Monday, December 31, 2007

Paula Deen's Savory Salmon

I have been eyeing this recipe from the Lady and Sons Cookbook for some time. I realized we had not had fish in a while so I added it to the list this week. This dish turned our delicious. The fruit, vegetables and herbs gave a wonderful flavor to the salmon and turned into a tasty relish on top of the fish. Not only did this dish taste good but it presents nicely also. My only criticism of this dish is that I thought the dill might have been a tad strong so I would probably use a little less next time or try the chervil instead. This recipe was another winner from Paula Deen and it didn't even have any butter! I served this with an almond rice pilaf and steamed green beans.

Savory Salmon
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

1 (2-pound) salmon fillet
House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 small red bell pepper, julienne
1 small green bell pepper, julienne
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 medium orange, sectioned and seeded
1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped fresh chervil or baby dill
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 lemons, juiced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place salmon fillet on a foil-lined pan. Season with House Seasoning, then cover and surround fish with red and green bell pepper, onion, and sectioned orange slices. Mix strawberries, water, honey, chervil or dill, garlic and green onions together. Pour lemon juice over salmon. Ladle strawberry mixture evenly over salmon. Cover with foil and pierce foil, allowing steam to escape. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with rice.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix well. Store in shaker near stove for convenience.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Dinner

Since, I already prepared one large meal for Christmas Eve (see post below), I decided to do a more casual meal for Christmas Day. I served Garlic and Citrus Roast Chicken, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta, and Asparagus with Parmesan Butter and a Raspberry Almond Tart. The recipes for the Chicken, Potatoes and Asparagus can be found in my blog archives. I have made the Ciabatta Stuffing a few times and I really like it. The addition of the chestnuts differentiates it from an ordinary stuffing and it goes nicely with roast chicken or as stuffing for a meatloaf. I omit the pancetta. The raspberry almond tart recipe is definitely a keeper. This recipe was so simple and easy to throw together but quite a show stopper. Its also delicious the next day for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate!

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentis
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Raspberry Almond Tart

Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentis

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounce package), thawed
1 egg, beaten to blend
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely crumbled
2 (6-ounce) baskets fresh raspberries
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut a 3/4-inch wide strip off each side of the pastry and reserve. Roll out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface to a 10-inch square. Brush the edges of the square with the egg. Working with 1 strip at a time, stand the strips along the edges of the pastry square and crimp where they meet. You want to create a shallow box, where the pastry square is the base and the 4 strips are the walls. Overlap the strips at the corners, stretching them if necessary to complete the walls of the box. Brush the border with the egg. Pierce the center of the pastry all over with fork. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Add the liqueur and beat until just well blended; be careful not to overmix or the whipped cream will turn into a buttery consistency and start to separate. Using a large spatula, fold in the nuts. Spoon the cream mixture into the prepared pastry crust. Arrange the berries over the cream. Sift the cocoa powder over and serve.

NOTE: You can use any fruit that's in season (orange segments, berries, plums, bananas, grapes). Blueberries make a good substitute for the raspberries, and sliced peaches or nectarines are delicious as well.

Christmas Eve Dinner

We normally try to do an Italian Menu for Christmas Eve. A traditional menu would have seven fishes, however, we decided to forgo the fish this year and go with pasta instead. We did have some fried calamari for an appetizer so at least there was one fish! For appetizers we served Christmas Eve Punch, Fried Calamari (purchased from a local restaurant), Sun Dried Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Cigars and a Crudite Platter with Caesar Dip. The mozzarella cigars turned out beautifully despite some issues I had working with the phyllo. We will definitely serve them at future parties. For the main course we had a chopped salad, lasagna with basil leaves and garlic bread. The lasagna took some time to make but was really good. I liked the addition of the fresh basil between the layers and also the fresh mozzarella slices. For dessert, I made one of my favorite go to desserts, Tiramisu Layer Cake. We also had fresh clementines and an assortment of bark and Christmas cookies (see previous post for recipes). Both the Lasagna and Tiramisu Cake are great for dinner parties because they can be made ahead, leaving time to just enjoy the evening. All in all it was a wonderful dinner and wonderful evening with family.

