Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Porchette - Italian Style Pork Roast With Fennel

Porchetta - Italian Style 
Pork Roast With Fennel
                                     serves 8 to 10
Trust me, this is the most delicious pork roast you will ever taste.  Absolutely, it is worth the time and effort or ingredients.  According to our instructor, the roast is so prized by the Italian people, they all lay claim to their community being the originator of the recipe.
2 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

1 5 1/2 to 6 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston
   Butt) - excess fat trimmed with thin layer left  
8 large garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - additional for
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet  over medium-high heat until darker in color and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.  Shaking pan constantly  Crush seeds in a small grinder and cool.  Add kosher salt, peppercorns, and chili pepper flakes.   Grind to medium fine - not powder.

Rub garlic all over pork butt, then rub on the spice mixture.  Place pork in a baking dish loosely covered with waxed paper.  (Never used plastic wrap.)  Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Oil baking sheet and place roast fat side up, in center of sheet.  Drizzle evenly with olive oil.  Roast pork 30 minutes.  Reduce oven to 300 degrees.  Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 185 degrees, about 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Transsfer roast to cutting board, let pork rest 30 minutes.  Pour all pan juices into a 2 cup measuring cup , spoon off fat.  Bring chicken stock and wine to a boil, reduce by half.  Add pan juices and whisk to blend, sauce will be thin.  Thinly slice roast, serve with sauce.

Served best as a sandwich, porchetta on bread! 

Tips shared by Mary Ann Vitalle:
Land O'Lakes butter has the least water content.  Plugra butter is second

For long term cooking a yellow or brown skinned onion is best.

San Marzano tomatoes are best NOT San Marzono style tomatoes.  Always buy whole tomatoes not crushed. 

Adding garlic as a whole clove creates a mellow flavor.  Garlic sliced thin adds enhanced garlic flavor.

Kosher salt has less sodium than all other salts.

Fond = the brown bits in the skillet with browning or

Swanson Chicken Broth is the chef's first choice or the Trader Joe's brand is second.

When using stone fruit in a recipe, treat with regular Sprite, not diet.  It prevents the fruit from turning brown.

Always toast nuts in a dry skillet before adding to a recipe.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hickory Nut Cake

Hickory Nut Cake
This recipe has been used by four generations and is known as Grandmother's recipe.
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hickory nuts, chopped, 
   (reserve a few halves for garnish)
Penuche Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Cream together sugar and butter: add eggs beating well after each addition. Mix on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes.  Place dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to creamed mixture, mix well.  Do not over mix.  Stir in vanilla and nuts.  Pour into greased and floured 13 inch x 9 inch pan.  Bake at 325^ for 45 to 50 minutes.  (Cake may be baked in 8 inch layer pans.)  
Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add brown sugar; boil 2 minutes.  Add milk; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.  Beat in sugar and vanilla.  May add 1/2 cup chopped hickory nuts to frosting if desired (or garnish frosted top with hickory nut halves).  Frost cake.  Yield 16 servings.

"Starbucks" Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones
This is the "Starbuck" Pumpkin Scone Recipe copycat.


2 cups all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

TO MAKE THE SCONES:.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.

Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.


Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.

When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.


Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Starbucks" Chewy Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

"Starbucks" Chewy Fruit and 
Nut Energy Bars
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal (see note below)
1 cup dried apricot, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisin
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Syrup Mixture

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup or 1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter



Ingredient note: look in your health food aisle for a healthy alternative to Rice Krispies. The brand I found is made by Enviro-Kidz and uses BROWN rice.

  1. Prepare 9x13 pan with non-stick spray (or line with parchment paper).

    In a large mixing bowl, toss all dry ingredients. Feel free to substitute your preferred nut or dried fruit.

    In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and allow to boil one minute. (Note: boiling the sugars is what helps the bars become firm and not sticky, so this step is important).

    After boiling, turn off heat; add vanilla and peanut butter. QUICKLY pour this hot mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to combine.

