Friday, November 26, 2010

A Chile & A Spoon Recipe Challenge

Yes, I'm doing another recipe challenge. I can't help it...I enjoyed doing the last one so much and the people at Marxfoods are great to work with.

The Challenge: Create an original recipe using at least one of  six types of chili peppers provided by Marxfoods. The only other stipulation is that the dish must be something typically eaten with a spoon.

The Peppers: The six types of dried Chilies included in my mystery box were Cascabel, Tepin, Thai, Smoked Serrano and Puya.

Step One: Sample the peppers.  Yes, I tried every one and I'm glad I did because they were all so very different in taste and in heat level.

Step Two: Coming up with an idea.  After only a small sample the Smoked Serrano had me hooked. I knew that was the chili I was going to focus on.  The smell reminded me of bacon so my initial thought was breakfast...I was leaning toward oatmeal.  After much trial and error and some negative feedback from friends I decided to go with something more traditional.

Step Three: The creation:  Creamy Carrot & Cannellini Bean Soup with Smoked Serrano Chili Oil Drizzle

Creamy Carrot & Cannellini Bean Soup with Smoked Serrano Chili Oil Drizzle

1 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, diced
2 Tbs fresh Rosemary, minced
1 Tbs fresh Oregano, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Add oil to skillet and saute garlic until golden. Add carrots and herbs and cook until soft. When almost soft make a well in center of pan and add tomato paste. Cook a few minutes until it turns a deep red color then mix with carrots and continue cooking.

In a large pot over medium heat add 3 cans of cannellini beans and your chicken stock reserving about a 1/4 cup. Add cooked carrots and herbs to this pot.  Take your reserved stock and deglaze the carrot pan. When finished add this liquid to the soup pot.   Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes. 

Using an immersion blender mix soup until creamy right in the pot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon into bowls, drizzle with Smoked Serrano Chili Oil (see below) and serve immediately.

Smoked Serrano Chili Oil

1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 Dried Smoked Serrano Chilies

Cut chilies into a few large pieces place in oil over low heat.  Continue to cook until oil becomes fragrant about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and use.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Nachos....Guest Post

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I haven't had time to focus on much else. So when I received the Thanksgiving edition of Taste of Home magazine to review I decided it was time for a guest blog post.

I needed someone interested in cooking and willing to take on this task in just a few days. Lucky for me one of my co-workers was actually looking for some new recipes to try.

I handed over the magazine to Adrienne with instructions to browse the contents, find something that interests you, try it out and provide some feedback.  She made these spectacular looking Apple Nachos.

Thickly sliced tart apples topped with melted marshmallows, caramels and chocolate chips. This "extra sticky treat" as Adrienne describes it, was easy to make and even easier to eat.

Being the inspired cook that she is Adrienne did make a few changes to the original recipe. She added a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the melted caramels to make it a bit creamier and a few extra marshmallows. She also suggested dressing it up a bit with some chopped nuts or some raisins.

When asked what she thought of the magazine Adrienne said she thinks it's great for someone looking for basic, family oriented recipes but she would not recommend it for the more experienced cook.

If you need something to fun to add to your Thanksgiving menu be sure to give these apple nachos a try.

Apple Nachos

26 (chewy) caramels
1 Tbsp. water
30-37 large marshmallows
¼ or 1/3 cub of butter
4 medium tart apples, cut into about ¼ in. slices
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt caramels with water about 1 minute; stir until smooth.

In a large saucepan on medium to medium low heat, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle caramel; top with the marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greek Inspired Chicken Rollatini

As you can imagine I read a lot of food blogs on a daily basis. Some I read to keep up with new trends, some for the cooking advice/information they offer and some for their great recipes.

The recipe below is one I found on Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice...a blog I read for all of the reasons above. I would highly recommend checking out Reeni's blog; she has some delicious recipes like the one below.

I've actually made this one several times it's that good.  One thing I really like is the way it incorporates so many herbs. I was able to use all fresh from my garden which really made the flavors stand out.

Feta and Olive Chicken Rollatini with Israeli Couscous Salad 
(by Reeni)

1 Lemon, juiced
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Basil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 pound Chicken Cutlets, (4)

Ladolemono (adapted from How to Roast a Lamb)
1/4 cup Lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Oregano
Kosher or Sea salt and Fresh Black Pepper
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

For Chicken Filling
4 - 5 ounces Feta
heaping 1/2 cup chopped Olives, green and/or black, chopped

1 small Onion, diced
Olive oil for sauteing
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 + 1/2 cup Israeli Couscous
1/2 cup Grape tomatoes, sliced in thirds
1/2 cup Cucumber, diced
1/2 cup Olives, green and/or black, chopped
1/3 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
Sea salt and Fresh Black Pepper

1. Early in the day or a few hours before cooking whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a large shallow dish. Add the chicken and coat well on both sides. Refrigerate.

