Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Pistachios seem to be almost everyone's favorite nut. Maybe there's just something about that subtle green hue that makes people love them. They have a unique flavor that compliments anything sweet.
I remember when I was a kid, when we went out for ice cream, my parents would always order pistachio. At the time I couldn't understand why anyone would want to eat green ice cream. I thought there were so many other cool and delicious flavors to choose from, like pink bubble gum, rocky road, cookie dough, double chocolate and my personal favorite good ol' chocolate chip with jimmies of course. Sometimes I would get it with cowlick on it. In case you have never heard of it, cowlick is a chocolate and nut dip that would harden on the ice cream. I still love it!
But back to the pistachio, I really thought that only the old fogies liked it, along with maple walnut. Once I tried it, however, it was all too clear. That luscious salty and sweet combination of creamy goodness with little nut crunches really did it for me. Yuuuuummmm.
This recipe is based on one important ingredient: pistachio paste. It is very similar to almond paste. I had never used it before this recipe, but I saw it in the store one day and it sounded so delicious, I just had to try it. When I began making these cookies, in particular, creaming the pistachio paste, butter and sugar together, I was already drooling. I made the mistake of tasting the creamy mixture and I almost couldn't stop myself from eating the entire bowl. I would definately use this mixture as a frosting for a cake or brownies or cookies or cupcakes or toast or cardboard. Seriously, it is that good.
So for all you pistachio lovers out there, this recipe is for you...
by Love'nBake - 4 dozen small cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Love'n Bake™ Pistachio Nut Paste
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped, toasted, and salted pistachios
confectioner's sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 325° and prepare parchment or foil lined cookie sheets. Cream the butter, pistachio paste, and sugar. Blend in the vanilla and milk. Mix in the flour and baking powder until the dough is smooth and stiff. Blend in the nuts. Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 1" balls. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 18-25 minutes, until a light golden brown. When cool, roll in confectioner's sugar. Store in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. To freshen, roll again in confectioner's sugar. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.
Monday, January 28, 2008
This recipe fits the bill. I got my inspiration from Giada DE Laurentiis. I was looking through her cookbook and came across Pork Loin with Fig and Port Sauce.
It sounded so good and with some of my own ideas and my mom's we came up with a winner.
Well ok, I guess it wasn't cheap, but it was reasonable considering the amount of people it fed.
As far as tasty goes, YES,YES and YES! It was absolutely delicous! The oil and herb rub really flavored the roast, plus I stuffed little pieces of garlic into the roast to give it even more flavor (my mom's trick). The fig sauce was so good that I could have drank it straight from a goblet...seriously!
And yes it was easy. The hardest part was peeling the garlic and it took a little time to stuff it in the roast, but it was totally worth it!
After reviewing the recipe with my mom who has cooked a pork roast or two in her day, I decided to change the oven temperature to 375 degrees. She believes in a lower temp (usually 350 degrees) for a more tender meat. I settled on 375 because it was a large roast and I wanted to make sure it was done on time. It came out very tender and juicy. I was so proud, since it was my first pork roast!
I also adjusted the fig sauce recipe to suit the ingredients I had in the house. And as I mentioned it came out fabulous!
Pork Roast with Gravy and Fig Sauce
2 cups dessert wine, (one bottle was just under 2 cups)
1 - 15 oz. can reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 dried black Mission figs, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus additional for seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon wondra flour
1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin
For the pork: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Stir the oil, rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl to blend. With a small sharp knife, make small, deep slits all over the roast. Push a slice of garlic in each slit until it is all used. Place the pork roast in a heavy roasting pan. Spread the oil mixture over the pork to coat completely. Roast until an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 160 degrees F. (About 20 minutes per pound).
Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest at least 15 minutes. Next, add the chicken broth into the roasting pan. Mix in the wondra flour, place the pan over medium heat, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. (Make sure to taste it first since the salt on the outside of the pork has already seasoned the pan juices.)
Using a large sharp knife, cut the pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on a platter. Spoon some of the gravy over and serve the rest on the side. Drizzle the warm fig sauce around or serve in a separate gravy boat and pass at the table. (Some guests may not want it on their piece). Serve immediately.
