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.