Sunday, December 18, 2011


Classic Tiramisu with Sponge Cake & Zabaglione

1 c milk
1/4 c butter
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Grease & flour 9x13 pan.

In small saucepan, combine milk & butter. Heat on low just until butter melts, remove from heat & set aside to cool slightly.

In small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder & salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs on medium high speed for 4 minutes. Add sugar & continue beating another 5 minutes until light. Turn mixer to low speed & add vanilla, mixing until just combined. Add dry ingredients & blend on low speed until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 35-40 minutes until cake is lightly browned & springs back when touched in center (or tests clean). Remove from oven to cool on wire rack; loosen edges by drawing a sharp knife around. Allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool completely.

1 c. espresso (or other strong coffee)
1 TBS raw cane sugar (may substitute granulated)

Brew espresso, add sugar & stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

1 lb (2 tubs) mascarpone cheese (room temperature)

1 & 1/2 c whipping cream

4 large egg yolks
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c Marsala (or Tawny Port)

2 TBS Dutch cocoa powder

Turn the mascarpone into a large mixing bowl; mash until creamy.
Pour whipping cream into medium glass bowl & place in refrigerator to chill; place metal beaters in freezer for 10 minutes, then transfer to fridge to keep cold.

Put 2 inches of water in sauce pan & bring to a boil. Place yolks in small heat proof mixing bowl (one that will fit as an insert into the saucepan without touching the water level); whisk until light & fluffy. Add sugar & whisk to combine. Add Marsala & whisk well. Place bowl over simmering water & whisk constantly until custard mixture thickens. Do not allow to come to a boil! Remove from heat & whisk another minute. Allow to cool slightly while whipping the cream.

Whip the chilled cream using the chilled beaters. Do not overbeat or allow cream to "curdle".

Add the custard to the mascarpone & whisk until smooth. Gently fold the whipped cream into the custard mixture just until combined & smooth.

Slice the cooled Sponge Cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Place one layer in the bottom of a clean 9x13 pan. Brush generously with 1/3-1/2 the coffee glaze. Cake should be moist, but not soaked. Evenly spoon 1/2 the zabaglione cream over the bottom layer; spread to smooth. Repeat with remaining cake layer & zabaglione.

Place cocoa powder in mesh strainer; tap gently to sprinkle lightly over top of Tiramisu.

Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pan de Muerto (Mexican Dead Bread)

6 c. unbleached flour, divided (2 c. & 4 c.)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tsp. anise seed
1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/2 c. 1% milk
1/2 c. warm water

4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tsp. orange zest

1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 TBS. orange zest

raw sugar

Combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large ceramic mixing bowl. Mix well with wooden spoon until combined. Make a well in the center.

In medium saucepan, heat the milk and the butter together until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat and stir in the warm water. The mixture should be 110 degrees F; stir to cool if necessary until desired temperature is reached.

Pour the warm milk mixture into the center of the dry ingredients, stirring well with wooden spoon to blend. Add the beaten eggs and orange zest, beating until well combined. Add 1 c. cup of flour, stirring to blend. Continue to add additional flour a cup at a time until soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic; adding more flour as necessary.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, flipping once to make sure all surfaces are greased. Cover with greased plastic wrap & cotton towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size; about 1-1 1/2 hours. Punch the dough down. Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time, shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top. Place dough onto greased baking sheet, loosely cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise again in warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake breads for about 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown & "hollow" sounding when thumped. Remove to wire racks and let cool slightly.

Combine all glaze ingredients in micro-proof measuring cup. Heat for 2 minutes, then stir. Heat an additional minute or two until all sugar is dissolved. Brush glaze over breads. Immediately sprinkle with raw sugar. Cool completely & allow glaze to harden before storing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Cocoa Brownies

3 large eggs
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil*

1/2 c. Dutch process cocoa powder
1 & 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp sea salt

powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with olive oil cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment to fit just the bottom of the pan; insert & spray well.

In a large ceramic mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until thick. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at at time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy. Add vanilla & stir in completely.

Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the egg mixture while steadily whisking to incorporate.

