Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back June 1st with all new recipes! Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Portobello Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

This is one of those recipes that I have trouble posting because looking at the photo makes me want to go make it again. So good! It’s basically a portobello burger with chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato. It’s a totally indulgent gourmet burger with a lot less fat than you might expect.

Portobello Burgers with Chipotle Mayo
Makes 2 burgers

Two portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 hamburger buns
2 leaves romaine or other lettuce
1 tomato, cut into ½ inch slices
1 recipe Chipotle Mayo (recipe follows)

Heat your grill to medium and brush your portobellos with balsamic vinegar. Oil your grill and cook them for 3-5 minutes per side or until they are slightly softened and browned. You can also toast your buns by putting them on the grill for about 30 seconds, if you want.

Once your portobellos are done assemble your burger – about a teaspoon of chipotle mayo, lettuce, portobellos. Serve and enjoy!

Chipotle Mayonnaise
1 cup mayonnaise
1-3 chipotle chiles (the kind in Adobo sauce)
½ tsp adobo sauce (that the chiles came in)
½ tsp lime juice (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Start with 1 chipotle and test it to see if you want more spice, then add more if desired.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mango Almond Parfait

I’m on a mango kick. One of my fondest childhood memories is picking and eating the mangos from my great grandma’s tree – the juices running down my chin. Fresh, sweet and juicy, mangos are one of my favorite fruits. So, I’m ecstatic when I can find them in the market. This recipe is simple and sweet. And that’s all you need to know.

Mango Almond Parfait
Makes 4 parfaits

3 mangoes, peeled, halved, pitted, diced
1 12-ounce container fresh yogurt
1 cup sliced almond
1 cup crushed graham crackers crumbs

In a parfait glass layer a tablespoon of yogurt, followed by diced mango, layer a spoonful of crumbs and then another tablespoon of yogurt topped with a teaspoon of sliced almonds. Continue alternating layers of mango, crumbs and almonds with the yogurt.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

The Meatless Monday movement is growing in popularity across the country. This yummy recipe is a must-try. The bonus? It will also improve your health.

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa
Serves 4

Mango Salsa:
3 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, diced
1 medium organic red bell pepper, minced
2 organic limes, juiced
4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 red onion, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced (green part only)
1 organic jalapeño pepper, stem removed, seeded, minced

1 pound mahimahi or cod fillets, rinsed, patted dry
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 organic lime, juiced
8 whole-wheat flour tortillas
2cups shredded organic red cabbage

Mango Salsa: Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine and refrigerate until ready.

Tacos: Place fillets in a shallow baking dish.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together canola oil, lime juice, salt, an dried spices. Pour mixture over fish, cover, and place in the refrigerate to marinate for 30 to 45 minutes.

Over medium high heat, heat stove top grill pan or griddle. Remove fish from refrigerator and place on grill. Cook fish for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of fillets. Fish should flake easily with a fork.

Place tortillas on the grill and grill for 10 to 15 seconds on each side.

Spread an even amount of red cabbage onto the bottom of each tortilla, top with an even amount of fillet portions, and spread an even amount of mango salsa on top of each.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Bark

Mmmm. Smell that? It's the scent of bacon mania. Bacon has wound its way into desserts. It is now vogue to match savory bacon with sweet dishes. There are bacon cookies, brownies and cupcakes; bacon cakes, pies and bread pudding; bacon ice cream, milkshakes and truffles; bacon chocolate bars, jellybeans and, yes, bacon baklava.

While some people become giddy at the idea of bacon chocolate chip cookies and maple-bacon cupcakes, others think bacon should stay in its rightful place: on the breakfast table next to scrambled eggs and toast.

If you're in the latter category, consider this: Marrying bacon with sweets such as chocolate, caramel and ice cream is a logical flavor pairing. Combining sweet and salty flavors has always been delicious. Paired sweet and salty flavors are why we love kettle corn, chocolate-covered pretzels and Snickers bars.

If you want to test the waters of bacon desserts, this recipe is for you. It's simple and illustrates the appeal of pairing salty, crunchy bacon with smooth, rich chocolate and earthy peanuts.

Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Bark
Makes 10 to 12 servings, depending on the size of the pieces

8 strips bacon
16 ounces semisweet chocolate (chunks or chips are fine)
1 cup unsalted peanuts

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, turning several times, until browned and done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add chocolate to a double boiler. If you don't have one, fill a pan with a couple of inches of water. Place a glass bowl over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water underneath. Once the water begins to boil, add the chocolate chips. Using a spatula, stir continuously, until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the bacon and peanuts. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread to 3/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. The bark should be hard and chilled.
Place bark on a cutting board and cut into pieces — any size or shape you'd like. Serve at about room temperature.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

These peanut butter blondies are serious. The blondie is dense and packed with brown sugar and peanut butter flavor. The chocolate frosting is the perfect compliment, although if you simply wanted to add chocolate chips or broken up Reese’s Peanut Butter cups to the blondie batter, that would be just as delicious. I think frosting on brownies is the ultimate indulgence…. so why not go for it. Be warned… you’ll need milk to drink with these. Lots of milk.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting
Makes one dozen big brownies in a 9×13-inch pan

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 5 cubes
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan, line with parchment paper if you have it on hand, then grease the parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, these blondies will be just fine.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted. Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter. Stir until incorporated. Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.

Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
¾ cup milk chocolate chips, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt. Add ½ cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk. Beat well. Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk. Melt milk chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add melted and slightly cooked milk chocolate the frosting and beat to incorporate. Add the final ½ cup of powdered sugar if you need a bit more thickness. Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steak, Asparagus & Chimichurri Pasta

Ever dress your skirt steaks with a dollop of Chimichurri? If you’ve never had it, you’re definitely missing out. Chimichurri is a steak condiment originally from Argentina and made from parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. It’s rich and herbal, tangy and a little spicy. It’s the perfect accompaniment for grilled beef.

Since Chimichurri also resembles pesto, I figured it would make a great pasta sauce. And I was right. I grilled a skirt steak and some asparagus and tossed them with Rigatoni and a fresh batch of Chimichurri. I loved the grilled flavors with the pasta and garlicky sauce.

This is the perfect meal to eat outdoors when the weather is nice and you have a big frosty beer or chilly glass of wine. Is it the weekend yet?

Steak, Asparagus & Chimichurri Pasta
Serves 4 to 6

For the chimichurri:
3 cloves garlic
2 cups Italian parsley, loosely packed
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. Rigatoni
1 lb. skirt steak
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. thick asparagus, tough ends removed

For the Chimichurri: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until all large pieces of parsley and garlic are gone. If you don’t have a blender, chop the garlic and parsley finely, then whisk with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Heat your grill to medium-high and sprinkle the steak with 1 tsp. salt. Once the grill is hot, place the steak and asparagus on it. Turn the asparagus often, ensuring it doesn’t burn. Remove it when it’s tender, but still crisp (time depends on how thick your asparagus is, about 5 – 8 minutes). Cook the steak to your desired done-ness, then remove and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice the steak into bite-sized pieces and cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

While you’re grilling, set a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, salt it thoroughly and add the rigatoni. Cook until al dente, then drain and return to pot.

Toss the pasta with half the amount of Chimichurri until well coated. Toss in the steak and asparagus and serve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strawberry Nutella Muffins

Strawberries and Nutella are a match made in heaven. Truth be told, I may have dipped a few strawberries in the Nutella jar while making these muffins. And oh boy, are these muffins are out of this world! There really are no words to describe their deliciousness. So, should you make these muffins for breakfast or dessert? It’s up to you. I think they are good anytime of the day. Just promise me you will make these Strawberry Nutella Muffins. They are too good not to share!

Strawberry Nutella Muffins
Makes 9 muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
¼ cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/3 cup Nutella
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

In a small bowl, combine canola oil, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla together. Use a fork or whisk and mix until well combined.

Incorporate the wet ingredients into flour mixture. Add slowly and gently stir, you don’t want to over mix. The batter will be thick. Carefully fold in the strawberries.

Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Next, add a small spoonful of Nutella to each muffin cup. Cover the Nutella filling with the remaining batter. Sprinkle each muffin with turbinado sugar.

Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sautéed Asparagus with Melted Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts

At the risk of sounding like I'm completely lacking in modesty, let me say that this is one of the best tasting things I've ever eaten in my life and one of my favorite ways to cook asparagus.

