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Friday Recipe Exchange: Sitting on the Porch, Sipping a Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Sprizter

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

It is too hot to cook. Mostly I take fresh fruits and veggies and toss them in a salad. I am waiting with anticipation for this year’s crop of peaches to begin to show up from Palisades, CO. Next to sweet corn, it is my favorite summer Colorado crop. Once they get here, we’ll revisit some of my favorite peach recipes. Until then I thought it would be fun to mix up some drinks to keep things cool.

Starting with Thai Iced Tea, from cyber friend, Tes at Home (recipe here), who is originally from Thailand and now lives in India and shares her food and travel adventures on her blog.

Next up, a couple of Watermelon Cooler recipes can be found here.

I love my Mimosas, but a few years back, someone introduced me to Poinsettias (recipe here), which I find equally delicious at brunch.

For the rest of our drink recipes, including a martini, old-fashioned lemonade, iced coffees, smoothies and more, click here.

I’m crazy busy this weekend, visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanic Gardens and then off to the World Lacrosse Championships (I won tickets! I was going anyway, but this was a pleasant surprise). What’s on your plate this weekend, real and metaphorically? Have any favorite summer drinks or unique takes on the classics? What’s your “too hot to cook” go-to recipe? Share your ideas and recipes in the comments.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I picked an unusual, but tasty, spritzer. One night a few summers back I received a phone call from a friend who said her husband had just made the most amazing drink and I had to try it. I said, ‘send the recipe and photos and I’ll share it’.  A few minutes later I received the email. I read through the recipe and thought, there is no way this can be good.

But, to my surprise, it was delicious. So if you’re looking for something just a bit unique and refreshing, this is it.

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Soda water or carbonated water

Put rhubarb pieces, water, sugar, and rosemary leaves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb pieces will disintegrate.  Remove from heat. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon juice. If too sweet for taste, add a little more lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.  To serve, fill a quarter to a half of the glass with the lemon, rhubarb, rosemary syrup, and the rest with soda water.

Makes about 3 cups of syrup, and 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of spritzer.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be travelling so there won’t be an exchange. And if you missed it, JeffreyW posted a stunning photo this week (I know what’s new? But this one is beautiful and unusual).  - TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Crispy Pecan Fish, Broccoli in Wine Sauce, and Shortbread

I thought I might post a grilling recipe this week, but our weather has been unsettle with thunderstorms, hail and tornado warnings that means grilling is out at the moment. This is a good menu if you’re stuck inside. I’ll have a grilling theme for the recipe exchange tomorrow. On the board tonight:

  1. Crispy Pecan Fish
  2. Hearty Bread
  3. Broccoli w/Garlic Wine Sauce
  4. Shortbread

Crispy Pecan Fish

  • 4-6 oz fish fillets –you’ll want a firm fish such as: red snapper, catfish, tilapia or haddock
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp thyme, crushed
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

2 bowls, skillet Mix together in a bowl: flour, ½ of each: cayenne, thyme, paprika, salt & pepper in large bowl. Heat oil in skillet. Put milk in separate bowl. Dip fish in milk, dredge in flour mixture and add to pan. Cook over med-high heat, turning once until golden brown on both sides. About 5-6 minutes. Remove fish, keep warm. Drain oil and then add butter to skillet, melt and add pecans, remaining half of spices, cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until pecans are lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add lemon juice, spoon evenly over fish portions & serve. Broccoli w/Garlic Wine Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 cup dry white wine (non-alcoholic ok)
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet w/cover Heat oil, add garlic & broccoli, sauté 3-4 minutes. Add wine and let it boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, lower heat to medium-low and cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium and let remaining liquid simmer away, about 5 minutes more. Keep a close eye; you don’t want it to scorch. What you’re doing with this method is reducing the liquid until it is absorbed completely by the vegetables. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Shortbread

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour

baking sheet Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour. Chill for an hour. Divide in half. Place each half on baking sheet and pat each into approx. 7 inch circle. Prick each with a fork to make 16 wedges (total of 32). Bake for 30 minutes at 300°

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Dinner Menu: Bacon Squash Campanelle and Panna Cotta Parfait

