APPLE POUND CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups regular sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (such as Gala or Granny Smith)
  • Optional:  walnuts for decoration and whipped topping for serving.

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use pam spray for baking on a 9 inch Bundt pan and set aside.  With a mixer on low speed, cream together the sugar and butter.  Once well blended, add the applesauce, vanilla, and eggs (one egg at a time).  Mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on slow with your mixer until well combined.

Fold in the apples by hand and then transfer the mixture to the 9 inch Bundt pan.  (The batter will be thick!).   Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set on cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan.

Time to Glaze:     Combine the powdered sugar, milk and butter in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended.  Drizzle over the cake while it is still warm.

(Optional:  make a ring of walnuts around the top of the cake for decoration and top with a dollop of whipped cream when serving)

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SALISBURY STEAK SUPREME

Time for some real comfort food!  Here’s a recipe that will fit the bill!  A little splash of wine turns this gravy to something special and can easily be used at a Thanksgiving meal!  Go ahead, get comfortable!
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INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE SALISBURY STEAK:

  • 2 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/3 cup Italian panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. whole milk
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. oil to sauté

FOR THE MUSHROOM GRAVY:

  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms sliced (1 package)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup watr
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine (such as a Pino or Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the Salisbury Steak patties (EXCEPT THE OIL).  Mix until well incorporated (I use my clean hands).  Shape into 6 oval or round patties, flattening the center for even thickness throughout.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a non-stick pan, once hot, add patties to the pan and fry approximately 5 minutes on each side until the patties are nice and brown.  Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, saute the onion (under the Mushroom Gravy ingredient list) for a few minutes, then add the garlic and butter and mix.

Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, mixing frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. flour, 1 1/2 Cups broth, 1/2 Cup water, 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire, 1/2 tsp. dijon, 2 tsp. ketchup, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper and 1/4 cup white wine (all the remaining ingredients under the Mushroom Gravy ingredient list).  Pour into the mushrooms.  Cook on medium until the gravy thickens.

Add the patties back into the pan and completely cover with the gravy and mushrooms.  Cook on low medium just until the patties are heated through.

Serve over mash potatoes and a side of peas.  Serves 6.

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SMOKED SALMON AND CREAM CHEESE HORS D’OEUVRES

Want a simple, delicious, yet elegant appetizer, look no more!  Follow these simple directions and arrange your appetizer on a round tray.  I used single serving spoons for an extra nice presentation.

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 oz. smoked salmon
  • package of Boursin (garlic and herb) cream cheese
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped chives
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber cut in 1/2 inch rounds
  • small cherry tomatoes
  • decorative toothpicks

Instructions:

Cut the smoked salmon into the number of pieces depending on how many spoons and cucumber rounds you want to fix.  Arrange the spoons on a round plate or tray, put a flat smaller plate in the center (to hold the cucumbers).  Place a piece of smoked salmon on the spoons and on the cucumber.

Divide the Boursin cheese between the smoked salmon spoons and cucumber.  Place approx. 1/2 tsp. of the Boursin cheese on top of the smoked salmon.  For the cucumbers only, use a decorative toothpick and a cherry tomato and place it on top of the salmon, cream cheese into the cucumber.

Sprinkle the chopped red onion, chives and lemon zest on top of the appetizers.  Garnish with a little cracked black pepper.  Serves 10 as an appetizer.

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CHARCUTERIE BOARD

This is my interpretation of a delicious and attractive charcuterie board.  It doesn’t need a lot of planning, but just some creativity.  You can use some items you may have in stock.  Several basics are 3 to 4 types of cheeses, I used a Wisconsin yellow cheddar, Brie, Manchego, and amish white cheddar.    It helps to cut up the cheeses (except the Brie),  in order to facilitate eating.

Select the appropriate size cheese board.  Set the cheese first on the board (spread them out in a creative way, yet keeping the same cheese together).  Then place two to three small containers on the board (I used 3).  In these containers I put gherkins (small pickles), mixed nuts, and roasted pecans.  You can put olives, or other snack foods as you prefer.

Next I used three types of Italian meets, prosciutto, sweet sopressata, and dry coppa.  You can use a variety of meets, such as pepperoni.  I purchased a package of Charcuterie meats at Sam’s Club.  Lay the prosciutto in a pile, no need to fold.  The round meats fold in half, then fold again to make it look like a triangle, then arrange the meets around the board tucked between the containers and cheeses.

Next add the fruits and give it some color.  I used red grapes (cut the grapes in batches of 5 or 6 grapes), cherry tomatoes, medjool dates, mission figs (cut in half), and small strawberries. (Of course wash and dry all fruit).  Place these fruits around the board where there is still openings.

I also used a small honey jar just above the brie which contained a honey stick, just incase someone wanted honey drizzled on their Brie.

Put some crackers along side the honey jar, above the Brie.

Now fill in any empty spots with some sort of nuts.  The object is to fill the entire board with edible food.  A little parsley or fresh rosemary tucked in at the edges gives it a fresh look.

Use the picture above to actually see the placement of the foods.  By now you should have an impressive and delicious Charcuterie board that you will be proud to serve your friends or take to a party!  Enjoy!

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BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

This is an easy and simple dish that comes together quickly.  It will delight Chinese food lovers and is great for leftovers too.  Hope you enjoy!
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 LB. flank or skirt steak:  Sliced very thin into bite-sized strips
  • 4 T olive oil (divided)
  • 1 lb. broccoli florets (about 6 cups):  cut up into smaller pieces
  • 2 T sesame seeds

(Stir-Fry Sauce ingredients:)

  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger: grated
  • 2 tsp. garlic: grated (approx. 3 cloves)
  • 1/2 Cup hot water
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 3 T packed light brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 T corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T sesame oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

NOTE:  Start cooking white rice first so it’s ready when the stir fry is done.  Cover and freeze steak 30 minutes for easier slicing.

Combine all stir fry sauce ingredients in a bowl, whisk well to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 T oil.  Add broccoli florets and saute 4-5 minutes, partially covered with lid, stirring several times until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender then remove from pan and set aside. (If you prefer softer broccoli, add 2 T water before covering with the lid and it will steam cook the broccoli.)

Increase heat to medium hight head and add 2 T oil.  Add beef in a single layer and saute 2 minutes per side, just until cooked through.  Cook in two patches in order not to crowd the pan.

Put all meat back into the pan, reduce heat to medium low and add the sauce.  Simmer 3-4 minutes, it will thicken.  Add broccoli and stir to combine.  Stir in 1-2 T water to thin the sauce if desired.  Add the sesame seeds and stir to blend.    Serve over white rice.  Delicious!  Serves 4

 

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CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA

This recipe is one of my family’s favorite and is a special dish for any occasion.  Tender chicken breast, salty prosciutto and flavorful sage make a mouth watering combination.  I enjoy it served with fettuccini , but you can just serve it along side a salad, you’ll love the flavors! (Serves 4)
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 skinless, boneless large chicken breast (cut each breast in half long way, seasoned with salt and pepper and pounded)
  • 4 oz. Prosciutto (thinly sliced)
  • 1 shallot (diced)                                                                      
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Pino Grigio (or other dry white wine)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 oz. olive oil for frying
  • toothpicks for securing sage and prosciutto for chicken
  • parsley for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin with slicing the two chicken breast (long way) in half, making four separate pieces.  Place each piece, one at a time, into a plastic bag and pound with a mallet to tenderize and flatten them to the same thickness so they cook evenly and in a shorter time.

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast.  Layer each chicken breast with two to three slices of prosciutto.  Top off with four sage leaves.  Use toothpicks to sew in the sage leaves and to hold in the prosciutto so that they don’t fall off when cooking.  You can use two toothpicks per chicken breast (two sage leaves per toothpick)

Coat each side of the chicken breasts with flour.  (The easiest way is to put the flour in a paper plate or bowl, add some salt and pepper, and dredge the chicken in the flour).  Set aside.

Drizzle about four tablespoons of olive oil into a large, oven safe frying pan, set temperature to medium low.  Add in the diced shallot and fry for about a minute.   Begin to add in the chicken breast, starting with sage side down.  Add the remaining three pieces of chicken breast.   Raise the heat to medium setting and add in four tablespoons of butter.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the sage side is golden in color.

Flip onto the other side and add the wine.  Cook for about two minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate and to allow the wine flavor to infuse into the chicken.  Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium/low flame.  Once boiling, place the pan into the oven and cook for about eight to ten minutes.

Remove from the oven.  Serve over your favorite spaghetti or along side your preferred side dish.  MAKE SURE TO REMOVE THE TOOTHPICKS!  Pour some of the saltimbocca gravy over the chicken and spaghetti (sprinkle with parsley for garnish-Optional)  and enjoy!

 

 

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CREAMY TUSCAN CHICKEN

All I can say is this is delicious!  The flavors of the creamy sauce will delight your palette and please even the most finicky eater.  It’s loaded with a healthy dose of spinach, but you don’t have to tell your kids!  Serve it over fettuccine for the perfect dinner that would be a hit at your next dinner party!1116FA7E-42CD-4849-90CC-31A2E8F79456

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Ingredients:

  • 2-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup flour                                                                              
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • salt and ground pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • dash of curry powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 5 oz. package baby spinach
  • 3 oz. package sun-dried tomatoes                                                                    
  • fettuccini for serving (follow package directions for pasta)

Instructions:

Place flour in a plate or bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then mix.  Sprinkle each side of the chicken breast with salt and freshly ground pepper, and a small sprinkle of curry powder.  Dredge the both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour,  shake off any excess flower and place the chicken breast on a plate and set aside.   Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  In patches of 3, fry the chicken approximately 5 minutes per side, just until browned and no longer pink in the center.  The timing depends on the thickness of the chicken breast.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

If the skillet is dry, add a tiny bit more olive oil.  Add the garlic and shallot and cook for about 1 minute, just until fragrant.  Add chicken broth and scrape browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Add cream, Italian seasoning, dash of red pepper flakes,  and Parmesan cheese.  Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens.

Stir in spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until spinach wilts.  (Taste with a spoon and adjust salt and pepper to taste)

Add chicken back to the skillet and spoon a bit of sauce over each piece, simmer on low for 5 minutes.  Serve with pasta.  (Spoon pan juices with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes over the chicken and pasta.). Serves 6

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PECAN INFUSED RUM CAKE

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fullsizeoutput_aa1dINGREDIENTS: (Rum Cake) (Serves 8-10)

  • 1 (15.25 oz.) yellow cake mix (I like Duncan Hines)
  • 1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup rum (use any brand, but it should be white rum)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

INGREDIENTS: (Glaze)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • pinch of salt

(items needed:  Pam Spray, standard 10-cup bundt pan)

Optional:  Whipped Cream for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Position rack in center of oven, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Coat your bundt pan with baking spray (Or wipe with oil and dust with flour),  add a small circle of chopped pecans around the bottom of the bundt pan set aside.