Sautéed Asparagus with Melted Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts
Makes 4 servings

1 pound fresh asparagus (thin spears preferred but you can peel the bottom of the spears if you use thicker asparagus)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or slightly more, depending on your pan)
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
¼ - 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
2- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (see below for how to toast pine nuts)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Snap off a piece of asparagus to see where to cut off the tough ends, then trim all asparagus to that length and cut into pieces about 2 inches long.

Put olive oil into large frying pan, turn heat to medium, add garlic and sauté about 1 minute, or until you start to smell garlic and the cloves are barely starting to get some color. Take pan off of heat and remove garlic and discard.

Put pan back on heat, add asparagus, and sauté about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until asparagus is barely starting to soften and brown slightly.

While asparagus cooks, toast pine nuts: Put a small frying pan on burner and turn heat to high. Add pine nuts to dry pan and toast for 1-2 minutes, or until barely turning brown, shaking pan frequently.

When asparagus is done, turn off heat and sprinkle crumbled Gorgonzola over asparagus in pan. Let sit one minute, until about half of the cheese is starting to melt and the rest is still in firm pieces. Plate asparagus and sprinkle with pine nuts. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper as desired.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chocolate Banana Mini Loaves

Tackle the next bake sale (or dessert) with this easy, sweet recipe. Start with a banana bread mix, and then dress it up with cocoa, chocolate chips and banana chips.

Chocolate Banana Mini Loaves
Makes 2 mini loaves

Cooking spray
¾ cup banana chips
1 17.1-ounce package banana-nut muffin mix
¾ up chocolate milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
½ to 1 teaspoon banana extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 6-by-3-inch miniature loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.

Place the banana chips in a large zip-top plastic bag. Press out the air and seal. Using a rolling pin, roll over the chips until crushed.

Whisk the muffin mix and cocoa in a large bowl. Add the chocolate milk, oil and eggs, stirring until smooth. Stir in the crushed banana chips and chocolate chips. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans on a rack for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Mix the confectioners' sugar, heavy cream and banana extract in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the loaves and let cool completely.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

It’s strawberry season right now and most of the time my daughters and I can pretty much polish off baskets of them before they expire, but there are times when I over purchase and they come close to the turning point and I have to use theme up quickly.

This Strawberry Shortcake Popsicle recipe is great for those times. This fast and easy recipe is also a low-fat dessert. I love how easy these are to make and since they are tasty and low in calorie, you can indulge in guilt-free. Have one, two or ten!

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

1 ½ cup pureed strawberries
½ cup crushed Nilla Wafers
2 cups vanilla yogurt

Puree strawberries. Place Oreos in a food processor and pulse until cookies become fine crumbs. Alternatively, place Oreos in a Ziploc and using a rolling pin to crush cookies. Add crushed Oreos to the yogurt and mix until combined.

To assemble:
To assemble, layer the yogurt portion first and let freeze for 30 minutes before adding the strawberry layer, let this second layer freeze for 30 minutes and then add the last yogurt layer. For a quick assembly, pour each layer on top of one another without any freeze time in between and then use a skewer or fork and gently swirl for a swirled Popsicle look.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes with Amaretto Cream

Strawberry season is upon us, and the uses for strawberries in delicious, dreamy recipes are limitless. Look no further for proof of this than the World Wide Web, where strawberry deliciousness abounds.

At the present time, I want the Dark Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes with Amaretto Cream. Oh, the decadence!

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes with Amaretto Cream
Makes 2 large (or 4 small)

2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (or original)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted cold butter, chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
¼ cup Amaretto (or substitute other liqueur or milk)
1 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces defrosted frozen whipped topping or sweetened whipped cream

4 cups sliced strawberries
Garnish (optional): whipped topping/cream & strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat (or grease pan well).

Place 2/3 cup milk and dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool.

Meanwhile, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into food processor (or large bowl), and process until combined (or whisk together if not using processor). Add butter and process until just combined (or cut in with fork if not using a food processor).

While food processor is running, slowly add milk and chocolate chip mixture until just combined (or stir in until just combined if making in a bowl).

Spoon mixture into 6 large circles (or 12 small) onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set (or about 8-12 minutes for small). Cool on wire racks.

Meanwhile, in large bowl mix together cream cheese and pudding mix with electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Mix in Amaretto and milk until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours or until firm.