Add the cocoa, flour & salt to the egg mixture, stirring gently just until moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake 28-32 minutes until some small crumbs cling to tester & batter is no longer "wet".

Remove from oven & let cool on wire rack 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely before cutting.

*Experiment with infused olive oil such as Blood Orange or Chili Pepper for Brownies with more depth & flavor.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

2 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. long grain wild rice
1/2 c. long grain brown rice

6 TBS butter (3/4 stick)

1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. baby carrots, thinly sliced
1 c. diced celery

1/2 c. unbleached flour
6 c. organic chicken broth
1 c. diced cooked chicken

1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 c. Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine

1 c. milk

Combine water & rice in 2 1/2 qt. saucepan; bring to a boil over medium high heat. When water boils, immediately reduce heat to simmer & cook rice for 35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat when done.

While rice cooks, melt butter in 4 quart stock pot over medium heat. When melted, add onion, garlic, carrots & celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables & stir until all lumps have disappeared. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Gradually stir in chicken broth, stirring constantly, scraping bottom well. Raise liquid just to a boil. Quickly stir in chicken & cooked rice; reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in seasonings. Cook partially covered until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in wine & cook an additional 5 minutes.

Gradually stir in the milk, continue to heat until the soup is thick & heated through.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Verde

2 lbs tomatillos
7 garlic cloves, separated but with skin intact

2 jalapenos, seeded & diced
1 serrano chile, seeded & chopped

2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 lbs lean pork, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS fresh oregano, torn into small pieces
1-1/2 c. organic chicken stock
1/2 tsp cumin
sea salt to taste

1 lb small red potatoes, cut into 1/2 pieces

Preheat broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down on foil-lined baking sheet. Toss unpeeled garlic cloves randomly among tomatillos. Place baking sheet under broiler for about 6-8 minutes until the tomatillo skins are lightly blackened & garlic is fragrant. Remove from oven; set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins by cutting off stem end & gently squeezing clove out of paper. Place skinned garlic, tomatillos (skins intact) & peppers in large food processor bowl. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped & blended into a smooth sauce.

Heat olive oil in 4 qt Dutch oven or other large saucepan; add pork & brown well on all sides. Add the onion & garlic & cook until onion is translucent. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Pour in tomatillo sauce & stir to blend. Add chicken stock, oregano & cumin, stir until thoroughly blended. Bring mixture to a simmer; cover & reduce heat. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Stir in potatoes & cook 1/2 hour more or until potatoes are tender.

Serve with warmed tortillas & Mexican Rice.

Note: You could easily substitute cut up chicken breasts for the pork

Friday, September 9, 2011


2 medium eggplants
olive oil cooking spray

2 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fresh lemon, sliced very thin

2 TBS fresh oregano, chopped
3 TBS fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb extra lean ground beef

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1-30oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained well
4 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
sea salt, to taste

8 oz fresh goat's milk feta, crumbled
8 oz freshly grated Parmesan

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in 4 qt Dutch oven or heavy saucepan; add onion, garlic & lemon slices. Saute until soft & fragrant. Stir in oregano & parsley; saute 2 minutes more. Add lamb & ground beef, stirring to break up; cook until no longer pink. Add cinnamon & cloves; stir to combine. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste & red wine. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often, until sauce thickens. Salt to taste.

As sauce simmers, prepare eggplant.
Preheat oven to 375; wash & thoroughly dry eggplant. Slice into 1/4 inch slices. Spray large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray; place eggplant on sheet & spray generously. Bake for 6 minutes; turn eggplant pieces & bake for another 6 minutes. Remove from oven.

Reduce oven temperature to 350.
Spoon 1/2 c. meat sauce into bottom of 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with a single layer of eggplant slices, tightly placed. Spread half or the remaining meat sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle with 4 oz of the feta & 4 oz of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden. Remove from oven & let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Hazelnut Olive Oil Shortbreads

2 c. toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
2-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil*
2 large eggs, beaten until frothy
1 TBS freshly grated orange zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine toasted hazelnuts, flour & baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, olive oil, eggs, orange zest & vanilla on low speed until well moistened. Increase to medium speed & mix an additional minute. Add the dry ingredients & mix on low until just combined & dough sticks together.