Add yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, 1/2 C cold water, 1/2 C oil, and 1/2 C rum and 4 large eggs into mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed with electric mixer for about 2 minutes, fold in 2 cups chopped pecans.  Pour into prepared pan.  Lightly tap pan on counter to remove excess air bubbles.  Bake 55-60 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes our clean.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze.  Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in 1 Cup sugar and 1/4 C water.  Bring to a boil, cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar has melted and mixture is syrupy.  Remove from heat; carefully stir in 1/2 cup rum (mixture will bubble at first) and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

When cake is done, cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Invert onto a serving plate.  Prick top and sides all over with a toothpick.  Slowly drizzle some of the glaze all over the sides and top of cake.  Allow to absorb before drizzling with more glaze (you do not have to use all the reserved glaze!).  Cool cake completely.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Totally optional:  Chocolate glaze drip:   Melt one cup of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave in 20 second intervals. Attempt to stir after each time. Chocolate can be melted but still hold it’s shape. Once it is smooth you can try drizzling with the end of a knife or a spoon, (mix with a bit of melted butter to make it more drippy if needed).

 This cake is delicious with or with this drizzle,  it’s your choice!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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PASTA AND CHICKEN SALAD

Ever wonder what to do with that left over rotisserie chicken, well, here’s a way to stretch it out and repurpose it for dinner the next night!  It’s delicious and is a complete meal:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 Oz. Corkscrew or similar shaped pasta (cooked as directed on package)
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 2 cups chopped cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 4 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 cup cubed cheddar cheese or Muenster cheese
  • 1 cup cubed Feta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 avocado-peeled, pitted and chopped

Directions:

Bring a large to of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through. (Follow package directions).  Drain and rinse under cold water.

Whisk Italian-style dressing, dijon, and mayonnaise together in a large bowl.  Stir in pasta, chicken, bacon, cheeses, celery, bell pepper, shallot, cherry tomatoes, and avocado into the dressing until evenly coated.

Keep refrigerated, store in refrigerator, serves 6.

OPTIONAL:  add 3/4 cup chopped walnuts!

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PASTA e FAGIOLI SOUP

This is one of those meals that’s both hearty and nutritious.  If you love to cook, as I do, you’ll enjoy making this for your family.  It’s definitely a full meal and will feed a lot of people.  Serve it with crusty bread and top it with a good amount of grated Parmesan-reggiano cheese!IMG_1894

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. diced pancetta
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 cans 15 oz. each tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can 10 oz. Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 -32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta

Optional:  Parmesan reggiano graded cheese on top when serving, also crusty bread on the side.

Directions:

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring occasional until cooked through.  Drain fat from the beef then transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the same pot.  Add Pancetta and saute for 2 minutes, add onions, carrots, and celery and saute until tender, around 6 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Rotel diced tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add set-aside cooked ground beef.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.

Add cooked and drained pasta to soup* along with kidney beans and great northern beans.  Thin with water or broth if desired.

Allow to cook 1 minute longer.

Serve warm with grated Parmesan Reggiano on top and a side of crusty bread.

*If you do not plan on eating all of the soup right away, I recommend adding the pasta to individual servings.  The pasta gets soggy and absorbs too much broth if left in soup.

Serves 8-10

 

 

 

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CANNOLI CAKE

This is one of those cakes you make when you are having a dinner party!  It looks so impressive and it’s so delicious.  You can make it the day ahead and refrigerate it and it’s even better the next day!
+ExxrSv5QnKpwS6OVwhA9gIngredients:

  • 663373DF-3E29-4C46-8559-CB8FD8FD401D1 Package French vanilla or white cake mix (regular size, make according to package directions, usually calls for vegetable oil, water and eggs)

Filling:

  • 1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ounces semisweet miniature chocolate chips
  • Optional (1 T Malibu Coconut rum)

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 2 C reg. whipping cream (1 pt. is 2 cups)
  • 3 T confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C whipping cream

Optional for Garnish

  • 1 bottle candied cherries
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • whole store-bought cannoli for the top

Directions:

Prepare and bake the cake mix according to package directions, using two greased and floured 8 inch round baking pans.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and extracts mix until well blended; stir in chocolate chips. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Beat the whipping cream on high speed in bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Beat in sugar and vanilla.  Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make Ganache:  In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips and whipping cream.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 min. and 10 seconds.  Whisk together until completely combined.  Set aside on counter to cool and make sure it cools completely before dripping on the cake. (Store any unused ganache in refrigerator.)

After cake is completely cooled, cut each cake in half down the middle with a large serrated knife.  Place first cake layer on a serving plate, spread with about 3/4 C of the ricotta filling, place another layer of cake, spread with about 3/4 C of the ricotta filling, place 3rd layer and spread the remaining filling. Top with last layer of cake.fullsizeoutput_aadf

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Frost top and sides of cake with whipped cream frosting.  Spread nuts on top of cake.  Use a spoon, drip chocolate ganache around the edge of the cake and let it run down the sides.  Place candied cherries around the top of the cake.  Place the whole store-bought cannoli on top of the cake in the center.  Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Yield 12 servings

Note: I found this handy filled pastry bag, so easy to use and it helps keep the filling from coming out, just squeeze it around each layer of cake and put the filling inside of it!

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COCONUT SHRIMP

This is a easy, delicious meal that’s good enough for company!  I have to give credit to my friend, Frankie, who gave me the recipe.  It’s packed full of flavor and goes perfect with Jasmine rice.  You can make the sauce ahead, peel and devein your shrimp and refrigerate the shrimp until ready to use.  Leave the cooked sauce on the stove and at the last minute add the shrimp and cilantro.  It takes less than 2-4 minutes for the shrimp to cook (depending on the size), then serve your dish!  Delicious!!
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Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 or 2 lbs. Large or Extra Large shrimp, shelled and deveined (Key West Pinks Preferred)
  • Olive oil-enough to cover pan (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and peppar to taste
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned and cut in half
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, (14.5 oz), drained well
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 C cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk (14 oz.)

Directions:

Heat the red pepper flakes in the olive oil, add garlic, scallions, red peppers, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Saute until tender on med.-high heat for approx. 4 minutes.  Add lime juice, coconut milk, and petite diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  *Add shrimp and cilantro and cook until shrimp turn pink, approx. 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.  Taste the sauce and add salt & pepper to your taste.  Serve over Jasmine rice.

*Note:  If making ahead, do not add the shrimp at this time.  Leave the shrimp in the refrigerator until ready to serve and add at the last minute along with the cilantro! Great for a dinner party!

 

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AMBROSIA FRUIT SALAD TRIFLE

Here’s your EASY Memorial Day, Summer, no bake dessert that will surely please all palates and ages!  Light and fresh and chilled! You can even make it the day ahead!  Go ahead, permission to indulge!! (Note:  If you just want delicious Ambrosia Fruit Salad, stop the recipe as noted and do not buy the Angel Food Cake!)

Ingredients: (Serves 8-10)

  • 16 oz. frozen whipped cream, thawed (such as Cool Whip)
  • 2- 5.3 oz. vanilla flavor Greek yogurt
  • 23.5 oz. canned or jarred mandarin oranges, well drained (24 segments set aside for garnish)
  • 1 C crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 16 oz. jar maraschino cherries, well drained (14 held aside for garnish)
  • 2 C green seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 C shredded coconut
  • 2 C mini marshmallows
  • 1 C walnuts, chopped
  • 1 small can pineapple rings (for garnish-optional)
  • 1 prepared, store bought Angel Food Cake

Preparation:

Stir together whipped cream and Greek yogurt in a large bowl.

Add coconut and marshmallows and stir until completely combined.

Fold in oranges, pineapple, grapes, cherries, and walnuts (except the 14 cherries and 24 orange segments you separated).

(NOTE:  If you just want delicious Ambrosia Fruit Salad, you can stop here and refrigerate at least 4 hours for plain Ambrosia!)

Take the prepared Angel Food Cake out of the container and cut it up in large chunks.  Have your Trifle bowl ready!

Layer as follows:  one layer of Ambrosia, spread around, one layer of Angel Food Cake, then another layer of Ambrosia, another layer of cake, and top of last layer of Ambrosia.  (Each layer should be thick).

Smooth out the top and decorate with the cherries, mandarin orange slices and pineapple ring as shown in the picture.

Let sit covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours, but you could leave overnight!

(Note: you might have a little leftover cake and pineapple, just use at your discretion for another time!)

 

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SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

One Dish Meal! The sweetest of the carrots adds just the right flavor to this simple, yet hardy meal.  This dish also gets it’s classic richness from the ground pork.  So delicious, even as leftovers! INGREDIENTS: (Serves 6)

  • 1 lb. good ground pork
  • 1 lb. favorite spaghetti (I used thin: Cooked according to directions)
  • 2 cans 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and cut into small chunks)
  • 2 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
  • 1 large shallot (large dice)
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

In a large, high-sided pan (or pot), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high (for spaghetti).

Add the garlic, carrot and shallot; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, 4 to 6 minutes, or until slightly softened.

Add the ground pork, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

To the pan, add the tomato sauce and 1/2 Cup of water: season with salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.  Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.  Turn off the heat.

While the sauce is cooking, add the spaghetti to the pot of boiling water.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente (following instructions on the box).  Reserve 1/2 Cup of spaghetti cooking water, drain thoroughly.

Transfer the cooked spaghetti to the pan of sauce.  Cook on medium, stirring vigorously to coat the spaghetti, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.  (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the reserved cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.  Turn off the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top with some parmesan cheese if desired and serve along with your favorite salad!

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SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE (NO BAKE)

This is a summer treat with all the fresh strawberries and blueberries available.  It’s a “no bake” icebox cake that is simply delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (make sure very soft)
  • 2 (3.4 oz.) packages Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 2 1/2 C cold milk
  • 12 oz. Cool Whip
  • 3 C fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/2 C fresh blueberries
  • 2 oz. white chocolate chips for drizzle (optional)
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Spread a thin layer of Cool Whip in a 9 x 13  just to coat the bottom, set aside.  Beat cream cheese and dry pudding mixes in large bowl with electric mixer until blended.  Gradually beat in milk.  Gently stir in Cool Whip.  Layer 5 graham crackers across the length of the pan, breaking the crackers as needed to fit the entire pan.  Spread a layer of pudding mixture over the grahams and top with a layer of blueberries and sliced strawberries.  Place graham crackers on top of berries, then pudding mixture, then layer of berries again.  Repeat the graham-pudding-berries layers 1 more time (3 times total) and you should reach the top of the pan.  Refrigerate for at lease 4 hours or overnight.  The longer the better!