To assemble, place a chocolate shortcake on serving plate then top with cream, strawberries; repeat layers ending with a chocolate shortcake. Top with whipped topping/cream and strawberries if desired.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quick Clam Chowder

It’s May and it’s still pretty cold. Better break out my last soup recipe before the scorching (and I mean scorching with a capital “S”) hot summer begins. One of my favorite soups is a creamy clam chowder. It’s not the healthiest soup by any means but it is one of the best comfort foods around. And I especially love this recipe because it’s so easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Quick Clam Chowder
Makes about 2 quarts

3 to 4 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large Spanish onion, diced medium, (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup flour
4 cans (6.5 ounces) minced clams, clams and juice separated
2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
3 medium boiling potatoes
1 large bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and ground black or white pepper

Fry bacon over medium in a sute pan until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 5 minutes.

Add onion to the bacon and drippings; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour; stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in canned and bottled clam juice and 1 cup of water. Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme, bring to a boil, reduce heat and the simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add clams, cream, and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper; return to a simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Risotto Primavera

I love risotto. And I love primavera dishes: pasta, pizza, lasagna. This recipe can be whipped up pretty quickly (for risotto) and you can pack it with whatever veggies you can find. A perfect go-to dish when you want to feed your kids veggies. So creamy, flavorful and utterly good.

Risotto Primavera
Serves 8

5 cans low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ whole large yellow onion, finely diced
3 whole carrots, peeled and finely diced
½ cups cauliflower pieces
½ cups broccoli pieces
1 whole yellow squash, finely diced
½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (additional)
1 tablespoon butter (additional)
1-½ cup Arborio rice
1-½ cup dry white wine
1½ teaspoon kosher salt (additional), more to taste
½ cups frozen peas
4 ounces, weight cream cheese cheese
½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
Optional vegetables to substitute: mushrooms, red bell pepper, zucchini, asparagus pieces

Pour chicken broth into a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Add diced onions and diced carrots. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Add cauliflower and cook for a minute. Add broccoli and cook for 30 seconds. Add squash and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in salt and stir. Remove from pan and put on a plate. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the same pan. Heat over medium-low heat. Add rice and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add half the wine and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt. Stir and cook until liquid is absorbed. Over the next 30 to 45 minutes, add 1 cup of simmering broth at a time, stirring and cooking until each addition of broth has absorbed. Add other half of wine and cook until absorbed. Add peas, stirring to combine. Taste to make sure rice is the right texture; add another helping of broth if rice has too much bite to it. Check salt content and add more salt if necessary.

Once rice is cooked, remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese, Parmesan, and vegetables until all cream cheese is combined.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eggs Benedict with Pepper Jack and Roasted Salsa

I love savory breakfasts. Don’t get me wrong – I can appreciate a good scone or muffin, but give me a hearty breakfast anytime. And I especially like Eggs Benedict. This recipe is a little lighter so I don’t have to feel bad eating it. Now if I can just get someone, other than myself, to make it on Sunday.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Eggs Benedict with Pepper Jack and Roasted Salsa
Serves 4

6 whole canned tomatoes, drained
1/2 each: yellow bell pepper and poblano pepper, seeded
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
4 split English muffins
3/4 cup grated pepper Jack cheese
4 slices Canadian bacon
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large eggs
Salt and black pepper

Adjust oven rack to highest position and turn broiler on high. Place tomatoes, bell pepper, poblano, and garlic on a small foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until peppers and garlic are spotty brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add lime juice, cilantro, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste; puree until smooth.

Remove foil and place English muffin halves on baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted, sprinkle a portion of cheese on each half, and continue to broil until melted. Turn off the broiler and leave in the oven to keep warm.

Meanwhile, brown Canadian bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove bacon and place it on top of English muffin halves. Add olive oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Crack the eggs into the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook as desired.

To serve, place two English muffin halves on a plate, place an egg on one half of the English muffin, spoon salsa over both halves, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Don’t these look yummy? Sopapillas make me feel good inside especially when they’re coated in cinnamon sugar and they are one of my favorite desserts in a Mexican restaurant – aside from perhaps Mexican fried ice cream. But I digress… As for sopapillas, I like to bite off the corner, squirt honey into the center, and then devour them. What a great way to end Cinco de Mayo!