2. To make the ladolemono combine lemon juice, mustard, oregano, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to blend and drizzle in olive oil. Refrigerate. It will separate so whisk well before serving.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan. To make the filling use a fork to mash the feta cheese. Add the olives and gently mash them into the mixture, don't completely mash them just incorporate them into the feta. Take a chicken cutlet and using 1/4 of the mixture spread it from one end to the middle of the cutlet. Roll up and hold together with toothpicks. Repeat with the rest of the cutlets. Bake for about 20 minutes depending on the size of the cutlets(165-174 degrees).

4. Meanwhile in a large skillet saute onion in 2-3 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Add garlic, saute until fragrant. Add couscous and more oil if needed. Saute couscous for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer slowly for 10-12 minutes until water is absorbed. Turn off heat. Stir in tomatoes, cucumber and olives. Put lid back on and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.

5. Serve chicken over the couscous drizzled generously with ladolemono.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Recipe Challenge Update

It's official my cheesecake recipe won.  Thanks to everyone that voted for it!   Watch for my next recipe challenge at the end of the month.

Voting is finally open for the Recipe Impossible Challenge I took part in over at Marxfoods.

Please stop by and vote for my:  Roasted Butternut Squash Mascarpone Cheesecake with a Chocolate Chili Crust topped with Maple Glazed Pecans…AKA “the bomb.

A big thank you to Marxfoods and Joanne from Eats Well With Others for sponsoring this challenge.

The winner of the  Cookinglight's Complete Meals in Minutes cookbook is Jen from NJ Epicurean. Congratulations to Jen and to everyone that participated. Look for more cool giveaways and some exciting product reviews coming up soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CSNstores Product Review Coming Soon & A Quick Penne Vodka Recipe

It's time for another CSNstores product review.  If you don't already know CSN is an online retailer with over 200 sites selling everything from kitchen bar stools to cookware products.  With all of these options availabe what will I be reviewing...well you'll have to check back in a few weeks to find out.

Penne with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

 1/4 cup olive oil
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
 1 (28oz.) whole peeled plum tomatoes, crush by hand or with food processor
 3/4 tsp. salt
 1 lb. penne pasta
 2 Tbsp. vodka
 1/2 cup heavy cream
 1/4 cup basil, fresh/chopped
 4 Italian Sausages

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat.
2. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet; Cook, breaking up the meat until brown.
3. Add garlic and red pepper; cook until golden brown.
4. Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or longer.
6. Meanwhile, in large pot, cook penne as directed; Drain and return to pot.
7. Add vodka and heavy cream to sauce and bring to boil.
8. Stir sauce into cooked pasta and cook over low heat for 1 minute.
9. Stir in fresh basil and serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Caramel Pear Cake, Mom's Birthday & A Giveaway

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful woman as my mother and my friend.  And although I may not always show it I do appreciate everything she’s done for me.  To celebrate her special day I made a deliciously moist Bundt cake. It is studded with pears & chopped pecans and topped with caramel.   I found the recipe in the Southern Living Farmer’s Market Cookbook and it was perfect for the occasion. 

Caramel Pear Cake 

3 cups peeled, diced, ripe pear
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Glaze:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
¼ cup evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan.

Toss pears with 1 tablespoon sugar and let stand. Beat eggs, 2 cups sugar, and oil at medium speed in an electric mixer until blended.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to egg mixture a cup at a time on low speed until blended.
Fold in pears, pecans and vanilla extract.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn onto serving plate.

Prepare Caramel Glaze buy stirring together the brown sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool slightly to thicken.

Spoon glaze over cake. Serve extra sauce immediately with warm cake.

The giveaway:

In honor of my mom and mom's everywhere I've decided to do a cookbook giveaway.  One lucky reader will have the chance to win a copy of Cookinglight's Complete Meals in Minutes.  This book is a great resource for anyone trying to make delicious and healthy meals in less than 30 minutes. It's loaded with photos and comes in binder format which makes it easy to locate recipes by topic.

How to win:  We're going to keep it simple just leave a comment on this post by midnight (EST)  Monday 11/8 and you will be entered.