Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thrice Cooked Sweet Potato Skins with Buffalo Chicken

If you love the taste of Buffalo wings but you want something more substantial here’s your answer, triple baked sweet potato skins stuffed with buffalo shredded chicken then topped with melted mozzarella. It’s super easy if you just use a store bought rotisserie chicken. Your family and guests will love the contrast of the sweet potato with the heat of the chicken – this makes a great game-day snack or just a good way to use left-over chicken.

Servings: 8

Buffalo Sauce
2/3 C Hot Sauce (only use ½ C if you want a mild sauce)
½ C cold unsalted Butter
1½ TBS White Vinegar
¼ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional for a milder sauce)
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt to taste

Ingredients
Cooking Spray
4 Medium Sweet Potatoes
Olive Oil (for brushing)
Salt & Pepper
1 Rotisserie Chicken (discard skin & shred chicken)
8 oz Shredded Mozzarella
4 oz Sour Cream (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork and bake until soft for about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes then slice in half lengthwise. NOTE - you can microwave the potatoes on high for ~ 10 minutes instead of baking them if you prefer. Scoop out the flesh keeping a 1 inch layer of potato. Brush the potato skins with olive oil and season with salt & Pepper.  Bake the potato skins for about 15 minutes or until the skins are crispy.

Place all of the ingredients for the buffalo sauce into a small pot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and whisk gently until all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from the heat. 

Discard the skin from the chicken and shred all of the meat into a bowl. Pour the Buffalo sauce over the shredded chicken and stir until all of the chicken is coated.

Fill the twice cooked potato skins with the Buffalo shredded chicken, top with the shredded mozzarella. Place the filled potato skins on a rack in a baking sheet. Place them back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the mozzarella is bubbling and has started to brown.  Top each potato with a dollop of sour cream.


 
NOTE: This dish can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance.  Keep the stuffed potatoes tightly covered in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake.


To print a copy of this recipe go to Thrice Cooked Sweet Potato Skins with Buffalo Chicken.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Roasted Honey Balsamic Acorn Squash

 We have a new favorite vegetable in our house, roasted honey balsamic acorn squash. I have long struggled to find an acorn squash recipe that is both easy and tastes great.  I’ve combined wonderful richness of roasting, the sweetness of honey and the savory tang of balsamic vinegar you deliver acorn squash that could be served as a main course.

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients

1 Acorn Squash
2 TBS Honey
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
4 grinds Black Pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

Wash the acorn squash and cut it in half with a large kitchen knife.  Remove the seeds and cut each half into 6 equal wedges.

Place the acorn squash flat on the cookie sheet (see photo).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Brush the vinaigrette evenly over the slices, flip and repeat.

Roast for 20 minutes, flip then roast for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: I cut off the rind before I eat the squash but some people like the crunchy texture and eat it.

To print a copy of this recipe go to Roasted Honey Balsamic Acorn Squash.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Taschen Trees

Makes 44 cookies

These chewy rolled cookies instantly assault your mouth with the taste of dark chocolate and orange.  They are semisweet, with a firm chew that melts in your mouth. They evolved from an experience in my youth where I first tasted Hamantasch and fell in love with those delicacies.  This recipe is a variation of the dough used for Hamantasch where I added chocolate and orange peel and then drizzled melted semisweet chocolate over the top.

Ingredients
4 C All-Purpose Flour (plus more for dusting)
1½ tsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Kosher Salt
2 sticks Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1½ C Sugar
2 tsp Orange Zest (finely grated)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
3 lg Eggs
8 oz Semisweet Chocolate
- 3 ounces very finely chopped
- 5 ounces melted

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in orange zest and vanilla, then add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down bowl as necessary.

Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until combined. Add finely chopped chocolate and beat until just combined. Form dough into three 1-inch-thick disks, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in center.

On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out the trees using a cookie cutter or any other shape that you want; place on parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart. Gather scraps, chill, and repeat.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden on their edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

After the cookies have cooled completely, melt 5 oz. of semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour into a bowl and let it cool 10 minutes. Cut the tip off of a quart zipper bag leaving a VERY SMALL hole.  Put the chocolate into the bag and pipe the chocolate onto the cookies (see photo). Place the cookies back on the wire rack and let it cool until the chocolate is set. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to one month.


To print a copy of this recipe go to Taschen Trees.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon with Pesto


As Christmas approaches my thoughts go to what am I going to make for Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes. This easy dish features salmon filet coated with savory basil pesto and wrapped with prosciutto that crisps up in the oven.  They can even be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven when your guests arrive.