Smoked Mozzarella and Sun Dried Tomato Cigars
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentis

6 sheets phyllo dough
4 tablespoon butter, melted
8 ounces smoked mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on a clean dry work surface. Use a pastry brush to brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Fold the phyllo sheet in half lengthwise, resulting in a 12 by 8-inch rectangle. Brush the top of the phyllo with melted butter. Place a few slices of smoked mozzarella at a narrow end of the phyllo rectangle, leaving 1-inch on each side. Top the cheese with a few pieces of sun-dried tomatoes. Carefully roll up the phyllo dough into a cigar shape starting with the cheese and tomato end. About half way through the rolling, tuck in the 1-inch ends of the phyllo dough, and continue rolling. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, seam side down, and brush the top with butter. Continue rolling the 5 remaining cigars. Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Lasagna with Basil Leaves
Recipe Source: Entertaining with the Sopranos

Serves 8-10

1 1b dried lasagna
5-6 cups meat sauce (recipe follows)
2 lbs ricotta
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large bunch basil, leaves removed, rinsed and dried
12 oz fresh mozzarella

In a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Add a few pieces of lasagna and cook, stirring gently, until tender but slightly underdone. Scoop the pasta out of the water with a sieve and cool in a bowl of cold water. Cook the remaining pasta the same way. When cool enough to handle, lay lasagna out flat on lint-free (not terry cloth) kitchen towels. The towels can be stacked.

In a bowl, beat the ricotta and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce in a 9x13x2 baking pan. Place a few sheets of lasagna in the pan in a single layer, overlapping them slightly. Spread evenly with 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1 cup of the meat sauce, 2 tbsp grated Parmesan. Make a layer of basil leaves and another of mozzarella slices on top. Make two more layers the same way. Top with a final layer of lasagna, sauce, and the remaining grated cheese. (The lasagna can be made ahead to this point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight).

Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 375.

Meat Sauce

1 medium onion chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz sweet Italian-style sausage, casings removed
1 lb ground beef sirloin
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 35 oz can Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 28 oz can tomato puree
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits

In large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the sausage meat, breaking into lumps with the back of a spoon. Add the beef and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is nicely browned and crumbly. Tip the pan; if there is a lot of fat, spoon some of it out and discard.

Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, then add about 1/2 cup water to each can, swirl and rinse out the can. Add liquid to pan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and the oil has separated from the tomatoes, about 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in basil and cook 5 minutes more. Serve immediately, or cool, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. This sauce also freezes well.

Tiramisu Layer Cake

  • CAKE:
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur

  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 (9 inch) pans.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Divide two thirds of batter between 2 pans. Stir instant coffee into remaining batter; pour into remaining pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. In a measuring cup, combine brewed coffee and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; set aside.
  4. To make the filling: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1/2 cup of cream mixture into filling mixture.
  6. To assemble the cake: Place one plain cake layer on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. Pour one third of reserved coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half of the filling mixture. Top with coffee-flavored cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour another third of the coffee mixture over the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour remaining coffee mixture on top. Spread sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  7. To make the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar.

Bake for 45 minutes. If lasagna is browning too much, cover loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes more if it has been refrigerated, or until top is brown and sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let stand 15 minutes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Progressive Dinner

Last night we participated in another fun progressive dinner with our neighbors. We hosted the dessert portion of the dinner. It was such a fun evening with great friends and food. If you've never participated in a progressive dinner, I highly recommend it. This week has been crazy for us so I had to throw our part together in a mad dash. Despite the craze, I think it all turned out well. We had a hot chocolate bar, chocolate peppermint mousse cups, a wreath cake, fruit with eggnog dip, peppermint bark and dark chocolate bark with smoky almonds and sea salt, an assortment of Christmas cookies and a few store bought cream puffs. The cookie and bark recipes are below in my blog. I really loved the filling for the peppermint mousse cups. It was light but had a great mint taste. This filling would make a great accompaniment to the wreath cake I have pictured. Next time I make these, I will probably just buy the pre-made chocolate cups. The eggnog dip was a fun way to incorporate eggnog into the party. The dip needs to be made well in advance so the flavors can meld. If you follow just the first step of cooking the eggnog you get a wonderful eggnog pudding that would be great served with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or a nice addition to a holiday trifle.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
Recipe Source: Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 1/2 cups fat free milk, divided (I used whole milk)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 14 oz can fat free sweetened condensed milk (I used regular)
1 3 inch cinnamon stick

