Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple pie fries

I first tried these tasty treats earlier this year during a visit to Legoland. I had no idea how popular they were. Here, I was thinking they’re just another food stand favorite like Dippin’ Dots or corndogs that are in just about every theme park. These are very, very good, however, and an ingenious idea.

This isn’t the Legoland recipe (I’m pretty sure their recipe includes butter) but it’s still good and should tie us over until we make another trip to Carlsbad.

Apple pie fries
Yields 5 to 6

1 medium-sized sweet red apple (Fuji apples cook really well!)
½ +1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
2 teaspoons of raw sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
Canola oil spray (to lightly coat pan)
Peanut butter (optional - for dipping the hot apple pie fries)
Honey (optional - for dipping the hot apple pie fries)

Lightly coat a pan with canola oil spray, and raise to medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Slice the apple into steak-fry-shaped wedges, and place the wedges into a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the ground cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice, and the raw sugar and sea salt.

Pour the spice mixture over the apple wedges in the large mixing bowl, and toss the wedges to completely coat them in the mixture and to ensure that the flavorings are evenly distributed.

Place the flavored apple slices into the preheated pan, and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, turning the apples approximately halfway through the cooking process. (Be careful not to overcook the hot apple pie fries, so as to preserve the natural flavor, sweetness, and crispy crunch inherent in the raw apples!)

While the apple wedges are cooking, place the peanut butter and honey in small separate bowls for dipping the hot apple pie fries into, if using.

When the hot apple pie fries have completed cooking, remove from the pan and serve. Dip them into the peanut butter and honey. Or serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday, September 29, 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.

An easy method to make air-popped popcorn is to place 3 tablespoons of unflavored, “unpopped” popcorn kernels in a clean paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over itself to form a roughly 1/2-inch fold. Seal the bag by closing it with a small piece of cellophane tape. Place the bag in your microwave, ensuring that the folded side is facing upward, and cook on the "High" heat setting for approximately 1 minute, 45 seconds. A great technique to gauge when most of your popcorn is popped and it is time to remove the bag from the microwave (even if the 1 minute, 45 seconds has not yet completely elapsed) is to listen to the time between pops. If there are more than 5 seconds between each sound, it's time to remove the bag and dive in! Note: Adjust the duration of time in which you microwave the popcorn kernels according to the heat and strength of your microwave!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken Nuggets

Give your children something they’ll truly enjoy for dinner. Here’s my take on kids’ favorite – chicken nuggets!

Chicken Nuggets
Yields 5 to 6

1 ¾ pound of raw boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into medium-sized chunks
½ cup of egg whites
1 cup of whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
1 cup of crushed cornflakes cereal
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
2 teaspoons of dried savory
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil spray (for spraying a pan and baking sheet)

Honey mustard dip
¼ cup of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of honey

Light oriental dipping sauce
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
2 ¼ teaspoons of minced fresh ginger root
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Chicken nuggets
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil spray. Set aside. Lightly spray a large pan with extra-virgin olive oil spray and set over medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Thoroughly mix the whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs, the crushed cornflakes cereal, the chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, the dried basil, dried marjoram, and dried savory, the garlic powder, the sea salt, and the ground black pepper together in a large bowl or baking dish.
Dip a chunk of the chicken into the egg whites and then into the breadcrumb and cereal mixture. Coat the chicken in the mixture well. Place on a plate. Repeat the process with each chunk of chicken.

When all chunks of chicken have been well coated in the breadcrumb and cereal mixture, place them into the pan for 3 minutes per side, or until a brown, crispy crust has formed on the outside of the chicken.

Remove the chicken nuggets from the pan and place on the baking sheet.

Bake the chicken nuggets for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until completely cooked through and then enjoy!

Honey-mustard dip
In a bowl, thoroughly mix the Dijon mustard and honey.

Light oriental dipping sauce
In a bowl, thoroughly mix all of the ingredients — the extra-virgin olive oil, low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, minced fresh ginger root, and minced fresh garlic.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Apple Ginger Pork Chops

Germany is famous for beer, but they also serve up some righteous grub. Oktoberfest comes but once a year, and I can't wait! And neither should you! Set up your beer garden today and chow down on this pork chop recipe.