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients
2 large Salmon filets (1-1½ lbs.) *
Salt and Pepper
¼ C Basil Pesto
1/8 lb. Prosciutto (sliced very very thin)
Cooking Spray

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut each salmon fillet in half. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover each piece with 1 tablespoon of pesto. If the salmon is thin roll it up. Wrap the salmon with prosciutto and place in a baking tray coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fish reaches 125°F or becomes flakey. Serve immediately.

To print a copy of this recipe go to Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon with Pesto.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Frisco Rice

Makes 4-6 servings

This is a homemade version of that San Francisco treat Rice-a-Roni®. An exotic combination of rice, pasta, and Italian spices that will have your guests asking for seconds and your kids for thirds.

Ingredients *
2 TBS Butter
1/3 C Vermicelli (broken into 2 inch lengths)
1 C Long Grain Rice
2 Cloves Garlic (minced) *
2 ½ C Water
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 ½ tsp Dried Parsley
5 grinds Pepper
You will only need a small amount of vermicelli for this recipe (~1/8 lb.).  Break up the vermicelli into 2 inch lengths until you have 1/3 C.

In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, melt the butter over medium high heat until it just starts to bubble.  Add the rice and vermicelli to the hot butter until it starts to turn a pale brown color (see photo). Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 

Add the water, bouillon cubes and parsley.  Bring up to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is soft and tender.

* Pronto Substitutes
Chicken Bouillon Cubes – Use Beef or Vegetable Bouillon in place of the Chicken Bouillon Cubes.


To print a copy of this recipe go to Frisco Rice.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Italian White Chili

Makes 6 one-cup servings

This is an Italian version of a classic southwestern recipe that will challenge your taste buds while bringing back fond memories at the same time.  Serve with a loaf of crusty Italian bread and you have a meal that the whole family will enjoy, especially on a cool fall evening.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 tsp (2 cloves) minced Garlic
1 lb. boneless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1/8 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp. White Balsamic Vinegar *
2 15 oz. cans Cannellini Beans, undrained *
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (4 oz.) chopped Green Chilies, undrained
1 tsp. ground Cumin
1-1/2 cups Italian Cheese Blend
2 Tbsp. fresh Cilantro or Italian Parsley (chopped)
1 Loaf of crusty Italian Bread (optional)

Ingredients

1. Dice the onion and cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Heat the olive oil in large pot on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken, and garlic; cook 6 additional minutes or until chicken is cooked through (smash a big piece in the pot and make sure it is no longer pink on the inside), stirring frequently.
2. Add the dried parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, vinegar, beans (do not drain, this will help thicken the chili), chicken broth, chopped chilies and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 min., stirring occasionally.

3. Serve in bowls with some crusty Italian bread and top it with the Italian cheese blend and either fresh cilantro or Italian parsley.

* Pronto Substitutes

White Balsamic Vinegar – Use White Vinegar in place of the White Balsamic Vinegar.  Do not use classic balsamic vinegar, ehe dark caramel color will adversely affect the color of the dish and impart too strong a flavor.

Cannellini Beans – Replace with Great Northern Beans

White Balsamic Vinegar is made in Italy in the same manner as classic Balsamic Vinegar: The grapes are cooked under pressure which prevents the vinegar from caramelizing and taking on the dark rich color of a traditional balsamic. The vinegar is then aged only one year in barrels that are not charred, so that the white color of the grape remains. It has a lighter, distinctive flavor than traditional balsamic vinegar.  White balsamic vinegar is used for aesthetic reasons, so as not to color sauces/dressings. It’s primarily used in salads and perfect for pasta salads.  

To print a copy of this recipe go to Italian White Chili.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spaghetti Squash ala Romano

Makes 8 side servings

Did you ever want to try a new vegetable but you were afraid to try.  Spaghetti squash has the ability to make a vegetable lover of anyone that likes traditional spaghetti – even your kids!

1 Lg Spaghetti Squash

Sauce *
1 tsp Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp dried Parsley or I TBS Fresh Parsley
½ tsp Dried Oregano or I tsp Fresh Oregano
5 grinds of Black pepper
½ tsp Kosher Salt or ¼ tsp Table Salt
¼ C Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and place the cut sides down in a glass baking dish with 1 inch of water and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in the microwave and cook on high for 12-15 minutes or until a knife can be effortlessly inserted into the squash. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

Carefully remove the squash and place it on a cutting board face up. Remove the seeds just as you would with a pumpkin. Scrape the surface of the squash with a fork and it should start to come off in spaghetti like strands.  If it will not shred into strands put it back into the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Remove all the squash and throw out the skin.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown or it will become bitter. Add the diced tomatoes though the salt and bring up to a light simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti squash and the grated cheese and heat through. 

