Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

It’s all about making things easy for a New Year’s Eve gathering. After all, you don’t want to be slaving over the hot stove while everyone’s eating and drinking, do you? What I love about this dish is that you can pull the shrimp straight out of the freezer and bake them without thawing. Serve this on New Year’s Eve and put little bowls around the table for shells. Everyone will love it. Guaranteed.

Happy New Year! See you next year with all new recipes!

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Serves 8

2 pounds raw shrimp, deveined, shells on
2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cups fresh parsley
½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 whole lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and red pepper. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.

Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly.

Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, then dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms

I’ll admit I don’t particularly like onions but this recipe made me think otherwise. I love stuffed mushrooms in any form and this is a fun variation on them. You’ll love these and so will your guests. Watch them disappear before your eyes!

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 8

2 tablespoons butter
2 whole large onions, halved and sliced thin
¼ cups beef broth
7 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Splash of red or white wine
½ cups grated Gruyere cheese (can use Swiss)
Kosher Salt
24 whole white or crimini mushrooms, washed and stems removed
Minced parsley

In a medium skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Splash in wine, broth, and Worcestershire. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until liquid is cooked down. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in mushrooms and toss around for 2 minutes, just to start the cooking process. Sprinkle mushrooms with salt.

Place mushroom caps face down in a baking dish. Heap cavities with sautéed mushrooms, and then sprinkle Gruyere over the top. Bake at 10 minutes on 325 degrees. Turn on broiler and broil for a couple of minutes, until the top of the Gruyere starts to bubble and slightly turn brown.

Sprinkle minced parsley over the top and serve.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls

Ring in the New Year with this easy, mouthwatering appetizer. Once you make these, you’ll be the hit at every party and your chicken cheese balls will be in high demand. People will be clamoring to have you make them for every get together, potluck and football party. Consider yourself warned…

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls
Makes 15 to 20 balls

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
¼ cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ¾ cups sharp Cheddar
1 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying

Blue Cheese Dip:
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
½ cup packed blue cheese, broken up
½ teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Have oil heated to 350 degrees.

Pick the meat from the chicken and discard the skin. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the hot sauce, pepper and cheese, and toss to combine. Roll the chicken into 2-ounce balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Roll each ball in the flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs. Set aside.

When the oil is hot fry the chicken balls in batches. Cook for about 2 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken to paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the chicken alongside the dipping sauce.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I was first introduced to popovers when dining at Lawry’s The Prime Rib and it was love at first bite. This is the perfect complement for prime rib and is definitely better than your standard pop-in-the-oven biscuits or crescent rolls. Think popovers are hard to make? Well, this recipe will disprove that theory. It’s simple and simply delicious.

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Makes 12 popovers

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups milk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Generously grease aluminum popover pans or Pyrex custard cups with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Carrot Cupcakes

Though he claims to have already checked his list twice, who’s to say a delicious cupcake that stands out from your neighbors’ cookies won’t change Santa’s mind and land you on his nice list? Never fear: These are terrifically moist and carroty cupcakes. It may even ensure your stocking will be coal-free on Christmas.

Carrot Cupcakes
Makes 14 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (from about 6 medium carrots)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar (8 ounces)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350° and line 14 muffin cups with paper liners. Spray the liners with vegetable-oil spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the eggs with the canola oil. Gradually beat in the sugar at medium-high speed and beat until thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, and then fold in the carrots.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool slightly, and then transfer the cupcakes to the freezer to chill.

For the cream cheese frosting: In a bowl, using an electric mixer beat the butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and confectioners' sugar, and then beat at high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip with the Cream Cheese Frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the carrot cupcakes and serve. Alternatively, use a knife to spread the frosting on the cupcakes and serve.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cannoli Parfaits

Holy cannoli! Here is an Italian classic minus the carbs. Unbelievably, these are a satisfying treat and great for those who are trying to minimize their waistline during the holiday season. It’s a wonderful thing when you don’t have to pass on dessert!

Cannoli Parfaits
Serves 4

1 Low carb chocolate bar (preferably from Trader Joe’s)

Cannoli Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
¼ teaspoon real almond extract
1 teaspoon no sugar added vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

Cut the low carb chocolate bar into small chunks.

Meanwhile make the cannoli cream. With an electric mixer on high, whip heavy cream just until frothy, and then add sugar substitute and almond and vanilla extracts. Continue to whip on high until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip, or cream will break.

Gently fold in the ricotta cheese and almost all of the chocolate chunks, saving a few chips for garnish. Spoon cannoli cream into parfait glasses, top with remaining chocolate chips, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

This is the perfect winter soup. Creamy, smooth and bursting with flavor, this is the perfect holiday menu must-have.

Butternut Squash Soup
Serve 4 to 6

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 to 8 cups)
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup (2 ounces) grated fontina cheese
Kosher salt

In an 8-quart stockpot add the butter and oil and melt together over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sage. Continue to boil until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep the soup warm over low heat.

For the crostini: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sage. Sprinkle the cheese on top and season with salt, to taste. Bake until the cheese has melted and the bread is light golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the cheese crostini.

Cook's Note: The cooked vegetable mixture can also be pureed (after cooling for about 5 minutes) by ladling, in batches, into a food processor or blender and blended until smooth.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spicy Hummus

Need an appetizer for the holiday potluck? This hummus recipe is quick, easy and delicious. In fact, you will never buy store made hummus again after making this. The recipe is easy to adjust (the premise is chickpeas, tahini, salt, and lemon juice) to suit your preferences and/or mood. Want more garlic? Or perhaps you prefer roasted red peppers? What about adding jalapenos? The sky is the limit! Go crazy and make your own creation.

Spicy Hummus
Yields approximately 2 cups

3 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned, drained and rinsed
6 cloves roasted garlic
1 tablespoon chipotle puree
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place chickpeas, garlic, chipotle puree, lemon juice, and tahini in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Standing Rib Roast

Don’t want ham for Christmas? How about prime rib? This recipe is virtually foolproof. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at the cooking process (who lets a rib roast cook for an hour, then turn the oven off for 3 hours?!?) but, unbelievably, this rib roast comes out perfectly. And now you can enjoy your evening with your friends and family instead of babysitting the roast. Enjoy!

Standing Rib Roast
Serves 6-8

1 (5-pound) standing rib roast
1 tablespoon House Seasoning, recipe follows

Allow roast to stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. Rub roast generously with House Seasoning; place roast on a rack in the pan with the rib side down and the fatty side up. Roast for 1 hour. Turn off oven. Leave roast in oven but do not open oven door for 3 hours. About 30 to 40 minutes before serving time, turn oven to 375 degrees and reheat the roast. Important: Do not remove roast or re-open the oven door from time roast is put in until ready to serve.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spiced Ham

This fragrant ham will make your house smell like the holidays; it’s studded with cloves and anise seeds.

Spiced Ham
Serves 12

For the ham:
1 (4- to 6-pounds ) boneless ham
8 3/4 fluid ounces red wine
3 liters water (approximately)
1 large onion, halved
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 star anise
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns

For the glaze:
Approximately 16 whole cloves
4 tablespoons red currant jelly
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Place the ham in a large saucepan. Add all the ingredients for the ham to the pan, adding more water if the ham isn't covered. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat to a simmer and partially covering the pan. Cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, plus an extra 15 minutes.

When you are ready to glaze the ham, preheat oven to 440 degrees.

Remove the ham from the liquid and sit the ham on a board. Strip off the rind, and a little of the fat layer if it's very thick, and cut a diamond pattern into the remaining fat with a sharp knife in lines of about 3/4-inch apart. Stud each diamond with a clove. Put the jelly, cinnamon, paprika and red wine vinegar into a saucepan and whisk together over a high heat bringing it to the boil. Let the pan bubble away so that the glaze reduces to a syrup-like consistency.

Place a layer of foil over a roasting tray big enough to hold the ham. Place the ham on top of the foil. Pour the glaze over the clove-studded ham and then transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the glazed fat is burnished. Allow the meat to rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes before carving it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

This is without a doubt one of the best recipes for cinnamon rolls. Go ahead and make these on Christmas morning. They are perfect eaten immediately or later in the day, after they’ve been allowed to cool and settle into they’re almost obscene gooeyness.

Beware: this makes a whole lotta cinnamon rolls. But feel free to spread the joy. Or here’s a thought - you could just stock up your freezer, heat and enjoy for the next time.

Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 30 cinnamon rolls

2 cups whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
4 cups (plus ½ cup extra, separated) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
½ tablespoon (heaping) salt

1 cup melted butter
¾ cup sugar
½ cup cinnamon (or more depending on preference)

Maple Frosting:
½ bag powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
¼ cups milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
Pinch of salt

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in active dry yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add ½ more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown, about 13 to 17 minutes.

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holiday baking is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food. This recipe is perfect for a cookie swap. Soft and moist, it’s the perfect holiday cookie!

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 4 dozen

½ cup old-fashioned oats
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Petite Nutella Pochettes

Holiday baking is a wonderful way to pass down old traditions and create new ones. Baking with my daughters is one of the most warm, fuzzy holiday activities I can think of. We always make a variety of cookies – from traditional butter cookies to this new favorite, the nutella pochette. When you put your time, effort and heart into what you bake, you are nourishing your loved ones in every sense of the word.

Petite Nutella Pochettes
Yields 32 pochettes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
Water, as needed
½ cup confectioners' sugar
Special equipment: 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter

In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until light and creamy. Add the flour slowly until the dough forms. Do not over-mix! Shape the dough into a ball and cover. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

On a lightly-floured surface, using a lightly-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Form the scraps into a ball and reroll to make more circles.

