Monday, July 30, 2007

Almond Joy Mousse Pie

I did a lot of cooking this weekend. I actually made this to serve with dinner Saturday night but didn't realize it needed four hours to freeze so we didn't end up eating it until yesterday. This recipe is from Rachael Ray's magazine. I'm not the biggest coconut fan but decided to make this because it looked so good in the picture. It definitely tasted like an almond joy bar. A little goes a long way with this dessert because it is really sweet and really rich. Its a nice dessert to make in the midst of a hot summer.

Almond Joy Mousse Pie
Everyday with Rachael Ray August 2007

1 cup sweetened flake coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds
28 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco Famous
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
One 4-ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Hot fudge sauce, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place the coconut and almonds on opposite sides of a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake, stirring the coconut once or twice, until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Let cool. (Keep the oven on.) Using a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely chopped. Return 1/2 cup chopped nuts to the baking sheet with the coconut and set aside.
2. Pulse the chocolate wafers with the remaining nuts in the food processor to make fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse just until blended. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared springform pan and press into the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the side. Bake for 5 minutes to set, then transfer to a rack to cool.
3. In the top of a double boiler, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt at high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Place over simmering water and beat at high speed until doubled in size, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the reserved nuts and coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Stir the chopped chocolate into the chilled custard. Using the mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks; fold into the custard. Scrape the mixture into the crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
5. Cut the mousse cake into slices and drizzle with hot fudge.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Penne with Beef and Arugula

Tonight I made one of my newest favorite recipes for dinner. I found this recipe in Giada's Everyday Pasta Cookbook. The first time I made it, we took it on a picnic to an outdoor concert and we really enjoyed it. Its great for summer because its easy and light. Tonight I had some tomato I needed to use so I tossed it in as well and it worked really well.

Penne with Beef and Arugula
1 (1-pound) New York strip steak
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chopped arugula

Season the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper, herbs de Provence, and minced garlic. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook steak about 7 minutes per side. Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak. Set aside.

Meanwhile, 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, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and 3/4 cup olive oil. In a large bowl toss the pasta with half of the salad dressing and the reserved pasta water. Add the arugula and steak, more dressing, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Toss, pack for the picnic, or serve.

Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Goat Cheese

I recently tried goat cheese after reading several people rave about it on a cooking board I read. I discovered I actually like goat cheese and more surprisingly my husband did too! I created this recipe after seeing several recipes for chicken stuffed with goat cheese and various other ingredients. After the first time I made this, we declared this recipe a keeper. In the summer when fresh basil is abundant, I like to make my own pesto and keep it frozen in the freezer to have when needed. Last night I served this with Roast Garlic Couscous and Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Lemon Chive Dressing.

Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Goat Cheese

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/4-1/2 cup Homemade Pesto (recipe follows)
goat cheese
extra virgin olive oil

1. Season Chicken Breasts with salt and pepper. I use kosher salt.
2. Spread about 2-3 Tbsp pesto on chicken breast and crumble goat cheese over.
3. Roll chicken breast and tuck ends under.
4. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is done.

Recipe from the Hay Day Country Market Cookbook

2 generous cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
2 large cloves garlic, crushed with side of knife
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 tbsp freshly grated Pecorino Romano

1. Combine basil, garlic, oil and pine nuts in blender or food processor and blend to form a smooth paste. Stir in cheeses.

Sausage Cheese Muffins

I first made this recipe last year when I was cooking for a local non-profit agency. The next day I received a message that these muffins were a hit and everyone wanted the recipe. Since then, these muffins are one of my go-to breakfast recipes. I like to make a batch and then freeze them in individual portions. No need to defrost just throw in the microwave to reheat and breakfast is ready. Its the perfect breakfast on the go. They are also great served at a brunch as they are easy to make and look pretty all piled in a basket. The flavor reminds me of a sausage cheese ball.

Sausage Cheese Muffins

Southern Living October 2006

Prep: 15 min., Bake: 25 min.


1 (1-lb.) package ground pork sausage
3 cups all-purpose baking mix (I use Pioneer Low Fat Baking Mix)
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can condensed cheese soup
3/4 cup water


1. Cook sausage in a large skillet, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and cool.

2. Combine sausage, baking mix, and shredded cheese in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

3. Stir together soup and 3/4 cup water; add to sausage mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into lightly greased muffin pans, filling to top of cups.

4. Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.