    Pour warm mixture into prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture down into the pan to compress the bars so they will slice evenly.

    When cool, use a sharp knife to cut into 18 bars (1 long lengthwise cut and 9 cuts across). Enjoy with a hot cup of Starbucks coffee for an authentic experience!

    Note: Starbucks does not list corn syrup in their ingredients, but the sweetener in their list is not readily available. I tried using Maple Syrup, but the bars were very crumbly and would not stay together in bars. Therefore, I found that Corn Syrup is the best ingredient that is readily available.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grilled Southern Shrimp Burgers

Grilled Southern Shrimp Burgers
A good shrimp burger should be first and foremost about the shrimp. This recipe features a moist yet still cohesive patty, and seasoning that complements the sweet shrimp flavor without overpowering it.  Keep the seasonings simple: minced scallion and parsley, as well as lemon zest
Makes 4 Burgers

Be sure to use raw, not cooked, shrimp here. Dry the shrimp thoroughly before processing, or the burgers will be mushy. Handle the burgers gently when shaping and grilling; if overhandled while being shaped, the burgers will be dense and rubbery, and if handled roughly during cooking, they will break apart. Serve with tartar sauce.

1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined,  
    and patted dry
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into large 
   pieces and pulsed in a food processor to coarse 
1. Pulse the shrimp in a food processor until some pieces are finely minced and others are coarsely chopped, about 7 pulses. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl.

2. Combine the mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, lemon zest, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until uniform, then gently fold into the processed shrimp until just combined. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mixture and gently fold until incorporated.

3. Scrape the shrimp mixture onto a small baking sheet, divide it into 4 equal portions, and loosely pack each into a 1-inch-thick patty. Cover and refrigerate the patties for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

4A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open the bottom grill vents completely. Light a large chimney starter three-quarters full with charcoal briquettes (75 briquettes; 4 1/2 quarts). When the coals are hot, pour them in an even layer over the grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

4B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all the burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all the burners to medium-high. (Adjust the burners as needed to maintain a medium-hot fire).

5. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Lightly brush the tops of the burgers with oil, lay them on the grill, oiled side down, and lightly brush the other side with oil. Cook the burgers, without pressing on them, until lightly browned and cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Transfer the burgers to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pork Spare Ribs

Pork Spare Ribs
(Serves 6-8)
2 racks pork spare ribs
barbeque sauce, your preference
1 cup beer
Dry Rub:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 250º F.

In a small bowl, combine dry rub ingredients
Prepare spare ribs by trimming the membrane (back of ribs) and tough meat (across the top), and discarding those pieces.

Dividing the dry rub in half, equal amounts for both racks, rub the spices on the tops and bottoms of the ribs.

On a baking tray and taking 8 pieces of aluminum foil, you’re going to create pockets for the racks to cook in, meaty side up. 2 pieces of foil on the bottom, 2 pieces on the top, for each rack.

In a medium bowl, whisk together beer and barbeque sauce of your choosing.

Begin carefully sealing your foil packets. Before you seal the final edge, pour 1/2 of beer mixture into each packet.

Bake ribs for 4 hours. Remove from oven and carefully open your packets and drain the sauce/drippings into a saucepan. Simmer on low heat and let thicken.

Brush ribs with sauce and place back in oven, uncovered, under broiler, for 5-7 minutes.

Mrs. Horton's Sour Cherry Pie

Mrs. Horton's Sour Cherry Pie
This is a recipe shared by our daughter-in-law Susan.  You know when the guests request the recipe, it is considered extra special.  Susan has passed it along requesting we choose this for our holiday dessert.  Yes, we plan ahead family style! 
1 cup sugar (**see note below)
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoon tapioca
1 qt. pitted sour cherries drained (4 cups or
    2 jars TJ Morello cherries)

Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan until slightly thickened.
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter

Cut with pastry blender or fork.
Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.  Srinkle streusel over filling and bake for 45-60 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Place foil on top for first 25 to 30 minutes. (I bake this on a convection setting so my total baking time is usually closer to 45 minutes.)