Friday, January 25, 2008
I don't believe it. There is no way I was going 47, especially since there was a red light just a bit up the road. It's not fear. Everyone else was driving the same speed. I asked him why he was just picking on me and he said, "I'm not picking on you MA'AM, I am on traffic speed control and I had you on my radar." Yeah right, so I told him that I was just keeping up with the traffic and he said well everyone else was speeding too. Yes! So why stop just me???? I told him that his gizmo must be broken because there was no way that I was going 47. He said, "Well MA'AM, that's something you can take up in court if you wish, I can't do anything about that". I asked him to give me a break and as he went back to his patrol car I knew it was futile. He came back with my "gift" and told me he gave me a break since he only charged me with going 35mph. What a nice guy. By the way, I hate being called MA'AM!
Ok now that I got that off my chest, lets talk about something nice and sweet. In case I never mentioned it, I love Almonds. And I love these cookies. They are a new recipe that I got from my boss's wife. He brought a plate of them in for the Holiday and after one bite, I was hooked.
I feel in love with the chewy texture of these cookies. I did however change the recipe a bit. Because I like a strong almond flavor, I added extra almond extract and orange rind for a fresh kick. The final product was perfection! (If I do say so myself)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure almond extract (not imitation)
1 tsp. grated fresh orange peel
Eggwash: 1 egg, beaten plus one teaspoon water, optional
1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted and chopped, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs in bowl. In separate bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix well. Add oil and beaten eggs to dry mixture. Mix well with wooden spoon.* Add almonds, if using, and mix to combine.
Form 4 loafs, placing two side by side on two parchment lined or greased baking sheets. If using egg wash, brush each loaf at this point.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and slice. Decorate with drizzled chocolate and sprinkles if desired.
*Do you ever wonder why certain recipes specify what kind of spoon to use when mixing?
I wonder if it really makes a difference in the recipe if you were to use a wooden spoon, a stainless steel spoon or an electric mixture.
What do you think?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This was a new recipe for me this Christmas. I had a coconut macaroon recipe in my files that I really liked but I lost it. It was before the days of my blog. I really like using unsweetened minimally processed coconut, which poses some problems.
First, there are not a lot of good recipes for coconut macaroons using unsweetened coconut. Secondly, if you don't have the correct measurements or just the right ingredients, they always come out dry and tasteless. Just plain bad!
So you ask, why bother with unsweetened coconut? And I say because it's my thing. You know, "healthier cooking". Minimal "processed" ingredients. Lower fat alternatives that still taste great.
So if you have that perfect recipe let me know. Thanks for listening (hehe)! In the meanwhile you can try this one. It's pretty good, just not perfect!
Light Coconut Macaroons
by Mixed Salad Annie
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they form medium-firm peaks. To the coconut mixture, carefully fold in the egg whites.
Drop cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets, using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, serve or store in an airtight container.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I make all kinds of salads. Some are simple chef salads, others might include leftover cooked chicken or meats with cheese, some have beans, tomatoes and crutons, others highlight fruit and nuts and some have a little bit of everything.
The photo above was my dinner the other night. I call it Kitchen Sink Salad. It basically has everything but the kitchen sink. It is rarely made with the same ingredients because I just use whatever I have in the fridge. So play around with what ever you have in your fridge and you will find that building the perfect salad is really easy.
Kitchen Sink Salad
by Mixed Salad Annie -Serves two
Use your favorite ingredients or whatever is in your refrigerator.
6 large Lettuce Leaves, torn into bite size pieces (I used Romaine)
1 Fruit, cut in cubes (I used a Brabern Apple)
2 tablespoons Dried Fruit (I used Cranberries)
1/4 cup Raw Vegetable, chopped or julienned (I used Julienned Carrots)
2 tablespoons Cheese, diced or shredded (I used shredded reduced fat Sharp Cheddar)
2 tablespoons Nuts, chopped (I used Walnuts)
1/4 cup cooked Steak, Chicken or whatever protein, chopped (I used Sliced Turkey)
Fresh herbs, optional (I used flat leaf parsley and basil)
Dressing (I made my own, see below)
Add all ingredients to a bowl. Add dressing and toss coat all ingredients. Enjoy your creation!