Spread 2 sheets of plastic wrap on counter; divide dough in half & form into 2 logs about 10 inches by 2 inches. Wrap tightly & place in freezer for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Line large baking sheet with baking parchment.

Remove one dough log from freezer; unwrap & slice into 1/4 inches slices. Place on prepared parchment & bake for 11 minutes until dry but not brown. Careful to not overbake. Remove to wire racks to cool; repeat with remaining log (or keep frozen for up to one month for later use.)

Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

These are perfect after a heavy meal with a cup of coffee or nice glass of red wine.

*Or use orange-infused olive oil if you have it available for a stronger orange flavor.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Southwest Stir Fry

2 TBS olive oil

1.25 lb. nice looking steak (top, sirloin, etc), sliced against grain into fajita-size pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, finely sliced

1 red pepper, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced

2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 can red beans, rinsed & drained

1 lime, halved


shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
Cholula hot sauce

Heat olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add steak & cook until just slightly pink. Add garlic, green onions & both peppers; saute until fragrant & peppers are just starting to soften. Stir in tomatoes & beans & heat through. Squeeze lime over meat & vegetable mixture & cook 2-3 minutes more.

Warm tortillas.

Serve with compliments.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Savory Pesto Appetizer Cheesecakes

1/4 c dry bread crumbs
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 - 8 oz package Neufchatel (or light cream cheese)
1/2 c ricotta cheese
3/4 c shredded 5 cheese Italian blend
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large egg

prepared pesto sauce*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with Parmesan. Spray 6 4-inch tarlet pans with non-stick cooking spray. Divide crumb mixture among pans & shake to evenly coat bottoms.

Using an electric mixer, beat Neufchatel, ricotta, 5-cheese blend & pepper in a large bowl until light. Add egg, beating until well blended. Gently spoon into prepared pans, smoothing evenly. Drop 3 teaspoons of pesto onto batter; swirl through the batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.

Place tartlet pans on a baking sheet & place in preheated oven.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a bit of cheesecake on it, about 20 minutes. (Be careful not to over-bake it until it tests clean.) Transfer to rack and cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Gently remove cheesecakes from pan (flip onto small plate, then invert back onto serving plate).

Serve with sliced baguette or flatbread crisps.

*I used Traditional Basil pesto in 3 cheesecakes & Fire-roasted Tomato pesto in the other 3 for variety.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Pesto

1-15.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
1/2 c lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place drained tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic, balsamic vinegar & red pepper in small bowl of food processor (or blender). Pulse until smooth. Drizzle in oil & continue to pulse until well combined. Add Parmesan & pulse until smooth.

Use as you would any other pesto sauce.

Makes about 1 & 1/2 cups.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Paella de Pollo (Spanish Chicken & Rice)

2 TBS olive oil
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into large bite size pieces

3 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red Bell pepper, chopped

3 oz Sangria*

1 & 1/2 c. paella rice (or substitute medium grain white rice)
2 & 1/2 c. good quality chicken broth, warmed
1/2 tsp. saffron
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. dry rosemary (or 2 TBS fresh)

2 small zucchini, cut into 1 & 1/2 inch thin strips

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in heavy skillet. Add chicken pieces & cook until done & beginning to brown. Remove chicken to bowl & cover to keep warm.

Heat 3 TBS olive oil in paella pan or large Dutch oven. Add onion & saute for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic & red pepper & continue to saute for an additional 3 minutes. Pour in the Sangria & cook for 1 minute more; add rice & cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that rice does not stick. Pour in the chicken broth; add the chicken, saffron, turmeric & rosemary. Stir to combine. Cover & lightly simmer mixture over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Arrange zucchini over top of rice mixture, cover, & simmer an additional 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir well before serving.

