (from a 5-ounce log)
2 small very-ripe pears, halved, cored, cut into ¼-inch slices
fresh thyme leaves, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place pancetta slices in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Using spatula, slide pancetta crisps onto platter. Top each with 1 tsp. goat cheese and 1 pear slice. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.
*Plan ahead w/ your pears... purchase them a couple of days before using and let them sit on your counter to ripen.
Rosemary and Cranberry Spread
Serves 4-6

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons dried sweetened cranberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Place all cream cheese into a bowl and using a spoon, fold in all ingredients until well combined.
Serve along side crackers or toasted baguette slices.

THE Party Punch
recipe HERE

Fall Salad
*I tripled this recipe for my party of 9

6 cups loosely packed Baby Mixed Greens

1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dried cinnamon apple rings (I used diced fresh apple w/ cinnamon)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted/salted, your preference)
*add more/less of these ingredients to suit your tastes!

Maple Dressing
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 large avocado, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
optional: dash of cayenne

1. Add all dry salad ingredients and baby greens to a large bowl.
2. Wisk together the dressing and add chopped avocados.
3. Add dressing to salad and toss very well.


Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1-1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and diced

Step 1: In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, curry powder, cumin, brown sugar and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add broth, squash and pears. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until squash and pears are tender, about 30 minutes.
Step 2: Purée mixture with hand blender or transfer to food processor and purée in batches. 

Cheese Ravioli With Pumpkin Sage Sauce
Serves 6

27 ounces fresh four-cheese ravioli 
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3/4 cup butter
1 1/8 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon dry sage leaves)
3/4 cup 100% pumpkin puree (Libby's canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 to taste Parmesan cheese

Prepare ravioli according to package directions. Drain the ravioli and set aside, keep warm. (can toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking).
Meanwhile, saute the green onions in the butter over medium heat until the onions are softened and the butter is melted and begins to foam.
Stir in the pumpkin and heat through. Blend in the cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and the sage leaves, stirring well to combine. Serve sauce over warm ravioli.

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries


  • 3 pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1-2 cups fresh Cranberries
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar


Trim/clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half if desired (or you can leave them whole). Arrange sprouts and cranberries on two baking sheets and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.
Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts. Toss and serve immediately.


Apple Pie In A Jar
Our Best Bites

You will need:
Half Pint canning jars (must be wide-mouthed!)
Pie Dough (I just bought refrigerated Pillsbury. 4 crusts were enough to make 9 pies)

Filling: (this is enough for 4 pies)
2 C peeled and diced green apples
2 T sugar- brown or white
2 T flour
1 T butter (divided between the pies)
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Roll out one of the pie crusts. Use the ring from the jar to cut out the tops and set aside. Use the rest of the dough to line the jars (you do not need to grease them).  Just take little pieces and press them in. Make sure it’s pressed all the way up to the top of the jar, or pretty close to it.

Fill the jars. You’ll need about 1/2 C filling for each jar. Divide it between the jars and dot a pat of butter on top (about 1/4 T).

Make sure your “lid” has a vent so steam can escape. You can use a knive to make a couple of slits or a tiny cookie cutter to make it decorative. When your topper is ready, slip it onto the top of the pie. Then use your finger, or a fork, to press the 2 pieces of dough together to seal.

At this point you can freeze the pies if you want! put the lids and rings on and place the pies in the freezer. When you are ready to bake, remove lids and rings from jars and place jars on a baking sheet (no need to thaw). Place baking sheet in a COLD oven. Then turn the oven to 375. That will give the jars a chance to warm up slowly as the oven preheats. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the middles are bubbly. If you’re baking them fresh and not frozen they take about 45 minutes.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting

It's Fall! Bring on the yummy treats!

I made these for a brunch and they were so good! I did add some cream cheese frosting drizzled on top as well as the caramel frosting and they were dreamy.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting
Recipe Anatomy

1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin or mashed cooked pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg,beaten
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar,packed (or more if you like)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or more if you like)
2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar,packed
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 dash salt
3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1. In small saucepan, heat milk and 2 tablespoons butter just until warm and butter is almost melted,stirring constantly. In large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin,sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and beat with electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in egg and yeast.