Apple Ginger Pork Chops
Yields 4

4 pork chops, double cut, center cut, bone in
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup white wine
1 cup sliced (1/4-inch) yellow onions
2 cups cored and sliced (1/4-inch) Granny Smith apples
½ cup raisins
2 tablespoons butter

In a resealable plastic bag, add the chops, apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to almost smoking, then add pork chops, shaking off excess marinade. Brown on both sides, then place on a sheet pan and put in the oven for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F.

In the same sauté pan deglaze with wine then add onions, apples and raisins and cook until apples are soft and onions are translucent. Add butter salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm.

Remove chops from oven and add to the apple mixture. Serve hot.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chorizo Potato Tacos

Every night’s a good night to cozy up on the couch with a great movie and even better food. It’s action movie night and there’s no time to lose. Make these chorizo-potato tacos in a flash.

Chorizo Potato TacosChorizo Potato Tacos
Yields 4

2 medium red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow squash, diced
Freshly ground pepper
8 ounces fresh chorizo or other spicy sausage, casings removed
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 scallion, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 corn tortillas
¼ cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
Sour cream and/or guacamole, for serving (optional)

Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, add 1/2 cup water and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over high heat, then add the squash and cook until browned but still crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cooking water and cook, tossing, until the potatoes are browned and the sausage is cooked through, 5 to 6 more minutes. Season with salt.

Combine the tomatoes, scallion, jalapeno and cilantro in a bowl and season with salt. Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet or wrap in a damp towel and warm in the microwave, about 1 minute. Fill with the squash and chorizo mixture and sprinkle with the cheese and salsa. Top with sour cream and/or guacamole, if desired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bistro Salad with Spinach Caesar Dressing

It’s foreign film night: go French. Get in the mood for a foreign film with this fantastic salad. Bistro Salad is the star of this movie-night, featuring heirloom tomatoes, cremini mushrooms and fresh mozzarella balls tossed in a roasted garlic and spinach dressing.

Bistro Salad with Spinach Caesar Dressing
Yields 6

For the Dressing:
1 head garlic
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 anchovy fillets
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

For the Salad:
½ pound pancetta, diced
3 thick slices ciabatta bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound small heirloom tomatoes, halved or cut into wedges
¼ pound small mozzarella balls, quartered
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley

Make the dressing: Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the top ½ inch off the garlic head and discard; place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and wrap up. Roast until tender, 30 minutes. Cool; squeeze the cloves from their skins.

Puree the roasted garlic, spinach, anchovies, egg yolk, mustard, vinegar and ¾ cup water in a blender. With the motor running, slowly add 1 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the salad: Preheat the broiler. Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 minutes; transfer to paper towels to drain. Reserve the drippings in the skillet. Brush the bread with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and broil until toasted. Cool, then cut into cubes.

Toss the mushrooms, lemon juice, tomatoes, mozzarella and parsley in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the pancetta, bread cubes and 2 tablespoons of the pancetta drippings and toss. Divide among bowls and drizzle with dressing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steak with Blue Cheese Butter and Celery Salad

Make it a DIY Date Night. Cue up the latest romantic flick and create a romantic feast featuring Steak with Blue Cheese Butter. This dish is sure to impress. Richly flavored, charred steak with blue cheese butter contrasts beautifully with cool and crunchy celery salad.

Steak with Blue Cheese Butter and Celery Salad
Yields 4

½ small red onion, thinly sliced
4 6-to-7-ounce rib-eye steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon

Soak the onion slices in a bowl of cold water, about 10 minutes. Pierce the steaks with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Mix the Worcestershire and hot sauce in a baking dish, add the steaks and turn to coat; set aside while you prepare the butter and salad.

Mash the butter, blue cheese and 1 tablespoon parsley in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Drain the onion and pat dry, then toss with the celery, 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley in another bowl. Grate the zest from half of the lemon into the celery mixture and squeeze in all of the juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, then add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and cook the steaks until browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook 3 to 5 more minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and let rest 5 minutes. Top with the blue-cheese butter and serve with the celery salad.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiano

If you’ve never made eggplant parmigiano before this is an easy recipe. You can prepare it ahead of time and bake just before serving. This is definitely a crowd pleaser!

Eggplant Parmigiano

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the baking sheet
2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
Salt and pepper
2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees .

Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet.

Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. Lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. In an 8 by 12-inch brownie pan, place the 4 largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.

Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Basic tomato sauce:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, ¼ -inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
½ medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

Monday, September 20, 2010

Molten Chocolate Babycakes

These are the acceptable face of culinary cute: their intensity guarantees the triumph of chic over prettiness. And, what’s more, they’re easy to make. You can make the mixture up a few hours in advance and put it ready and waiting in the prepared cups in the refrigerator until you want to cook them, which must be at the moment you’re ready to eat them. You might think that preparing the cups sounds difficult, but in fact, the job is just demanding enough to make one feel uncharacteristically competent, but not so much that any actual dexterity is required.

Molten Chocolate Babycakes
Yields 6

Scant ¼ cup soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
12 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
½ cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Unless you are making these up in advance, preheat the oven to 400°, putting in a baking sheet at the same time. Lay 3 of the custard cups on a sheet of doubled baking parchment. Draw round them, remove, and then cut out the discs as marked. Press them all into the base of the cups.

Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Cream together the butter and sugar, and gradually beat in the eggs and salt, then the vanilla. Now add the flour, and when all is smoothly combined scrape in the cooled chocolate, blending it to a smooth batter.

Divide the batter between the 6 custard cups, quickly whip the baking sheet out of the oven, arrange the little cups on it and replace in the oven. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes (the extra 2 minutes will be needed if the puddings are refrigerator-cold when you start) and as soon as you take them out of the oven, tip out these luscious babycakes onto small plates or shallow bowls. Serve these with whipped cream, crème fraîche, custard or ice cream.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sloppy Bombay Joes

Here’s a classic with an Indian twist. It has nice, subtle Indian flavors – cumin, garam masala, ginger. You won’t even realize you’re eating healthy (hello, turkey!) until you’ve devoured the whole dish. Enjoy!

Sloppy Bombay Joes
Yields 4 to 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ serrano chile, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the turkey)
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon paprika
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Small handful shelled pistachios, about ¼ cup
Small handful raisins, about ¼ cup
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced
½ serrano chile, seeds intact (don't chop it up unless you like things spicy!)
Kosher salt
1 pound ground turkey
½ teaspoon honey
¼ cup half-and-half
4 to 6 hamburger buns

Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Sauté until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the turkey, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. When shimmering, add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper; sauté until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper. Sauté for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the big lumps. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Once the turkey is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little, remove the serrano pepper (unless you want to eat it whole!). Add the honey, half-and-half, pistachios and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning.

Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This is the best way to eat shrimp! After eating these, you won’t want to eat shrimp any other way. The barbeque sauce is so good and has just the amount of spices so that it isn’t too hot, but has just enough bite for a hint of after burn. It’s shrimply delicious!

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

20 strips bacon (about 12 ounces)
20 medium-large shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 1 pound)
½ cup barbecue sauce
¼ cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground pepper

Soak 5 to 8 bamboo skewers in water for about 20 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill or under the broiler.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until halfway done, about 4 minutes. Drain and cool on paper towels. Wrap a piece of bacon around the middle of each shrimp; skewer with bamboo through the point where the bacon ends meet to keep it from unraveling. Thread 3 to 5 shrimp on each bamboo skewer.

Puree the barbecue sauce, oil, lemon juice, mustard, chipotles, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper in a blender. Set aside half of the sauce for dipping.

Preheat a grill, grill pan or broiler. Grill or broil shrimp (on a foil-lined baking sheet, if broiling) for 5 minutes, basting with the sauce once they begin to turn pink. Flip, baste again and grill or broil until just cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Serve with extra sauce.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Minis

Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Heaven! These little things are absolutely sinful! They’re so easy to make and everyone will absolutely love them. Perfect for baby showers, family get-togethers or even tailgate parties. They’re the perfect mini dessert!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Minis
Yields 12 cakes

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted
12 bite-size peanut butter cups
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a standard muffin pan.

To make crust: In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until crumbs are moistened. Press crust into bottom of each muffin cup. Put 1 peanut butter cup into the center of each crust.

To make the filling: Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, flour, and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon cream cheese mixture over peanut butter cups and graham cracker crusts. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Taking a break... Back September 15 with new recipes...