When ready to serve, melt white chocolate chips in a bowl as directed on package and drizzle over dessert.  You can use a spoon to drizzle or you can put it into a small zip top bag and snip off the corner for an easy piping bag.  Sprinkle some toasted almonds on top.  Serve on a plate or in a dessert bowl.  serves 6

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VANILLA BEAN CREME BRULEE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 C sugar, plus 1 T for each serving
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 T orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped
  • Optional:  Whipped cream, sprig of mint,  and strawberry for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Place the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 C of sugar in a mixer bowl.  Mix together on low speed with the mixer until combined.  Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot, but not boiling.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the cream to the eggs, tempering it.  Keep blending on low and add the vanilla extract, the scrapings of the vanilla bean,  and orange liqueur and then pour into 6 ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken.  Remove the custards from the water bath and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until firm.

Before serving, bread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or your fingers.  Heat with a kitchen blowtorch until sugar caramelizes evenly.  Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Optional:  Top with a dollop of whipped cream, sprig of mint,  and a sliced strawberry.

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BRUSSEL SPROUTS MISO

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INGREDIENTS:  (Serves 6)

  • 6-8 Slices thick bacon
  • 1/4 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C Sake
  • 1/2 C Mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 T miso paste
  • 3 –8 oz. bags baby brussel spouts, cut off root end and cut in half

CANDIED BACON:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Dip the bacon in brown sugar.  Place bacon in pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until nice and browned.  When cooled, cut into large pieces, set aside.

MISO SAUCE:

Combine sake, mirin, and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil to burn off alcohol (lower heat and simmer about 5 minutes).  Add miso paste and blend with a whisk in the pot until well blended.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS:

Quickly fry sprouts in a fryer at 375 degrees (if possible, use frying thermometer to get to correct temperature).  Transfer to sauce pan and add candied bacon and miso sauce.  Saute until sprouts are caramelized.

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BEEF WELLINGTON w/ Spinach, Artichoke & Mushrooms

fullsizeoutput_981efullsizeoutput_981fimg_0296Heat oven to 425 degrees, Bake 20-25 minutes. Rest 10 minutes.  Serves 6

  • 6 Premium filet mignon (cut 1 1/2 in.)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 (10 oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 3/4 C frozen or canned artichoke heart quarters, thawed if frozen, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz. size gourmet blend mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 C (about 3 oz.) garlic and herb cheese spread, such as Boursin
  • 1/2 C gated Parmesan
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 T water
  • 4 sheets frozen puff pastry (from a 7 oz. box, thawed
  • all purpose flour for rolling pastry
  • Optional:  flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Season the beef all over with 1/2 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Sear the beef on all sides until well browned, about 5 min. total.  Let cool, then refrigerate until cold, at least one hour, up to overnight (covered in plastic, and placed on paper towels to drain).    I prefer a cast iron skillet for searing!

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Place the spinach in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and wring out as much liquid as possible.  Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium head.  Add the spinach, artichokes, garlic, mushrooms and 1/4 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is dry and no liquid remains in the skillet, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and let cook to room temperature.

Add the Boursin spread and Parmesan to the cooked mixture and process to a paste.  Refrigerate the filling until you are ready to assemble the beef. (Can make the day before and refrigerate).

TO ASSEMBLE:

Remove the beef from the refrigerator.  Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry.  Cut in a 7 by 7 square.  Repeat with our sheets of puff pastry until you get 6 – 7 by 7 squares.  You might have to blend two cut pieces together.  Beat together 1 egg and 2 T water.

Spread about one tablespoon of the spinach/mushroom mixture on top of each filet, pressing to flatten.  Place one filet, mushroom side down, in the center of a puff pastry square.  Using a pastry brush or your finger, paint the inside edges of the pastry with egg wash.  Fold the pastry over the filet as thought wrapping a package and press the edges to seal.  Place the packages seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet.  Brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of each package, sprinkle with finishing salt if desired,  and bake until the pastry is golden brown and an instant read thermometer registers 140 degrees F for medium rare, about 20 minutes.   (You can prepare the packages and place in the refrigerator a few hours in advance, take them out and let come to room temperature 1 prior to baking)

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

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SOUS VIDE PRIME RIB AND CHICKEN BREAST

I am obsessed with my new method of cooking!  Sous Vide style!  After seeing a lot of chefs use their Sous Vide machines for superb dishes, I started my research for the home cook.   Sous Vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch then placed in a water bath in a temperature controlled environment for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking.  The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked, without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture.

This Sous Vide machine by Joule is my choice.  It fits in either a large pot or you can get the plastic container and both are filled with water.  The Sous Vide machine is placed in the water and you set the temperature according to the dish.  The app from Joule is excellent and takes you step by step.  You need to put the food in an airtight bag along with the seasonings.  I’ve already cooked a prime rib and chicken breast!

It’s pretty easy, and cooks at a low temperature for different lengths of time depending on the dish.  You have to pre-heat the water and the app will alert you when the water is at the correct temperature.  It’s ingenious!

My Sous Vide by Joule (Purchased from Amazon.com). img_0846This is what it looks like with the prime rib in the water container. img_0865
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PRIME RIB with herb butter sauce:

  • 3 to 4 lb. prime rib
  • stick of butter
  • two sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, & sage (you can use any variation of herbs)
  • salt & pepper
  • mixture of garlic salt, garlic powder, & prime rib rub (again, use any variety)
  • horseradish sauce (optional-on the side)

Bring the butter to room temperature.  Dice fresh rosemary, thyme & sage (without stems).  Add to the butter and mix.  Place the prime rib in a large freezer style zip lock bag or in a food storage bag.   Add generous amount of salt and pepper to the rib.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, garlic powder, & prime rib rub (any variation will do).  Add lots of the herb butter to the rib and spread with your fingers all over.  (Try not to get any of the butter on the top of the inside of the bag if you are going to use a food saver machine).   After the prime rib is covered in the butter mixture, you can use your food saver machine to vacuum the air out and seal the bag.   (If using just a freezer zip-lock bag, make sure you get the air out when putting it into the water bath, then clip the top to the side of the container).

Drop in heated water according to the machine’s recommendation.  My temperature was 136 degrees, and according to the size, I cooked it for 4 hours.  This will vary depending on the side and the extend of doneness you want on your prime rib or if it’s fresh or frozen.  The app has it all for you.   Your Iphone will tell you when it’s done, it even tells you on your Apple watch!

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Apple Watch Alert!

The final step is to Sear the meat.  There are different methods and they all work well.  You can sear before you place the meat in the bag or you can sear it afterwards.  Here are the 3 methods:

  1. Sear on top of stove in hot pan with oil & butter
  2. Sear on top shelf of oven under the broiler
  3. Use a chef’s butane cooking torch

For this meat, I used the cooking torch:fullsizeoutput_95d4

I liked it because it’s just an easier clean-up.  But you have to be careful with this tool and not catch anything else on fire! 🙂

The prime rib was delicious and really very easy to prepare once you have all the right tools.  I’ll be experimenting and cooking lots of proteins with this method, my next one will be lobsters and shrimp!

CHICKEN BREAST WITH ROSEMARY, SAGE and THYME:

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  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • season salt & pepper
  • sprigs of sage, rosemary, & thyme
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 circles of cut fresh lemon

Place chicken breast in food saver bag.  Season with season salt & pepper.  Put a tablespoon of butter on each breast.  Put a slice of lemon on each breast.  Add the sprigs of sage, rosemary, & thyme.  Seal the bag and cook according to Joule’s instructions in the water bath.   I like the chicken done well, so the temperature I used was 158 degrees for 2 hours.    The water will pre-heat then tell you when to put the food in.  It will alert you when the food is ready.  One great thing is that you can actually leave the food in the water for an extra two hours and it won’t overcook!

I browned the chicken in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and some olive oil, just 2 minutes per side.  Delicious!!

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SCRUMPTIOUS MEATLOAF

This recipe makes two meatloaves.  It freezes well and you might as well make two because you will dirty almost the same amount of pans!  The sweetness of the barbecue sauce adds a great flavor, along with the moistness of the roasted peppers!  Use Lean hamburger meat to make this a healthy meatloaf as well!  If you want only one meatloaf, just cut the recipe in half!  This is truly a “Comfort” food!img_1010

  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 sleeve saltines (crushed in the food processor)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 3/4 C Heinz BBQ sauce Kansas City style-Sweet & Smoky
  • 1 C chopped onions
  • 1 C chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 T olive oil for frying
  • 12 oz. jar Roasted Peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Glaze:

  • 1 C Heinz BBQ sauce Kansas City style-Sweet & Smoky
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 C Ketchup
  • 1 T apricot jelly

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Have ready two 5 x 9 loaf pans, sprayed with cooking spray, set aside.   Cut onion and bell pepper into small dice, sauté in frying pan in 2 T of olive oil until softened, about 7 min.  Cut Roasted Peppers into dice size.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crushed crackers, eggs, milk, BBQ sauce, saute’ onion & bell pepper, roasted pepper, pepper, & garlic powder.  Mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined.

Pour the mixture into two separate prepared pans and spread evenly.  Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.  Place into the oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Halfway through the cooking, brush more of the glaze on the loaves.   Let meatloaves sit for 15 minutes before slicing.  Refrigerate leftovers  Freeze one for future meals or share with a friend!

Directions for Glaze:

Mix BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, & jelly, combined until mixed thoroughly.  (Any leftover glaze can be use for dipping!)img_1011Processed with Snapseed.

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KEY LIME AND COCONUT IMPOSSIBLE PIE

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Key Lime and Coconut Impossible Pie

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Has a “Cheese Cake” consistency!

It doesn’t get any easier than this, yet it’s so delicious!  The sweetened coconut with the tang of the key limes gives this pie a great twist!  You don’t even need to take out your mixer, this can be hand whisked, go ahead, give it a try!