My Favorite Salad Dressing
by Mixed Salad Annie - Four Servings
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Bragg organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (See health benefits)
20 dashes or about 1/2 teaspoon McCormick's Salt Free It's A Dilly Seasoning
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and add to your favorite salad.
Starting from the bottom middle going clockwise are Coconut Macaroons, Italian Prune Slices, Raspberry Strippers, Fig Slices, more Raspberry Strippers and in the middle, my mom's Apricot Squares.
by Cooking Light, December 2000
Preheat oven to 375°.
Beat granulated sugar and butter with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and egg white; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, stirring until well-blended. (Dough will be stiff.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion into a 12-inch log. Place logs 3 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Form a 1/2-inch-deep indentation down the length of each log using an index finger or end of a wooden spoon. Spoon preserves into the center. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove logs to a cutting board.
Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract; stir well with a whisk. Drizzle sugar mixture over warm logs. Immediately cut each log diagonally into 12 slices. (Do not separate slices.) Cool 10 minutes; separate slices. Transfer slices to wire racks. Cool completely.
Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie) Nutritional Information: CALORIES 75(30% from fat); FAT 2.5g (sat 1.5g,mono 0.7g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 0.7g; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 4mg; SODIUM 56mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 0.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.4g
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I had always wanted to try making this dip. It just sounded so good to me since I love artichokes and spinach. And I wanted to make a dip that wasn't loaded with tons of fat. Mission impossible? Not really. It was actually pretty easy. I got some inspiration from Ellie Krieger from Healthy Appetite and just winged it.
It turned out really good, although it was a little thick. It was probably too thick to successfully dip thin chips but was great for pretzel sticks, celery pieces and baby carrots.
I thinned it out the next day with more sour cream and it was even better, so I adjusted my recipe with those changes. Hope you like it!
Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip
1 tablespoon e.v. olive oil
1 bunch scallions (green onions), finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and dried
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out
1 cup low-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less-fat cream cheese)
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded fontinella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium/low heat. Add scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the spinach, mix well and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Combine the artichoke hearts, sour cream, mayonnaise, Neufchatel, fontinella and salt and pepper in a food processor. Add in the spinach mixture and process until smooth. Spray an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray and spread in mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pretzel sticks or crudites.
Monday, January 14, 2008
How was your weather??
Saturday, January 12, 2008
You will need an oven safe saucepan. I used the same saucepan to bake the meatballs and sausage, as to make the sauce. The reason: to get all of the caramelized drippings from the meat incorporated into the tomato sauce just as you would if you were to fry them. (note: be very careful when making the tomato sauce because the pan will be very hot. Keep an oven mit on the handle to remind yourself that it was in the oven. Take it from me. I did burn myself because I forgot.)
Like I said before this recipe is a little more time consuming, but the result was very good. I guess good things DO come to those who wait!
Tomato Sauce (Gravy)
4 sausage links and/or spare ribs
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-ounce can pureed plum tomatoes (I used Pastene kitchen ready)
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, tomatoes squeezed and hard pieces and skin removed
28 ounces water (use the tomato can & clean out any remaining tomatoes)
2 small bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh basil leaves, one intact and one minced
Salt and pepper to taste
First prepare meatballs and sausage links...
Turkey Meatballs (My own recipe)
1/2 lb. Ground Turkey (I used 93%)
1 slice stale Italian bread or sliced white bread, crusted removed
2 tbls. milk or water
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced
4-5 fresh basil leaves, minced
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk. Combine all ingredients except ground turkey in a large bowl and mix well. Add in turkey and gently work the mixture with your hands until evenly combined. Do not over mix.
Roll the turkey into 9 same size balls. Place in an oven safe large pot, sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, turning several times. Remove from pot and set aside. (At this point, the meatballs may also be cooled and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.)
Poke the sausage links with a skewer on all sides several times. Using the same oven safe pot used to cook the meatballs, add in the sausage links and cook for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, turning several times. Remove the sausage and wipe out the pot with paper towels.
Start the Tomato Sauce...
