Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Cheesecake of the Month – December 2016!

December 15, 2016

This month I will be doing a variation on a theme.  I have previously posted a recipe for a chocolate toffee cheesecake, but I’m going to change it up a bit to make a more “festive” holiday version (courtesy of Epicurious.com, thank you).

Christmas Cheesecake with English Toffee

Ingredients
Crust
1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of toasted almonds (chopped)
1/2 cup of English toffee bits
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 Tablespoons of butter (melted)

Filling
4 packages (8 ounce each) of cream cheese
1 cup of brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
8 ounces of chocolate-covered English toffee, diced

Topping
16 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Assorted candies (holiday colored M&Ms, gumdrops, etc.)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the first five ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and stir until evenly moistened.  Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a 10″ springform pan.  Bake the crust for 5 minutes and set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

2. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar in a large bowl until blended.  Beat in the eggs (one at a time).  Add the two extracts.  Pour half of the mixture over the crust; sprinkle the toffee pieces over the batter; pour the remaining mixture over the toffee.  Bake until the edges done but the middle is still jiggly (approximately 55 minutes).  Remove the cheesecake, but keep the oven on.

3. Mix the sour cream, the sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.  Pour the topping over the hot cheesecake and return to the oven to cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and refrigerate overnight.

4. Remove the pan, slice, garnish with the candies, and serve.

Awesome Slaw!

December 11, 2016

I generally a fan of cole slaw despite the fact that the mayonnaise makes it a little less healthy option for consuming cabbage.  I will definitely be a fan of this recipe for slaw that doesn’t require mayonnaise, a win, right?  Well, it may not have mayonnaise, but it does have bacon which probably drops it right down to a category of bad equal to that of mayonnaise.  Alas, what is one to do.  But for all of you bacon lovers out there, here’s another option for you.

Bacon Slaw

Cook six (6) slices of thick-cut bacon in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil; drain the bacon and crumble. To the bacon drippings: add 1/2 sliced red onion, 1/4 cup each of the cider vinegar and the water, 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds.  Mix well then toss with six (6) cups of shredded cabbage; add the bacon and toss.  Enjoy!

Source: www.foodnetwork.com

Seasonal Holiday Tart!

November 29, 2016

If you are looking for something new this holiday season, here is a recipe for an amazing tart (courtesy of Sqirl’s pastry chef, Meadow Ramsey).

Hazelnut-Rosemary Caramel Tort

Ingredients
Pastry
1 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
1-1/2 sticks of cold butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
Ice water

Filling
1-1/2 sticks of butter
1 Tablespoon of chopped rosemary
1-1/2 cup of hazelnuts
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup of brown rice syrup
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons of heavy cream
1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt (for garnish)
Whipped creme fraiche (for garnish/serving)

1.  Make the pastry.  In a food processor, pulse the flour with the confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and fine sea salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Ad the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of ice water and pulse until the pastry just comes together; add another tablespoon of ice water if it seems dry.  Turn the pastry out on to a work surface and pat into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled (about an hour).

2.  On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-inch round.  Ease the round into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it into the corners and up the side.  Trim off any overhang.  Freeze the tart shell for 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights.  Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes before removing the pie weights and parchment; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes longer, until it is lightly browned.  Allow to cool completely.

4.  Make the filling.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat.  Remove from the heat and add the rosemary (allow to steep for 20 minutes).  Strain the butter into a small bowl and let cool.

5.  Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven  until fragrant and golden (the skins should just be starting to split, about 12 minutes or so) .  Let them cool slightly then transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skins; let them cool completely.  Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and spread them in your cooled tart shell.

6.  In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and yolks with the brown sugar, brown rice syrup, honey and fine sea salt.  Gradually whisk in the rosemary butter then whisk in the cream, flour, and vanilla.  Pour the filling into the tart shell and sprinkle the flaky sea salt on the top.  Place the tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the tart for 50 minutes at 375 degrees (until the filling is set at the edge, but slightly jiggly in the center).  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in the refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature (or just slightly chilled) with a dollop of whipped creme fraiche (or plain whipped cream).

Source: the November issue of Food & Wine magazine, p. 98.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving officially became a holiday 153 years ago (President Abraham Lincoln proclamation, October 3, 1863, declaring the last Thursday of November as the holiday).  I know you are curious and just dying to know some of the facts that follow, so sit back and relax, here is a list of some truly trivial Thanksgiving facts . . . Thanksgiving by the numbers:

  • 4 places as well as 11 townships in the U.S. with “Turkey” in their name
    • Turkey Creek village (Louisiana)
    • Turkey city (Texas)
    • Turkey Creek (Arizona)
    • Turkey town (North Carolina)
  • 7 places or townships with “Cranberry” in their name
  • 33 counties, places, and townships with “Plymouth” in their name.
  • 65,975 = the number of grocery stores in the U.S. (2014)
  • 3,109 = the number of bakeries in the U.S. (2014)
  • 2,798 = the number of fruits and vegetables markets in the U.S. (2014)
  • 243 million = the number of turkeys raised in the U.S. (2016)
    • 44 million (Minnesota)
    • 33 million (North Carolina)
    • 26 million (Arkansas)
    • 20 million (Indiana)
    • 19.7 million (Missouri)
    • 17 million (Virginia)
  • $19.3 million = value of live turkeys imported to the U.S. — mostly from Canada (2015)
  • 850 million pounds = cranberries produced in the U.S.  — 521 million in Wisconsin (2016)
  • 3.1 billion pounds = sweet potatoes produced in the U.S. (2015)

Source: U.S. Census, https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff19.html

Do You Know Your Herbs?