Fill each dough circle with a small spoonful of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Dip your finger in tap water and spread on the edge of half the circle to help create a seal. Fold the dough over to create a crescent. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool, then sift the confectioners' sugar on top and serve.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peppermint-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Cookies are such a big part of the holiday season for me. I just love the smells of gingerbread, chocolate, peanut butter, sugar and peppermint wafting through the house after baking a batch of cookies.

Anyhow, you’ll love these cookies that transform sugar cookies into a peppermint-holiday treat. Enjoy!

Peppermint-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Makes 1 dozen sandwich cookies

1 (16.5 ounce) tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
¼ cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Decorating suggestion: crushed candy canes or peppermint candies; white, red and green sprinkles; or red and green decorating sugar
Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, and a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, knead together the cookie dough and 1/4 cup flour until smooth. Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough. Knead together any scraps of dough and roll out again. Continue to cut out pastry circles until there are 24 pieces in total. Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are slightly golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Reserve 1 parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Combine 1 cup of chocolate chips and the cream in a small bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the peppermint extract and refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour. Using a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure, place the chocolate mixture in the center of the flat side of 12 of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently squeeze to distribute the filling evenly. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until the filling has set, about 25 minutes.

Combine the remaining chocolate chips and the vegetable oil in a small bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Dip the top of each cookie in the melted chocolate and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with crushed candy canes or peppermint candies. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight plastic container.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pork Roast with Creamy Mustard Sauce

I am in love with my slow cooker this winter. I love when I can just set it and forget it. Try this recipe for pork roast. Chopped carrots, onion and shallot add color and texture to tender pork slices served with a creamy, zesty sauce. Yummy!

Pork Roast with Creamy Mustard Sauce
Serves 8

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2- to 3-pound pork boneless sirloin roast
2 medium carrots, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small shallot, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 to 3 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. If pork roast comes in netting or is tied, do not remove. Cook pork in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides.

Place pork in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients except half-and-half and mustard in small bowl; pour over pork.

Cover and cook on Low heat setting 7 to 9 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker; cover to keep warm. Skim fat from pork juices in cooker if desired. Stir half-and-half and mustard into juices. Increase heat setting to High. Cover and cook about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove netting or strings from pork. Serve sauce with pork.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Tortellini Soup

Come and get it! Homemade soup is on the table in less than 30 minutes. Easy to make and oh-so-delicious, this recipe is a keeper and one that will be used frequently in your weekly dinner rotation this winter.

Chicken Broccoli Tortellini Soup
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 bag (12 oz) Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen broccoli & cheese sauce
1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 large plum (Roma) tomato, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.

Stir in broth, water, Italian seasoning, frozen broccoli in cheese sauce and tortellini. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally and breaking up broccoli.

Stir in chicken. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tortellini are tender. Stir in tomato. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Want dinner ready and waiting in the evening? Start this recipe in the slow cooker in the morning and voila! Dinner’s done. The best part? You can make this Cajun/Creole dish as spicy as you like.

Serves 8

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped fully cooked smoked sausage
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce
3/4 pound uncooked peeled deveined medium shrimp, thawed if frozen
4 cups hot cooked rice

In 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except shrimp and rice.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or High heat setting 3 to 4 hours).

Stir in shrimp. If needed, reduce heat setting to Low; cover and cook on Low heat setting about 1 hour longer or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve jambalaya with rice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beef-Tortellini Soup

The irresistible aromas that come from this beefy soup will assail you when you open your door after coming home from a long day’s work. This recipe is hearty and perfect for winter. Just set it and forget it.

Beef-Tortellini Soup
Serves 6

1 lb beef stew meat
1 large onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 large carrot, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (10 1/2 oz each) condensed beef consommé
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 cups frozen cheese-filled tortellini
1 cup Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen cut green beans

In 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, add beef, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sugar, tomatoes and beef consommé in order listed.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 9 hours.

About 25 minutes before serving, stir in basil, frozen tortellini and green beans. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook about 25 minutes or until beans are tender.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grilled Mediterranean Tuna Steaks

Mediterranean meals promote good health. Even better? They taste great too. Ingredients such as olives, tomatoes, feta and mint lend a characteristic fresh taste to standards including gyros and tabouleh, as well as surprising options such as this Grilled Mediterranean Tuna Steak.

Grilled Mediterranean Tuna Steaks
Serves 4

1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup)
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata or ripe olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or oregano leaves
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 tuna steaks, 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds)

In medium bowl, gently toss tomato, cheese, olives and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Spray grill rack with cooking spray. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.

In small bowl, mix remaining 2 tablespoons basil, the oil, garlic salt and pepper. Brush mixture over tuna.

Grill tuna uncovered 4 inches from medium-high heat 5 minutes. Turn carefully; brush with any remaining oil mixture. Grill 10 to 15 minutes longer or until tuna flakes easily with a fork. Serve topped with tomato mixture.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creamy Mac and Cheese

With one day left, rely on an old favorite for a most memorable feast. Try this mac and cheese for one of your Thanksgiving sides. It’s incredibly creamy and tasty. And the best part? You can make this dish in your slow cooker/crock pot and save the oven and stovetop for other dishes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Creamy Mac and Cheese
Serves 12

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
2 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper

Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I was never a big fan of sweet potatoes until this recipe. One taste and you’ll never want your sweet potatoes any other way. A little spicy, a little sweet – it’ll be love at first bite!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo, pureed
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup crème fraiche
½ cup maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until soft, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh, being careful not to damage the skin. Rice the flesh in a ricer set over a bowl.

Bring the heavy cream and chipotle puree to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir the warm cream, butter, crème fraiche and 1/2 cup of the maple syrup into the sweet potato mixture until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray. Fill each of the skins with the cream mixture, place back on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Remove the potatoes to a platter and drizzle the tops of each with the remaining maple syrup.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

This appetizer is sure to make you hungry and will surely whet your guests’ appetite for the big Thanksgiving feast that awaits them.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Serves 18

18 (1 by 1/4-inch) pieces cream cheese
18 pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
6 slices bacon cut crosswise into thirds
Special equipment: 18 wooden picks

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Stuff 1 piece of cheese into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure bacon with a toothpick if desired. Arrange dates, bacon seam down and 1 inch apart in a shallow baking pan.

Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel or parchment. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mini Cheese Pumpkins

Start your feast with this Thanksgiving appetizer. Guests will enjoy this clever edible pumpkin, whether served as an appetizer or used as a garnish. What a treat!

Mini Cheese Pumpkins

1 block Velveeta cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped peanuts
4 butter-flavored pretzel spindles or sticks, broken in half
16 tiny pieces fresh parsley leaves

Line small serving plate with waxed paper. Make cheese spread by mixing Velveeta and cheddar cheese. Take 1 tablespoon of “cheese spread” and roll into a ball; place on waxed paper-lined serving plate. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes for easier handling.

With end of toothpick, draw ridges around balls to resemble pumpkins. Dip bottoms of cheese balls in chopped peanuts.

Just before serving, insert pretzel halves into cheese balls for pumpkin stems. Decorate with parsley for leaves. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This hearty combination of crumbled chorizo, chunks of crispy potatoes and eggs – all cooked together in a big cast-iron skillet – is a Mexican twist on rosti, the classic Swiss fried-potato breakfast. And it’s perfect for brunch!

Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potatoes
Serves 8

2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 ½ pounds fresh chorizo, casings removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
Toast and hot sauce, for serving


Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 25 minutes; drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Add the chorizo, break it into chunks with a wooden spoon and cook over moderate heat, turning, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the chorizo mixture into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Heat the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chorizo mixture. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Using a ladle, make 8 indentations in the potato-chorizo mixture about 1 inch apart; crack an egg into each one. Bake the skillet in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the egg whites are just set but the yolks are still runny. Serve at once with toast and hot sauce.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheese Enchiladas Verde

Whether you are a meat eater or just want to add more veggies to your diet, you’ll find this tasty vegetarian recipe fast, easy and tasty. These quick-to-fix vegetarian enchiladas go Tex-Mex and are perfect for lunch or dinner.

Cheese Enchiladas Verde
Serves 4

1 ½ cups shredded Mexican 4-cheese blend (6 ounces)
1 small zucchini, shredded (3/4 cup)
13 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 soft corn tortillas (5 or 6 inch)
1/3 cup soft cream cheese with roasted garlic
1 jar (16 ounces) green salsa (salsa Verde) (2 cups)
1 medium avocado, diced
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray rectangular baking dish, 11x7x1-1/2 inches, with cooking spray. Mix shredded cheese, zucchini and cilantro.

Spread each tortilla with about 2 teaspoons cream cheese. Spoon about 1/3 cup shredded cheese mixture onto each tortilla; spread to within 1 inch of edge. Roll up tortillas; place seam sides down in baking dish. Pour salsa over tortillas.

Cover and bake about 25 minutes or until hot. Top with avocado and green onions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Curried Lentil Soup

Eating healthier means making smart choices. And this simple, wholesome, lighter recipe is tasty and better for you. The exotic scent of curry enlivens this Indian-influenced meatless dish with lentils and spinach, slow-cooked and topped with cool yogurt.

Curried Lentil Soup
Serves 8

1 (16-oz.) pkg. (2 ½ cups) dried lentils, sorted, rinsed
8 cups water
2 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch slices (1 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, cut into ½-inch slices (1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 extra-large vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes or 2 chicken-flavor bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

In 3 ½ or 4-quart slow cooker combine all ingredients except tomatoes, spinach and yogurt; mix well.

Cover, cook on low setting for 8 to 9 hours.

About 5 minutes before serving, stir tomatoes into soup. Cover, cook an additional 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Just before serving, remove and discard bay leaves. Top individual servings with ¼ cup spinach and 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheesy Potato Soup

You’ll be making this soup every day this winter. And the beauty of this recipe is that a hot, hearty soup will be waiting for you when you get home if you rely on your slow cooker!

Cheesy Potato Soup
Serves 6

1 bag (32 oz) frozen southern-style diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 medium stalk celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 carton (32-oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 bag (8oz) shredded American-Cheddar cheese blend (2 cups)
¼ cup real bacon pieces

In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix potatoes, celery, broth and water.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to high. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted.

Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions. Sprinkle with pepper if desired.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back November 15 with all new recipes...

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I love creamy soups – broccoli cheese, potato cheese and chowders of all kinds. There isn’t a creamy soup I don’t like. This soup is very easy to make and totally delicious.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
8 cups broccoli florets
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and sauté onion and celery until tender. Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a lean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.

In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir in flour and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly, and add to soup. Season with pepper and serve.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Barbecue Pulled Chicken

Crock pots are making a comeback, and for good reason. Slow-cooked dishes are ideal for making ahead and reheating, and leftovers can be enjoyed for several days. Try this easy, healthy crock pot recipe for barbecue pulled chicken. This fanciful reinterpretation of pulled pork uses chicken and lots of tomato sauce. Have sliced jalapenos and sour cream on hand to top to this hearty main course.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken
Serves 8

1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.

Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chewy chocolate peanut butter fudge popcorn balls

I’m not a big fan of store-bought popcorn balls – you know the ones you find in the supermarket during Halloween. They kind of look like you’d break your teeth biting into one. But homemade popcorn balls? Now, that’s another story. Add chocolate and peanut butter and as Rachael Ray would say, “Yum-O!”

Chewy chocolate peanut butter fudge popcorn balls
Yields approximately 34 popcorn balls

8 cups of air-popped popcorn (see below for instructions on how to prepare air-popped popcorn)
2/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter
½ cup of raw sugar
¼ cup of water
2 ½ tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of chocolate extract

Place the air-popped popcorn in a large heatproof mixing bowl.

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients — the honey, creamy peanut butter, raw sugar, water, unsweetened cocoa powder, and chocolate extract. Set over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
Allow the honey-peanut butter-chocolate mixture to come to a boil, and boil for roughly 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens.

Remove the saucepan and the mixture from the heat.

Pour the hot mixture over the air-popped popcorn, and, using a wooden spoon, toss the kernels with the mixture until each one is completely coated.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly on the air-popped popcorn until it is not too hot to handle with bare hands. When it has cooled to such a temperature, form approximately 34 popcorn balls, working quickly, by rolling a small amount of popcorn in the palms of your hands until the popcorn has formed a sphere. Place the chocolate peanut butter fudge popcorn balls on parchment paper to further solidify, and to ensure easy removal.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms

As Maria Von Trapp said, “Let’s start at the very beginning…” Can you tell I watched “The Sound of Music” recently? Anyhow, appetizers are people’s first foray into your cooking style and profile. Blow them away with this simple, yet delicious appetizer. You don’t even need a special occasion to break out this recipe.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Yields 28 Mushrooms

½ cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ cup chopped pepperoni
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Stir the bread crumbs, Pecorino Romano, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.

Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Roast Turkey

At the request of a very loyal follower, here is my favorite recipe to cook a turkey. It was the first time I ever made a turkey and it was the best turkey ever. Classic yet simple, this turkey recipe is simply amazing! Moist, juicy and tasty, everyone will devour this bird and you can forget leftover turkey sandwiches tomorrow.

Roast Turkey
Serves 10-12

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 ½ teaspoons allspice berries
1 ½ teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees . Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes

With a topping of cheddar cheese and sour cream, these Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes will probably be the most indulgent healthy side dish you’ve ever eaten.

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
Serves 4

4 medium russet potatoes
8 ounces 90%-lean ground beef
1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
1 cup water
1 cup reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 scallions, sliced

Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Place in the microwave and cook at 50% power, turning once or twice, until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. (Or, use the "potato setting" on your microwave and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.)

Meanwhile, brown meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Increase heat to high, add broccoli and water to the skillet, cover, and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli; add to the meat.

Carefully cut off the top third of the cooked potatoes; reserve the tops for another use. Scoop the insides out into a medium bowl. Place the potato shells in a small baking dish. Add ½ cup Cheddar, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potato insides and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add scallions and the potato mixture to the broccoli and meat; stir to combine.

Evenly divide the potato mixture among the potato shells and top with the remaining ½ cup cheese. Microwave on high until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back November 3 with all new recipes...

Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cakes

Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin pie but it’s kind of boring. This is a great take on this traditional dessert. Totally decadent, simply sweet and utterly delicious, you’ll probably only make this once a year. But trust me; they’ll want you to make it an annual thing.

Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cakes
Serves 8

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Fresh whipped cream, for topping
Candy for toppings (recommended: M and M's, Reese's pieces, crushed Snickers, mini chocolates, peanuts)
Special Equipment: 10 (5-inch) removable bottom tart pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cake mix, egg and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Divide the mixture into 10-equally sized balls. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and gently press into the bottom of each tart pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs, vanilla and butter. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spoon a scant ½ -cup of the pumpkin mixture over cake batter in the tart pans and bake for about 40 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing.

Serve with fresh whipped cream and candy topping.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Crisp

Apples are in season now and what better way to celebrate this fruit than with a simple dessert. Take sweet-tart apple filling and give it an irresistible topping and voila! Dessert is done.

Apple Crisp
Serves 6-8

5 Granny Smith apples
1 package (9 ounces) yellow cake mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ butter or margarine, melted
½ cup chopped nuts
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Thawed, frozen whipped topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slice apples. Place apples in a baking dish.

Combine cake mix, sugar, cinnamon, butter and nuts in a bowl. Mix until crumbly. Spread mixture evenly over apples.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping if desired.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snake Bites

This is such an easy and fun recipe. Perfect for a kids party or the Halloween office potluck. People will think you are amazingly creative with this one.

Snake Bites
Serves 10

1 can crescent rolls
Flour, for dusting
4 tablespoons spicy mustard
10 ounces thinly sliced ham
10 ounces thinly sliced salami
12 ounces Monterey Jack, grated
Liquid food coloring
3 egg yolks
2 whole cloves
2 small pimiento-stuffed olives
1 (1-inch) strips jarred roasted red peppers

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Grease the foil and set aside.

Dust a flat surface lightly with flour. Spread out the crescent dough — do not separate. Pinch together the seams so that you have 1 piece of dough. Roll out to make a large rectangle. Make sure the dough is not stuck to the surface at all.

Brush the dough with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Layer the meats down the center of the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border on either end. You can feel free to use your favorite cold cuts.

Top the meats with the cheese. Fold 1 side of the dough over the filling, lengthwise. Then, fold the other ½ over and press the seal the filling inside. Take 1 egg yolk, and beat lightly with a fork. Brush the egg yolk over the top of the dough. The yolk will act as the glue to hold. Fold the dough in ½ again lengthwise. Pinch the seam with your fingers to seal. Press the outside of the dough to make sure everything is sealed tight and to make an even thickness for the body of your snake. Taper 1 end of the dough to form a tail shape. Form the other end into a head shape.

Beat the 2 remaining egg yolks together. Transfer to 3 separate small bowls. Add some food coloring to each bowl — whatever colors you like! Using a clean paintbrush, "paint" the snake with the egg yolk/food coloring mixture.

Transfer the snake to the foil lined sheet tray. Form into an "s" shape so it looks like the snake is slithering. Insert 2 cloves into the head to look like nostrils and 2 stuffed olives for eyes. Create a mouth or tongue with the roasted red peppers. Bake the snake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles with Trail Mix Topping

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, so ease into the scariest day of the year with this simple fall brunch recipe. Simply divine, these waffles taste like fluffy pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Pumpkin Waffles with Trail Mix Topping
Serves 4

For the Waffles:
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (pumpkin pie filing)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Topping:
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
Coarse salt
¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Make the topping: Put the almonds, sunflower seeds and syrup in a bowl; mix thoroughly. Spread on 2 baking sheets lined with silicone mats or parchment paper and season with salt; bake until just golden, stirring several times, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on the pan, and then toss with the dried cherries.

Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin-pie spice in a bowl. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a separate bowl, then whisk in 1 ½ cups strained pumpkin puree, the yogurt and milk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (it will be lumpy). Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff, and then gently fold into the batter.

Cook the waffles: Preheat a waffle iron and grease it if it's not nonstick. Spoon in the batter and cook until golden brown. Keep warm in a 250 degree oven (directly on the rack) until serving. Serve with whipped cream, if desired, and sprinkle with the topping.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chicken Zucchini Alfredo

This recipe is remarkably tasty. My family loves alfredo sauce, but I rarely make it because of the fat and calorie content. This is a superb alternative. This recipe has very little cheese and includes low fat milk, yet it still measures up to the creamy texture of the original sauce. Flavorful and delicious, you can indulge in this guilt-free pleasure.

Chicken Zucchini Alfredo
Serves 4

Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced into half-moons
4 4-ounce thin skinless, boneless chicken breasts Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces fettuccine (preferably whole wheat)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup cold low-fat milk (1%)
½ cup evaporated nonfat milk
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 clove garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, cover and cook until tender, stirring, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water as the label directs. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water; return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour and low-fat milk in a bowl. Place the remaining 1 clove garlic and 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, 30 seconds. Add the flour-milk mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cheese; stir to melt, 1 minute.

Cut the chicken into strips. Toss with the pasta, sauce, zucchini and parsley, adding the reserved pasta water to loosen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Severed Fingers Halloween Cookies

This is a killer bite. Make this clever, creepy and downright gruesome recipe for your spooky soiree.

Severed Fingers Halloween Cookies
Makes 30 cookies

2 tablespoons red food coloring
30 blanched almonds
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.

Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Crack each whole almond into halves and toss them into the bowl with the food coloring and stir them until the color is evenly distributed. Leave them in the bowl and stir them every so often until the color is as dark as you like.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into fifteen pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.

Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bananas Foster French Toast

What’s better than dessert for breakfast, especially when it involves bananas foster? How about Bananas Foster French toast? You will never make French toast with regular bread again. The croissants make all the difference – they’re fluffy, light and incredibly tasty. Delicious, sweet and easy, this is one breakfast recipe you won’t want to pass up.

Bananas Foster French Toast
Serves 8

4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons butter, divided
8 large croissants, halved
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
6 ripe bananas, halved crosswise and lengthwise
1 teaspoon rum extract (may substitute vanilla if you have kids)


In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, cream, and cinnamon. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Dip 4 croissant halves in egg mixture to coat both sides. Using a fork, remove croissants from egg mixture, letting excess mixture drip off. Place croissant halves in hot skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and croissant halves. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large skillet, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add banana halves and rum extract. Coat with the syrup mixture, and simmer 1 minute. Spoon over French toast. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skillet Shepherd Pie

Looking for a delicious dinner that’s hearty and healthy? Try this easy-to-follow recipe for shepherd’s pie. Believe it or not, it’s only 330 calories per serving with 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat… Okay, I won’t bore you with the nutritional information; however, trust me; this is a delicious meal especially on a cold, winter’s night.

Skillet Shepherd Pie
Serves 6

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 onion, minced
1 celery rib, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 pound 95 percent lean ground beef
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup beer
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
1 cup frozen peas
¾ cup frozen corn
Salt and pepper

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup 2 percent low fat milk, warmed
¼ cup low-fat sour cream, room temperature
Salt and pepper

For the filling: Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, garlic, and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth, beer, Worcestershire, and thyme.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened but still saucy, 20 to 25 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the peas and corn and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the topping: Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water and the potatoes to a simmer in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes with the butter, stir in the milk and sour cream until smooth, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dollop the potatoes over the top of the filling, then smooth them into an even layer, making sure to spread them to the edges of the skillet. Spread the potatoes to the very edge of the skillet to seal the top and prevent the filling from bubbling over the edges.

Bake until the filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element, heat the broiler, then broil the casserole until the top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

To make ahead: Prepare the filling and topping, then layer them into a 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To bake, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 375-degree oven until hot, about 1 hour, then broil as directed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love chicken tortilla soup. It's hearty, comforting and delicious. This recipe is fantastic and so simple, you'll find yourself making this one at least once a week.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 whole rotisserie chicken (shredded)
1 can (15 oz.) crushed tomatoes (including juices)
1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada or verde sauce
1 medium onion chopped (or about ¼ dried onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn

6 corn tortillas, vegetable oil
Sour cream
Shredded Cheese
Avocado, sliced

Put rotisserie chicken in crock pot. Add rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove the bay leaf.

For the garnish: Brush corn tortillas with vegetable oil. Cut into strips. Place on baking sheet in single layer. Bake turning occasionally, until crisp – about 5-10 minutes. Use tortillas to garnish soup with a dollop of sour cream, a handful of shredded cheese and a couple of slices of avocado.

Friday, October 15, 2010

White Chicken Chili

This is the perfect game-friendly, party-food recipe. Easy to make and oh-so-delicious, this will be a huge hit at your next tailgate party.

White Chicken Chili


1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock
3 (14.5 ounce) cans white beans (undrained)
5 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie or boiled)
1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
1 block (8 ounces) pepper jack cheese (grated)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Black or white pepper to taste
½ cup finely crushed corn chips (optional for thicker chili)

Place all ingredients except corn chips in a crock pot and cook on high until cheese is well-incorporated. Chili may also be cooked on stove top on medium-high heat until cheese is well-incorporated. When chili is ready, add finely crushed corn chips and let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken. Garnish with more crushed corn chips, cheese or sour cream.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bacon Corn Muffins with Savory Cream Cheese Frosting

Not a fan of sweets? Try this bacon corn muffin for a tasty change of pace. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Bacon Corn Muffins with Savory Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 24 muffins

For Muffins:
8 strips bacon
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat

For Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 bunch chives, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place bacon onto a baking sheet and bake until crisp about 12 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Once bacon is cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces.

Spray a 24-count mini muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl whisk the milk and egg. Whisk the milk mixture, melted butter and bacon fat into the dry ingredients. Add 3/4 of the chopped cooked bacon, reserve remaining 1/4 for a garnish.

Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon of the batter so the cups are filled about 3/4 of the way up. Bake in oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the muffins comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.

While muffins are cooling, in a medium bowl beat the cream cheese, honey and hot sauce with a hand mixer until soft and combined. Add 3/4 of the sliced chives, reserve remaining 1/4 for a garnish. Mix until well combined.

Transfer mixture to a pastry bag and snip off the end.

Once the muffins have cooled, pipe a small amount of the cream cheese mixture on top of each one. Garnish with remaining crumbled bacon and remaining chopped chives.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I love this time of year, especially when the house smells like a fresh-baked pumpkin. This is a great old Maine recipe – moist and spicy. The bread actually tastes even better the day after it is baked and freezes really well. It’s perfect for holiday gift giving!

Pumpkin Bread
Yields 3 loaves

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
½ cup real butter
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ¾ cups white sugar
½ teaspoons real vanilla
½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans. (I used the 3-pack of foil pans found at the store and put them directly on oven rack - don't put on a cookie sheet).

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, vanilla and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven.

Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Horseradish-Crusted Brisket with Carrots

Sit down with this slow-cooked, fork-tender brisket. You can make this brisket for a holiday meal or anytime you’re craving comfort food.

Horseradish-Crusted Brisket with Carrots
Yields 6-8

For the Brisket:
5 to 6 pounds point-cut beef brisket
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 large Spanish onions, cut into thin wedges
8 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups (1 bottle) full-bodied red wine
1 teaspoon sugar
4 leafy inner stalks celery
2 6-to-8-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 pound carrots, halved crosswise

For the Crust:
1 clove garlic, smashed
Kosher salt
1 6-ounce piece fresh horseradish, peeled
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Prepare the brisket: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously season the brisket with salt and pepper, then coat with the flour in a large bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Brown the brisket on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Add the onions and 2 teaspoons salt to the pot and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are caramelized, about 10 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook about 5 more minutes. Add the wine and 1 cup water, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the sugar. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer.

Tie the celery, rosemary and bay leaves together with kitchen twine and add to the pot along with the brisket and carrots. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside the pot; place directly on top of the liquid, then cover with the lid. Transfer to the oven and cook 3 hours, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crust: Mince and mash the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt. Coarsely grate the horseradish. Chop the parsley with the horseradish and garlic paste until the mixture is moist.

Remove the pot from the oven, discard the parchment and transfer the meat to a rimmed baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Brush the top of the brisket with the mustard, then pat with the horseradish mixture. Return the meat to the pot and bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Discard the celery-herb bundle and skim the fat from the braising liquid; thin the remaining liquid with water, if desired. Slice the meat against the grain. Serve with the carrots, onions and braising liquid.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Pumpkins

Want your kids to think you’re the coolest mummy around? Make this tricked-out treat and they’ll be singing your praises – at least until all the ghastly goodies are gobbled up. And, of course, I have the perfect peanut butter treat this Halloween – Peanut Butter Pumpkins!

Peanut Butter Pumpkins
Yields 15

½ cup butter
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 (16 ounce) package confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Red food coloring
Yellow food coloring
Green decorators icing

Melt butter in large bowl and add a few drops of yellow and red food coloring, until mixture has a nice orange color.

Add the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar and mix together until a dough-like consistency is reached (This mean that when the dough is nice and stiff and it gets hard to add any more sugar, to let it go at that).

Shape dough into small balls shaped like pumpkins; make ridges on the pumpkins with a toothpick.

Add a small amount of green decorators icing to the top of each pumpkin for a stem.

Refrigerate if desired, to allow pumpkins to firm.

Serve on a plate lines with toasted coconut and Halloween decorated cookies, if desired; these also look good on cupcakes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

This is my version of an upscale grilled cheese or even a caprese salad between bread. No matter what the name is, you will call it yummy. Personally, I think the pesto is the thing that puts this sandwich “over the top.” Pair with homemade tomato soup and you’ve got one delicious meal.

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
Yields 2 sandwiches

4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼ -inch slices
2 plum tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh basil pesto, recipe follows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Basil pesto:
½ cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make pesto: Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still rough-textured.

If you have a panini press, turn it on to warm up; otherwise, set a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of sliced tomato and season with a few turns of fresh pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place another piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. Drizzle olive oil over skillet's surface and place sandwiches on the hot skillet or panini press. If using a skillet, place another heavy skillet over the top to form a "press". Turn after 2 to 3 minutes and replace weight. The sandwich is ready when golden brown and mozzarella has melted around the edges.