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the same saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until slightly caramelized. Add all the meat and stir to combine. Add all of the tomatoes and water. Add the bay leaves and the intact basil sprig. Bring the sauce to a simmer and lower the heat. Cover the pot loosely and simmer for 1 hour. Sprinkle with remaining chopped basil and correct seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. I also like to drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top to finish it off.
Use the sauce to dress the spaghetti or any pasta and serve the meat, with some of the sauce, as an entrée.
This is a lighter version of chicken parm. It is baked instead of fried and does not use breadcrumbs. I like it because it's quick, easy, contains less fat and has more of a "herby" flavor, which I love. Give it a try!
2 large chicken breast halves cut into 11-12 pieces, or chicken tenders
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
18 teaspoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Stir the oil, lemon juice and herbs in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken and herb marinade in a large zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes.
Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the chicken, place in the oven and cook about 8 minutes, turning halfway. Remove the skillet from the oven.
Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the chicken pieces. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of mozzarella over each piece, then sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the chicken pieces. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
This salad is not only delicious but is loaded with nutrients. And I love that. It is also elegant and perfect to serve on a holiday to company, which is what I did. Everyone loved it. It's unique, but not so different that guests will be turned off by it. Most people love pears and cheese and walnuts as well.
Pear and Gorgonzola Salad
20oz Romaine Lettuce, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
2 Ripe Bartlett Pears cored and sliced (Anjou pears would work as well)
3/4 cup Chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Ground black pepper to taste
Pear Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Toss lettuce with half of vinaigrette. Place lettuce on six salad plates, top with 5-6 slices of pears fanned over lettuce and sprinkle with equal amounts of walnuts and cheese. Drizzle each salad with remaining vinaigrette.
Serve immediately. Since fresh pears are used here the salad must be served immediately or the pears with start to brown.
Pear Vinaigrette: Combine 1 (15 oz.) can juice-packed, drained Bartlett pears, 1/3 extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tsp. salt in a blender; mix well. Chill until ready to use.
I love biscotti, but sometimes I enjoy a nice soft and chewy cookie as well. This is what I was trying to accomplish with this cookie. I think I succeeded. Everyone loved them. Another thing I was trying to achieve was to reduce the amount of butter and sugar in the original recipe. I did this by substituting half the butter with 1/4 cup of canola oil and cutting back just a little on the white sugar. You would never know I messed with them. They came out as tasty as ever. I also came up with a few different versions of this recipe using cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger cranberries, white chocolate and apricots. But that's a whole other post!
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups quick oatmeal (or old fashioned)
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts - optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter, oil, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs. Combine flour, salt and baking powder and mix into butter mixture. Mix in oats, chips and nuts.
Onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon out mixture to form 4 logs the length of the sheet, 2 logs per baking sheet*. Leave enough space in between each log, since they will spread while cooking.
Bake for about 2o-22 minutes, so that when you touch the tops they are firm and lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool.
Slice logs diagonally and decorate. Once the decorations are dry, store in an airtight container.
To decorate: Just melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and some white chocolate chips in the microwave, separately. Dip a spoon in the melted chocolate and drizzle over the cookie tops. I actually use squeeze containers because it makes it so easy to drizzle. While the chocolate is still wet, shake on some candy sprinkles.
* If you want to make smaller cookies, shape into 6 logs, placing 3 logs per sheet and bake for around 12-15 minutes.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Speaking of COOKIES, I have plenty of catching up to do with posting all of my cookie recipes. And they were awesome! So keep checking in.
The inspiration for this recipe came from my friend Giada, of course. I changed some of the proportions and cooking times. Remember broccoli rabe is a little bitter, so make sure to boil it before sauting to remove some of the bitter flavor. The raisins offer a little sweetness to offset the bitter broccoli rabe. And of course, the pine nuts give a little crunch, which I love.
Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
dash dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Cook the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli rabe reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
Heat the oil in the same large pot over low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and heat until the garlic is softened and the oil is flavored, about 5 minutes. Adjust heat to medium-low. Add the broccoli rabe and toss to coat. Add the reserved cooking water, the raisins, and cook about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Just before serving, toss the mixture with the pine nuts.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Well, it gave me reason to buy the computer I really wanted to begin with. A MacBook. No more viruses. No more worries. I love Macs. I use one at work and have never had any trouble with it.