For toppings I chose:
Mini marshmallows
WS Peppermint Snow
Chocolate Candy Canes
Chocolate Chips
Whipped Cream

Place cocoa in slow cooker. Gradually add 1 cup fat-free milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Ad remaining fat free milk, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk, stirring with whisk until well blended. Add cinnamon stick. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat 4-8 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Stir well with whisk before serving.

Peppermint Mousse Cups
Source: Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers and Mini Desserts

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 drops of red food color
2 tbsp crushed candy canes (about 6 miniature candy canes) (I used WS Peppermint Snow)

1. Line 24 mini muffin cups with petit four paper cups. In 1 quart saucepan, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate into each paper cup. With back of small measuring spoon, spread chocolate up sides to within 1/8 inch of the top. Chocolate should be warm enough to spread. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until completely set.

2. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 1 minute. Stir in 3 tbsp whipping cream; microwave about 30 seconds longer until chips are melted. Stir in peppermint extract and food color. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Carefully, remove paper cups from chocolate chips.

3. In medium bow, beat remaining whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold melted vanilla chip mixture into whipped cream. Spoon or pipe whipped cream mixture into chocolate cups. Refrigerate before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with candy.

Eggnog Dip
Source: Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

1 1/2 cups refrigerated eggnog
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp light rum (optional)

Combine eggnog and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing directly into mixture. Cool 2 hours in refrigerator.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream, sour cream and rum, if desired, into eggnog mixture. Cover and chill 6 hours. Serve with fresh fruit.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Baking Extravaganza Part I

I set out to bake lots of cookies and bark today and got about half way through the recipes I picked this year. The results so far were very yummy. I think we are on a sugar high from all the taste testing! The peppermint bark recipe is my favorite. I make it every year and its always a hit. The dark chocolate smoked almond sea salt was a new recipe and will probably become a regular. The combination of the dark chocolate with the salt and smoky almonds is delicious. As for the cookies, the Angeletti are a traditional Italian Christmas cookie that I started making a few years back. I highly recommend using the anise extract versus plain vanilla. These cookies puff up and are almost biscuit like. The chocolate peanut blossoms were a new recipe for me. They were easy to make and turned out well. I made half with milk chocolate kisses and half with dark chocolate. The dark chocolate kisses melted a little more than the milk chocolate. Stay tuned for Part II of the Baking Extravaganza coming soon.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe Courtesy of

cup C & H® Pure Cane Sugar
cup firmly packed C & H® Golden Brown Sugar
cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
cup peanut butter
teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon salt
1 3/4
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
cup sugar
milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375°F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes.) Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Makes about 6 dozen
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or anise extract
  • 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for decorating
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until incorporated. With mixer on, gradually add flour mixture; beat until dough comes together.
  3. Scoop dough into tablespoon-size balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, stir together confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water. Place wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Once cookies have cooled, top with icing. Sprinkle with sugar, and let stand until icing is firm.

Peppermint Bark
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Makes 2 1/4 pounds or one 11-by-17-inch sheet

  • 2 pounds white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 large candy canes
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil
  1. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.
  2. In the top of a double boiler, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly.
  3. With a chef’s knife or meat tenderizer, cut or pound candy canes into 1/4-inch pieces.
  4. Stir pieces of candy canes and peppermint oil into the melted chocolate. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet; spread evenly. Chill until firm, 25 to 30 minutes. Break into pieces, and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Sea Salted Smoky Almond Chocolate Bark

Recipe Courtesy of Nestle

LINE 8-inch baking pan with wax paper.

