Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blackberry Squares

Yields 2 dozen
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

7 1/2 Ounce(wt)s flour, all-purpose 
1 1/4 Cup oats, quick cooking 
2 3/10 Ounce(wt)s sugar, white 
1/3 Cup sugar, light brown, packed 
1/4 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt, table 
1/2 Cup pecans or almonds finely chopped
3/4 Cups butter, unsalted cut in pieces, softened
1 Cup preserves, blackberry (seedless) 

Tools Needed:
Nordic Ware Square Cake Pan with Lid, 9 Inch
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan (overhang will help in removal of baked squares). Fit second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. 

In bowl of standing mixer, mix flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add butter pieces; continue to beat until mixture is well-blended and resembles wet sand, about 2 minutes. 

Transfer 2/3 of mixture to prepared pan and use hands to press crumbs evenly into bottom. Bake until starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Using rubber spatula, spread preserves evenly over hot bottom crust; sprinkle remaining oat/nut mixture evenly over preserves. 

Bake until preserves bubble around edges and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch squares and serve.

Snickerdoodle Banana Bread

Yields 1 loaf or 3 mini loaves

3/4 tsp baking soda 
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar 
1 3/4 Cup flour, all-purpose 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
1/3 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
2/3 Cups sugar, white 
2 Large egg, whole 
1 Cup banana mashed, overripe
1 Cup chips, cinnamon 
Cinnamon Sugar:
2 Tbls sugar, white 
1/2 Tbls cinnamon, ground 

Tools Needed:
Wilton Recipe Right 3 Piece Mini Loaf Pan Set
Wilton Recipe Right Medium Loaf Pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray a bread pan (not a large bread pan, but a slightly smaller bread pan.) and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, cream of tartar, flour and salt. set aside. 

Cream together the softened butter and sugar. add the eggs and mix until smooth. 

In a glass measuring cup, smash the bananas. 

Add a little flour to the egg mixture and turn on the mixer. cream everything together as the four gets incorporated add a little banana. continue to alternate between the dry ingredients and banana, ending with the banana. stir in the cinnamon chips and place in the bread pan. 

Mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the loaf with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Sometimes I tent with foil the last 15 minutes if its getting too brown. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of cinnamon sugar, allow to cool before slicing for nice slices, or dig in while it's warm but it may be a little more crumbly hot. 

If making 3 mini loaves, put 1/2 tablespoon on each loaf before baking and the other 1/2 tablespoon on each loaf when it comes out.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chai-Spiced Mixed Nuts

Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 Tbls extract, vanilla 
1 Large egg white 
1 Cup almonds, whole 
1 Cup pecans 
1 Cup walnuts, halves 
1/4 Cup sugar, white 
1 tsp salt, Kosher 
3/4 tsp cinnamon, ground 
3/4 tsp allspice, ground 
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground 

Tools Needed:
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Combine vanilla extract and egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Stir in nuts. 

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom in a small bowl. Sprinkle over nuts, tossing to coat. 

Place nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn off oven. 

Toss nuts, breaking pieces apart. Return pan to oven, and leave pan in oven for an additional 10 minutes (with the oven still turned off). 

Cool to room temperature. Store nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chili-Kahlua Pecans

Yields 2 1/2 cups

2 Cups pecans 
2 Tbls liqueur, Kahlúa or maple syrup
4 tsp oil, vegetable 
2 Tbls sugar, white 
2 Tbls chili powder, ancho 

Tools Needed:
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. In a medium bowl combine pecan halves, liqueur or maple syrup and oil. Stir in sugar and chile. Spread in prepared pan. 

Bake, uncovered, in a 250 degrees oven for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.

Cinnamon Sugared Pretzels

Yields 1 pound

2/3 Cups oil, vegetable 
1/2 Cup sugar, white 
2 tsp cinnamon, ground 
1 Pound pretzels small twists 

Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

In a large roasting pan stir together oil, sugar and cinnamon. Add pretzels; toss well to combine. 

Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on waxed paper to cool. 

Store in an airtight container.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Yields 6 1/2 Dozen using 1 tablespoon cookie scoop

2 Cups flour, all-purpose 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
1 Cup sugar, white 
1 Tbls zest, lemon 
1/2 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
2 Large egg, whole at room temperature
1/4 Cup juice, lemon 
1/2 tsp extract, lemon 
1/2 Cup sugar, powdered sifted 

Tools Needed:
Norpro Stainless Steel Scoop, 1 Tablespoon, 35mm
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. 

With clean fingers, rub the zest into the granulated sugar until very fragrant. 
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth. 

Add the lemon juice and lemon extract, and mix again until smooth. 

Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Roll dough into 1 tablespoon balls, then roll in powdered sugar until well coated. Arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ganache

Yields 2 dozen macarons (once filled)

2 Cups sugar, powdered 
1 Cup flour, almond 
3 Tbls cocoa powder (unsweetened) 
1/4 tsp salt, table 
3 Large egg white at room temperature
1 Pinch cream of tartar 
3 Tbls sugar, white 

Tools Needed:
Lekue Macaron Mat
Ateco Plastic Coated Decorating Bag, 18-Inch
Ateco Pastry Tube - Plain - Size 6

Line two baking sheets with Macaron mats; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch (size 6) plain tip; set aside. 

Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse 4 to 5 times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 1 minutes. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside. 

Note: you will most likely have bits of almond left behind in your sieve - no worries.  Just toss these (or eat them like my niece and sister in law did)

Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and you see trains from the beaters, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl. 

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in multiple small batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.) With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.) 

Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to remove air bubbles. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking. 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the macarons for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheets and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

Bittersweet Ganache for Macarons: 
6 Ounce(wt)s chocolate, baking, bittersweet (finely chopped)
3/4 Cup cream, heavy
3 Tbls butter, unsalted (at room temperature cut in cubes)

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup.  Place in the microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and whisk.  If mostly melted, continue to whisk until completely melted.  If only partially melted, then nuke for 15 more seconds.  

Note: You do NOT want to overheat as it will break the chocolate.  You want to get the chocolate mostly melted and then use the heat in the chocolate and butter and the friction of whisking to finish the job.

Slowly add the cream and continue to whisk until all of it has been incorporated and the ganache is smooth and creamy.  Let set for 10 to 15 minutes (but not until all the way solid).  

Scoop dollops onto the flat side of one macaron.  Top with another macaron (like a sandwich/Oreo) and lightly press so the ganache is pushed out to the edges.  Set macaron on a plate or in an airtight container.

Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Carrot Cupcakes

Yields 3 dozen
3 Cups flour, all-purpose sifted
2 1/2 Cups sugar, white 
1 Tbls baking soda 
1 Tbls cinnamon, ground 
1 tsp salt 
4 Each egg, whole 
1 1/2 Cup oil, vegetable 
1 tsp extract, vanilla 
2 Cups carrots shredded
1 Cup applesauce 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. \In large bowl, with spoon, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In small bowl, with a fork, beat eggs slightly; stir in oil and vanilla. Using your hands, stir egg mixture, carrots, walnuts, and applesauce into flour until flour is just moistened. Spoon batter into pan, spreading evenly. 

Prepare cupcake pans with liners.  Scoop batter into liners until 2/3 full.  Bake for 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely before attempting to frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Pound cheese, cream regular softened
1 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks softened
1 Tbls extract, vanilla 
4 Cups sugar, powdered sifted 

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before frosting.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus

Yields 3 cups

Adapted from blissfulblog.com

1 Pound potatoes, sweet 
15 Ounce(wt)s beans, garbanzo, drained
2 each pepper, chipotle in adobo, canned 
2 Clove garlic, fresh minced
2 Tbls juice, lime 
2 Tbls oil, olive 
2 Tbls Tahini
1 to taste, smoked paprika
1 to taste salt and pepper 

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Pierce potatoes several times with a fork; place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly, then peel and add to the bowl of a food processor. 

Add garbanzos, lime juice, tahini, olive oil, chipotle and garlic. Puree until smooth and thin with up to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Refrigerate for up to 1 week in an airtight container. 

Garnish with additional olive oil and smoked paprika before serving.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Skinny Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from http://tifanietbd.blogspot.com/
Yields 16 brownies (61 calories each)

1/2 Cup oats, old-fashioned 
6 Ounce(wt)s yogurt, Greek, vanilla 
1/4 Cup milk, skim 
1 Large egg, whole 
1/4 Teaspoon salt, table 
1 Teaspoon baking powder 
1 Cup sugar, white (or Splenda)
1/2 Cup cocoa powder (unsweetened) 
3/4 Cups peanut butter, creamy (regular or reduced-fat)

Tools Needed:
Calphalon Classic Bakeware 8-Inch Square Nonstick Cake Pan 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. 

Place oats into a food processor. Pulse a few times, then turn on and processor until a meal. Then add all remaining ingredients except peanut butter. 

Process until mix is smooth. You will have to stop the food processor and scrape down the sides a few times. 

Pour batter into prepared baking dish (it will be thin and runny).

Microwave peanut butter for about 30 to 45 seconds. 

Drop melted peanut butter by spoonfuls onto the batter, swirling gently with a knife or bamboo skewer to create a marbled effect. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. 

Brownies will be extra fudgey, so be sure to wait until completely cooled so they can be cut easily.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Antipasti Pasta Salad with Tangy Vinaigrette

Yields 12 servings

12 Ounce(wt)s pasta, rotini, tricolor 
2 Cups cucumber, English sliced and quartered
1 Cup tomatoes, red grape halved
1 Cup cheese, mozzarella smoked diced
1 Cup salami, Italian diced
1 Cup onion, red thinly sliced
3/4 Cups olives, Kalamata 
1/2 Cup pepper, pepperoncini sliced
1/2 Cup bell pepper, roasted red sliced
1/2 Cup artichokes hearts, marinated quartered
2 Tbls capers drained
1/2 Cup mushrooms, white marinated
1 1/2 Tbls capers drained
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1/4 Cup vinegar, red wine 
1 tsp oregano, dried 
1 tsp Silver Service Chef's Zesty Italian Seasoning
6 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive 
1 to taste pepper, black, ground 

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and set aside. 