* Pronto Substitute
Sauce – Substitute any jarred tomato sauce


To print a copy of this recipe go to Spaghetti Squash ala Romano

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Cake / Muffins

It’s the end of summer and you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini. Here’s a way to sneak zucchini into your kids diet without them knowing it. They will think they are eating just an ordinary chocolate cake and you will both enjoy it.

Ingredients
Cooking Spray           
1 pkg Devil’s food cake mix 
1/3 C Vegetable Oil
1 C Water
3 Lg Eggs
2 C Grated Zucchini (2 small zucchini)

Preheat the oven to 350°. 

Spray two 8 or 9 inch cake pans or 1 bunt pan with cooking spray and coat each with 1 TBS of cake mix. Alternatively you can make cupcakes using cupcake liners or just coating the cups with cooking spray—no cake mix is needed. 

Grate zucchini and set aside.

Place the cake mix in a large bowl and add the eggs, water and oil and mix well.  Add the zucchini and fold it in.  Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and spread the batter evenly with a rubber spatula or pour into an 18 cup muffin pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (no wetness). See cooking times below. Let the cake sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. 
Eat your cake and have your veggies at the same time.

Cooking Times
2 - 8” Cake Pans
350°F
26-31 Minutes
2 – 9” Cake Pans
350°F
24-29 Minutes
1 – Bunt Ban
350°F
33-36 Minutes
6 C Cup Cake Pan in a Toaster Oven
325°F
15 Minutes
Cup Cake Pan in Conventional Oven
350°F
18-20 Minutes

Optionally you can ice the cake with your favorite chocolate frosting or just dust it with some powered sugar.
For other Italian recipes go to www.italian-fusion.blogspot.com.


To print a copy of this recipe go to Chocolate Zucchini Cake / Muffins.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tomato & Watermelon Salad

As summer winds down, I try to hang on to the fruits and vegetables that make summer great – fresh tomatoes from the farmers market and sweet watermelon. This salad is summer on a bowl.  The sweetness of the watermelon balances the acidity of the tomatoes contrasts with the pungent gorgonzola cheese. It’s refreshing and it excites all of your taste buds at the same time.
 
Ingredients
3 C Watermelon (1” cubes)
2 Ripe Tomatoes (diced)
½ C Crumbled Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese

Vinaigrette
2 TBS Champaigne or Cider Vinegar
Pinch Salt
3 grinds Fresh Black Pepper
1 TBS Fresh Mint (minced)
1 small Shallot (diced fine)
¼ C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

Place the cubed watermelon, diced tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, mint, and diced shallot. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.

Pour the vinaigrette over the watermelon and tomatoes and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Serve with a burger or a steak and enjoy the end of summer.


To print a copy of this recipe go to Tomato & Watermellon Salad.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quick Pork & Eggplant Stew


 
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Medium Purple Eggplant (peel & dice 1” squares)
1 lb. Pork (diced ½” squares) 
 2 TBS Olive Oil
½ tsp Kosher Salt – divided ¼ tsp + ¼ tsp
2 Cloves Garlic (minced large)
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes (halved)
1 C White Wine
1 C Marinara
½ C Grated Fontina Cheese 
2 TBS Grated Parmesan
1½ tsp Fresh Thyme (minced)
1 TBS Fresh Basil (minced)

Directions

Cover a large microwave safe plate with a paper towel. Spread the diced eggplant on the towel, sprinkle ¼ tsp kosher salt over the eggplant, and cover with another paper towel. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Dice the pork into ½” cubes trimming any excess fat. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt on the cubed pork.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add the diced pork and sauté until all sides of the pork are light brown. Do not overcook.  Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked pork and put it in a bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon to the frying pan and sauté the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and tomatoes until the eggplant is softened. Add 1 cup white wine and reduce the wine by half.

Add the marinara, Fontina, Parmesan, thyme, and basil. Cover and simmer on low heat for ten minutes. Stir frequently.

Serve immediately with some crusty Italian bread and a glass of white wine. This stew also freezes well.

* Pronto Substitutes
Pork – you can use a variety of pork including pork chops, tenderloin or pork roast.
Fontina – Substitute any mild melting cheese such as mozzarella

To print a copy of this recipe go to Quick Pork & Eggplant Stew.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fried Daylily Flowers with Ricotta


Fried zucchini flowers are a classic Italian dish. However I do not have space to grow zucchini so I used daylily flowers instead.
 
Ingredients
1 C Whole Milk Ricotta (drained)
1 Large Egg
½ C Fresh Chives (thinly sliced)
¼ C Grated Parmesan
¼ tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
12 Daylily Flowers (stamens removed)
1 lb Fresh Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
½ C + 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 Leaves Basil (sliced in strips)
1 tsp Salt

Directions

Place the Ricotta in a strained over a bowl in the refrigerator. Drain for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, chives, grated parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Using a teaspoon, stuff each daylily blossom with 1 ½ teaspoons of filling and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the diced tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over high heat until just smoking. Carefully place 2-3 flowers at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Be careful, the oil may splatter. Sprinkle lightly with salt after they are fried.

Serve the fried blossoms topped with the tomatoes.

To print a copy of this recipe go to Fried Daylily Flowers with Ricotta.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pulled Pork, Egg and Waffles


Makes 2 servings.

I was in a quandary, I had leftover pulled pork and I wanted to try using it in a different way – then inspiration struck when I saw my waffle maker. What I came up with was a cross between breakfast and dinner. I first made a Belgian waffle, covered it with Dr. Pepper® Pulled Pork smothered in Peach Balsamic BBQ sauce then topped with two over easy fried eggs. When you cut into it the yolks creamy flavor balanced out the tartness of the pulled pork and the crisp waffle held it all together. 

Ingredients

2 Belgian waffles (don’t make them too crispy)
2 C Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce*
1 TBS Salted Butter
4 Large Eggs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare 2 Belgian waffles according to your favorite recipe or buy frozen and prepare according to package directions. I used Bisquick® and the recipe on the box for my waffles.

Reheat the pulled pork. Make sure it has BBQ sauce on it and is “wet”. Spread 1 cup of pulled pork on each waffle.

Heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet and fry the eggs over easy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 fried eggs on top of the pulled pork.  Serve immediately.

*Pronto Substitute

Pulled Pork – You can substitute any pulled pork as long as it has a BBQ sauce on it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Baked Beans

Baked Beans.jpgAt your next barbecue kick up the beans a notch. This recipe will help you transform an ordinary can of baked beans into a dish that your guests will ask for the recipe. It has a rich, sweet, salty and savory taste that will make everyone smile.You'll never eat beans straight from the can again.


5 Slices of Bacon or 1/3 lb Pancetta
¼ C Green Pepper (diced very small)
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
¼ C Onion (minced)
½ C Light Brown Sugar (packed)
½ C Barbecue Sauce or Ketchup
1 ½ tsp Yellow or Brown Mustard
2 16 oz Cans of Baked Beans
Cut the bacon or pancetta (if you use pancetta add 1 TBS olive oil to the pan) into small strips and fry in a large skillet for 3-4 minutes.  Add the diced pepper, and chopped onion.  Continue stirring until the pepper is tender and the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then add the brown sugar, barbecue sauce or ketchup, and mustard.  Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.  Add the beans and stir carefully.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

To print a copy of the recipe go to Baked Beans.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grilled Florentine Steak Salad


This is grilling Tuscan style. Florence is famous for their steaks. They use locally raised, grass fed cows that are tender and flavorful. It’s easy to duplicate this fantastic dish on your own home grill. Use a good quality steak and coat it in olive oil and garlic before grilling. You will love the results.

Makes 2 Servings

Ingredients
1 Large Clove Garlic *
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 tsp Fresh Rosemary (Minced Finely)
1 8oz. New York Strip Steak
2 C Mixed Greens

Dressing
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar *
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper

Directions

Press the garlic clove through a garlic press or mince finely. Mix together the minced garlic, salt, olive oil, and rosemary. Coat the strip steak with the mixture and grill over a hot heat until it has an internal temperature of 130F. Remove from the grill and tent with foil for 5 minutes before slicing.

While the steak is grilling whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and mix with the greens. Place half the dressed greens on each plate. Slice the steak and place it on top of the greens. Serve immediately.

* Pronto Substitutes
Garlic Clove – for a sweeter flavor substitute 3-4 cloves of roasted garlic.
Balsamic Vinegar – Use apple cider vinegar


To print a copy of this recipe go to Grilled Florentine Steak Salad.