*Tempranillo or other dry red wine may be used in place of Sangria

Sangrita Gazpacho

1 green Bell pepper, seeded & sliced
1 serrano pepper, seeded & chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled & sliced
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, stem end removed, sliced
1 large (22 oz) can petite diced tomatoes,undrained
4 oz. organic extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. coarse sea salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Cholula hot sauce

cold water

Combine all ingredients in large food processor bowl & puree thoroughly. Add cold water as needed to thin soup to desired consistency. Place in large ceramic mixing bowl & chill for several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Serve soup with small bowls of chopped tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced green onion & croutons for guests to garnish as desired.

Catalan Cream

(Creme Brulee's lighter Spanish cousin)

1 & 3/4 c. 1% milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

6 medium egg yolks
2 TBS cornstarch
1 & 1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS orange juice


Combine milk, cinnamon & vanilla in heavy medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat when mixture boils.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar & orange juice together in small ceramic mixing bowl until the mixture is creamy.

Gradually pour yolk mixture into milk, whisking continuously. Cook over medium low heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Do not allow mixture to boil.

Immediately pour into 6 small (individual serving size) ramekins. Allow to cool & refrigerate for several hours.

To serve: Sprinkle 2 tsp granulated sugar evenly over each cream. Working with 1 custard at a time, hold kitchen torch so that flame is 2 inches above surface. Direct flame so that sugar melts and caramelizes evenly, about 2 minutes.

Sangria Citricos (Citrus Sangria)

1 lime
1 Clementine

1 bottle dry red table wine (ie. Spanish Quarter Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo or other Tempranillo)
1/2 c. Finlandia Grapefruit vodka
1 c. lemonade

Wash fruits well, slice into 1/8 inch rounds, discarding ends. Reserve some of the slices for garnish & place remaining slices in glass pitcher. Pour wine, vodka & lemonade over fruit; stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Cut reserved fruit slices in half; place a piece of each in large wine glasses. Add Sangria mix.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Caprese Skewers (Fresh Caprese Salad on a Stick!)

1 pt. grape tomatoes
1 pint fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, rinsed & drained
wooden toothpicks
5 large fresh basil leaves, cut into very fine strips

4 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette

Rinse tomatoes well & dry thoroughly. Cut tomatoes in half (not lenghtwise; stem end should be on top of one piece).

Carefully thread 1 tomato half, 1 ball of cheese, and the other tomato half onto a toothpick, leaving a long end on one side & very little pick showing on the other. Place skewers decoratively around a shallow small serving dish; distribute basil evenly over the skewers

Drizzle vinaigrette over skewers; lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least one hour to allow flavors to meld.

Note: 1 - 8 oz pkg fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2-inch cubes, may be substituted.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta

Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
4 oz. sun dried tomatoes in Italian herbed oil
3/4 c. organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until creamy.

1.25 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 TBS oil from sun dried tomatoes

1/4 c. red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 c. chicken broth, warmed
4 oz. sun dried tomatoes, julienned
2 c. fresh baby spinach, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, sliced into 1/8 inch strips

1 c. milk

3/4 c. shredded Italian 5 cheese blend

1 lb. farfelle (bow tie) or penne pasta, cooked al dente according to package

Rinse chicken breasts; place in medium non-metal bowl. Pour Vinaigrette over, turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator & allow to marinate at least 2 hours, up to 8.

Remove chicken from marinade (discard) & dice into bite sized pieces.

Heat oil from sun dried tomatoes in 4 qt Dutch Oven or large saucepan over medium high heat. Add chicken & cook until no longer pink. Stir in red onion & garlic & cook 3 minutes or until onion starts to soften.

Pour in warmed chicken broth & bring just to simmer. Add sun dried tomatoes & cook 3 minutes more. Add spinach & fresh basil & cook, stirring gently, until spinach begins to wilt. Pour in milk, stirring well to incorporate. Bring just to a simmer; quickly stir in shredded cheese blend until melted. Simmer gently until sauce thickens slightly, stirring often.

Add half of cooked pasta to sauce, stirring well to blend. Continue adding pasta until desired proportions are reached.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oven Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus, thin stalks, about 1 lb.
2-3 TBS olive oil
coarse ground sea salt, to taste
fresh ground tri-color blend peppercorns, to taste
1 large clove garlic, minced

Place oven rack on highest position in oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil.

Thoroughly wash asparagus; cut off bottom 2 inches of stalks. Spread on paper towels & pat completely dry.

Spread the asparagus in a single layer on prepared sheet. Brush olive oil evenly over the asparagus. Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper; scatter minced garlic on top.

Place baking sheet on high rack; roast the asparagus for about 12-15 minutes until lightly brown & tender. Remove to serving plate; serve immediately.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fresh Mango Salsa

1 large ripe mango; peeled, seeded & diced small
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 small fresh serrano peppers; seeded & finely chopped
3 TBS orange juice
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
(1 tsp chopped cilantro if desired)

In a medium glass bowl, gently combine mango, red onion, serrano peppers, orange juice, and lemon juice. (Stir in cilantro if desired.)

Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

Crustless Florentine Quiche

4 eggs
1 c. 1% milk
fresh ground pepper

1 whole wheat tortilla

1 1/2 c. shredded 5 Cheese Italian Blend

2 TBS olive oil
2 c. fresh baby spinach, stems removed, sliced into 1/4" strips
4 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425.

Grease bottom & sides of shallow 8" glass pie plate. Place whole wheat tortilla in bottom of pie plate. Scatter cheese evenly over the tortilla.

In large mixing bowl, combine milk, eggs and freshly ground pepper (1/4 - 1/2 tsp, to taste); using whisk or fork, whip until light & frothy.

In medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add spinach & green onion & saute just until spinach wilts. Carefully spoon over cheese in lined pie plate.

Gently pour egg mixture over cheese & spinach.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to 350; bake another 30 minutes, until knife inserted in center tests clean. Remove from oven; allow to set 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuscan Garlic Chicken in Parmesan Wine Sauce

2 TBS olive oil
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced

1 TBS flour
1/2 tsp fresh ground pink peppercorns
salt to taste
1/2 c. white wine (Sauvingnon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
2 c. half & half

1 c. baby spinach, stemmed & sliced into 1/8 inch strips

1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (not the stuff in the containers!)

3 TBS fresh basil, stemmed & sliced into 1/8 inch strips (do NOT substitute dried basil, just omit if you do not have any fresh basil on hand)

1 lb Farfelle (bowtie) pasta, cooked according to package directions

Heat olive oil in a Dutch Oven or heavy 3 qt. sauce pan over medium heat; add diced chicken and saute until no longer pink. Add onion & garlic and saute until onion becomes translucent. Add red pepper & saute an additional 2 minutes.

Sprinkle flour, pepper & salt over chicken/vegetable mixture; stir to combine. Pour in wine and half & half and bring just to a boil, stirring often. When sauce thickens, stir in spinach & cook until wilted. Stir in Parmesan cheese until well combined & thick. Remove from heat & stir in basil.

Add 1/2 of the cooked pasta cooked pasta to sauce, stirring well to coat. Continue to add pasta until desired ratio of sauce to pasta is reached. (1 lb is too much for my taste, I reserve part of the pasta & add pesto sauce for quick lunch leftovers.)

Serve with additional fresh grated Parmesan.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mini Vanilla Bean Scones

Inspired by Starbucks (& the fact that the nearest one is a 20 minute drive!)

3/4 c. whipping cream
1/2 Madagascar Vanilla Bean Pod, split

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 & 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
8 TBS (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/4 c. granulated sugar (use 1/3 c for slightly sweeter scones)

Heat oven to 425.

In micro-proof measuring cup, scrape vanilla seeds from the pod into the whipping cream; blend well. Heat in microwave until just warm. (40 seconds in mine). Set aside & allow to cool. When cooled, add vanilla extract & stir to combine.

In large mixing bowl, combine flour & baking powder into large bowl; mix well using fork.

Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like fine granules. Add sugar, toss to mix.

Form well in center of flour mixture. Add vanilla whipping cream and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Form dough into a ball, put on lightly floured board, and give 10 to 12 kneads. Form dough into even "log" shape.