MICROWAVE small chocolate pieces in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; STIR. If pieces retain some of their original shape, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted. Stir in 1/4 cup almonds.

POUR into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Tap pan several times to spread chocolate and settle nuts. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Not So Spicy Baked Macaroni

From my previous posts, you may have realized that I love Giada's Everyday Pasta Cookbook. In my effort to continue cooking my way through this book, I decided to try the recipe for Spicy Baked Pasta. The only change I made was to omit the red pepper flakes. I like the combination of vegetables and cheeses used in this recipe. My only complaint was the dish was a little dry. From reading reviews on, it seems this was a common complaint. I will probably add more tomatoes next time and maybe toss the pasta and veggies with some olive oil. Overall, it was still a good dish just needs a little tweaking.

Spicy Baked Macaroni
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentis

1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess liquid
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup
1/4 cup Romano, plus 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons
12 ounces mozzarella cubed (about 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup Romano. Spread the softened butter in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture inside the dish to coat.

In a large bowl combine the vegetable mixture with the cooked macaroni, cubed mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and the nutmeg. Spoon into the prepared baking dish, top with the remaining bread crumb mixture, and dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Slow Cooker Barbecued Pork

Yesterday I made one of my absolute favorite slow cooker recipes. The original recipe is for barbecued beef and I have made it many times with a brisket and its delicious. Last night, I decided to try it as a pulled pork instead. It was perfect. It may even be better than with the brisket! This is a great go to recipe for football parties or casual entertaining. I consider the barbecue recipe attached my signature barbecue sauce. I use it for any recipe that calls for barbecue sauce. Its a very sweet Carolina style sauce and the exact recipe my family used.

Barbecued Beef Source:

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (4 pound) boneless chuck roast (I used a pork roast)
In a large bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, Dijon-style mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  1. Place chuck roast in a slow cooker. Pour ketchup mixture over chuck roast. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Remove chuck roast from slow cooker, shred with a fork, and return to the slow cooker. Stir meat to evenly coat with sauce. Continue cooking approximately 1 hour.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Zucchini Fritters

I've made this recipe, a couple of times now and really like it. I found it in an issue of Rachael Ray's magazine. Its a quick and easy meal to throw together and really requires few ingredients. I serve mine with marinara sauce instead of the roasted pepper sauce. Even my husband who dislikes squash loves these. They are great served with soup or salad.

Zucchini Fritters with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

4 zucchini (about 1 1/2 1bs total)


2 large eggs


1/2 cup flour

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 clove garlic smashed and peeled

Hot Pepper Sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and set aside. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the zucchini into a large colander. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Place the colander in the sink and press the zucchini firmly with paper towels to remove all the excess moisture.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until light and frothy. Using a whisk, stir in the zucchini, then the flour.
3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in 3 batches, drop in the fritter batter by rounded tablespoons, gently flattening with the back of the spoon, and cook, turning once, until the fritters are browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches; add more olive oil to the skillet as needed.
4. Using a food processor, puree the red peppers with the garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. Serve the dip with the warm fritters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Made this for a quick dinner this evening and it was fabulous. I was a little apprehensive about the recipe as I'm not a huge fan of the the vegetables that were in this. Turns out they were delicious roasted and I would even consider making the vegetables as a side dish to another meal. Great way to get lots of veggies. I omitted the yellow squash because no one in our house likes it. I used whole wheat penne to make it even more healthy.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentis

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Coconut Meringues

I felt like making cookies the other day and remembered that Cooking Light's December issue had tons of cookie recipes. I finally decided on this Coconut Meringue recipe. Though they take a while to bake, they are quick to throw together and don't require much in the way of ingredients. Also, what is better than a cookie with 0 grams of fat. We really loved the taste, however mine never did get that nice crunch typical of the perfect meringue. It wasn't humid when I made them so the only thing I can think is that I should have left them in the oven a bit longer and maybe even let them dry out in the oven after I turned it off.