  • 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (Not evaporated milk)
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C key lime juice
  • 1/2 C Bisquick baking mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (14oz. bag) flaked sweet shredded coconut

Optional:  whipped cream, Key lime slices, & sliced almonds for decorations (place whip cream around the pie, sprinkle almonds on top, slice key limes thinly, then in half and decorate around the inside as pictured above.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place all the ingredients in a large bowl except coconut.  Whisk with a hand whisk for about 2 minutes, until well blended.  Add coconut and whisk again to blend.  Pour mixture into a 9 inch pie pan and baked for 50-55 min., or until golden brown and knife inserted in the center comes out clean!  Cool on a rack, then refrigerate.  Can serve with dollop of whipped cream if desired.   Serves 6 to 8

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CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

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  • 4 T soy sauce (divided)
  • 3 tsp. toasted sesame oil (divided 1 tsp. & 2 tsp.)
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup-include greens)
  • 1 (11 oz.) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained
  • 1/3 C rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili sauce
  • 1/2 C cashews (roasted & sea salted)
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds (toasted)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine 1 T soy sauce and 1 tsp. sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts.  Orange in a baking dish and bake until the juice runs clear, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4 inch chunks.  (can make this the day before and leave in the refrigerator until ready to mix in salad).

In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, scallions, cashews, Mandarin orange & chunked chicken.  In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 T soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, canola oil, 2 tsp. sesame oil, brown sugar and chili sauce (blend well).

Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.  Divide around plates and top each serving with 2 tsp. toasted almonds. Serves 5-6

  • Notes:  If you can find Bell & Evans Chicken, get it!  It’s the best tasting!
  • Napa Cabbage can be found at most super markets.
  • I love my Salad Shooter for shredding!
  • Always toast your almonds, but be careful, they can burn fast!

 

Posted in CHICKEN, ENTREES, Soups and Salads | 8 Comments

BLUE CRAB STUFFED FLORIDA LOBSTER

  • Great for a special dinner party with good friends!!IMG_0025 IMG_0024
  • 6 whole Florida lobsters, split lengthwise and cleaned
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 C finely chopped celery
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 T dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1 pound lump blue crab meat
  • 14 Ritz crackers, finely ground
  • Old Bay Seasoning

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the lobster body cavity well, set aside (drain).  I use throw away aluminum pans to cook the lobsters in, a lot less clean up!

In a small skillet, sauce celery and shallot in the butter until soft and translucent.  Stir in the flour, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and parsley.   Add the milk and simmer until thickened, let cool slightly.  Place the crabmeat in a large mixing bowl.  Add the celery/shallot mixture to the crabmeat.  Add ground Ritz crackers to the crabmeat and mix gently.

For ease of eating, pull the lobster tail meat loose from the shell, you might need small lobster shears, (leave meat in shell).   Spoon crabmeat mixture into the head of the lobster carcass.

Brush the lobster meat in the tail with melted butter.  Sprinkle a little of the ground Ritz crackers over the lobster meat and stuffing.  Sprinkle the entire lobster with just a little bit of the Old Bay Seasoning.  Sprinkle lobster tail with a little salt & pepper.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve immediately with a side of melted butter for dipping.

Note: Can prepare the lobsters in advance.  Place in refrigerator until about 1 hour before baking.  Sit on counter no more than one hour before baking.  Set in oven for 20 minutes before serving!  Enough time to have your salads!

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BRACIOLE STUFFED WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Here is my simple version of Braciole.  Traditionally, it is made with graded cheese, Italian bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic stuffing.  I had lots of great Italian sausages, so I stuffed it with that.  You can use any of these variations and it’s simply delicious!IMG_2334

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  • 1  1/2 lb. beef top round, sirloin, or flank steak (buy thin cuts)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 C grated parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (bought from a good Italian market!)
  • 2 C fresh spinach and/or arugula-spinach mix
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • butcher’s twine
  • 3  jars Italian Marinara/Spagetti Sauce
  • mallet with sharp points for tenderizing
  • Hot cooked spaghetti, (Optional)

Place piece of meat on plastic wrap or foil.  Pound with a mallet to thin, then beat with the tenderizer side to further tenderize the meat.  (If you want to make smaller ones, cut the meat into 5-6 in. slices).  Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  On one side, sprinkle with grated cheese then place a piece of Italian sausage at one end.  Place a handful of fresh spinach on top of the sausage.  Roll up the piece of meat (jelly-roll style).  Tie with butcher’s twine three places on the roll and tie knots.  Set aside.  Do this with each piece of tenderized meat.  (I made 3 large ones).  In a Dutch oven or large fry pan, brown meat in about 1/2 C of olive oil on all sides.  Set aside.

In large pot, pour the 3  jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce or make your own (Use Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce recipe on this site!).  Add the Braciole’s to the sauce.  In the same frying pan you fried the meat in, add the remaining Italian Sausage and brown on both sides.  Cut up the Italian Sausage and place in the Spaghetti sauce.  Simmer on low for about 1 1/2 hours.  (Skim any oil that may be floating on the surface of the sauce and discard.)

Remove the meat from the sauce and discard the string.  Cut into slices; serve with sauce and spaghetti.  Add pieces of Italian sausage around the plate.  Sprinkle with more parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Yield: 6-8 servings.

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SLOW COOKER BEEF STEW

This is one of those meals that you can throw together in the morning, set your slow cooker for 6 hours and leave the house.  When you come back, the house will smell fantastic and you’ll have a delicious, and nutritious meal that everyone will love!  Go ahead, try it!!IMG_2134IMG_2132

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. whole top blade, round, or chuck roast (boneless)
  • 1 lb. bag crinkle cut carrots
  • 1  12 oz. bottle Goya Sofrito
  • 1 bell pepper (any color, washed, seeded and rough cut)
  • 1 med. onion (peeled and rough cut)
  • 1 whole head  celery (about 5 or 6 stalks, rough cut)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (small)
  • 1   32 oz. Kitchen Basics Vegetable Stock (no salt)
  • 6-8 small/medium red potatoes (cut in chunks, leave peeling on)
  • flour, salt & pepper, garlic salt
  • white rice for service (make according to recipe on box)

Instructions:

Cut the whole roast in large-bite size pieces.  (I always buy the whole roast and cut it myself, you get a lot less fat.  Usually the cut stew meat is left over pieces from cutting other meats.)  Place the pieces of meat in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Add about 1/4 C flour to the meat and mix it around to coat the meat pieces with flour.  Set aside.

Prepare your slow cooker. (I like the plastic liners, sure helps with the cleanup.)  Add the meat to the slow cooker.  On top layer the carrots, bell pepper, onion, potatoes, & celery.  Add tomato sauce and entire jar of Sofrito.  Add entire carton of vegetable stock.  Cover and cook on med.-high in your slow cooker for 6 hours.  Stirring occasionally.  You should taste the sauce toward the end of the cooking process and adjust for flavor, adding more salt and/or pepper if needed.  (Also, if you want it to be a little thicker, place a heaping tablespoon of flour in a bowl and add just a little bit of water, then whisk until it’s smooth and add it to the stew.  It will thicken it.)

Serve over white rice.  Serves 6 to 8.IMG_2133

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MANGO AND RAISIN BREAD PUDDING

This is the MANGO season!  All my friends with mango trees in the Keys are giving me some, (Thanks Mary!).  So what better way to use some than Mango and Raisin Bread Pudding.  It’s so delicious and you can serve it a lot of different ways with a lot of different toppings.  I was in a hurry, so I used real maple syrup as my addition and sprinkled it with powder sugar! My husband is a happy man!!

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  • 1 loaf egg raisin bread (I buy it at Publix)
  • 3 mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/4 C low fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 T butter

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9×11 or 10×10 square glass baking dish, set aside.  Cut the loaf of raisin bread in small, bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.  Peel and cut*  the mangos into small bite size pieces and add to the bread bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cardamom, and cinnamon.  Use a small whisk to blend.  Add the liquid mixture to the bread and mangos and toss to blend and absorb.

Pour the entire mixture into the buttered, prepared pan and spread out evenly.  Dot the top of the pudding with small pieces of the butter.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes until slightly puffed and golden brown.  Best served warm. Serves 8

Options:  Serve with vanilla or rum-raisin ice cream with or without fresh slices of mango.  Drizzle Rum Sauce over the top, or place Rum Sauce on dessert plate, then top the Rum Sauce with a piece of bread pudding.  A dollop of whip cream can be added for extra pizzazz!  A sprinkle of power sugar tops it off too!!

*Note:  My way of peeling and cutting a mango is to wash the mango, cut the ends of both tips, as far as you can go without cutting the seed.  Make a note of which way the seed is lying.  Stand the mango up and cut the peel off in strips.  Then find where the seed is and cut a big chunk on each side of the seed.  Then go back and cut the other two sides.  Then you can cut it in strips and bite size pieces.

Bonus: Rum Sauce for Bread Pudding

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C low fat milk
  • 3 T Malibu Rum (can use reg. rum)

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Mix together the sugar and cornstarch; stir into the melted butter.  Slowly pour in milk, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to lightly boil.  Continue cooking until thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in rum.  Serve warm.

Note:  All of this can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight.  An hour or so before you want to serve it, place the pudding, covered in foil,  in a warm oven (180-200) degrees and let warm slowly.  You can serve at room temperature or cold, but it’s better warm.  Warm the Rum Sauce on the stove or microwave.

Also note:  In a pinch you can substitute Rum Sauce with good maple syrup!

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KEY LIME BUNDT CAKE and KEY LIME DRIZZLE with Candied Key Limes

I’m a firm believer in making a delicious cake as easy as possible yet with a twist!  I’ve baked from scratch quite a lot, but find that a good cake mix recipe is just as good and foolproof.  Adding the Candied Key limes is a little extra work, and optional, but it looks great on the cake.  You can make cupcakes and use the same recipe with the same icing and topping.  I used real Key limes for this recipe, but you can use bottle Key lime juice in a pinch. Make the Candied Key limes first, set aside and then make the cake. keylimecakeBundt cake ingredients:

  • 1 package Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) instant lemon pudding and pie filling
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 1/4 C (about 6 or 7) plus 1 T Key lime juice, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional: 1/3 C sliced almonds

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10 inch Bundt or tube pan.  Combine cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, 1/4 C lime juice and eggs in mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes.  Invert the cake on to serving platter and cool completely. Stir confectioner’s sugar and 1 T of Key lime juice in a small bowl until smooth.  Drizzle over cake.  If using sliced almonds, sprinkle on top of cake.  Add a circle of the Candied Key limes for decoration.

Candied Key Limes: limecollage

  • 3 Key limes
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C water

Directions: Slice limes into thin rounds and remove seeds.  Blanch in a pot of boiling water for 2 min. and drain.  In the same pot, combine water & 1 C sugar.  Bring to a simmer and add lime slices.  Simmer for 10-15 min., till white pith of limes looks translucent. Drain and spread out on a cooling rack to dry for at least 1 hour. Put 2 T sugar in shallow bow.  When limes are dry, coat both sides of the lime slices by pressing them into the sugar.  Store in an airtight container and layer between parchment paper or plastic wrap until ready to use.  You can freeze them and take them out as needed.