Puree capers and garlic for the vinaigrette in a food processor. Add vinegar, Italian seasoning and oregano; pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in oil and blend until emulsified. Season with pepper. 

Mix together cooked pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, onion, olives, pepperoncini, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and capers for the salad in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette to coat. Refrigerate overnight; just before serving season with salt and pepper.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No Mayo Chicken Salad

Yields 6 servings

3 Cups chicken, cooked, rotisserie, diced no skin
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream (1/3 less fat) softened
1 Tbls vinegar, cider 
1/2 tsp salt, Kosher 
1/5 tsp pepper, black, ground 
1 Tbls oregano, fresh chopped
1 Tbls mint, fresh chopped
1/2 Small tomato, beefsteak chopped
1 onion, green, chopped

1/4 Small cucumber, English chopped
1/2 tsp oil, extra virgin olive

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick 2-Speed Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome

Be sure to remove all fat from the chicken as you pull it from the bones. 

Mix together the cream cheese, vinegar, salt, pepper, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. Blend with a hand blender or in a food processor. Fold in the chicken, tomato, green onion and cucumber. 

Serve with crackers, in a lettuce wrap or wrap in a tortilla with lettuce for a sandwich wrap.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lasagna Rolls

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Yields 6 servings

2 Tbls butter, unsalted 
4 tsp flour, all-purpose 
1 1/4 Cup milk, whole 
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher 
1/8 tsp pepper, white, ground 
1 Pinch nutmeg, fresh grated 
15 Ounce(wt)s cheese, ricotta, part skim 
10 Ounce(wt)s spinach, frozen chopped thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/8 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated, divided
3 Ounce(wt)s prosciutto thinly sliced
1 Large egg, whole beaten
3/4 tsp salt, Kosher
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground 
2 Tbls oil, olive 
12 to 15 Each pasta, lasagna noodles 
2 Cups Lindy's Marinara Sauce
1 Cup cheese, mozzarella (whole milk) shredded 

Tools Needed:
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Pyrex Grip-Rite 2-Quart Oblong Baking Dish, Clear

To make the sauce: 
Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the béchamel sauce. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. 

Add a tablespoon or two of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking. 

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, and then, using the cookie scoop, dish the ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. 

Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lindy's Marinara Sauce

Yields 4 cups

2 1/2 Tbls oil, olive 
2/3 Cups onion, white or yellow chopped
8 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
28 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced not drained (San Marzanos preferred)
3 Ounce(wt)s tomato paste 
1 Teaspoon sugar, white 
1/4 Teaspoon salt 
1 to taste pepper, black 
1 Tbls basil, fresh finely chopped
1/2 Tbls oregano, fresh finely chopped 

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
Rosle Can Opener 

In a medium saucepan or skillet, heat the oil. 

Add the onions and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and pepper. 

Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Add fresh basil and oregano and let simmer an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Chef's Note: If fresh herbs are not available, use 1 tsp dried basil and ½ tsp dried oregano.  If using dried, add when adding the sugar.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Weeknight Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yields 6 servings

2 Tbls oil, olive 
6 Each tortilla, corn, small 
2 Large onion, white chopped
1 Head garlic, fresh (12 to 14 cloves)
4 1/4 Ounce(wt)s pepper, green chile with liquid
2 tsp cumin, ground
1 1/2 Tbls Silver Service Chef's Taco Seasoning

2 Quarts stock, chicken 
2 Sprigs epazote, fresh, optional
4 Pounds tomato, beefsteak chopped
1 tsp salt 
2 Cups chicken, cooked, white shredded 
1/4 tsp pepper, white, ground 


3 Each avocado diced
1/4 Pound cheese, monterey jack shredded
1/4 Pound cheese, sharp cheddar shredded

1/4 Cup cilantro chopped 
1/4 Cup sour cream
2 Medium limes, quartered

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick 2-Speed Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
Rosle Can Opener 

Chop 4 tortillas and cut the remaining 2 into match-long strips and set those aside. Separate and peel garlic. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped tortillas, onions, garlic cloves, green chilis (with juice), cumin and Taco seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent - about 7 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and epazote, if using, and the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. 

Place soup in a food processor or use a hand blender to puree. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken and pepper and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes). 

Cut the avocado into ¼-inch dice. Distribute the remaining tortillas (matchsticks), the avocado and the cheeses,among individual bowls. Ladle the soup over and sprinkle top with cilantro leaves, if using. You can also drop a teaspoon of sour cream on the soup for a delightful presentation.  Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Chef's note: If you prefer, you can fry the matchsticks in hot oil and place these on top of the soup instead of in the bottom of the bowl.