Fried Banana Fritter with Red Chili Paste

Wednesday night’s episode of “Top Chef” was easily the best of the season. It featured a series of stunning dishes from all four remaining cheftestants. Everything looked so tasty – from Angelo’s Asian-inspired lamb tartare to Kelly’s red curry prawns with guava/papaya salad to Kevin’s tapioca congee with a 63-degree egg. But it was Ed’s banana and chili fritters that had the judges – and me – mesmerized. Lucky for me (and you!) Bravo posted the recipe for the winning dish. I can’t wait to try this one.

Fried Banana Fritter with Red Chili Paste
Yields 4

3-4 large bananas (sliced and brushed with red chili paste)
12 teaspoons of red chili paste per portion (store bought)
Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup of sugar
Fritter Batter:
½ teaspoon of each toasted black and white sesame seeds
1 ½ cups flour (all-purpose)
2 eggs
1 beer
3 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Peel and cut the bananas into ½ inch slices brush them with the chili paste and sandwich them back together again. Stick them together with a toothpick so they will not fall apart when you dip into the batter and then into the fry oil.

When all the bananas are sandwiched together with the red chili paste, place them in the freezer until super chilled.

For fritter batter- Combine eggs and beer. Combine all dry ingredients. Fold dry ingredients into wet.

Once the bananas are chilled, dip in the fritter batter and let the excess batter drip off and then fry at 350 degrees until golden brown. When cooked drain on a paper towel and remove the toothpick and dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Place 3 banana fritters per person on a plate and drizzle with honey and serve immediately.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inside-Out Chicken Cordon Bleu

A busy schedule doesn’t mean you have to live on takeout and PB&J. A few choice ingredients can make a weekday meal stand out. Try this new take on a classic French chicken recipe.

Inside-Out Chicken Cordon Bleu
Yields 4

3 tablespoons apricot jam
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
8 thin slices black forest ham
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 cups baby greens

Mix the jam, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Lay out a long piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Place the chicken on the plastic and brush half of the jam mixture evenly on top of each breast. Mound a quarter of the cheese on each piece of chicken, then wrap 2 slices of ham around each breast to cover the cheese. Place another piece of plastic over the chicken and gently pound with a mallet or heavy skillet until about 1/4 inch thick.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until cooked through but still moist, 3 to 4 more minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the shallot, mustard, vinegar and the remaining jam mixture in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to make a smooth dressing.
Place each piece of chicken on a plate and drizzle with dressing. Toss the greens with the remaining dressing; serve with the chicken.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts with Tomato and Basil (and Potatoes with Peppers!)

It’s dinner, not a workout. So, why spend an hour on a meal when you can just as easily spend 30 minutes and turn out a meal the whole family will love?

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts with Tomato and Basil (and Potatoes with Peppers!)
Yields 4

1 ½ to 2 pounds fingerling potatoes or red skin baby potatoes
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 Italian mild green pepper, cubanelle, seeded and thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, cracked away from skin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and pepper
2 cups shredded Parmesan, available in tubs near deli -- make sure to get shredded cheese, not grated
4 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 plum Roma tomatoes or small, vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
15 to 20 leaves fresh basil, pile leaves, roll then thinly slice -- chiffonade

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Cut fingerling potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on thickness of fingerlings -- thin, small fingerlings may also be left hole, larger potatoes should be quartered to speed cooking process. If you are using small red potatoes, halve or quarter them in the same way.

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil. Place potatoes on cookie sheet. Combine with peppers, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Coat the potatoes and peppers with extra-virgin olive oil just enough to coat vegetables in a thin layer, 2 to 3 tablespoons. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Place potatoes in the oven and roast 20 to 22 minutes, until potatoes are just tender and peppers are crisp at edges. Toss mixture with tongs, turning the potatoes after 15 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, transfer them to a serving dish and peel the foil off the cookie sheet and discard for super-quick clean up!

While potatoes cook, prepare chicken. Roll out a 2-foot piece of waxed paper or foil near the stove top. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat -- your pan must be very hot when the chicken is added. Pile the shredded cheese on the work surface created with the waxed paper or foil. Season your chicken breasts with black pepper but no salt; the cheese will add enough salt to the taste of the dish. Press the breasts firmly into the cheese. Coat both sides of breasts with as much cheese as possible. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to the skillet, 1 turn of the pan. Set breasts into the skillet and cook 7 minutes on each side, until cheese forms an even, golden casing around the tender chicken breasts.