**When using Trader Joe's Morello cherries, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Milk

Chocolate Hazelnut Milk
This luxurious milk celebrates the classic combination of chocolate and hazelnut.  It's a bit like drinking a glass of nutella.
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
3 cups fresh water
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 date, pitted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Place the hazelnuts in a large bowl, cover with water and refrigerate overnight.  The nuts will almost double in volume. 
Drain and rinse the nuts.  Place the nuts, 3 cups fresh water, the cocoa powder, sugar, and date, vanilla extract and salt in a blender.  Blend at high speed for about one minute.  Strain the milk using either a muslin bag or a nut milk bag.  Wring out the liquid.
Store the milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Shake well before using.

Pecan Milk Topping

Pecan Milk Topping
This is a recipe used by two restauranteurs who found themselves lactose and soy intolerant.  They use it for the base of the Salted Pecan frozen dessert in their restaurant.  It is also used as the topping for hot cereal.

1 cup pecans
2 cups water
4 dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, anad blend on high for about a mine, until the dates are fully broken down.  Taste and add more salt or sweetener if necessary.  Store the thick unstrained milk in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  (Strain out the pulp if you prefer a thinner consistency.)  
Shake well before using.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nut Milk

Nut Milk
I was served a corn chowder several years ago made with a nut milk by my daughter Barbara.  It was very tasty.  I found a recent article which sparked my interest.  I have often given thought to making nut milk but lacked a formula, so I thought.  Actually it is quite easy and the only equipment required is a nut milk bag or muslin for straining the pulp.  The nuts are pulverized for extraction in a blender or Vita Mix.  This pulp can be used in cooked cereal or smoothies,  or for the really intrepid turned into nut flours.  The nut flavor is unparalleled and fun to explore with combinations.

Seeds and nuts commonly used are almond, rice, hemp, sunflower seed, almond, cashews, and pecans and hazelnuts.

The formula is quite simple,  Soak, Blend, and Strain.

Soak:  Soak the nuts or beans overnight.  Use a large enough container as they will possibly double in size.  Place in a bowl large enough to cover with water.

Blend:  Once the soaked nuts are drained and rinsed, use a a 3:1 ratio of water to soaked nuts.  You can add a couple of pitted dates for sweetness.  You can add any sweetener you like or skip it all together. You can add cinnamon, vanilla, or cocoa powder but remember to add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.
Basic Almond Milk
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 large pitted dates
Pinch of salt
Place the almonds in a large bowl, and cover with water and refrigerate overnight.  The almonds will roughly double in volume.    Drain and rinse the almond.  Place the almonds and dates, salt and 3 cups fresh water in a blender (Vita Mix if you have one).  Blend at high for about 1 minute or until the dates and nuts are well broken down.  Strain the milk in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Shake well before using.
Tomorrow I will post recipes using the nut milks.  How about a glass of Hazelnut Chocolate Milk?

Four Cheese Polenta With Chanterelle Ragout

Four Cheese Polenta
With Chanterelle Ragout
I take cooking classes with my friend Ann.  Ann suggested we take a class on making risotto and polenta.  I told Ann I could share those techniques and we could choose a different class, which we did.  I am posting this recipe for Ann and our "cooking class".  This dish heralds the Fall season! 
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup instant polenta
3 ounces Gorgonzola
3 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed
3 ounces Fontina Val d'Aosta cheese, 
   coarsely grated
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chantrelle mushrooms, 
   cut onto 1/2 inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 sage leaves
1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
In a deep over medium heat, bring milk, water and salt to just under a boil.  Slowly pour in polenta while constantly whisking.  Once polenta is fully incorporated, reduce heat and gently simmer, whisking often, until grains are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add water as necessary, to keep polenta loose.  Add cheeses and stir until melted, about 3 minutes. 
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat.  Once oil is very hot, add mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Sauté mushrooms until liquid is released, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking  until until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are brown, about 8 minutes more.  Add garlic and sage and sauté until aromatic, 1-2 minutes.  Add butter and cook until melted, about 30 seconds.  Remove pan from heat and serve mushrooms over polenta. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