1 ¾ cup plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup milk
Hot vegetable oil for frying
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Honey – optional

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Add the milk and knead for 1 minute on floured surface. Let dough set for one hour. Roll dough into large rectangle 1/8” thickness. Use a pizza cutter to cut 2” wide strips of dough, then cut strips into 2” squares, then cut squares diagonally in half.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a shallow baking dish and set aside.

Heat 4 cups vegetable oil in deep fryer. When oil reaches 375 degrees, drop dough triangles into hot oil. They should rise to the surface, and puff, then brown on the bottom very quickly. Use tongs to quickly turn sopapillas over. When dough is golden brown on both sides, remove from oil carefully, and place on paper towels. While sopapillas are still very warm, put them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and spoon mixture over sopapillas to thoroughly coat them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Super Nachos

Create a Cinco de Mayo menu to impress. Start off the celebration with this uber nacho recipe. Plain old supreme nachos get a feisty kick with the help of jalapenos, chili powder, cayenne pepper and hot sauce – a fresh Pico de Gallo salsa will help cool down the heat. Ole!

Super Nachos
Makes 4 entrée servings

2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different flavors, such as blue corn, red corn, yellow corn, lime flavored, chili flavored or black bean chips -- pick 2 favorites

Pico de Gallo Salsa:
4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
1 small white onion, chopped
¼ cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves, finely chopped -- substitute parsley if cilantro is not to your liking

Beef and Beans Topping:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons dark chili powder
1 ½ ground cumin, half a palmful
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you medium to hot heat level
1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
¾ pound pepper jack cheese, shredded, about 2 ½ cups

Additional toppings to choose from, optional:
Sour cream
Chopped scallions
Chopped black olives
Sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice
Hot pepper sauces

Arrange a mixture of 2 varieties of corn chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.

Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and sauté 2 minutes, then add meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.

In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and add flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.

Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the Pico de Gallo. Serve immediately as is or, garnish with your choice of extra toppings from the toppings list.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carne Asada Tacos

Plan a muy bueno feast for your May 5 celebration with these carne asada tacos. You’ll probably use the mojo recipe on everything. It’s simply delicioso!

Carne Asada Tacos
Makes 4 servings (2 tacos per person)

2 pounds flank or skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat
1 recipe Mojo, recipe follows
Olive oil, for coating the grill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 (7-inch) corn tortillas
Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce, for serving
Chopped white onion, for serving
Shredded Jack cheese, for serving
½ cup Pico de Gallo, recipe follows
2 limes, cut in wedges for serving

Lay the flank steak in a large baking dish and pour the mojo over it. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours, so the flavors can sink into the meat. Don't marinate the steak for more than 8 hours though, or the fibers break down too much and the meat gets mushy.

Preheat an outdoor grill or a ridged grill pan over medium-high flame (you can also use a broiler). Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Pull the steak out of the mojo marinade and season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill (or broil) the steak for 7 to 10 minutes per side, turning once, until medium-rare. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.

Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side in a dry skillet or on the grill, until toasty and pliable.

To make the tacos, stack up 2 of the warm tortillas, lay about 4 ounces of beef down the center, and sprinkle with some lettuce, onion, and cheese. Top each taco with a spoonful of the Pico de Gallo salsa and garnish with lime wedges. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
½ cup olive oil

In a mortar and pestle or bowl, mash together the garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and pepper to make a paste. Put the paste in a glass jar or plastic container. Add the lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, and oil. Shake it up really well to combine. Use as a marinade for chicken or beef or as a table condiment.

Makes approximately 1 ¼ ups

Pico De Gallo:
4 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 Serrano chile, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together. Toss thoroughly. Let it sit for 15 minutes hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Makes 2 cups

Monday, May 2, 2011

Warm Mexican Crab Dip

Try this appetizer for Cinco de Mayo. Combine lump crabmeat with cream cheese, fresh lime juice and cayenne pepper for a decadent dip, which only takes 20 minutes to put together.

Warm Mexican Crab Dip
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper, plus slices for garnish, optional
½ cup light beer
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) block pasteurized prepared cheese product
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked for shells
¼ cup fresh lime juice, (about 2 limes)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Tortilla chips, for serving, recipe follows

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the jalapeno pepper and garlic and cook stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in the beer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the cream, cream cheese, and processed cheese, whisking until melted and smooth.

Stir in crabmeat, lime juice and chili powder and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and cumin. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced jalapeno pepper, if desired. Serve hot with tortilla chips.