Good brand of bottled Key lime juice!

Good brand of bottled Key lime juice!

Verses:

Better to use the real thing!

Better to use the real thing!

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MAKE AHEAD COQUILLES SAINT JACQUES

Another great “make ahead” entrée for a superb dinner party.  You can make the entire dish the day before and set out at room temperature an hour before you bake it. Then bake it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Delicious!IMG_0912

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Right before baking!!

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided 4 and 4
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 C clam juice
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tsp. curry powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C diced shallots (about 3 large)
  • 1 1/2 C cremini mushrooms, caps brushed or whipped clean, stems removed (if can’t find cremini, use baby portabellas.)
  • 1/4 C Cognac or brandy
  • 1 1/2 C fresh bread crumbs (6 slices of white sandwich bread, diced, and pulsed in a food processor until crumbs form)
  • 1/4 C minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 5 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 C good olive oil
  • 2 pounds bay scallops, drained, side muscles removed (can substitute 2 lbs. sea scallops, quartered)

If making right away:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place six (1 1/2-cup) gratin dishes on 2 sheet pans.

Melt 4 T of better over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.  Add the clam juice and whisk until it is smooth and thickened.  Whist in the cream, curry powder, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, set aside.

Heat the remaining 4 T of butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and translucent.  Dice the mushrooms caps (small), add to the shallots, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often.  Add the Cognac or brandy and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and set aside.

Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, Gruyère, and olive oil in a medium bowl and stir to moisten the crumb.  Set aside.

Add the mushrooms to the cream sauce.  Add the scallops and 1 1/2 tsp. salt, mix well, and divide among the gratin dishes.  Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly on top and bake for 20 minutes, until the scallops are cooked and the sauce is lightly browned and bubbly.  Serve hot.  Adapted from Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead cookbook.

MAKE AHEAD:  Prepare everything as directed.  Do not preheat the oven!  After you divide the scallops among the gratin dishes.  Cover each dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night.  Take out of the refrigerator and let side at room temperature one hour before you plan to bake it.   Set the oven to 400 degrees and bake exactly 20 minutes.  Serve Hot!

Note:  I served “Surf & Turf”, the Coquilles Saint Jacques and Filet of Beef Tenderloin” with a side of couscous and de-constructed Caesar Salad!IMG_0792

Valentine Theme with plates I made at the Art Studio!

Valentine Theme with plates I made at the Art Studio!

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Tasting party desserts!

 

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HERB-ROASTED FLORIDA FISH (full dinner menu) Israeli Couscous with Apricots, Roasted Asparagus

This is a very simple, make ahead way to fix local caught fish.  I recommend yellow tail snapper or mangrove snapper, but you can use any white fish.  It looks quite impressive at a dinner party.   I adapted this from Ina Garten’s “Make it Ahead” cookbook, which is now my favorite!!

IMG_0798Herb-Roasted Fish:

Ingredients:

  • 4 (12 x 16 in.) pieces of parchment paper
  • 4 (8 oz.) boneless, skin-less fish fillets  (fresh is best!)
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 large green olives
  • small bottle of capers
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

MAKE AHEAD:  Prepare the packages and refrigerate for up to 1 day.  Bake before serving!!

Instructions:  (for cooking right away, if making ahead, follow all the directions unto baking!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Tear 4 pieces of parchment paper and place on a flat surface, each piece should be approx. 12 by 16 ins.).  Fold each piece in half crosswise and cut each piece like a large paper heart cutout.  Open the folded piece of parchment paper flat and place each fillet lengthwise just to the right of the fold.  On each fillet, sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 T good olive oil. 1 T lemon juice, and 2 sprigs of thyme, place 2 olives alongside the fish and add 4 to 5 capers.IMG_0790IMG_0795Brush the edges of the entire parchment paper with the egg whites.  Fold the left side of the parchment paper over the right side so the edges line up, creating a packet.  Press the edges together to create a seal.  Starting at the edge at the top of the heart, make overlapping folds in the parchment, until you reach the “tail” of the heart.  Fold the last end underneath to seal the packet.  Place all the packets on a sheet pan, making sure the oil and lemon juice don’t run out when you transfer them.  Bake for 15 minutes exactly.  Place each packet on a dinner plate, cut an X in the middle with scissors, and serve hot, allowing each person to tear open the packet.

Seves 4

SIDE DISH:

 ISRAELI COUSCOUS with APRICOTS:

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 T lemon-flavored olive oil, plus more if needed (if you do not have lemon-flavored olive oil, use regular olive oil and the zest of on lemon)
  • 2 C Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 C shelled unsalted roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 12 dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 2 1/4 C boiling water

Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat.  Add the couscous and pistachios and cook, stirring, until toasted and light golden, about 7 min.  On a larger pot, be heating 2 1/4 cups of water to boiling.  Add the couscous and pistachios to the boiling water.  Salt and pepper lightly.  Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed.

Remove the lid and stir in chopped apricots and scallions.  Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.  Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and serve warm with a little more lemon oil drizzled over the top.  (Garnish with a few sliced scallions, you can also place the couscous in a ramekin dish to form, and then turn it over on the plate, looks nice! (Optional).)

Note: can make this earlier in the day and leave covered with plastic wrap.  Heat for 3 to 4 minutes in microwave before serving!

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

  • 2 lb. of asparagus, trimmed to where it naturally folds
  • good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 7 anchovy fillets
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 C panko
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 T chopped parsley

On a baking sheet, toss 2 pounds asparagus with 2 tbs. olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast at 425 degrees for 15-20 mins. or until tender.  In a skillet, stir 1/2 C of olive oil with anchovies over moderate heat until the anchovies dissolve.  Add 2 minced garlic cloves, cook for 1 min.  Stir in 1 T of chopped parsley and 2 tsp. of lemon zest.  Transfer the asparagus to a platter.  Top with lemon juice and the panko.   *Adapted from recipe by Patty Beratis

Note:  Can cook entire dish earlier than schedule dinner (Max. 2 hrs.).  Place foil over finished  platter and set aside on counter.  About 1 hr. before dinner, place in warming tray, or 180 degree oven.  Top with lemon juice and the panko right before serving.IMG_1240

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PEAR AND BRIE GALETTE

Did you receive a gift of pears this year?  Well, I have the perfect recipe for them!  This is really quite easy and believe me, it’s so delicious!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  • 1 rolled-out refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)
  • 1 wedge of Brie (I prefer lle De France)
  • 4 ripe pears, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T Amaretto (or Triple-Sec; use what you have on hand)
  • 1 T apricot preserves or orange marmalade (again, use what you have on hand)
  • 1/3 C sliced almonds
  • 1 egg + 1 tsp. water, beaten
  • 1 tsp. sugar

(Staples to have on hand:  rimmed pizza pie pan, parchment paper, cooking spray)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of the rimmed pizza pie pan.  Spray the paper with Pam cooking spray.  Roll out the pie crust on top of the parchment paper, stretching it slightly to fit the pan.

Brush 1 T of the apricot or orange marmalade around the top of the pie crust, leaving about 1 1/2 inch without jam.  Cut the wedge of brie into thin strips and place on the top of the jam, covering the bottom, but leave about 1 1/2 inch without the brie around the perimeter.  Press around evenly.

Peel and core the pears.  Cut the pears into thin slices.  Overlap them around the exterior of the pie crust, then place some in the center in a circular arrangement.  Keep adding the pear slices around the pie in a circular fashion, all the pears facing one way, until you’ve used all the slices.  Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the pears. Roll the edges of the pie up and pinch at intervals to make it look rustic.

Mix the brown sugar and Amaretto in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the pears.  Beat the egg and water then brush the edge of the pie crust with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle the sugar around the edges of the pie where you brushed the egg wash.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the brie is bubbling up and the crust is golden.

Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before moving it to a serving dish.  (There could be some liquid that oozed from the pie, that’s the reason for the rimmed pan!)  Take care in moving the galette, use two large spatulas if possible, can easily break.

Optional:  Sprinkle with powder sugar when cooled!

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

Serves 6-8

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PISTACHIO CAKE WITH FRUIT CAKE FILLING

This is a cake reserved for a special occasion!  Perfect for the large Christmas parties and other social events!  This one is decorated for Christmas and I actually doubled the recipe in order to make an extra large cake.  I used a 10 inch springform pan and then cut the cake in half with a serrated bread knife.  Each layer has a cream cheese/fruit cake filling!  Your friends will rave!

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For this cake, I doubled this recipe and made four layers! I had a large crowd to feed!!

CAKE:

  • 1 box White Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 drop of green food color for added color
  • 1/2 lb. Pistachio nuts (un-salted), crushed by pulsing in food processor
  • 1 small bottle of maraschino cherries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10-inch spring form pan with “Pam” for baking, or grease and flour.  (You can use two 8 or 9 inch cake pans).

Mix the cake mix, pudding mix, orange juice, water, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large bowl.  Beat for two minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high.  Pour batter into the springform pan.  Bake for approx. 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  When done, take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

FILLING:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C powder sugar
  • 1 small packaged fruit cake (cut up and diced into small pieces)

Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer about 3 minutes until well blended, add vanilla, and blend again.  Slowly add the powder sugar while beating until fully incorporated.  On slow speed, add the bits and pieces of the fruit cake until mixed in thoroughly.  Set aside.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 8 oz. package cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C powder sugar

Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer about 3 minutes until well blended.  Add vanilla, blend.  Slowly add the powder sugar while beating slowly until fully incorporated.

ASSEMBLY:

If using a 10-inch springform plan, cut in the middle with a large serrated knife.  Place one side on a large platter.   Get the “filling” and spread it around the cake, making a thin layer (use all the filling).   Top with the other half of cake.  Place foil or wax paper around the bottom of the cake (for easier and cleaner icing).  Get the “Cream Cheese Frosting” and using a cake spatula, spread a layer of the frosting on the top of the cake, smooth it out,  then spread the remaining frosting around the entire cake.   Get the chopped pistachios and cup them in your hand and press them into the sides of the cake.   Starting from the top, get as much as you can on the sides, turning the cake to completely coat.  Drain the cherries on paper towels, then make a circle with them around the top perimeter of the cake.  Fill in any holes between the cherries and the side of the cake with pistachios.  Now you can add the decorations of your choice, depending on the theme or season!!