To make triangular scones, cut dough "log" into 6 even pieces. Knead each lightly into a ball and turn smooth side up. Pat into a 6 inch circle, cut into 6 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet-slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft sides.

Bake 9 minutes. Remove to wire rack immediately; cover loosely with clean dish towel or cloth napkin and cool completely.

3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 TBS whipping cream (more if needed)

Mix all glaze ingredients until smooth. Set scones on wire rack over wax paper; spoon glaze over each, allowing to drip down sides to cover.

Allow glaze to harden (set in fridge to speed this step up). Store in airtight containers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Triple Chocolate Irish Whiskey Cake

Chocolate Cake
2 & 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (2.5 blocks)

3/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 & 1/4 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 & 1/3 c. water

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Melt the chocolate in microwave. Cool slightly.

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla in large mixing bowl until light & fluffy. Add eggs & cooled chocolate; blend well. Mix flour & baking soda together in small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with water in two batches each.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes for round pans, or until center tests clean. Remove from oven, cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove 8 inch rounds from pans & cool completely.

Chocolate Mousse
2 large egg yolks

1/4 c. sugar

8 oz. whipping cream

3 oz. premium 100% Cacao unsweetened chocolate baking bar, broken into pieces

In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar & mix in well.

In small heavy saucepan, heat 4 oz (1/2 c.) whipping cream over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Gradually pour half the cream into the egg mixture, mix until blended & pour back into remaining cream in the saucepan.

Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & let stand for 8 minutes. Add chocolate & stir until completely melted.

Place in refrigerator (NOT freezer) just until chilled, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chill small mixing bowl & beaters; pour in remaining 4 oz (1/2 c.) of whipping cream & beat on high until stiff. Gently fold into chilled chocolate mixture.

Chocolate Ganache
8 oz (1 c.) whipping cream

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tsp Irish Whiskey

In small saucepan, heat whipping cream on medium until very hot but not boiling. Immediately stir in chocolate chips & whiskey; stir constantly until completely melted. Mixture should look glossy.

Place in refrigerator to cool, stirring frequently until glossy & well thickened.

Whiskey Glaze
1/4 c. sugar
3 TBS Irish Whiskey
1 TBS water

In micro-proof measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until hot. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

To assemble cake:
Place one 8-inch layer on cake plate. Brush generously with half of whiskey glaze. Leave remaining layer on cooling rack & brush with remaining glaze. Allow to soak in completely.

Spread Chocolate Mousse evenly on the cake layer on plate, leaving 1/8 inch around edges for spreading. Gently place remaining layer on top of mousse.

With butter knife, spread Chocolate Ganache evenly over top & sides of cake, starting with the top of the cake & doing sides next.

Store any leftover cake in refrigerator.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nonna's Italian Sesame Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar

1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light. Beat in egg & vanilla until well blended.

In small bowl, combine flour & baking powder; add to butter mixture & mix on low speed until well blended. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

Pinch off pieces of dough & roll into small logs. Dip in milk, then roll in sesame seeds. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 15 - 18 minutes or until bottom and sides of cookies are lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*These are great with coffee or a nice glass of dry red wine!

**"Nonna" is fictional, these are my own creation based on the wonderful Italian cookies I enjoy that come from a delightful bakery on Brady Street :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pulled Chicken

3 TBS olive oil
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large onion, quartered & sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 celery stalk cut into 6 pieces
1/2 c. whole baby carrots
1 TBS coarse sea salt

4 c. chicken broth, warmed

Heat oil in large Dutch oven/cast iron pot; add chicken breasts & cook, turning often, until all sides are seared. Add onions, garlic & salt and cook until onions just begin to look transparent.

Pour warmed broth over chicken mixture; heat to boiling. Add celery pieces & carrots. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover & simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 3 hours. Add more broth if necessary to keep meat evenly covered.

Turn off heat; remove chicken one piece at a time. Shred (you should be able to just pull the meat apart) & place in large mixing bowl. Pour enough of the cooking broth over the shredded meat to keep it moist.

Serve with warmed tortillas, shredded Monterey Jack cheese & green sauce.