I’m always looking for something different to do with pasta that is flavorful and moves away from the traditional tomato based sauces of my childhood. Tonight’s main course is just that. Butternut squash with a bit of heat and a bit of sweet, all brought together by smoky bacon and creamy chèvre. Finish off  the meal with a light, sweet Panna Cotta Parfait. Panna Cottas are traditionally molded desserts, but I think we been doing this together long enough that you know I’m all about keeping it simple. And Panna Cotta is as simple as it gets, unless of course you choose to mold it, then a thousand things can go wrong between placing it in the ramekin and serving it to your guests. Thanks but no thanks, it looks quite elegant in a wine glass, topped with a pretty berry topping. And I don’t have to worry that the last 5 minutes of prep are going to leave me with a blob of great tasting shapelessness on a plate. But that’s just me.

On the board tonight:

  1. Bacon and Squash Campanelle
  2. Tossed Salad (try these)
  3. Panna Cotta Parfait

Bacon and Squash Campanelle

  • 10-12 oz campanelle or penne pasta
  • 4 slices thick pepper bacon (usually find at the deli counter), cut into 1/4” piecesCampanelle
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small tart apple, cored and diced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz chèvre cheese (or similar), crumbled.
  • Fresh grated parmesan

Large saucepan, large, deep skillet

In saucepan cook pasta according to package directions, well. While pasta is cooking, brown bacon in skillet, remove to paper towel. Drain all but 2 tbsp of bacon drippings (or use all of it if you desire and reduce olive oil – you’ll want a 1/4 cup total). Add olive oil and sauté onion, rosemary and garlic until onions are translucent. Add squash, apple, pepper flakes and chicken broth. Simmer over medium heat until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove rosemary, add bacon, chèvre and salt and pepper to taste, stir until cheese is melted. Toss squash mixture and pasta together and serve with parmesan.

Panna Cotta Parfait

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod (or one tsp vanilla extract)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 lb blueberries (or other berries)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

2 saucepans, 6 wine glasses or other stemware

Change it up, use a variety of stemware

Change it up, use a variety of stemware

Panna Cotta:

Place 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Add lemon juice to remaining milk. Let both mixtures stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour gelatin milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil. Add the lemon milk mixture, cream, sugar, and salt. Split vanilla pod lengthwise and add to mixture. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove bean pod. Pour mixture into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours, overnight is better.

Berry Topping:

In saucepan add berries, sugar and water. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cornstarch and stir in completely. Reduce heat and let simmer until berries are soft and sauce coats the back of the spoon. Cool completely.

Spoon the berries mixture over the top the panna cotta and serve.

 

 

Shopping List:

  • 10-12 oz campanelle or penne pasta
  • 4 slices thick pepper bacon (usually find at the deli counter)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 small tart apple
  • 12 oz chicken broth
  • 4 oz chèvre cheese (or similar)
  • Fresh grated parmesan
  • Salad fixin’s
  • Salad dressing (Italian or oil & vinegar goes well with this recipe)
  • 12 oz whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 16 oz heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod (or one tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 lb blueberries (or other berries)

Also: crushed garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, cornstarch

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

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I’m neck deep in painting a porch glider before the weekend rains come, so this will be quick tonight. When JeffreyW posted the photo above, I knew I wanted to try the recipe, so it became the featured recipe tonight.

He also posted this delicious recipe this week: Moroccan Spicy Lamb Soup, pictures and recipe here.

And earlier this week, I made one of my favorite pasta dishes, Pasticcio, full dinner menu, recipes and shopping list here.

It’s meager offerings, so spice things up and share some of your favorite recipes in the comments. You know what I’m doing this weekend, what’s on your to-do list? And if I missed a recipe step in my haste, let me know in the comments and I’ll fix it.

For tonight’s featured recipe:

From JeffreyW:

I’m on a chicken recipe spree!  At least until I run out of chicken breasts, anyway.  This recipe from Emeril Lagasse looked pretty good, with the added bonus of  the side dish calling for the truffle oil that rounded out a recent online order I placed a while back and was looking for a place to use.

I didn’t have the proper arborio rice so I used the  jasmine variety that I do keep on hand and has worked for me before.  Instead of Parmesan I used fresh grated pecorino.  The mushrooms were the usual supermarket white buttons, nothing fancy.  I think I can take or leave the truffle oil, it not adding any particular enjoyment for me but I’ll wait a while and try it elsewhere before I make up my mind.

The goat cheese filling worked very well, every time I made a cut a little more oozed out and was quickly mopped up.  I used a lot more garlic than the recipe wanted.

Adapted from Emeril:

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon  cajun spice mix or Emeril’s Essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter or vegetable oil
  • Mushroom Risotto, recipe follows, if desired
  • Julienned carrots, accompaniment, recipe follows
  • Chopped fresh parsley, garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a chicken breast flat on a cutting board, using a sharp knife, about 1/3 of the way down the thick side, cut a deep pocket horizontally into the center of the meat about 3/4 of the way down, being careful not to cut through to the other side. (The pocket will be about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep.) Repeat with the remaining breasts. Wash hands well.

In a small bowl, mash together the goat cheese, butter, chives, parsley, thyme, lemon juice and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide into 4 equal pieces and form plugs to fit inside the chicken breasts. Insert 1 into each breast and press the edges of chicken meat to seal. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a large shallow bowl, combine the flour and the Essence. In another bowl, beat the egg with the water.

One at a time, lightly dust the chicken on both sides with the flour, then dip in the egg, shaking to remove any excess. Place again in the flour and turn to completely coat, shaking to remove any excess. Set aside.

In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Arrange the risotto in the center of 4 plates and place the chicken to the side. Arrange the carrots along the bottom of the plates, and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Risotto

  • 5 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 12 ounces assorted mushrooms washed, thinly sliced,
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh grated pecorino.
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons truffle oil, optional
  • 4 ounces prosciutto or Serrano ham, thinly sliced

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low to keep hot.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until wilted and their liquid is evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly all evaporated. Add 3/4 cup of the stock, the salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is nearly all evaporated. Continue adding more stock 1/2 cup at a time as the previous addition is nearly absorbed, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and the parsley and mix well.

Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. If desired, stir in truffle oil to taste.

Serve immediately, topping each portion with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and ham.

Full Menu: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast and Ice Cream Delight

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Pot Roast and Veggies, photo by JeffreyW

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so of course I wanted pot roast. I love pot roast. Throwing the ingredients in the slow-cooker and coming home to a true comfort food dinner is just what this week needs. 

You can substitute beef broth for the wine if you like.  The frozen pie is the favorite of a friend of mine, I’d never even heard of it before, but she said she grew up with it.  It is easy enough to make and I love chocolate and mint together, so it was a no-brainer when she suggested it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Slow-cooker Pot Roast
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Ice Cream Delight

Slow-cooker Pot Roast

  • 4 lbs Pot Roast (chuck roast)
  • ¼ red wine
  • ¼ cup beef broth or water
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots

slow-cooker

Optional:  coat roast in 1 tbsp flour and brown on all sides in 2 tbsp oil in skillet before adding to slow-cooker.  Nice, but not necessary for great flavor.

Add roast & liquid to slow-cooker.  Sprinkle rosemary, dill, bay leaves, salt & pepper on top of roast.  Add in order: onion, potatoes and carrots (this keeps carrots from over cooking).  Cover & cook according to your slow-cooker directions (they vary considerably) usually 8 to 10 hours on low.

Gravy – When I use a slow-cooker, I usually cheat a bit on the gravy.  I take ½ cup of beef broth and mix with 1 tbsp of flour, stirring well. I then bring the beef juices (about 1 cup, if more, you’ll need more flour) in the slow-cooker to a boil and stir in the flour mixture, stirring at a boil until thickened.  Then I reduce the heat back to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Not as tasty as a gravy started with a roux, but it does the trick and you’ll never have lumps.

Ice Cream Delight

  • 8 oz Oreo style cookies
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 qt. mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 6 oz chocolate topping
  • 4 oz whipped cream (I go for the real thing)

8×8 baking dish

Crush cookies in a blender until fine crumbs.  Mix ½ of the crumbs with melted butter, spread on the bottom of baking dish, don’t pack down.  Cut ice cream into 1-inch thick slices and layer on crust (or let melt enough to be spreadable and spread with a large spatula).  Spread chocolate, then whipped topping on top.  Sprinkle remaining cookie crumbs over top.  Freeze.

Shopping List:

  • Salad fixins’
  • 4 lbs Pot Roast
  • 2 oz red wine
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots
  • 8 oz Oreo style cookies
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 qt. mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 6 oz chocolate topping
  • 4 oz whipped cream (I go for making my own or the canned cream in the dairy section)

Also: beef broth, rosemary, dried dill, 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper,

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

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Tonight is a bit hodgepodge. While I was away, faithful contributor, Joshua D (Yutsano) sent me two tasty recipes to share. I was grateful, because lately I feel like I’m walking on ice and cannot get my feet under me long enough to cook, much less blog about cooking. I’m sitting on a folder full of great vacation pictures and some fun food stories that I can’t seem to find the time to blog about. I struggled with tonight’s featured recipe, finally settling on lamb, but not sure where I wanted to go from there and then I remembered that JeffreyW has been working for quite a while on perfecting his gyros.

And there it was, I knew what I’d feature tonight. What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything new and fun cooking in your kitchen? Be kind and share your inspiration, so I can find mine.

Moving on to tonight’s recipes, starting with Joshua D and Cilantro Lime Hummus, recipe here.

From Ruemara, thoughtfully shared by Joshua D, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Soup, recipe here.

And if making a gyro loaf seems a bit too labor intensive, this Spicy Lamb Burger (click here) would work as well with pita and Tzatziki sauce.

Now the featured recipe, inspired by JeffreyW (pictured above):

Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Food processor, loaf pan, baking dish

Ok, these are the general directions, but JeffreyW has been playing with perfecting the preparation, so click here and here for lots of step-by-step photos and his tweaks to make the perfect loaf.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until well mixed and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Remove to food processor and process until a fine paste. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Place meat mixture into a loaf pan, pressing down on all sides. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish and add water to the baking dish to create a water bath. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove and rest covered with foil for 30 minutes. Slice and serve

Serve with:

  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
  • 4 to 6 pieces soft pita (not pocket pita)
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Finely sliced onion
  • Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
  • Mint sprigs

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Can I just say, thank goodness for Men Who Cook here at What’s 4 Dinner Solutions, I don’t know what I’d do without you  - TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Valentine’s Day Dishes

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, I thought it was a good time to repeat my annual holiday menu. I prefer this to going out to a crowded restaurant. Easy to fix, but looks and tastes quite elegant. From 2010:

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

Every year around this time, one of my local grocers offers Cornish Game Hens in packages where they are cut in half. I decided I needed to do something with this idea, so the Valentine’s menu was born. When they are cut in half, it reduced cooking time enough for the recipe to be workable on a week night. Since Valentine’s falls on a Sunday this year, using whole game hens seems reasonable, too. Longer cooking time, but worth it. In case you’re feeling really ambitious, click here for JeffreyW’s wonderful stuffing recipe.  And if you’re looking for a more elegant dessert for Valentine’s Day try this recipe for Raspberry-Chocolate Cupcakes in Raspberry Sauce.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cornish Game Hens w/Stuffing
  2. Buttered Peas and Carrots
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cornish game hen

Cornish Game Hens

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ cup boiling water or chicken broth
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half *
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

9×13 glass baking dish

Add stuffing mix, 2 tbsp melted butter and boiling water to baking dish, stir & spread evenly over bottom of baking dish. Lay hens cut side down over stuffing (it’s a tight fit, but you should be able to get all 8 halves in the 13×9 pan). Melt remaining butter, add spices and mix well. Brush some over hens and continue to baste every 10-15 minutes while baking. Bake at 350 to 375° until internal temperature is 175 ° about 45 minutes. Remove, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4

*Hens will have to thawed completely and you’ll need a sharp knife to cut them in half. You can check with your butcher to see if they’ll cut them for you. If you don’t want to cut them in half, cook them whole and allow 1 hour 10 minutes cooking time.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses

2 bowls and baking sheet

Combine peanut butter, butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in bowl. Beat with mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add egg, beat until blended. In small bowl, combine flour, salt & soda. Add to creamed mixture at low-speed until just blended (don’t over mix). Scrape sides and bottom and make sure all flour is mixed. Drop by heaping teaspoon full onto baking sheet, unwrap kisses and press 1 into each cookie. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove to racks and cool.

Shopping List:

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half if possible
  • chunky peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz bag frozen peas and carrots
  • Tossed salad ingredients

Also: rosemary, sage, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, milk, flour, baking soda, chicken broth

Friday Recipe Exchange: Fajitas

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I know it’s a big party weekend, but since we’ve covered Super Bowl snacks twice already in the recipe exchange, I didn’t see how I could get away with it again this year. For those snacks ideas, click here and here.  All those recipes should give you plenty of ideas for your Super Bowl Party. Obligatory, Go Broncos! 

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Or more importantly, what are you making for the Puppy Bowl? Might I suggest Puppy Chow? Seriously good snack! And who are you picking for the big game?

Now about those fajitas. A while ago, JeffreyW posted about making his own fajita seasoning and I was curious. We emailed back and forth a few times about good recipes and then I was ready to make my own. I can’t imagine I will ever buy taco or fajita seasoning again. It’s easy to make and I can control the salt, which is a plus. And fajitas are a quick, simple dinner for any night of the week.

Here’s the recipe that started it all: JeffreyW’s Chicken Fajitas (pictured above), click here.

And then here’s where I went with it:

fajitas

Steak Fajitas

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange or red pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs sirloin or flank steak
  • olive oil and butter
  • 10 flour tortillas

Fajita Seasoning

Mix together the following and store in an airtight container.

  • 2 tbsp chili powder (I used a combo of chili and ancho chili powders)
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Slice the sirloin very thin – which is easier to do if it’s slightly frozen,  then coat the meat thoroughly with 1 to 2 tbsp of the seasoning and set aside. I grilled onions in a bit of butter and olive oil until they were nicely caramelized, removed and set aside. I then sautéed the peppers with a bit more olive oil until they were soft, removed and set aside. Then I quickly fried up the beef in olive oil, adding a touch of lime and water at the end to create a bit of a sauce with the fajita seasoning. Served with warmed tortillas.

Easy way to warm tortilla – wrap in foil and leave in a 200 degree oven while prepping dinner.

That’s it for this week. We’re snowed under here, but I stayed warm with two good recipes this week:  Stuffed French Toast Rollups and the weekly Dinner Menu, Crispy Potato Chicken.  See you next week – TaMara

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Stuffed French Toast Rollups

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

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Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi.

Topping:

  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1 oz grated parmesan or Romano cheese

Gnocchi:

  • 15 oz Ricotta (whole or low-fat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unbleached flour

large stock pot, mixing bowl, mixer, glass baking dish- lightly oiled

While preparing gnocchi, bring water to boil in large sauce pan or stock pot. In a mixing bowl, mix together Ricotta and eggs. Add parmesan, salt, pepper and flour, stir in by hand until combined, do not over mix.  Bring water up to a low boil, you’ll want a low boil to keep the dough from falling apart as it hits the water.  Form dough into cookie dough sized balls (I use a cookie scoop, you can use two tablespoons) and drop into boiling water. Do not crowd, cook in several batches as needed (I managed 12-13 per batch of 1″ balls). Cook for 7 minutes, remove with slotted spoon, draining well,  to baking dish. When all the gnocchi are cooked, cover with sauce, and top with cheeses. Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until cheese is bubbling.

This week I actually made this a day ahead, keeping the gnocchi, sauce and topping separate, so I could bribe the guys at work to attend a lunch meeting.  I put it together and baked just before serving and it turned out very well.  I baked it for 20 minutes until it was heated through.

Broiled Asparagus

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

baking sheet

Cut woody stems off of asparagus and toss lightly with olive oil. Spread onto baking sheet in one layer. Broil until lightly brown and tender, turning as each side browns, about 8-12 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Strawberry Bread

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries, thawed & chopped*
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

loaf pan, greased

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, strawberries and pecans. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then run knife around edges & remove to cool on wire rack.

*I pureed mine, works fine, needs additional 5 minutes cooking time

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 3 oz grated parmesan or Romano
  • 15 oz Ricotta (Whole or low-fat)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 loaf nice crusty bread
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz chopped pecans

Also: garlic, dried oregano (or fresh), salt, pepper, flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, olive oil, cinnamon, sugar

Originally Posted January 2010

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