6 cups diced tomatoes
1 bell pepper diced
1 medium onion diced
¼ cup fresh basil (1 tablespoon dried basil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in slow cooker; set it to the low setting and cook for 4-6 hours.

When done, transfer to blender or food processer and blend to desired consistency.

If it is too thin for your liking, use tomato paste to thicken.

At this point, you can use it immediately or place portions in freezer bags and store in freezer for 6 to 8 months.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blueberry Blintzes

Blueberry Blintzes

Ingredients: Batter:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Blueberry Filling:
1 1/4 pounds blueberries, washed and stemmed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons diced lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Butter, for greasing pan
Confectioners sugar, garnish

In a large bowl or mixer, begin making your batter by combining milk, water, butter, eggs, flour, salt and sugar. Mix until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 12).
In a saucepan, for your filling, mix blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon together, and place over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then quickly reduce heat and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Take an 8-inch crepe pan (important to have a small pan to insure size and thickness of blintzes) and add a small amount of butter. Place over medium heat.
When the pan is hot, pour in a 1/4 cup of batter and slowly tilt the pan to evenly spread the batter in a circle, until the bottom is completely covered.
Cook for 45-60 seconds, or until the batter is just set and the bottom is browned; flip to brown the other side. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of batter.

Use a slotted spoon to put 1-2 tablespoons of berry mixture (leaving sauce to drizzle over the top) on the lower third of the blintz. Fold the bottom up and over the filling, tuck in both sides (like a burrito) as you go and roll towards the top of the blintzes. You should end with the seam side down. Repeat with rest of blintzes.

Optional: Add some more butter to your pan and lightly fry each blintz for a golden crisp outer edge OR place in a 375º F oven until warmed through.
Remove to a serving platter and garnish with leftover berry sauce and powdered sugar.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

For the Dough:
¾ cup whole milk, 110 degrees F

2¼ teaspoons instant yeast

3 eggs, at room temperature

4¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup granulated sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

For the Filling:
1 cup light brown sugar

4½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup salted caramel sauce, recipe follows

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt
One egg, beaten
Splash of water

For the Icing/Topping:

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF

2. Whisk together the milk and yeast in a small bowl until the yeast dissolves, then add in the eggs.

3. Using a mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt) on a low speed until combined. Continuing on low, steadily add the warm milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.

4. Bring the speed up to medium and add the butter, piece by piece, until totally incorporated. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and not stuck to the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. If, after mixing for 10 minutes, the dough is still sticky and wet, add up to another 3-5 tablespoons of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. (It’s okay if this doesn’t happen immediately. It can sometimes take the full 10 minutes, even without additional flour, for dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl.)

5. Gently knead dough on a clean surface and form a smooth, round ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; allow to sit and rise in a warm, draft-free area. Should double in size, around 2 hours.

Make the Caramel Sauce:

6. In a 2-4 quart saucepan add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom. Whisk sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt. Continue whisking until all of the sugar has melted. It’s okay if there are lumps, just keep whisking and they will smooth out. You want the sugar to move continuously so it doesn’t burn. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

7. The sugar should become a deep-amber color and should smell slightly toasted. This is a crucial step because the caramel can burn quickly if you’re not paying close attention. Use a candy thermometer and cook until caramel reaches 350ºF.

8. Once it reaches 350ºF, add in all of the butter. Caramel reacts with the addition of dairy and will froth and bubble up. Whisk the mixture until it is completely smooth.