For Pulled Barbecued Chicken, add 1/2 c. of your favorite BBQ sauce to the Chicken broth & omit the celery & carrots.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Basic Meatballs (Oven baked)

1.5 lb. extra lean ground beef (sirloin, or other >15% fat)
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan & Romano cheese blend
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan/Romano blend, basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, ground pepper & egg using hands until well blended. Form into 3/4 inch size meatballs; place on large ungreased cookie pan. Bake for 12 - 17 minutes, until no longer pink.

Add to your favorite pasta sauce, soup or freeze for later use.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Key Lime Pie Bars

2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. butter, softened (10 & 2/3 TBS)

1 c. sugar
4 eggs
4 TBS. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. fresh grated lime peel
1 TBS. fresh lemon juice
3 TBS. key lime juice (fresh or bottled Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice) or substitute regular lime
3 drops green food coloring

powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350.

For crust, combine all "crust" ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping sides down often, until the mixture resembles fine sand, 1 - 2 minutes. Press evenly on bottom of ungreased 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

Do not wash mixing bowl.

Combine lemon juice, lime juice & food coloring in small bowl to blend colors.

For Filling, in same mixing bowl used for crust, combine all filling ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Increase speed to medium & beat for 2 minutes, scraping sides often. Pour over hot crust. Place pan back in oven & continue to bake for 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown.

Remove to cooling rack. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Cut into bars. Refrigerate any uneaten bars.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spiedini (Stuffed Italian Beef Rolls)

1.25 lbs beef sirloin sandwich thins

2 TBS olive oil
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS dry red wine

1 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan & Romano cheese blend
2 TBS parsley
2 tsp dried basil (or 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped)
fresh ground pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

2 c. shredded 5 cheese Italian blend

6 inch bamboo skewers

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking pan with foil & place rack inside.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet; add onion and garlic & saute until tender. Add wine and continue to saute until wine is evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take one sandwich thin, dip in beaten egg, and dredge in bread crumbs.

In center of breaded meat, spoon 1 tsp onion mix, spreading evenly lengthwise. Top evenly with 1 TBS of shredded 5 cheese blend. Roll meat up tightly and thread onto bamboo skewers. Repeat with remaining thins, using 3 pieces of meat per skewer, spacing evenly with at least 1/4 inch in between. Place on rack in prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven 40-45 minutes until no longer pink. The spiedini may also be grilled or broiled.

Capellini Pomodoro (Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce)

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced

2 - 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes with juice

coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
10 large basil leaves, sliced into thin strips

12 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan, add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent and just starting to caramelize. Stir in the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes

Stir in the tomatoes & liquid, simmer on medium heat for 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced & thickened.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the basil leaves.

Let the sauce sit for a few minutes, then pour over cooked pasta, stirring well to incorporate.

Serve immediately & top with shredded 5 cheese Italian blend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake

2 TBS butter, softened
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

2 c. all purpose flour (or 1 c. each all purpose & whole wheat)
2 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. milk

1 & 1/2 c. fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Thoroughly grease 8x8 inch baking pan.

In small mixing bowl, combine 2 TBS butter, 1/4 c. flour, oats, brown sugar & cinnamon; blend with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine 2 c. flour & baking powder. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat 1/2 c. butter & sugar until light. Add egg & vanilla, beating well until combined. Add flour & milk alternately, beating until smooth after each addition.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan; scatter blueberries evenly. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over blueberries & batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until center tests clean.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sukiyaki Beef

2 TBS olive oil

1.5 sirloin, cut into very thin strips
1 large onion, chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 c. baby carrots, thinly sliced

1 c. beef or vegetable stock
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. mirin

2 TBS cornstarch
1/4 water

Japanese Rice Noodles, prepared according to package directions.

Heat oil in 4 qt Dutch oven; add beef slices & sear until browned. Add onions & carrots; stir fry 5 minutes. Combine stock, soy sauce & mirin; pour over beef & vegetables. Bring to simmer & cook for 10 minutes. Stir cornstarch into water until smooth, add, stirring well until blended. Simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened. Immediately add cooked rice noodles, stir well to combine & serve.