Refrigerate the cake until serving.  Serves 10-12

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SLOW COOKER BEEF STROGANOFF

IMG_6052IMG_1091Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef, any cut such a stew meat, sirloin, chuck, round (Cut in large chunks)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 pt. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 T white soy sauce (can use brown or regular soy sauce)
  • 3 T sherry or marsala wine
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 C sour cream
  • 4 cups cooked egg noodles
  • Optional: peas on the side

Cut the meat in chunks, unless you buy it already chunked.  Place the cut up meat in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add 2 T of flour and coat each chunk of meat lightly in the flour, shake off the excess flour and place the coated chunks of meat on a plate and set aside.

Place onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add the beef to the pot.

Mix cream of mushroom soup with sherry or marsala, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and bay leaf.

Pour the mushroom soup mixture over the beef and onion mixture.  Stir to combine all ingredients. (It will be a little thick, but there will be lots of liquid after cooking).

Set the slow cooker on Medium and cook for 6 hours.  It will be fork tender when it’s finished!

Stir in the sour cream.  Let the mixture cool for at lease 10 minutes to thicken.  Serve over egg noodles (cooked according to package directions).  A side of peas goes great.  You can also sprinkle with parsley for garnish!

Serves 4

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BOLICHE (STUFFED SPANISH EYE OF ROUND ROAST)

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  • 3-4 lb beef eye round roast  (have butcher make a hole in the middle of the roast about the size of a 50 cent piece.  Do not go all the way through to the other end, see note*)
  • 9.5 oz. ground chorizo
  • 1.5 lb. ham slice, cut into small chunks
  • 5 oz. sharp cheddar, cut into small chunks
  • 3 T capers
  • 3 T green spanish olives w/pimentos
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 large onion, cut in strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 T oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 packet Goya Sazon con Azafran
  • 1 large pinch Saffron
  • 1- 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C good red wine
  • 1/2 C water
  • Adobo Seasoning, garlic salt, paprika or smoked paprika for seasoning
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 lb. small potatoes (added the last hour)

*Note:  When you purchase the “Boliche” or Eye of Round roast from a good Spanish or Cuban meat market, the butcher will usually stuff it for you!  But if you live somewhere (like the Keys) and you only have Publix, you have to stuff it yourself!  So ask the butcher to cut a hole in the center of the roast about the side of a 50 cent piece!  If you are lucky enough to buy it stuffed, skip part 1!

Directions:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cooks for 3 hours, checking and basting every hour.

Part 1:

Mix the ground chorizo, ham chunks, and cheddar cheese chunks in a bowl.  Stuff the IMG_5994roast tightly.  Secure the open in with large wooden skewers and cut off any part of the skewer that sticks out too much: (Note:  This will make too much stuffing, place the leftover stuffing in a plastic bag and freeze for the next roast, or use in omelets!)

Part 2:  Sprinkle the roast with Adobo seasoning, garlic salt, and paprika.  Add 1/3 C olive oil to large roasting pot which has a lid.  Heat oil to med.-high.  Brown the roast on all sides to seal in the juices.  When browned, remove from the pot and set aside.  IMG_5984IMG_5986





Part 3:  In the same pot as the beef was in, add the strips of onion and bell pepper, and IMG_5996garlic, saute for 3 minutes.  Add saffron , oregano, olives, capers, pinch of sugar, and Sazon seasoning.  Saute another 3 minutes.  Deglaze with 1/2 C good red wine.  Turn down the heat and simmer about three minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and water and stir well.  Place the roast back in the pot and spoon some of the sauce on top of the meat.  Cover and place in the pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1 hour (set your timer).  After the 1st hour, turn the roast and baste, (set your timer again).  After 2nd hour, add the potatoes around the beef and turn the beef (set your time again).  Cook a total of 3 hours.    When roast is done, take the pot out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Skim all the fat that has come to the top and discard.

Serves 6-8:  Serve slices of roast with lots of tomato sauce gravy on top with some potatoes.  (Traditionally served with black beans & rice and fried plantains)  It can be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven.

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NO-BAKE STRAWBERRY/BERRY CREAM OREO CHEESECAKE with STRAWBERRY COULIS

This is one of those simple recipes that looks extraordinary!  Your guest will rave!  It’s also great for the last days of summer and is cool and light.  There is no baking and it is best to leave in the freezer until serving.  I hope you enjoy it!

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IMG_5975CHEESECAKE:IMG_5897

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened (2-8 oz. packages, can use low-fat version)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 T real vanilla extract
  • 2 T good Strawberry Jelly or Jam    (an additional 2 T strawberry jam set aside)
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • l lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in to thin slices,  lengthwise (7 left whole with tops chopped off for decoration)

BERRY CREAM OREO CRUST:

  • 24 whole Berry Cream Oreo cookies (there will be about 6 left in the package, enjoy with coffee or give to the kids!)IMG_5896
    1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

OPTIONAL:

1 bag of sliced almonds for decoration

Preparation:

In a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and blend until the texture is like coarse meal or IMG_5899 crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend in the food processor until well combine.

Place the ground crumb mixture into a springform pan or (9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie IMG_5900pan) which you IMG_5898have lined with a round piece of wax paper, cut to size.  Press firmly the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Try to make the crust about 1/8 inch evenly all around.

Refrigerate the crust for at least an hour before you add the filling. This will help prevent crumbling when you want to serve it.  Makes 1 pie crust.

While crust is in the refrigerator, beat cream cheese, sugar, 2 T strawberry jelly, and IMG_5904extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth (about 1 1/2 minutes).  With a large spoon or spatula, gently stir in whipped topping until totally combined.   Set aside in the refrigerator.  Slice the strawberries into thin slices, lengthwise (leave 7 whole with stems removed for garnish if you desire).

Take out the crust from the refrigerator and add a layer of cream cheese mixture.  Then a layer of  sliced strawberries on IMG_5905top of 1st cream cheese layer. Now layer the rest of the cream cheese on top of the slices of strawberries and spread around evenly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until set (or place in the freezer for 1 hour).

Before serving, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan.  Make sure to run a very sharp knife around the side of the pan for easier removal.  (Take care to remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the spring-form pan, you might have to use a thin knife to help lift the bottom in one spot to get started, it helps to use a very flat spatula:  also, be careful not to break the cheesecake.)  Place on a serving dish.  Use the remaining strawberry slices to decorate the top and around the sides. (see pictures).

Place 2 T Strawberry jelly in a small bowl and IMG_5910microwave for 30 seconds.  Brush melted jelly on top of the strawberries.   (If you chose to decorate with sliced almonds, hold the entire pie with one hand from the bottom over the sink and use your hands to scoop almonds and pat around the sides of the pie, making sure most stay on the pie, the rest will fall into the sink).     Keep the decorated pie in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Cut while semi-frozen, it will be easier to cut and serve.  Place it on a dessert plate that has been drizzled with Strawberry Coulis.   It will thaw fast.  Serves 8

OPTIONAL:   STRAWBERRY COULIS

  • 1  16 oz. Frozen Sliced Strawberries (Publix brand is great), thawed

Place the entire amount of the frozen sliced strawberries with the syrup into your food processor.  Process until fully pureed.   Use a drizzle spoon or plastic squeeze bottle to decorate the bottom of the dessert plate before placing the slice of cheesecake on top.

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Drizzle Spoon

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Drizzle unto dessert plate!

Simple Strawberry Coulis

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BEST EVER TOASTED COCONUT CREAM PIE

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Ingredients: (serves 6 to 8)

  • 1 pie crust, pre-baked according to package directions (I use Pillsbury).

FOR THE TOASTED COCONUT TOPPING:

  • 1 C flaked, sweetened coconut

FOR THE COCONUT CUSTARD:

  • 1 1/2 C  coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 C half and half
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 C flaked, sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coconut flavor extract

FOR THE WHIPPED TOPPING:

  • 2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut flavor extract

Instructions:

Prepare pie crust according to blind-baking instructions of recipe.  Set aside. (It’s important to weigh down the pie crust while baking it by placing wax paper on top of the pie crust and add weights.  You can buy weights just for this purpose, or use dry beans.)

For the Toasted Coconut Topping:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place into 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until coconut has begun to turn brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the Coconut Custard:

Pour coconut milk and half & half into a liquid measuring cup.  Add egg yolks and whisk together until well blended.  Set aside.

Add sugar and cornstarch to a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk egg and milk mixture together once more and then slowly begin to add the egg and milk mixture into saucepan containing the sugar and cornstarch, whisking together constantly.  Bring custard mixture to a boil (still whisking).   Once boiling,  change to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and continue to stir constantly.  Boil one minute while stirring.

Remove from heat and add butter, coconut, coconut extract and salt, stir to combine.  Spread custard into pie crust.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least an hour.

For the Whipped Topping:

Add sugar and heavy whipping cream to large bowl.  Beat on high with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.  Add the coconut extra and whisk just until combined.

Spread whipped cream on top of coconut custard.  Top with toasted coconut.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (keep refrigerated).    Sooooo delicious!

 

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LIMEY CRAB SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND AVOCADO

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Ingredients:  (serves 6)

  • 6 T fresh squeeze lime juice
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 T very finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 1/2 T chopped cilantro (fresh), plus some extra for garnish
  • T honey
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat (get the best available)
  • 2 Hass avocados, diced small
  • 1/2 C minced red onion
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 6 1/2 inch thick slices
  • fresh tortilla chips for serving
  • favorite spring mix lettuce

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Always Taste!!  Set aside.

In another small bowl, toss the crab with 3 to 4 tablespoon of the dressing and mix gently, breaking up some of the lumps of crab.  Salt and pepper to taste.   In a third small bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt & pepper.

Set out 6 dessert/salad plates.  Place a handful to salad greens on each place.  Place one slice of tomato on top of the salad greens, season with salt and pepper.  At this point, it is very helpful to have a ring mode!  If you have a mode, place it on top of the tomato and then add the avocado mixture (you need to divide the avocado mixture into 6 separate piles).  If you are using the mode, place the crab meat mixture on top (again separate the crab mixture into 6 separate piles).   Pat down the crab and avocado inside the ring mode and then lift the mode.  (If you do not have a mode, just pile on top each item, it will spill over slightly).  

Note:  You can stop at this point and wrap each plate with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  When you remove from the refrigerator, there might be some water on the bottom, make sure you hold the mixture and tilt the plate to drain!

Garish with the extra chopped cilantro.  Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with the homemade pita chips.

