Thursday, April 19, 2012

Candied Spiced Almonds


5 cups sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package*
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin*
1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* - some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don't like "hot", just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
1 teaspoon vanilla
sea salt
*The cumin and the smoked paprika give just a hint of mysterious, delicious flavor - even though these are savory spices, these almonds are still wonderful served with sweets like ice cream or yogurt.

1. Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.

2.  Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat , occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it is all melted into a pale golden syrup.

3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.

4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don't worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar - they will melt as you continute to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool. 

*If you have a Costco membership, they recently started carrying 2 pound bags of beautiful sliced almonds for $7.99 - a great deal as nuts have become extremely expensive! Get some fun little jars or containers and at this price, you could give a nice-sized gift (about a quarter pound) of these yummy, addictive almonds for
just slightly more than a dollar!

Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients for the dressing:
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oii
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the salad:
12 ounces baby spinach, arugula, field greens
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems
2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup Candied Spiced Almonds

1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.

2. For the salad, place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.

6 dinner size salads, 8 side salads

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Skillet Baked Ziti

1 T. olive oil
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce
3 cups water
12 ounces ziti- 3 3/4 cups (I used penne)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Heat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Simmer Ziti: Combine oil and red pepper flakes in 12 inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and saute over medium high heat about 30 seconds. Add spaghetti sauce, water, and ziti. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Add Cheese and Bake: Stir in cream, parmesan and basil. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over ziti. Transfer skillet to oven (or if your skillet isn't ovenproof, transfer to a baking dish) and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes.

French Dip Sandwiches

French Dip Sandwiches

1 3-lb. beef roast
2 T. olive oil
S & P
1 packet lipton onion soup mix
2 C. water
2 cans beef broth
ciabatta rolls
sliced provolone or swiss cheese

Season roast well with salt and pepper. Sear in oil in large pan over med-high heat, just a couple minutes on each side. Place roast in crockpot, add soup mix, water and broth. Cover and cook for about 10 hours on low. When sufficiently tender, shred beef. Arrange shredded beef on rolls and top with cheese. Broil in oven for just a minute or two- you can't watch too carefully. Ladle juices into small cups for dipping.

Mini Smores

Mini S'mores
Golden Grahams
mini marshmallows
chocolate chips
votive candle

FHE Treats AND activity? DONE.

Caprese Bites

The next appetizer I need to take somewhere, I'm making these...

Shells can be found at IKEA.

To assemble, you'll need:

one pack of Hors D'oeuvres shells
one pkg. grape tomatoes
basil leaves
one package mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini- mine from Fresh and Easy)

Halve the tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Remove the basil leaves from their stems and halve if neccesary. Fill shells with a little of each ingredient.

Cream Cheese Chicken and Pasta

1-2 lbs. chicken breasts or chicken tenders
2 pats of butter
1 packet Italian dressing mix
6 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream o chicken soup
1 can of milk

Cook chicken, butter and Italian dressing mix in crock-pot for 2-3 hours (depending on whether you've used chicken breasts or tenders). Shred the chicken using two forks then add cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and milk. Cook until everything is well combined and creamy. Serve over your favorite cooked pasta.

Asian Spinach and Chicken Salad


1 bag of spinach
2 C. cooked cubed chicken
8 oz. cooked and drained bowtie pasta
2 oranges
1 avocado
1 C. chow mein noodles
1 T. sesame seeds

2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 1/2 t. grated fresh ginger

Combine above dressing ingredients, then drizzle in 1/4 C. veg. oil while whisking. Season with 1 tsp. salt.

Toss spinach, chicken and pasta with dressing. Top with slice avocado, orange segments, chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.

Cut off each end of the oranges, trim off all the peel, slice it into rounds, then quarter each round.

Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Pineapple

Will definitely have to try these for one of our summer BBQ/Pool parties this year!

4 chicken breasts
1 C. teriyaki sauce
4 slices pineapple
4 slices tomato
4 leaves lettuce
4 T. mayonnaise

Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki sauce in the fridge for a few hours. Grill the chicken and pineapple. Assemble sandwiches.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

2 large sweet potatoes
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1 small jalapeno minced (seeded)
1 can rinsed black beans (I used two cans)
1 can diced tomatoes (I used petite diced with green chilies)
1 T chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of your favorite salsa
8 large flour tortillas (I filled 10 and still had plenty of filling left to layer on top)

Peel your sweet potatoes and dice into chunks, spread out on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt, bake at 400 until soft.

Saute your garlic and jalapeno in the olive oil, add black beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and sweet potatoes. Mix everything really well and let cook for a few minutes.

Spread 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of salsa on the bottom of a casserole pan. Fill tortillas with the bean and sweet potato mixture, roll tightly, and place in pan. When finished top with remaining salsa and filling. You can also top with cheese if you would like. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serve with lettuce, olives, avocado, and a little sour cream.

Hot Spinach Dip

Hot Spinach Dip

Makes 3 cups

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for baking dish
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds spinach, cleaned, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 C. milk
6 oz. cream cheese
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Baguette slices, breadsticks, or crackers, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium.
Add spinach in two additions, letting the first batch wilt before adding the next; add garlic; cook until spinach is completely wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain, pressing to release all excess liquid.
In the same pot, warm milk over high heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with bread and crackers.

Green Beans

Green Beans with Almonds and Parsley
1/4 C. slivered almonds
1 lb. green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1/3 c. water
2 tsp. butter, plus 2 more tsp.
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
gresh ground black pepper

Heat a pot with lid over medium low heat. Add almonds and toast, stirring til golden brown and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. In the same pot add green beans, 1/3 cup water, 2 tsp butter, and salt and cover with lid. Increase heat to med-high, and steam for about 5 minutes until beans are bright green and just tender. Remove lid and continue to cook until water evaporates and beans start to saute, 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat, stir in toasted almonds, lemon zest, parsley, remaining 2 tsp. butter, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Biscuits and Gravy

Cream Biscuits
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups cream and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Trasnfer the dough to the countertop, leaving all dry, floury bits behind in the bowl. In 1 T. increments, add up to 1/4 C. cream to the dry bits in the bowl, mixing until moistened. Add these moistened bits to the rest of the dough and knead by hand just until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pat into a flat, 3/4 inch tall circle, and using a round drinking glass, cut out 8-10 biscuits and place on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sausage Gravy

1 pound ground pork sausage
3 T. flour
3 C. milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula. Set sausage aside, leaving the drippings in the skillet (add a T. of butter if sausage didn't render enough fat). Reduce heat to medium, add flour to the drippings, and stir constantly until mixture just turns golden brown. Gradually whisk milk into skillet. When the mixture is smooth, thickened, and begins to bubble, return the sausage to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.