Makes 15 muffins

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gourmet BLT

A friend of mine had me over for lunch and served a delicious gourmet BLT. I recreated the sandwich with a few changes and it has become one of my favorite quick dinners or weekend lunches. I serve this with Honey Dijon Kettle Chips and fresh fruit. I'm not a big potato chip eater but I really love the Kettle Chips. Here is the recipe for the sandwich.

Ciabatta Rolls (I get them at our local grocery store)
Bacon (I like the applewood smoked bacon)
Spreadable Brie (sold with the speciality cheeses)
Fresh Ground Pepper

I spread mayo on one side of the bread and the spreadable brie on the other. I then add the cooked bacon, a handful of arugula, sliced avocado and tomato. Season with freshly ground pepper and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce

I found this recipe for Chicken Enchiladas in the May issue of Everyday Food. I served this dish for a Cinco de Mayo party and it was definitely a keeper. I like that the recipe doesn't have that many ingredients but tons of flavor. Its fairly simply to make as well. It just takes planning ahead to roast the chicken and then for the second step of assembling and baking the enchiladas. I substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream. Last night I served this with black beans and lime, a recipe also from Everyday Food, and rice. I only had white rice on hand so that is what I used. For the Cinco de Mayo Party I served this with a Mexican Salad consisting of mixed greens, tomato, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and corn. I didn't serve dessert with this last night but Lime or Mango bars go great. Also, Everday Food has a recipe listed with this meal plan for Mexican Ice Cream Sundaes with Cinnamon Chocolate Sauce that looks delicious. Throw in a Margarita and the meal is good to go.

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce

Serves 6

  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 jars (16 ounces each) medium green salsa
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 12 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely shredded (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place with garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine salsa and cream.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Peel and chop garlic. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, and 1/2 cup salsa mixture.
  3. Stack tortillas flat, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute to soften. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip in salsa mixture, lay flat, and fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture. Roll up and arrange, seam side down, 8 enchiladas lengthwise and 4 crosswise in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining salsa mixture, then cheese.
  4. Bake until cheese is browned and salsa is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes; let rest 10 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.
Black Beans with Lime

Serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add white part of scallions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add beans, chili powder, and 1/4 cup water. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with green part of scallions.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Salsa

Last night I made one of my favorite summer recipes, Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Salsa. I found this recipe in an issue of Food and Wine Magazine a few years ago. The salsa is really versatile and would be great with chicken, pork chops, fish or just with chips. I served this with herb roasted potatoes and roast asparagus. For dessert I made a classic recipe for Hello Dollies given to me by a friend. I varied the recipe for the Hello Dollies a little by adding peanut butter chips with the chocolate chips since I didn't have the full amount needed of chocolate chips. They are easy to make and really tasty. The end result was a nice summer meal with lots of flavor.

Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Salsa

  • Two 3/4-pound pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint strawberries, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 1 cup diced papaya (6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Rub each tenderloin with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. On a plate, mix the parsley, sage and rosemary; add the pork and pat to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the tenderloins and brown over moderate heat, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 145° to 150°, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the strawberries, papaya, cilantro, onion, lime juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt. Carve the meat and serve with the strawberry salsa.
Roast Potatoes

I don't really have a recipe for the roast potatoes. I tossed mine with 2 tbsp oil, kosher salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence and roasted them at 400 for about 45 minutes.
Hello Dollies

1 stick butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 12 oz reg. size bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 can condensed milk

1 package coconut

Melt butter in microwave; pour into cake pan. Spread graham cracker crumbs over butter and press into pan. Add chocolate chips, coconut, pecans and condensed milk.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I recently purchased Giada De Laurentis' cookbook Everyday Pasta. I really enjoy her show and have been working my way through the cookbook. I have already found several favorite recipes including Spinach Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Parmesan Crisps, Tuna, Green Bean and Orzo Salad, Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese, Cheesy Baked Tortellini, and Penne with Beef and Arugula. I've also made several of Giada's recipe from the food network site and they have been delicious too. Unfortunately, the recipe I tried for the Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce was not a keeper. The flavors of the dish were too strong together and the result was a very salty pasta that seemed to taste saltier the more you ate. All in all, this dish is not recommended. I look forward to trying more recipes from the book and hopefully they will be wonderful as the others I have tried were. Here is the recipe:

Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 dried bay leaf
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, minced
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

In a large casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add 1 cup water if the sauce gets too thick. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Place the minced anchovies, and some of their oil in a medium, heavy skillet. Stir over medium heat until the anchovies melt, about 2 minutes. Add the olives, capers, remaining 1/4 tsp pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute until the olives are heated through about 2 minutes. Stir the olive mixture into the sauce and simmer over medium heat until the flavors blend, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season with more salt to taste.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until tender but still firm tot he bite, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the penne to the sauce and toss to coat, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Its all Greek to me!

Tonight's dinner was inspired by the What's for dinner section of the May 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. A lot of what I have learned from cooking I learned from watching Martha Stewart's first television show. I can't think of a time I have ever had a Martha Stewart recipe be anything but delicious. The menu card from the May issue was a Greek Menu. The results were fantastic. The Spanakopita has a great presentation and the filling ingredients taste so fresh. Its not too difficult either. I really liked the dressing for the Greek Salad its a good simple red wine vinaigrette with just the right balance of flavors so not to overpower the salad. The dessert was really refreshing, pretty healthy and the combination of flavors worked nicely. It was a perfect meal for a summer evening and one I definitely would make again. It will be a great meal to entertain with. I used phyllo dough for the first time in making this meal and have to say its not as difficult to work with as I thought. The 4th recipe card called for making a chickpea, mint and parsley spread to serve with pita. Instead, I purchased Athenos Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

Quick Spanakopita
Serves 4

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb baby spinach
1 large egg
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped (I omitted)
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough (each 17 x12), thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add spinach, and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. (Note the directions from the recipe card did not mention draining the water off but I did-I had to drain mine 2-3 times to get the excess out). Let cool slightly. Stir in egg, herbs, feta, salt and pepper.

2. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on parchment-lined baking sheet (cover remaining phyllo with a damp towel) and brush with butter. Repeat twice. Spread spinach mixture in center. Top with 3 more buttered sheets. Fold in sides. Butter remaining 4 sheets; crumple over top. Bake until dark golden, about 40 minutes.

Greek Style Salad
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

For the Salad
12 ounces romaine hearts, leaves separated
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained
1/2 cup peperoncini, drained (I omitted)
1/3 cup caper berries, drained (I omitted)
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 Kirby cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inche pieces
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and crosswise (I omitted-forgot it at the store!)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1. Make the dressing: Whisk together vinegar, salt, and oregano and season with pepper. Add oil in a slow steady stream, whisking until emulsified.

2. Assemble the salad: Arrange lettuce on a platter. Scatter olives, peperonicin, caper berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and feta over top. Drizzle with dressing.

Strawberries with Yogurt and Pistachio
1 large contanier (about 16 oz) Greek yogurt or other plain yogurt (I used Brown Cow)
1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed if desired
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp honey
1/4 cup shelled, unsalted, roasted pistachios, coarsley chopped

Divide yogurt and strawberries among bowls. Drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with pistachios.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

I finally figured out what to do with my remaining surplus of apples-Apple Crisp. Normally, this is a fall dessert for me but I needed something to make with all the apples and I thought it would complement my dinner of steak and baked potatoes. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook. I have made several recipes from this book and all have been delicious and this recipe was no exception. The only thing I'm missing is the vanilla ice cream. I will definitely make this again once fall comes! It will be great for football season.

Apple Crisp

8 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (about 4 pounds)
1 1/2 cups all purpose baking mix, divided
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespooons butter, cut into pieces and divided
Vanilla ice cream

Combine apples, 1/2 cup baking mix, 1/2 cup brown sugar, lemon juice and next three ingredients, tossing to coat. Add 3 tablespoons butter. Spoon into lightly greased 5 quart slow cooker.

Combine remaining 1 cup baking mix and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, cut in remaining 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over apple mixture.

Cover and cook on Low 7 1/2 hours or until apples are tender and topping is golden. Serve with icecream.

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Strawberry Applesauce

I came into about 4 lbs of apples yesterday courtesy of my MIL. I decided to make some applesauce and found this recipe on the food network site. It was really easy (especially considering the apples were already peeled and chopped when I receive them!) and the house smells wonderful while it is cooking. I pureed mine in the food processor because I like a smoother texture. It has a wonderful tart taste to it with just enough sweetness to balance the flavors nicely. I still have another 1-2 lbs of apples left so I'm sure their will be more apple recipes in my blog!

Strawberry Applesauce
Recipe Courtesy of Dave Lieberman

3 pounds McIntosh or other apple of choice (about 9 apples)
10 large frozen strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Peel, core and slice apples 1/4-inch thick. Place apple slices in a large saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until a sauce consistency, about 45 minutes. Use a potato masher, if necessary, to break up any lumps, but leave slightly chunky.

Welcome to my Food Blog

I've been inspired by lots of other blogs I have seen lately, and finally decided to create my own. I love to try new recipes and am always looking for that one perfect recipe to add to my collection.