Homemade Pita Chips:

  • 1 package pita
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • garlic salt

Cut approx. 6 pita’s into four pieces.  Gently pull each piece of pita apart, making two out of one.  Place each piece on a large baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn.  You can make these the day before and put into a zip lock bag!IMG_5779 IMG_5780

 

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SPICE GRILLED KEY WEST PINK SHRIMP WITH YUM YUM SAUCE AND JASMINE RICE

This is an easy and impressive dish for you or your company.  It’s “semi-homemade” and it is delicious.  Follow these simple directions and sample plating for a great dinner!  You can increase the amount of shrimp by 6 for each additional serving or decrease to make for 2! IMG_5636 IMG_0919

IMG_0915Serves 4 with 6 shrimp each:

Ingredients:

  • 24 large Key West Pink shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 to 2 packages fresh rosemary
  • 1 -Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Season Blends “Seafood Magic”
  • 1 -16 oz. bottle Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce
  • olive oil
  • Jasmine rice -prepare according to package directions ( salt & butter for the rice)

Optional:  Cherry tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and chopped fresh rosemary  for garnish

First,  clean and devein your shrimp (unless you get the fish market to do it!), rinse well and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Second,  you should start preparing the Jasmine rice, according to the directions on your rice package. (Since I was making this recipe just for 2, I used one cup of rice, if you are making for 4, use 2 cups of rice).  Rice usually takes 20 minutes to cook.   While it’s cooking, start seasoning and skewing the shrimp.

Strip the leaves from the lower half of each rosemary sprig to make a skewer (you’ll need 8 skewers).  Thread shrimp onto skewers 3 at a time.  Brush both sides of the shrimp with olive oil then lightly coat with a sprinkle of the spice mixture on both sides.    Heat stove top grill on high heat.  Place shrimp on grill and cook 2-3 minutes per side until opaque.  Set aside.

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How it looks before I put the shrimp and drizzled the balsamic glaze.

PLATING:  Place a nice amount of Yum-Yum sauce on the bottom of a plate.  Spoon about a cup of the cooked rice into a one cup measuring cup or ramekin.  Press the rice down in the cup.  Invert the cup onto the center of the plate on top of the Yum-Yum sauce. Place two skewers of shrimp on top of the rice.

Optional:  Cherry tomatoes, cut in half, spread around the outskirt of the plate for garnish.  Drizzle balsamic glaze over the finished plate.   Sprinkle chopped rosemary over finished product.

Serve with a side salad and dinner is ready!

Try it with this salad:  Watermelon & Feta Salad  :

http://wp.me/p121O6-34

 

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OSSO BUCO IN SLOW COOKER WITH EASY CREAMY POLENTA

This is one of those dishes that is perfect for entertaining.  You can make it ahead and let it cook all day.  Keep it warm in the slow cooker and enjoy your company.  It is delicious and very impressive!!  Be prepared for leftovers, as the portions are large.  You can serve this over white or yellow rice or parmesan risotto!  If you can go to a good meat market, ask the butcher for veal shanks cut cross-wise with as much meat on them as possible.  A good side vegetable would be haricots verts (French green beans)!
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IMG_0881Serves 4  (Can double for 8)

OSSO BUCO

  • 4 veal shanks (or pork shanks) (3 to 4 lbs.)– About 1 lb. each and 1 1/2 to 2 in. thick
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 med. red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C good white wine such as a Chardonnay (If you can’t drink it by itself, don’t use it)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 C crushed tomatos
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

GREMOLATA (garnish)                                                          IMG_5456

  • 3 T finely chopped parsley
  • 1 T finely grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced

Instructions:

Generously season shanks with salt & pepper.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high head and add the shanks.  Brown on all sides and remove from pan.  (Usually takes about 10 minutes).

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion softens (about 4 min.).  Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan.  Now add the carrot, celery, tomatoes, broth, oregano, and thyme, and bring to a boil.

Transfer the shanks to the bottom of a slow cooker, then pour the broth/vegetables mixture over the top.  Cover and cook until veal shanks are tender–about 6-7  hours on low.   Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic and lemon zest (2 lemons to make 2 T zest) to make a gremolata.   (Place the leftover lemons is a plastic bag after zesting, refrigerate for later use)   When Osso Buco is ready, get a large spoon and spoon out as much grease as you can from the top and discard.

Serve the shanks on top of the creamy polenta and sprinkle with the gremolata. (Remove shanks with a spatula to keep in tack)

EASY CREAMY POLENTA

  • 3 C chicken broth
  • 1 C polenta
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 lb. Brie, Camembert, or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, covered baking dish, mix together broth, polenta, and salt. Cover, and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove polenta from the oven, cut the cheese into cubes after removing any rind, and stir into polenta until completely melted.

Return polenta to oven for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered, until slightly browned and bubbly.

Note:  Polenta is also known as “Italian Grits”, so if you can’t find polenta, you can use old fashion grits!

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SPANISH BEAN SOUP WITH CABBAGE

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  • 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, diced
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 3 T Sofrito
  • pinch Saffron
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 large breakfast ham with bone in (or leftover hambone with some ham)
  • 2 large cans garbanzo beans (28 oz.),  drained, then, 2 cans water measured in can
  • 2 chorizos, cut up round
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut in 8ths
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut up in cubes
  • 1 package Sazon (Goya), or Vigo Yellow Food Flavoring & Coloring
  • salt & pepper to taste

Use a very large pot! Add olive oil to the pot. Chop the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add this trio to the pot and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add oregano and 3 T Sofrito (you can buy a jar of this in the Latin section of your grocery store, Use Goya or Iberia). Add pinch of Saffron, stir and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the large can of whole tomatoes, squeezing  the whole tomatoes with your hand before adding, make sure the tomatoes are  broken up.  Include the tomato sauce from the can.    Stir and leave on low-medium heat. Cut up the breakfast ham, discarding obvious fat. Add ham to the pot (including the bone). Cut up the two chorizos in rounds, and add to the pot.   Stir. Drain the large cans of garbanzo beans and add to the pot, discard any liquid from the cans. Measure two cans of tap water (use the garbanzo beans can) and add to the pot.   Stir.   Cut the base of the cabbage off and discard along with outer leaves and wash.  Cut cabbage head in 8 pieces, add to pot. Peel and cut potatoes in large cubes and add to pot. Add 1 package of Sazon or Vigo Yellow Food Flavoring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover and let cook for about 1/2 hour on medium (stirring occasionally) until the cabbage, beans and potatoes are soft! Serve with a side of toasted Cuban bread and enjoy!

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STRAWBERRY & CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

IMG_4722Last minute party!!  Need a quick, yet delicious cake??  Use what you have on hand.  Always have a box of yellow or white cake mix in your pantry, along with chocolate chips and nuts in your freezer.  Keep 8 ounces of cream cheese and butter in the refrigerator.  You can put together this cake in an hour, including baking time!!  Use an aluminum -throw away pan for baking and you can take it to any party and not worry about getting the pan back!  I always keep some on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Yellow or White Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C water
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 16 oz. Fresh Strawberries container
  • 1 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1/3 C chopped pecans or walnuts (whatever you have, even sliced almonds)

Optional:  Throw away aluminum 11 by 14 cake pan and powder sugar for dusting

Spray 11″ by 14″ pan with Pam for baking, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Follow the directions on the box of cake mix.  It usually calls for 3 eggs, 1 C water, and 1/3 C vegetable oil.  Place the cake mix in a large bowl, add the eggs, water, and oil and beat ingredients together at med.-high speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until well blended.   Add 1/2 C chocolate chips into the batter, stir around gently with a spoon.   Pour the cake mix into the pan, spread around, and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Stick a toothpick into the cake and make sure it comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 -8 oz. package cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C powder sugar

Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer about 3 minutes until well blended.  Add vanilla, blend.  Slowly add the powder sugar while beating slowly until fully incorporated.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When the cake is baked, place it on a cooling rack and let it completely cool.

When it’s cooled, top the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting.  Spreading it evenly around the entire cake.

Decorate:  Rinse and pat dry the strawberries.  Pull out 6 nice strawberries from the pack, leave the stem on and make side by side cuts along the length of the strawberry, but not cutting through at the top.  Then spread the strawberry open and set aside.  Do this to all 6 strawberries.  Cut the tops off the rest of the strawberries and discard the stems.  Then cut each strawberry all the way through in thin strips.  Place 4 of the flared strawberries around the corners and two back to back in the middle.  Then place each piece of the cut strawberry around the outside of the cake.  See the picture and follow the design!  Sprinkle 1/2 C chocolate chips and 1/3 C chopped walnuts, pecans, or sliced almonds.  Optional:  dust with powder sugar.  Refrigerate.  Serves 10-12.20140209_200325

Posted in Desserts | 4 Comments

Chicken Fricassee

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IMG_4717IMG_0768This is a great dish to make a lot of, it taste as good the next day!  I always make a lot and have at least three meals from it.  This dish serves 6 to 8 people for dinner.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make this for a dinner party.  You can make it ahead and just warm it up right before you serve it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Publix Mojo Marinade
  • salt and pepper
  • combination of skinless chicken pieces (I use 2 large chicken breast, cut in half, 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks-your choice of pieces)
  • 1 C flour for dusting chicken pieces
  • 1/2 C olive oil (or more as needed)
  • 3 med. red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 C white wine
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C stuffed green olives
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1 – 6 oz. bottle of Kirby Sofito

(Serve with white rice, peas, and small piece of Sweet Red Pimiento)

Add the skinless chicken pieces to the Mojo Marinade (either inside 2 plastic bags or a plastic bowl-covered); refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and blot on paper towels.  Reserve 1 C marinade.

Salt and pepper the chicken pieces liberally on both sides.  Lightly dust the chicken with flour.  Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Fry the chicken in small batches, turning once, just to a light browning (about 4 min. per side).

Have a large casserole pot ready on the side burner and place the fried chicken in the casserole pot (do not have burner on).  After all the chicken has been browned, add the cut up potatoes to the frying pan with the existing oil (you might have to add more oil).  Fry the potatoes to slightly brown, about 4  min.  Drain on paper towels, and add to the chicken in casserole pot.  Next fry the onion and bell pepper until translucent, about 3 minutes.   Drain on paper towels and add to chicken pot.

Add tomato sauce, wine, water, stuffed green olives, raisins, cup of reserved marinade  and 6 oz. bottle of Sofito to the chicken pot.  Stir gently.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes.  Do not overcook.

Serve the chicken pieces over white rice and add plenty of the sauce & potatoes.  Top with peas and a slice of pimiento.