Coconut Meringue
Source: Cooking Light, December 2007

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Dash of salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 250°.

Combine cream of tartar, salt, and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add extracts; beat just until blended (do not overbeat). Gently fold in coconut. Drop by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto 2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake at 250° for 1 hour until very lightly browned and almost crisp, switching baking sheets and rotating front to back halfway through baking time. Remove from oven. Cool for 25 minutes (meringues will crisp as they cool). Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon cocoa.

31 meringues (serving size: 1 meringue)

CALORIES 25(14% from fat); FAT 0.4g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g); PROTEIN 0.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 1mg; SODIUM 13mg; FIBER 0.1g; IRON 0.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 4.1g

Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Since the weather here has turned chilly, I have been in the mood to make comfort food. I found this menu from a past issue of Every Day Food. I'm very picky about macaroni and cheese, however, I thought this recipe comes close to a perfect 10. I loved the mix of cheeses and the fact that it was really creamy. I would probably double the sauce next time to make it even creamier. I made the two suggested side dishes of garlic roasted tomatoes and sauteed green beans and mushrooms. Both were superb. The roast tomatoes were very easy and will become a regular side dish on our dinner menus as will the green beans. I had not yet found a green bean recipe that I loved until I tried this one. Next time I make this meal, I will try the apple cinnamon upside down cake which was the recommended dessert.

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

Serves 8.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces Havarti cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces Muenster cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 slices white sandwich bread
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Butter a shallow 4-quart baking dish (oval or 9-by-13-inch rectangle); set aside.
  2. Generously salt boiling water; add pasta. Cook, according to package instructions, until 2 minutes short of al dente. Drain pasta, and return to pot.
  3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium. Transfer 2 tablespoons melted butter to a small bowl; set aside for topping. Add flour and mustard powder to remaining butter in saucepan. Cook, whisking, 1 minute (do not let flour darken). Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove sauce from heat. Gradually whisk in cheeses; add Worcestershire sauce, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add sauce to pasta, and toss to combine; transfer to prepared baking dish.
  5. Place bread in food processor; pulse until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add reserved melted butter, and pulse just to moisten. Scatter crumbs over pasta in baking dish. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.)
  6. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. (If refrigerated, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.) Cool 5 minutes before serving
Sauteed Green Beans with Mushrooms
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

Serves 8
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds green beans (stem ends removed), halved crosswise
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed, halved
  • 2 shallots, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
  1. Fill a large skillet with 1/2 inch water; bring to a boil, and salt generously. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Add green beans to skillet; cover, and steam until crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes (time will depend on size and freshness of green beans). Transfer to ice water to cool; drain and pat dry (if making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day). Wipe skillet dry.
  3. In same skillet, heat butter over medium-high. Add mushrooms and shallots; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned, 8 to 12 minutes more.
  4. Add green beans; cook just to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

4 large beef-steak tomatoes (about 3 lbs), cored and halved crosswise
2 tbsp butter cut into 8 thin slices
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
course salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place tomato halves, cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Dividing evenly top with garlic and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Bake tomatoes until tender about 40-45 minutes.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Larger Than Life Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

I couldn't imagine a better excuse than a holiday to try another one of the amazing desserts from my Pastry Queen Cookbook. This cheesecake was really delicious. Unlike other pumpkin cheesecakes I have had this had a very strong pumpkin spice flavor to it. The praline topping was so delicious. It would be great on many other things. Overall, another hit from my favorite cookbook.

"This is a big, gorgeous cheesecake perfect for the most glamorous holiday feast. The spiced pumpkin-cream filling is topped with a deep brown blanket of praline sauce, and underneath lies a buttery gingersnap crust. Remember to make this dessert in advance. It needs to chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving." Rebecca Rather, from The Pastry Queen

Larger Than Life Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
Recipe: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Ginger Crust
  • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 40 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pumpkin Filling
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Praline Topping
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Crust: Line bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray or Baker's Joy. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed gingersnaps with the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Filling: Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute,until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs,one at a time, beating on medium-high for 20 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; beat on medium speed about 1 minute,until incorporated.