2. Add half of flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Beat mixture on low speed 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly (dough will be very soft). Turn into lightly greased bowl, then grease surface of dough lightly.

3. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Turn onto floured surface. Knead a few turns to form a smooth dough,sprinkling with enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 12x10 inch rectangle.

4. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush surface of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Beginning with long side of dough, roll up jellyroll style. Pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, cut roll into 12 1- inch slices. Place rolls, cut side up, on a cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Bake rolls at 350 degrees about 20 minutes or until cooked. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with Caramel frosting. Makes 12 rolls.

Frosting: In small saucepan, heat butter until melted. Stir in brown sugar and milk.  Cook over medium heat for one minute. Transfer to small mixer bowl and cool mixture. Stir in vanilla, salt, and confectioners' sugar. Beat with electric mixer until well blended.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cucumber Salad

My garden is finally starting to produce. My tomatoes are ripe (in mid-September)! This is one of my favorite recipes to use all those home-grown cucumbers and tomatoes. I leave out the onions more often than not, and almost like it depends on my mood! I can eat this for lunch and be a happy woman!

Cucumber Salad

6 cucumbers peeled, seeded and sliced
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. Vegetable oil (I use about half that)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix together all ingredients. Toss gently and refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Penne Rosa with Shrimp

I think this would be great with shrimp, but since I didn't have any I made it without. It was still delicious, and would also be good with chicken or tofu.

Penne Rosa with Shrimp
by Cassie Johnston

Ingredients (6 servings)

12 ounces whole wheat penne (or whatever pasta you want)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups fresh spinach
10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled
and deveined
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.

Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their water. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.

Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and pasta sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lemonade Layer Cake

I made this for our annual back to school celebration. It was the perfect cake for our theme, and was delicious!

Lemonade Layer Cake
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 TB butter, softened
zest of one lemon
3 TB thawed lemonade concentrate
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Place sugar, butter, zest, lemonade and vanilla in a mixer and mix until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mixed together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to batter, alternating with buttermilk, until all dry ingredients and buttermilk are well blended. Pour into two well greased 8 or 9 inch round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

2 TB butter, softened
zest of one lemon
2 TB thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 tsp. vanilla
* I added 1 tsp. Lemon extract because I LOVE extra lemony flavor!
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix together all ingredients except powdered sugar and blend well. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until blended. Don't over beat. Frost cake.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Molten Chocolate Cakes

This recipe comes from the Ivory Keeping Up cookbook. It's always a hit at parties, and is great because you can make it ahead of time.

*and yes, I use the same dishes in every picture haha!

Molten Chocolate Cakes

1cup chocolate chip
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour

Generously butter six 1/2 cup ramekins or custard cups. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave at half power, stirring occasionally. Whisk eggs in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, then the chocolate mixture, and finally the flour. Pour batter into greased dishes, dividing equally. (can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.)

Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven until cakes have risen above the rim, but centers remain "molten", about 11 minutes (14-16 minutes if refrigerated). Run a knife or small spatula around the edges to loosen cakes, then carefully turn them out on to serving plates. Decorate plate with raspberry coulis and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Raspberry Coulis:
1 (10 oz. ) package frozen raspberries, thawed
2-3 TB. sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, or to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree raspberries with sugar and lemon juice. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on seeds. Coulis keeps for 3 days, covered and chilled.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Enchilada Casser-Ole!

Enchilada Casser-Ole!

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, taco seasoning and cumin. Place three tortillas in a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro.
Yield: 8 servings.

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Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars

Yum! I wish I would have had some heavy cream on hand. I think some coconut whipped cream (just add 2 tsp.coconut extract to your regular whipped cream recipe) would have made these even better.

Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars
Recipe & photo from add a pinch

1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
pinch of salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup flake coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. To make crust: Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, melted butter, and salt. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.
3. To make cheesecake filling: Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until well combined. Add in lime zest, lime juice and vanilla and cream together until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, combining completely before adding the next egg. Stir in coconut flakes. Spread over graham cracker crust mixture.
4. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and refrigerate.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Strawberry Ice Cream

strawberry ice cream

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl, set aside in fridge for 1 hour.

In large mixing bowl beat eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add 3/4 cups sugar, mixing well. Stir in milk and vanilla and mix well.

Add strawberries with juice and mix well.

Gently stir in whipping cream just until combined.

Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

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Pasta Pan-Fried with Butternut Squash, Fried Sage, and Pine Nuts

Pasta Pan-Fried with Butternut Squash, Fried Sage, and Pine Nuts

1 medium butternut squash
1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1 pound farfalle pasta
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces high quality Parmesan, shredded or shaved (about a cup total)
Heavy cream

Heat the oven to 375°. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds the middle cavity. Flip the squash halves upside down and peel them. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the onion, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and also toss with the squash.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Heat salted pasta water to boiling and cook the farfalle until al dente. Drain and set aside. As the squash finishes roasting, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large high-sided sauté pan or wok. The oil is ready when it pops and sputters. (Don't let it start smoking.) Drop in the rest of the sage leaves and fry for about a minute, or until they begin to just shrivel up.

Remove with a slotted spoon and salt lightly. Crush with the back of a spoon.

Add the pasta to the pan, along with the roasted squash mixture. Crumble in the sage. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes or until the pasta is heated through and getting crispy on some of the edges. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute. Stir in the cheese and a few splashes of heavy cream and serve.

(if your pan is not large enough you can split the frying into two portions. Also, the cream was not part of the original recipe and is optional, but I found it added just the right touch.)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Welcome to Summer Gourmet Night - May 30, 2012

Avocado Bean Dip - Nabby

1 15 oz can of white beans(navy beans), drained
1/2 cup salsa (I prefer the pico de gallo variety)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 Tb chopped diced green chilis (I use canned
)2 Tb chopped cilantro
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 +1/8 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients and serve with chips!

Spinach Avacado Salad ---Donna Burton

3 headache romaine lettuce 
1bag spinach
 1cup bacon bits 
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
 3/4 cup chopped red onion
 1cup craisins
 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
 3 avacados, sliced (she added 1 more) 
CroutonsSliced or slivered almonds, toasted

3/4 T. Poppy seeds 
1/3 c. White vinegar 
1/3 c. Olive oil 
1/3c. Sugar ( she used Algave) 
1/4 c. Grated onion 
3/4 tsp. salt 
2 T. Prepared mustard (yellow)

My Favorite Pasta Salad 
1 box of orzo pasta (I usually do  bowtie or penne instead)
1/3 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C capers
1/3 C toasted pine nuts
1/2 C Calmatta olives, pitted (I often leave these out)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 lb feta
fresh basil leaves
lemon zest from 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste
Cook orzo per box's instructions. Drain. Mix lemon juice, olive oil and
salt and pepper together and then pour over orzo. Add capers, toasted pine
nuts, olives, fresh basil and lemon zest. Stir well. Mix in diced tomatoes
and feta right before serving.

Baked Beans - Chelsey Adams
1/2 lb. bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 (15 oz.) cans pork and beans
1 (16 oz) can butter beans or great northern beans
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 C. ketchup
3 TB vinegar
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 TB liquid smoke

Brown onion; fry and crumble bacon.  Do not drain beans.  combine ingredients and bake uncovered 2-3 hours in a 325 degree oven.

Watermelon- Mint - Feta Salad

    • 1 7-8 lb. seedless watermelon, chilled
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 limes, juiced
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
    • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best, but any feta is good)

  • Sweet Corn Bread

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set
  • aside. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Pour wet mixture into dry
  • mixture and mix. Pour into a greased 8X8 square pan. Bake 35 minutes.

  • Wet ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups milk

  • Cinnamon Honey Butter - Barefoot Contessa
  • Ingredients
    • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 tablespoons good honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Serve at room temperature.

    • Pork Sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw - Pioneer Woman


      • 1 whole Onion, Peeled And Quartered
      • 1 whole Pork Butt (pork Shoulder Roast)
      • Salt And Pepper
      • 1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
      • 2 cans Cola (Dr Pepper, Coke, Etc.)
      • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
      • 12 whole Good Quality Kaiser Or Deli Rolls
      • 12 Tablespoons Butter
      • 1/2 head Cabbage, Sliced Thin
      • 1/2 head Purple Cabbage, Sliced Thin
      • 1 whole Jalapeno, Halved Lengthwise And Thinly Sliced
      • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
      • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
      • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
      • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
      • 2 cups Cilantro Leaves, Barely Chopped

      Preparation Instructions

      Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
      Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.
      Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.
      Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.
      Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.)
      Combine shredded cabbage and sliced jalapenos in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Pour over cabbage. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate two hours.
      Before serving, toss in cilantro leaves.
      Butter both halves of Kaiser rolls, then brown them on a griddle or skillet until golden and crisp on the surface. Load up each sandwich with shredded pork, then REALLY load them up with the slaw.
      The magic is in the combination of the hot liquid from the meat and the cool, creamy liquid from the slaw.