9. Take the pan off of the heat and carefully add the cream. Again, because you are adding dairy there will be a reaction and the mixture will bubble up considerably. Whisk until everything is incorporated and the sauce is perfectly smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel.

10. Allow sauce to cool, 10-15 minutes, and then pour into glass container. The sauce will keep, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. Make sure to warm up before using.

11. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. After dough has doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into an 18-inch square, roughly ¼-inch thick. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough; extend butter to within ½ –inch of the edge so there is still a border. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough and add the caramel sauce drizzle on top.

12. Form a log by taking the edge of the dough nearest you and rolling it in over itself. Make sure to pinch the ends closed. Cut the roll into even pieces and place, cut-side-up, in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Again, allow to rise and double in size by covering with plastic wrap and placing in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour.

(If you would like to hold off on baking, you can place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Make sure to bring rolls back to room temperature before baking, around 1 hour.)

13. After removing plastic wrap, combine 1 beaten egg with a splash of water and brush rolls to give a nice golden, glazed top. Place rolls in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the Icing:

14. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and heavy cream until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature. Optional: add 1 tablespoon of the salted caramel sauce to the mixture for extra flavor or sprinkle fleur de sel over the top.

Leftovers, if there are any, can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fresh Ways With Butternut Squash

This is an article I found posted in the Toledo Blade newspaper.  Butternut squash is a favorite vegetable of mine.  I can never have enough recipes to use.

Just as you’re finally finishing up the mounds of zucchini that have haunted you all summer, autumn’s overabundance of butternut squash hits you. Time for some fresh ideas.

But before we get cooking, let’s talk prep. Butternut’s thick skin and rock-hard flesh can make the peeling, seeding, and chopping part of the meal a challenge. No wonder those bags of prepped squash chunks at the grocer are so popular. But they also are pricy, so let’s talk tips for making the work a little easier.

Start by setting your squash on its side on the cutting board. Use a heavy chef’s knife to slice off the top (stem end) and bottom (wider end). Slicing off the bottom reveals the seedy-stringy interior. It also gives you a flat base so you can stand your squash upright without it wobbling. Now use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

Once the squash is peeled, grab your melon baller. You don’t have one? Get one. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just sturdy. A melon baller — with its sharp edges designed for scooping and scraping — is the best tool for quickly and cleanly removing the seeds and strings.

Once the interior is scraped clean, return the squash to the cutting board on its side. Cut the squash in two crosswise, cutting just above the bulbous bottom. At this point, you have manageable chunks of squash with flat edges. And that means those chunks can be easily cut or chopped without wobbling.

For simplicity, every recipe idea assumes you’ve peeled and seeded the squash.

● Patties: Cut a squash into 2-inch pieces. Microwave until just tender. Allow to cool slightly, then arrange small mounds of cubes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Use the bottom of a bowl or mug to gently smash each mound into a patty about ½-inch thick. Brush the top of each patty with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Bake at 450 F until browned and crispy, flipping the patties after about 10 minutes.

● Hummus: Boil 2 cups squash cubes in water until tender. Drain well, then combine in a food processor with ¼ cup tahini, 2 cloves garlic, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Process until smooth, then spoon into a bowl. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped Peppadew peppers. Serve with pita chips.

● Salad: Boil 2 cups squash cubes in water until just tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool. Toss the cooled squash with ½ cup chopped cilantro, 1 cup cooked shelled edamame, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, and 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers. Season with salt and pepper, then top with shredded manchego cheese and toasted pine nuts.

● Hash: Cut the squash into 2-inch chunks, then add to the food processor. Pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. Heat a splash of canola oil in a large skillet, then add the squash and an equal amount of chopped corned beef. Saute until the squash is browned and tender. Serve topped with poached or fried eggs.