Pour the filling over the crust. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan and set it on the center rack of the oven. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake about 1 hour, until the filling is set and golden brown on top. Cool the cheesecake on a rack about 30 minutes, then chill for several hours or overnight. Remove cheesecake from springform pan and set on a serving dish.

Topping: Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.

Stir together brown sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Boil mixture for about 1 1/2 minutes, adjusting the heat to make sure it does not boil over. Do not stir. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, and pecans. Cool topping at least 15 minutes before pouring over the top of the chilled cheesecake. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. The cheesecake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Yield:14 to 16 servings

Chocolate Pecan Tart

This is another wonderful recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food. It presents beautifully on a holiday table and was delicious as well. Sorry no pictures of my Thanksgiving desserts but I was so focused on getting everything out of the house that I forgot.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Serves 8

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 teaspoons, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 store-bought refrigerated pie crust (not in a pie plate)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough to a 12-inch round, about an inch thick. Wrap dough around rolling pin, and unwrap over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough into bottom and up sides of pan; trim edge of dough.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, light corn syrup, 4 teaspoons melted unsalted butter, and the vanilla. Scatter chocolate evenly over tart shell. Pour filling over chocolate. Arrange pecans on top, as desired. Dot with 2 teaspoons chilled butter.
  3. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is set, 45 to 60 minutes. If pecans are browning too quickly, tent pan with foil. Remove from oven; while still hot, drizzle with bourbon, if desired. Let tart cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poblano Chicken Chowder

One of my favorite things to eat is homemade soup. This Paula Deen recipe was a little time consuming but turned out fantastic. It is a hearty soup and makes a meal all on its own. It pairs nicely with corn bread. In true Paula Deen spirit it does have a stick of butter! The only changes I made were I used jalapenos instead of poblanos as I could not find the poblanos. I also seeded my jalapenos to remove most of the heat. I also omitted the hot sauce because I don't like my dishes too spicy. The soup had a kick as it was from the jalapenos. I've never used chicken bouillon before and when I investigated the ingredients I couldn't find one that I was willing to put in my soup. I finally found one in the organic section of my grocery store. Its called Not-Chick'n. It has no MSG and contains only a few ingredients all of which are organic and natural. I did use heavy cream this time but next time I would probably use half and half to cut the calories a little. I happened to have heavy cream in the house for some holiday baking I am doing. This soup makes a lot. I have two extra containers frozen now. This would be the perfect snow day soup.

Poblano Chicken Chowder
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 to16 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 cup minced garlic
2 to 3 small poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
3 quarts chicken broth
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
3 cups diced (large pieces) grilled chicken
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, poblano peppers, salt, white pepper, cumin, and thyme. Saute for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the chicken bouillon. Add the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chowder is thick and the chicken is heated through. Shortly before the chowder is done, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the flour. Do not allow the mixture to brown! Ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whisking constantly.

When the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid, 1 at a time. Pour the mixture in the skillet into the stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the hot sauce, then the cream, and serve.

Cranberry Banana Oat Bread

I decided to try this recipe because I loved the idea of combining cranberries in banana bread and I had several bananas I needed to use. The texture of this bread was really nice, it released from the pan perfectly. My only complaint about this recipe is that it was not very sweet. Normally, I am not apt to add sugar to a recipe but this one needed a little more. I'm not sure if the addition of some brown sugar or honey would do the trick.

Cranberry Banana Oat Bread

Source: Whole Foods

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups ripe mashed banana pulp (about 3 bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, melted, cooled
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Ingredient Option: replace the margarine with canola oil, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with a small amount of margarine.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk and set aside. Whisk the bananas, eggs and margarine together in a bowl. Add the sugar, cranberries, and lemon juice; mix until blended. Gently stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan, about 1 hour. Turn the bread out onto a cutting board and, using a serrated bread knife slice the bread into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Nutrition Info

Per Serving (94g-wt.): 250 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 5g protein, 42g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 20g sugar), 45mg cholesterol, 380mg sodium

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin Roll

I'm pretty adventuresome in the kitchen and feel like I can conquer most projects. However, for some reason the roll cake has always intimidated me. I tried to make one several years ago and it completely fell apart. I had some leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin waffles so I thought I would try the traditional Libby pumpkin roll cake. I'm proud to say my pumpkin roll was a success! It came out absolutely perfect and was delicious as well. I now look forward to conquering the pumpkin roll cake in my Pastry Queen Cookbook and maybe even a Buche de Noel for Christmas.