Strawberry Trifle
2 8-oz pkgs. cream cheese (I used the reduced fat/Neufatchel)
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. sour cream (light works great)
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract, divided
1/4 t. almond extract (optional)
1/2 pint whipping cream
4 T. sugar, divided
1 angel food cake, cubed
2 qts. strawberries, sliced.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Add sour cream, 1/2 t. vanilla, and almond extract; set aside.  Blend whipping cream, remaining vanilla, and one Tbl sugar.  Fold into cream cheese mixture.  Add angel food cake pieces.  Combine strawberries and remaining sugar.  In a a large glass bowl, layer strawberries, then cake mixture.  Continue layering, ending with strawberries as top.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

No-Bake Energy Bites

These were so easy to make and they taste delish! They get a thumbs up from the kids.
The add-in options are endless. I think dried fruit would be great in these. You can substitute, add, our omit ingredients as you wish!
No-Bake Energy Bites
1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional. I used mini chips)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir all ingredients together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Gourmet Night- April 2012

 The Menu:
Appetizer- Italian goat cheese and pesto torta
Drink- Strawberry Lemonade punch
Salad- Mixed Greens with apples, feta, bacon, & walnuts 
 Horseradish dressing
Main Course- Spicy Grilled Tilapia with Creamy Grits and Mushroom Scallion Sauce
Dessert- Raspberry Pistachio Cheesecake


Italian Goat Cheese and Pesto Torta

4 oz. goat cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
salt, pepper
3 Tb tomato paste
3/4 c. minced, sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil 
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 c. pesto (must be thick)
Line medium sized bowl with saran wrap, edges hanging over.  Spray saran wrap with Pam.  Combine goat cheese, cream cheese and salt and pepper with electric mixer until smooth.  Reserve 1/3 cup mixture.  To reserved 1/3 c. mixture, add tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.  Mix with spatula until smooth.  Take half of goat cheese mixture and spread on bottom of bowl.  This part can be a little tricky since the plastic wrap likes to stick to the cheese and not the bowl as you’re trying to spread it!  I would suggest using a large, flat spoon (like a serving spoon) and run it under hot water until the spoon is warm.  Then using the back side of the spoon, gently press the cheese mixture along the bottom of the bowl.  (The warmth of the spoon will keep the cheese from sticking to it. If it starts sticking again, go run it under the hot water again.)  Next spread with pesto, then with sun-dried tomato mixture.  Smooth remainder of cheese mixture on top using the warmed-spoon trick.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.  Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
10 oz. frozen thawed strawberries
8 oz. can crushed pineapple
2 liters gingerale

blend first 3 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. When serving, put mixture in punch bowl and add gingerale. Garnish with fresh cut strawberries if desired.
*I doubled this recipe for gourmet night

Mixed Green salad with Horseradish dressing 

12 cups mixed greens
candied walnuts
1 pkg. cooked and crumbled bacon
8 oz. feta cheese
1 apple, diced (I diced mine ahead of time and put in a container with some gingerale. Shake up the container to ensure the apples are all coated. No browning!)

Horseradish dressing:
1 lemon
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
3 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground pepper

Zest the lemon, then juice half of it. In a jar, combine juice & zest with remaining ingredients, stir, then cover the jar and shake. Taste and adjust to make it spicier, creamier, or sweeter to your preference.  
* this has a kick! I doubled this recipe for gourmet night and ended up only using about 2 TB. of horseradish. I'd suggest adding just a little at a time until it's the right level for your tastebuds :)

*I forgot to take a picture of my main course but I found this one online. Similar, but not quite what mine looked like!