November 17, 2016

Herbs are essential to creating culinary masterpieces.  There are certain ones that no kitchen should be without.  Here is a handy infographic that shows you the herbs and how best to utilize them in your cooking.   Bon appetit!

Herb Guide To Cooking

 

Herb Guide To Cooking [Infographic] by the team at NeoMam

Eat More Chicken!

November 1, 2016

Here’s a recipe that will make it easy to abide by the Chick-Fil-A slogan to “eat more chicken.”

Chicken with a Mustard/Bacon Sauce

Ingredients
1/3 cup of Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
8 strips of bacon, uncooked and chopped
1 cup of chopped onion
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
3 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
1-1/2 cups of chicken broth

Directions
1. Combine the mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Spread mixture evenly over both sides of the breasts and set aside.

2.  In a large skillet, cook the chopped bacon on medium-high heat until it starts to brown.  Remove the bacon to a plate.  Add your chopped onion to the bacon grease and cook until softened.  Remove from the pan.

3.  Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to the hot skillet and cook the mustard-smeared chicken on medium heat for about 1-1/2 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken (it won’t be done, but will continue to cook in a later phase of the recipe).

4.  Add the chicken broth to the skillet and scrape the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Add back the bacon and the onions and mix well.  Add the chicken breasts back to the skillet and reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for about 15-20 minutes (turning the chicken once), or until the chicken breasts are fully cooked.

Serve with wild rice and your choice of vegetable (I use my carrots au gratin recipe and freshly steamed broccoli).

Not Your Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup!

October 18, 2016

Chicken Parmesan Soup

Ingredients
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
14-1/2 ounces of crushed tomatoes
½ pound of raw chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
3 cups of chicken broth
½ cup of white onion, chopped
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons of fresh oregano, chopped
1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
4 ounces of uncooked gemelli or penne pasta
Fresh basil or parsley, skinless (for the garnish)

Directions
1. In the slow cooker, stir together the garlic, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, onion, cheese, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Cook on high for 3-1/2 hours or on low for 7 hours.

2. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and coarsely shred them; return them to the slow cooker; stir in the pasta. Cook on high for 30 minutes longer or until the pasta is cooked al dente.

3. Serve garnished with more Parmesan cheese and chopped basil or parsley.

Cheesecake of the Month – October 2016!

October 15, 2016

Here’s a new recipe that I will be trying out this week that was forwarded to me by a friend (thank you Justin).  I’m sure it will be just as delicious as it looks! (And, super easy to make!)  I may have to make these for next week’s event . . .

Snickers® Cheesecake

This visual “how to” video has been circulating on facebook . . . https://www.facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty/videos/1810535682532406/

Or, if you prefer the printed word (an actual recipe) over a video representation, check out an actual recipe at: http://www.handletheheat.com/snickers-cheesecake/

99 Great Ways to Save (Part 6)!

October 14, 2016

In the July /August issue of the AARP Bulletin, several experts offer tips and tricks that will help you save money in a variety of categories: travel, technology, home, finance, style, food, fun, getting there, health, and entertainment.  Part 6 will be the food category (tips courtesy of Joe Randall [founder of Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School], Chef Brendan Walsh [dean of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America], and David Pogue [founder of Yahoo Tech and author of Pogue’s Basics]).

53. Be your own butcher (boneless costs more).
54. Avoid the impulse to overbuy.
55. Buy spices in small quantities.
56. Extend the life of fresh herbs (wrap in moist paper towel, seal in plastic bag).
57. Cook under pressure.
58. Use all your food (plan meals to use leftovers).
59. Freeze flavor (garlic, ginger, and lemons can be frozen for later).
60. Revive old bread (if stale, wet crust, then bake 300 for 6-12 minutes).
61. Revive wilted greens (soak in lukewarm H2O for 30 minutes, rinse with cold H2O).

Source: AARP Bulletin, July/August 2016, p. 26.

Soup-er Recipe!

October 4, 2016

I’m a huge fan of tomato soup (especially tomato basil) and ran across this recipe that sounds positively delicious.  And with the approach of cooler fall temperatures, a hearty soup recipe is always good to have on hand.

Tomato Basil Soup with Cheese Tortellini

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
48 ounces of chicken broth
24 ounces of marinara sauce
¾ cup of fresh basil, chopped (3/4 ounce package basil)
16 ounces of fresh or frozen cheese tortellini

Directions
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots (or onions), season with the salt and the pepper and sauté until tender (about 3-4 minutes).  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds.  Add the chicken broth, the marinara sauce, and the fresh basil and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Carefully add the tortellini to the boiling soup and cover.  Reduce the heat to medium  and cook until tender (about 10 minutes).  Serve with crostini or cheese toast.

Note: you may need to add more chicken broth when reheating – tortellini will absorb some of the broth as the soup cooks.