Libby's Pumpkin Roll Cake


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)
oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Slow Cooker Braised Sage Chicken and Stuffing

I found this recipe in one of the flyers at Whole Foods. I liked that it was a pretty simple recipe and didn't require lots of ingredients. This recipe turned out really well. I will definitely make it again. This was the first time I put the chicken in the slow cooker frozen and it cooked perfectly. I think I will use that method from now on instead of trying to defrost ahead of time. I used chicken tenderloins instead of thighs but breasts would work well too. I substituted Penzey's poultry seasoning for the fresh sage. I also used the recommend 365 Organic Stuffing. I highly recommend it. It really didn't taste like an instant stuffing. I made the recipe with chicken broth instead of water. You could really dress this stuffing up with apples, etc. I was wanting a simple throw together meal tonight so I made it plain.

Slow Cooker Braised Sage Chicken and Stuffing
Source: Whole Foods

  • 1 organic yellow onion, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 cups Whole Fields™ Organic Petite Carrots
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 clove organic garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 6–8 (1 1/2–1 3/4 pounds) bone-in, skinned chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp 365 Everyday Value™ Paprika
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 package (10-oz) 365 Organic Everyday Value™ Stuffing Mix with Cranberries

Place onion in a lightly greased 6-quart crock pot/slow cooker and top with carrots. Combine broth, wine, garlic and sage and pour over vegetables. Generous season chicken thighs with paprika, salt and pepper and arrange on top of vegetables. Cover and cook on LOW heat setting 8 hours or until chicken and vegetables are tender. Prepare stuffing according to package directions and serve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Every now and then I love having breakfast for dinner. I saw this recipe for pumpkin pie waffles and it sounded like a perfect addition to my menu this week. The recipe did not disappoint. I made the batter ahead so in the evening I could quickly get the waffles made. The waffles were so delicious-they tasted like pumpkin muffins. I topped them with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and dollop of whipped cream. The only change I made to the recipe was to omit the rum.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

These may never replace pumpkin pie at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but they'll give tradition a good race. Like pumpkin pie, they are comforting, custardy and filling. They're made with the same spices used for pumpkin pie along with sour cream for smoothness; the dark rum is there for extra flavor and a little mystery.


5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can use canned
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream and/or maple syrup for serving


Preheat a waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat an oven to 200°F.

Melt the butter; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Using a rubber spatula or handheld electric mixer, mix together well. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. The mixture will be thick and a little lumpy. Don't try to smooth it out; just mix until the ingredients are incorporated.

In another bowl, beat together the milk, sour cream, eggs, rum and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the melted butter.

Whether or not your irons grids are well seasoned or made of a nonstick material, it is best to lightly butter or spray the grids for these waffles because the batter is quite sticky. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

For a Belgian waffle iron, spoon out 2/3 to 3/4 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturers instructions) onto the hot iron. Use a metal spatula or wooden spoon to spread the batter evenly over the grids. Close the lid and bake until golden. If the waffle is hard to remove from the iron, peel it off gently and carefully. Serve immediately or keep the waffles, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while you make the rest.

Serving: Serve these warm and golden, one to a diner, topped with vanilla ice cream and/or maple syrup. They're great with a cup of hot or cold cider. Makes about six 4 1/2-inch square Belgian waffles.