While chicken cooks, combine chopped tomatoes with basil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

Drain off any excess oil from chicken as you remove it from the skillet. Top chicken with big spoonfuls of raw sauce and serve with potatoes and peppers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken Avocado Egg Rolls

Who doesn’t like egg rolls? They’re bite-sized, crunchy and oh-so-satisfying. They make the perfect go-to appetizers, especially now that the football season has begun. And adding the avocado gives the egg roll a little Tex-Mex flavor that you will absolutely fall in love with.

Chicken Avocado Egg Rolls
Yields 12 egg rolls

2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup finely minced red onion
¼ cup finely minced red bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup sliced bamboo shoots
¼ cup finely chopped celery
2 cups chopped chicken breast
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup julienned green cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
4 cups rice bran oil or canola oil
12 egg roll wrappers
2 avocados, sliced into 24 pieces
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
Jarred sweet chili sauce, for dipping

In a sauté pan over high heat, add canola oil. Sauté red onions and bell peppers until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, bamboo shoots, celery, chicken, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Deglaze pan with soy sauce. Cool mixture.

In large bowl combine cabbage, carrots and chicken mixture.

In medium saucepan, heat rice bran oil to 350 degrees. Oil needs to be deep enough to keep egg roll from touching bottom of pan. Add more oil, if needed.

To roll egg rolls, layout egg roll skin with corner facing you, place approximately 1/12th of mixture on roll and place 2 pieces of avocado on top of mixture. Fold corner over mixture, and then fold outside corners over the mixture, making a roll, 4 to 5-inches wide. Roll firmly, being careful not to tear wrapper, and seal the final edge with egg wash.

Dredge the egg roll in egg wash, allow excess to drain off and submerge egg roll in oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on sheet tray lined with a cooling rack.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fried Chicken

Savor the end of summer with an outdoor get-together. This is the best fried chicken ever. It is the crispest, most flavorful chicken your family will ever taste. Perfect for the Labor Day weekend.

Fried Chicken
Yields 4 to 6

1 quart buttermilk, plus 2 cups
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or 2 tablespoons hot sauce, plus 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or cayenne pepper
2 chickens (3 to 4 pounds each), each cut up into 8 pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Peanut oil, for deep-frying

In a large bowl or baking dish whisk together 1 quart of the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons of chile de arbol powder, or hot sauce, and a little bit of pepper, if desired. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Place the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk in a bowl. Stir together the flour, garlic and onion powders, paprika, and 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder (or cayenne) in a large bowl. Divide flour mixture among 2 shallow platters and season generously with salt and pepper. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off. Dredge in the second plate of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a piece of waxed paper or on a clean platter while you heat the oil.

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces. Serve hot.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

This is a little slice of heaven. And, quite frankly, you couldn’t ask for a more simple dessert recipe. Easy, fresh, and flavorful, this is one dish that is guaranteed to go quickly. Just look how amazing it looks! The kids will surely eat their veggies if they can get this for dessert.

Banana Split Brownie Pizza
Serves 8 to 10

1 (20-ounce) box fudge brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bananas, sliced and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup chopped nuts
Chocolate ice cream topping or chocolate syrup, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 15-inch pizza pan. Prepare the brownie mix according to box directions. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until done. Remove from the oven and cool. Beat the cream cheese, pineapple, and sugar together in a bowl. Use any reserved pineapple juice at this time, if needed, to soften the mixture to a good spreading consistency. Otherwise dispose of or save the juice for another use. Spread the mixture over the cooled brownie crust. Arrange the banana and strawberry slices over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and drizzle with chocolate ice cream topping. Refrigerate. To serve, slice as you would a pizza, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is mine. Personally, I love chewy chocolate chip cookies. Not too crisp but just right. Make these smaller and they’re the perfect kid-sized treat for an afternoon snack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields roughly 2 ½ dozen cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt

Evenly position 2 racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets. (If you only have 1 baking sheet, let it cool completely between batches.)

Put the butter in a microwave safe bowl, cover and microwave on medium power until melted. (Alternatively melt in a small saucepan.) Cool slightly. Whisk the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon; take care not to over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared pans. Wet hands slightly and roll the dough into balls. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans. Bake, until golden, but still soft in the center, 12 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies. Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool. Serve.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.