● Grilled: Slice the squash into ½-inch-thick slabs. Drizzle each slab with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill over medium heat until tender when pierced with a fork. If the squash browns too quickly, turn one side of the grill off and leave the other side on medium-high. Move the squash slices to the cooler side and continue cooking, with the grill covered, until tender.

● Soup: Bring to a simmer 2 cups chicken broth, a 13 ½-ounce can of coconut milk, 3 cloves garlic, and 3 cups cubed squash. Cook until very tender. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a splash of hot sauce. Stir in cooked shredded chicken or cooked shrimp, if desired. Top with shredded fresh basil.

● Ganache: Boil 1 cup squash cubes in water until tender. Drain, then add to the food processor and puree until very smooth. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup heavy cream with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon ground dry ginger. When just hot, remove from the heat and stir in 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate bits. Stir in the squash puree until completely smooth. Serve warm over ice cream or toasted pound cake or gingerbread.

● Biscuits: Boil 1 cup squash cubes in water until tender. Drain and mash with a fork; you should have ½ cup of mashed squash. Cool and stir together with 2/​3 cup buttermilk. Freeze 6 tablespoons butter until it’s very cold but not rock solid.

Grate the butter with a cheese grater into a bowl with 2 cups self-rising flour. Stir together with a fork. Add the squash and stir just until it comes together. Scoop ¼ cup at a time onto an oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 F for 10 to 12 minutes.

● Roasted: Toss squash cubes in a bowl with melted butter, salt, pepper, and Italian or Cajun seasoning. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 425 F until tender and browned, stirring occasionally.

● Crab cakes: Drain a 16-ounce can lump crabmeat. Stir in 1 cup finely grated butternut squash, ¼ cup chopped fresh chives, 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, 1 egg, and ½ cup panko breadcrumbs. Form into 8 patties and cook

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Crab and Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

Crab and Roasted Red Pepper Bisque


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat or canned crab
1 teaspoon Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
While the onion is cooking, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large pot. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour until smooth and cook for a minute (or until the mixture starts to brown).
Then, add the chicken broth, red peppers, tomato paste, crabmeat (if you want to garnish the soup with crabmeat, reserve a few ounces), Old Bay, cayenne pepper, and onion to the pot. Let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until smooth.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (you could also use an electric blender and puree in batches, returning the soup to the pot when it is pureed).
Add the heavy cream, red wine vinegar, and salt to the pot and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until heated all the way through.
Garnish with crab meat, if you reserved any, and/or a swirl of half and half if desired.  Serves 4

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Crispy Cheddar Chicken
4 large chicken breasts
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 14 ounce can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons butter


1. Cut each chicken breast into 3 large chunks.

2. In a small food processor grind up the ritz crackers.

3. Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the 1/4 t salt and 1/8 t pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.

4. Dip each piece of chicken into the milk then the cheese and finally the cracker crumbs.

5. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan.

6. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.

7. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil, bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.

8. Into a medium sized sauce pan combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

This fall slaw is packed with surprises: cilantro, citrus, and crunchy-sweet apples.
3 cups coarsely grated red cabbage
1 medium orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into matchsticks (1¼ cups)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. agave nectar
2 tsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
Toss together cabbage, bell pepper, apple, and cilantro in large bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients in small bowl. Drizzle dressing over cabbage mixture, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
This is the time of the year that everyone with zucchini in their garden is trying to find someone to "please take them".  This is a nice moist cake and no one will ever suspect there is zucchini in the ingredients.
1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick), room temperature
13/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1/2 cup milk plus   

   1 tsp. white vinegar = sour milk)
21/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated zucchini, peeled if desired, 

   drained (about 2 medium)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 325° (for a glass pan) or 350° (for a metal pan). 

In a mixing bowl, cream together the room temperature margarine/butter and sugar. Add the oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and mix well. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Fold in the zucchini. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the top of the cake. 

Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Let cool before cutting. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Herbed Shrimp Dip With Fresh Dill

Herbed Shrimp With Fresh Dill

This is another great recipe from my favorite instructor at Great News Cooking School.  Phillis always comes through with recipes having universal appeal.
2 T. minced shallots
2 T. chopped fresh dill
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 lbs. medium cooked shrimp (you may cook your own or buy them       

1/2 cup diced celery
2 green onions, minced

Place shallots, dill, mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce in food processor and blend until smooth. Add shrimp and celery and pulse until shrimp are chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in green onions. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Serve with Pita Crisps for dipping.
1 bag Pita bread 
Melted salted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each pita bread into 6 wedges. Peel the bread wedges apart to make 12 pieces out of each bread. Repeat with remaining bread rounds. Arrange pita triangles on baking sheets in a single layer; brush lightly with melted butter and bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until crispy.     Serves 8

Friday, September 5, 2014


Jodie prepares her work surface.
The cooked potatoes and cheese are mixed.
Jodie rolls the dough on a well floured surface.
1 Tbsp. potato is placed on noodle.
The blogger wetting the edges to seal at her work space.
The pirogies rise to the top of boiling water when done.  Cook about 1 minute more.
Place in cold water to cool.
When cool, lift from cold water.  With your finger, lightly rub off excess flour.  Place on paper towels to drain of excess moisture before freezing.

Jodies Pirogies  
I had a cooking lesson with my neighbor Jodie. Jodie learned to make the authentic Polish Pirogi at the hands of her grandmother.  I was so lucky to have the tutorial at the hands of my friend.

This dough is best made the day before and refrigerated overnight.  Must be used within 24 hrs. or less.  Presumed you have made the dough ahead, prepare the table with a good layer of newspaper and top with aluminum foil.  Jodie used the wide foil and masking tape to seal the overlapping edges of foil.

Dough is best wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.  The dough must be used within 24 hours or it becomes an unappetizing grey color.
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup water
Mix the flour and eggs with a fork until it resembles small pebbles.  Add the water and mix.  Add the needed flour to make a velvety soft dough.  This is where the tactile experience helps.  Form into two disk shapes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
4 large RUSSET potatoes
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups shredded cheese (3 cheese blend)
2 or more slices of American Cheese
Onion Salt
Peel RUSSET potatoes and cut into small chunks, season with salt and boil to doneness.  Drain of excess moisture as much as possible. Place in a large mixing bowl.  With a mixer, mash the potatoes. add the cheese and onion salt.  Adjust ingredients and seasonings to taste. at

Roll a disk of chilled dough on a well floured surface.  Prepare your work space for sealing the pirogi with a small amount of flour and a cup of water.  Roll the dough to about the thinness of a dime.  Cut into strips to make the noodle about a 3" square.  Place approximately 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture in the center of each 3" square noodle.  

Place a square of the dough over the fingers of your left hand.  Dip your fingers into the cup of water to moisten the edges of the noodle.  Assist the roll of the noodle with the index of the hand holding the dough.  Seal the filling in the noodle folding the noodle over the filling: pinching the edges to seal the pirogi.

In a pot of boiling water place about twelve pirogi being careful not to overcrowd.  Give the pot a stir to prevent the pirogi sticking together.  Boil and when the pirogi rise to the surface about two or three minutes and continue to boil about 1 minute more.  The noodle should be cooked.  Do not overcook.  Skim the pirogi from the surface of the water.  Move to a pot of cold water to cool.  Remove from cold water when cool and with a light stroke rub to remove excess flour from exterior surface of noodle. Drain as best as possible and place on paper towels to drain. When the one side is well drained, turn the pirogi to a dry towel and dry the reverse side.  When the Pirogi has drained on both sides, place in a large dish or baking sheet with sides separating the layers with plastic wrap.  Place in freezer.

To serve, fry strips of bacon to crisp.  Saute 1/2" onion slices.  Set aside and keep warn while you fry the pirogi.  Serve with the warm onion and sour cream if you wish.