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EASY CORN CASSEROLE

This is a great recipe for a side dish served with a honey-baked ham or turkey!  Easy to prepare and always a crowd pleaser!IMG_4065IMG_0699

  • 2 cans whole kernel corn (1 drained)
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 package of corn muffin mix (Martha White or Jiffy)
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease casserole bowl with a little butter.  In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the 3 cans of corn (1 can of the whole kernel corn is drained & the other can should still have the water),  corn muffin mix,  sour cream,  melted butter, and cheddar cheese.  Sprinkle with a little red pepper before baking.   Bake 45-55 minutes, until golden brown.  Serves 6

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PINA COLADA RUM CAKE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Classic Golden Butter Cake mix (preferred mix) or Classic Yellow
  • 1 stick-  unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8-oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained (reserve juice to make 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 C reserved juice of crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 C Malibu Rum (or any light rum)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray Pam for baking into a bundt pan.  Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, eggs, 1/4 C reserved juice and 1/4 C Rum, beat at low speed to combine.  Beat at medium speed for two minutes.  Fold in drained crushed pineapple.  Pour batter in prepared pan  Bake 33-36 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  While cake is baking, prepare glaze.

GLAZE:

  • 1/2 C cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
  • 1/2 C Malibu rum
  • 1/4 C confectioner’s sugar

Shake cream of coconut can well before measuring.  Add cream of coconut to small saucepan and heat just until bubbles form.  Remove from heat and stir in rum.  Set aside.  When cake is done baking, set on rack.  Use a thin bamboo skewer to poke holes in cake.  Pour half of glaze over warm cake, letting it soak in.

When cake is cool, turn onto serving plate.  Whisk together remaining glaze with confectioner’s sugar until smooth and drizzle over top of cake.

(makes 1 bundt cake)

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HERB-CRUSTED BEEF TENDERLOIN with HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole prime beef tenderloin (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed
  • 1 T Kosher salt and 1 T cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 T and 6 T  fresh parsley, chopped (divided)
  • 2 tsp.  and  2 T fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
  • 1/2 C and 3/4 C  grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 2 T and 4 T olive oil (divided)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

(Have the butcher at your favorite meat market trim, tuck, and tie the prime beef tenderloin.)

Combine 1 T salt, 1 T pepper, and 2 tsp. sugar in a small bowl.  Rub mix all over the prepared beef tenderloin.  Transfer tenderloin to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse torn bread in food processor to fine drums.  Transfer bread crumbs to bowl and toss in 2 T chopped parsley, 2 tsp. chopped thyme, 1/2 C Parmesan, and 2 T oil until evenly combined.  Wipe out food processor and process remaining 6 T chopped parsley, 2 T chopped thyme, 3/4 C Parmesan cheese, 4 T olive oil, and  2 cloves of minced garlic until smooth paste forms (scrape sides).  Transfer her paste to small bowl.  (These ingredients can be made ahead and set aside until ready to assemble.)

After the tenderloin has set at room temperature for 2 hours, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.   Roast tenderloin for 20 minutes, then remove from oven.  Using scissors, cut and remove twine.  Coat tenderloin with herb paste, followed by bread-crumb topping.  Place back in the oven (same temperature) and roast until thickest part of meat registers about 130 degrees (for medium-rare) and topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  (Use an instant read thermometer.)  (If topping browns before meat reaches preferred internal temperature, lightly cover with foil for remainder of roasting time and remove while roast rests.)

Remove from oven and let the roast rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes on wire rack before cutting.  Transfer to cutting board and carve.  Serves 6 to 8

Using a spatula or hands, spread herb paste evenly over the top and sides of the tenderloin.

Using a spatula or hands, spread herb paste evenly over the top and sides of the tenderloin. Then press the bread-crumb mixture evenly onto the roast, using the other hand to catch the crumbs and keep them from falling through the rack.

HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2 T prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • dash of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in bowl.  Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

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Great menu for a dinner party, a lot can be made ahead and keep warm at 170 degrees in the oven!

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HONEY-RICOTTA PUFFS

It doesn’t get any easier than this, the surprising flavor will have everyone wanting this again and again!

Honey-Ricotta Puffs

Honey-Ricotta Puffs

  •  1 package Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells:
  • images1 container 15 oz.  of Part-skimmed Ricotta (I prefer Sargento)
  • 2 T honey – more to taste if you like it sweeter.  (get one with a squeeze bottle to use for garnish and topping)
  • 1 package fresh strawberries (cleaned, stem removed and cut in half).
  • Powder sugar and sliced almonds for garnish

Prepare Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells according to package directions.  When baked, let cool slightly, use a knife to help remove the tops.  Set aside pastry and tops in a plastic bag or tupperware until right before serving (can be made a few hours in advance).

Mix together the Ricotta and honey in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.   Wash, remove stems, cut in half, and pat dry the fresh strawberries, store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Right before serving dessert:  Set out 6 dessert plates, drizzle the plates with honey.  Place the puff pastry shells on top of the honey.  Spoon approx. 2 T of the Ricotta/honey mixture into the center of each pastry shell (use it all up!), put the tops on the side of the shell.  Divide the sliced strawberries between the shells and place them on top of the Ricotta/honey shells.  Sprinkle each shell with sliced almonds.  Drizzle the finished dessert with honey, moving back and forth.  Shake some powder sugar on top.  Serves 6.

Note: Make sure guess have dessert forks and butter knife to assist with eating!

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BACON,ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE / HAM, ONION, ASPARAGUS, & SWISS QUICHE

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While you are at it, why not make two great quiches, one to eat right away and one to freeze!  The mess is the same!!  This is a fool-proof recipe and makes a delicious quiche.  They freeze very well too!

Let’s get started! 

IMG_3901BACON, ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE

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BACON, ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE

  • 1 whole Pillsbury Refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 whole sweet onion (diced)
  • 2 T butter
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C half & half
  • 2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
  •  salt & pepper to taste
  • Option:  set aside some bacon pieces to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute the onions in the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

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My cute little microwave bacon cooker!

Fry the bacon or cook in the microwave until crispy.  Chop into bite-size pieces, set aside to cool.

Roll out the pie crust and press it into a large deep dish pie pan.  Crimp the edges with your fingers or fork.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix in the onions, bacon, and cheese.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 min. or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

HAM, ONION, ASPARAGUS, & SWISS QUICHE

HAM, ASPARAGUS, ONION, & SWISS CHEESE QUICHE

HAM, ASPARAGUS, ONION, & SWISS CHEESE QUICHE

  • 1 whole Pillsbury Refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 whole sweet onion, (diced)
  • 8 whole large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C half & half
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 -5 oz. package diced ham
  • 1/2 lb. (tips only) fresh asparagus (chopped)
  • 1-8 oz. package shredded swiss cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Option: set aside some ham and asparagus pieces for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Fry the onions and asparagus tips in the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out the pie crust and press it into a large deep dish pie pan.  Crimp the edges with your fingers or fork.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add the onions/asparagus mixture, ham, and swiss cheese, mix with spoon.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 -45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

IMG_0610IMG_0612IMG_0614Note:  If too much quiche liquid and you have leftover, make some little crustless quiches, cook only 30 minutes!

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PUMPKIN BANANA RAISIN BREAD WITH VANILLA-MAPLE DRIZZLE

Time for some fall baking!  All these ingredients, I had around the house and I got the inspiration when I was going to throw out the very ripe bananas.  Why not start off with this delicious fall classic!  I also slimmed it down a bit with using a sugar/stevia blend that cuts the calories in half, but tastes just as good.  This also freezes very well!

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IMG_0578 IMG_0581 IMG_0587INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 3/4 C Domino Light-sugar/Stevia blend (or 1 1/2 C regular sugar)
  • 1/2 C softened butter (1 stick) -room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice   or   (1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 C golden raisins

VANILLA-MAPLE DRIZZLE:

  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 T half & half  (more if needed to make creamy)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 by 5 loaf pan with Pam for baking, and prepare a 6-set muffin pan lined with cupcake paper,  set aside.

For Loaf:  Combine sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until mixture is creamy.  Add pumpkin and smashed bananas; continue beating until well mixed (mixture will appear lumpy).  Measure flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spices into bowl.  By spoonfuls, sift dry ingredients into another bowl to lighten and blend.  By spoonfuls again add dry ingredients into the pumpkin/banana mixture and beat at low speed just until moistened.  Stir in raisins and nuts by hand until blended.

Spread 2 T each into prepared muffin tins, add the remainder of the batter into the loaf pan, spread evenly.

Bake the muffins approx. 30 minutes and the loaf approx. 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Drizzle:    While loaf is baking, make the drizzle:  Whisk sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and half & half in bowl.  Add more half & half if needed to make a smooth, thickish glaze.  Set aside.

When done, cool 5 minutes; remove the loaf from pan and cool completely before drizzling with Vanilla-Maple Drizzle.  Once cooled completely, use drizzle spoon to drizzle glaze back and forth several times on the loaf!  Save leftover drizzle and add more drizzle on each piece of pumpkin/banana bread before serving!  Serves 12IMG_3893IMG_3895 IMG_3896 IMG_0589

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QUICK SHRIMP & MUSHROOM MARINARA

If you love mushrooms like I do, this quick marinara sauce is perfect!  With the addition of good shrimp, the outcome will please the best of palates!

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  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 pound cleaned and deveined Key West Shrimp
  • 1 T sun-dried tomato paste
  • 2 T fresh basil, finely chopped or 1 tsp. dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Spaghetti of choice, cooked according to package directions
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste when servingIMG_0435

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan, add onion and bell pepper, cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the pint of cherry tomatoes, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Using a potato smasher, smash the cherry tomatoes to make sure they are opened. Cook 3 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, basil,  and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes more. Add 3 cups of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato paste. Stir, cover, and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Add the shrimp, stir, and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes.    Serve immediately over cooked spaghetti.  Top with grated cheese.  Serves 4IMG_3551

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KEY LIME PIE WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY TOPPING (lighter version)

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Yield 8 to 10 Servings

Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 C butter, melted
  • 3 T sugar blend

Preparation:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar.
  3. Stir ingredients to combine.
  4. Press the graham mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely.

Set aside.

Key Lime Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 14-ounce can (low-fat) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (about 11 to 12 key limes)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh key lime zest

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice and key lime zest.
  3. Use a whisk to make sure all ingredients are combined.
  4. The combined ingredients will naturally thicken slightly.
  5. Pour key lime pie filling mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust.
  6. Bake pie for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pie looks almost all the way set.
  7. Remove pie from oven and let cool to room temperature.
  8. Cover pie and place in the refrigerator as it is best served cold.
  9. To serve top pie with fresh whipped cream and slices of fresh key lime.

Blueberry topping for Key Lime Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries (rinsed and dried)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec

Preparation:

  1. Heat the orange marmalade and liquor in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted.
  2. Arrange blueberries in a single layer over the key lime pie.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of melted jam over the blueberries.
  4. Let cool.
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