Spicy Grilled Tilapia with Creamy Grits and Mushroom Scallion Sauce

Mushroom Scallion Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms (cremini)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)
  • Salt and black pepper


  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauteed Carrots:

  • 4-5 whole peeled carrots, tops removed, sliced lengthwise (I used a cheese slicer for thin slices)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • 6 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Jamaican jerk seasoning 
Mushroom Scallion Sauce: Melt butter in a large saute pan. Saute mushrooms and scallions for about 3 minutes. Stir in wine and heavy cream. Season with garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir until sauce thickens slightly. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Grits: Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in grits, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Turn down heat, cover, and cook until grits thicken to desired consistency, stirring frequently. Keep warm until ready to serve.* not too long or they will get rubbery.

Sauteed Carrots: Heat saute pan to medium high. Add olive oil, carrot ribbons, salt & pepper and saute until just tender.

Tilapia:  Rinse and dry fillets and then sprinkle each side liberally with jerk seasoning. Place in a baking dish rubbed with butter and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily. You can also grill or broil.

Plate entree by spooning grits on center of plate. Lay tilapia on top of grits. Top with mushroom scallion sauce, lay the carrot slices on top of fish in a criss-cross manner and serve immediately.








Raspberry Pistachio Cheesecake
Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust
  • ¼ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature for at least 6 hours
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste, or seeds from 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • ½-1 cup raspberry jam
  • ½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground
  • 3 (1/2-pint) containers raspberries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Bring water to a boil for a water bath. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan, wrap in aluminum foil so outside is completely covered; set aside.2. To make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the pistachios with the sugar and the salt until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs and butter, and mix to combine. Press the graham cracker mixture over the bottom of the buttered pan. Set aside.
3. To make the filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla paste or seeds on medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl several times, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 5 minutes.
4. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the eggs one at a time, until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until blended.
5. Place the cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cake pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour in the boiling water to come about ½ inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Chill for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight, in the pan.
6. To finish, remove cake from the pan. In a small saucepan, warm the jam over low heat until liquid. Let cook slightly. Brush the top and sides of the cheesecake with the jam. Cover the top of the cake with a single layer of raspberries. Holding the cake with one hand under the bottom, and working over a sheet pan to catch the excess, gently press the ground pistachios all around the side of the cake. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

 oh. my. heavens.
I made these homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs for Easter and they are to die for AND super easy!
No-Bake Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs

  • 1¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • Chocolate Almond Bark, or candy melts
  1. In a large bowl mix together peanut butter, butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and salt until well combined. You may have to use your hands if you're not using a stand mixer.
  2. Roll dough out on a wax paper lined surface to a generous 1/4" thickness.(place a another piece of wax paper over dough for easier rolling). Remove top piece of wax paper and using a small oval cookie cutter, cut out your eggs and place on wax paper lined pan. Reroll scraps and cut again. *I molded my dough into my deviled egg tray. SO much easier! Just spray with non-stick spray first to ensure easy removal once frozen. One batch made 12 eggs.
  3. Place cut eggs in the freezer for one hour, or until firm.
  4. Melt chocolate according to instructions on package. I used half a package of Almond Bark.
  5. Using a fork, dunk each frozen egg in the chocolate, tapping off the excess. Use a spoon to push egg off fork on to wax paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set.
  6. Enjoy!
These can be made using any cookie cutter shape, or you could even shape dough by hand.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexican Chicken Chili

Mexican Chicken Chili

3 Pablano Peppers
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño
5 tomatillos, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 12 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can green chilies
2 green onions
1 can Ranch Style Beans, not drained
1 can black bean, drained and rinsed
3 chicken breasts
1 chicken bouillon cube
3/4 cup water
juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, place pablano peppers, seeded and chopped; quartered red onion, jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped; tomatillos and garlic cloves. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for about 45 minutes or until very soft. Stirring 2-3 times. Remove from oven and let cool. Then add roasted veggie mixture to blender or food processor with the canned tomatoes, green chilies and green onion. Blend until well processed. 

Next, add the veggie mixture to a slow cooker. Add chicken breasts and chicken bouillon cube. Cook until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Place the chicken back to slow cooker and add the canned beans and water. Cook for an additional 2 hours or more if you need to. Right before servicing add the juice of a lime. 

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips. Or dip casadillas in the chili. Enjoy! 

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