Adapted from Waffles from Morning to Midnight, by Dorie Greenspan (Weldon Owen, 2001) as found on William Sonoma's website).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Steak with Wine Sauce and Potatoes Au Gratin

One of my favorite go to meals is steak and a baked potato. I saw this recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and thought I would try something new. We loved this recipe. As usual with Martha's recipes all the flavors melded perfectly. I used rib eye steaks instead of the flat iron and I omitted the capers from the sauce. The gratin was so easy to make and came out perfect. It would be a great side for entertaining. The goat cheese gives the gratin a really nice tanginess. We will definitely be having this again.

Steak with Wine Sauce and Potatoes Au Gratin
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Serves 4

  • Butter, for baking dish
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3)
  • 4 flatiron or top blade steaks (6 to 8 ounces each and 1 inch thick)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square (2-quart) baking dish; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine cream, goat cheese, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Peel potatoes and slice crosswise 1/8 inch thick; add to cream mixture as you work. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until potatoes are crisp-tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish; using a spatula, press potatoes into cream to cover. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden and potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Fifteen minutes before potatoes are finished baking, heat a large skillet over medium-high. Season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper; cook, 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare (if browning too quickly, reduce heat when cooking second side). Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside. Keep skillet with any browned bits for wine sauce.
  5. Make wine sauce: Add wine to skillet; boil over medium-high heat until syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in mustard. (For a smoother sauce, pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discard any browned bits, and return liquid to skillet.) Stir in capers and any juices from resting steaks; season with salt and pepper. Serve steaks with wine sauce and potato gratin.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homemade Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

I got a KA Pasta Attachment for my birthday and finally decided to try it yesterday. I learned a lot from my first round of pasta making. My pasta was certainly very rustic looking! I used a recipe I found on William Sonoma's website and I had a lot of trouble with the dough. I've since looked at other recipes and I think my dough was too dry. Next time I will make a dough that mixes in the food processor rather than the mixer. Despite the learning curve involved, I can't wait to try my hand at homemade raviolis and more fresh pasta, maybe even spinach pasta! For the sauce recipe, I tried Marcella Hazan's bolognese sauce. I saw lots of rave reviews for this recipe and it involved ingredients I had on hand. Overall, the recipe was good but a bit involved to make timewise. I can't really find any criticisms as it was a good solid meal but I just don't think it was the most amazing sauce I have ever had. I actually have 2 or 3 recipes I like much better.

Fresh Pasta


2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbs. water, plus more as needed


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the all-purpose and semolina flours, salt and olive oil. Beat on low speed just until combined, about 30 seconds.

In a small pitcher or other pourable container, whisk together the eggs and water. With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and beat until the flour has been absorbed into the egg mixture, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer and, using your hands, squeeze a small amount of dough into a ball. It should be moist enough to hold together but not sticky; if it is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into 2 balls. Wrap separately with plastic wrap, then flatten each ball into a disk. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Attach the pasta roller to the electric mixer according to the manufacturers instructions.

Unwrap 1 dough disk and dust lightly with all-purpose flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and no wider than the pasta roller. Roll the dough through the rollers once at the widest setting, then lay the pasta on the work surface and fold it into thirds. Repeat the process 2 more times, rolling out the dough, rolling it through the rollers at the widest setting, and folding it into thirds each time.

Now thin the dough by rolling it through the rollers at the second-to-widest setting. Repeat, setting the rollers one notch narrower each time, until the desired thinness is reached. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and roll out the other dough disk.

Attach a pasta cutter to the mixer according to the manufacturers instructions and cut the pasta into the desired shape. If not cooking the pasta immediately, transfer it to a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Makes about 1 lb. dough.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Recipe: Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce

Makes 2 heaping cups sauce; 4 to 6 servings

- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- 4 tablespoons butter, divided

- ½ cup chopped onion

- 2/3 cup chopped celery

- 2/3 cup chopped carrot

- ¾ pound ground beef chuck

- Salt

- Fresh ground black pepper

- 1 cup whole milk

- Whole nutmeg

- 1 cup dry white wine

- 1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice

- 1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained

- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put oil, 3 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy 3-½-quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating, about 1/8 teaspoon, fresh nutmeg and stir.

4. Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

5. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

6. Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

From "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan