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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pistachio Caramel Monkey Bread

There are probably hundreds of different recipes for monkey bread. They can be sweet or savory, put in muffin tins, or bread or cake pans. You can use almost any kind of raw dough, so creating a recipe like this is so much fun !

They had those refrigerated biscuits on sale at the grocery store, so I purchased a couple, then used what I had on hand to complete this. The pistachios are normally used as a salad topping at our house, and I have to say I would add them to this again ! So simple, and so tasty !

Pistachio Caramel Monkey Bread

2 tubes refrigerated biscuits (I used the large buttermilk variety, but any will do)
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup plus 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pistachios, shelled

Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, combine one stick of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, salt and pistachios. Cream together until smooth. Spread half of the mixture into the bottom of a tube or bundt pan. Melt the other stick of butter in a small bowl, and add the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix together well. Cut biscuits into quarters, then roll each piece into a ball, and dip in the melted butter mixture. Layer "doughballs" on top of the pistachio mixture. When pan is half full (one tube of biscuits), spread remaining pistachio mixture across the biscuits, and then complete rolling the biscuit dough into balls, as above. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a bit crunchy. Immediately invert the cake pan onto a cookie sheet or platter, and let cool as long as you can keep your hands off !! Pull apart and enjoy !

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Swedish Toffee Creams

A very old and dear friend passed away recently, so we attended the celebration of her life this last weekend. Carol and I worked together many years ago in a department store, and shared a love of sweet treats. So, it seems fitting that her family had some amazing food at their house, as part of the tribute to her.

The one thing that stood out for me were these cookies. They were so different than anything I have had. I was discussing what might be in them, thinking it was a closely guarded family secret. As I worked on this conundrum, someone passed me the recipe ! These cookies on their own are delicate and buttery, but when you add the filling, well...

The original recipe, from Gwen Norberg (Carol's mom), recommends doubling the filling part of the recipe, so your guests and cookie aficionados can add as much filling as they like. I would agree ! I found the most efficient way to create these was to start the filling, then let it cool while you bake the cookies.

Swedish Toffee Creams

For the filling:
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks , beaten
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar

In a small saucepan. combine flour and sugar, gradually whisk in milk, then beaten egg yolks, mixing well. Cook over low head, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to boil and become thick. Remove from heat and let cool. Once mixture is completely cool, cream together butter and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and add to the cooked mixture.

For the cookies:
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/3 cups uncooked quick oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. I microwaved the butter in my mixing bowl to streamline the process. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoon full onto parchment paper, making sure to leave plenty of room in between, as they spread out quite a bit. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around the edges. Remove from oven, and let sit on cookie sheet for an additional 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Once the cookies are cool, spread the filling between two cookies to make a "sandwich". This is best done right before eating, so the cookies maintain their crispy texture.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Smoked Pork Green Chili

I had never experienced anything like this before I moved to Denver many years ago. There aren't may restaurants that don't have some version of this on their menu, and certainly no self-respecting taco shop would be without their own"special recipe" for green chili. 

My version incorporates many of our homemade sauces and canned goods, so I will offer alternates to those, unless you want to start canning ! The real key for this version was roasted hatch chiles. We grew some on our garden, but I was also able to locate some at a local grocery store for the first time this year. They are seasonal, so I roasted as many as I could get my greedy hands on, and froze them for use later. They peel very easily after being frozen, which is a bonus when you are using this many in a dish.

I wish I had taken the picture sooner...this is the aftermath of a chili cook-off I entered with this recipe. I won for the "Most Spicy" !!

Smoked Pork Green Chili 

2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 medium onions, diced 
5 cloves garlic, minced 
12 roasted Hatch chiles, peeled and seeded 
3 serrano chiles 
8 cups chicken stock 
3 pounds smoked pork, shredded or diced (regular roast pork will work here) 
2 cups green enchilada sauce (my recipe, here or store bought 
2 tablespoons cumin 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon each, salt and pepper 
2 teaspoons chipotle powder 
1/2 cup jalapeno hot sauce (Tabasco brand from the store)
1/2 cup masa or corn meal
2 cans Great Northern beans 

In a large Dutch oven, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add chiles and continue to cook until all vegetables are soft. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the beans. Adjust stock/moisture level to your tastes. Cook for approximately one hour, then stir in the beans. Simmer for at least another half hour so all flavors can combine. Serve wit your favorite garnishes, mine is this simple cilantro lime cream: 

2 cups sour cream 
1/2 cup cilantro, leaves only 
2 limes zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chipotle powder 

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Candied Jalapenos

So, what do you do when you "over-purchase" hot peppers at the Farmer's Market ? You make candied jalapenos ! I honestly have never tried these; however, I am now a huge fan. I have always loved the combination of sweet and spicy, but this takes it to a new level. The side bonus is 3 small jars of the sweet syrup, infused with peppers, which will make an amazing glaze for some Cornish game hens I have in the freezer !

These are so easy, and are great with cheese and crackers, or incorporated into a sandwich, salad or snack !

Candied Jalapenos
3 pounds red and green jalapenos, sliced
2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons hot chili powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons celery salt

In a large stock pot, mix together vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 10 minutes. Stir in sliced peppers, and cook for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, start your canner with boiling water, and reserve 10 half pint jars. Bring water to a boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place peppers in sterilized jars. Bring remaining syrup to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Pour hot syrup over peppers up to 1/4 inch from the top of the jars. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, then cool and store. Any extra "syrup" can be canned along side the peppers, and used for glaze for meats.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Potato Leek Soup

I really love this soup. It's fairly simple to make, is vegetarian, and dairy free, so easy to share with people and not worry about dietary issues.

The first time I had potato leek soups was many years ago in Ireland. Before that, potato soup for me was chunky, creamy, with bacon, maybe carrots. So, when we were served this at a dinner, I was blown away ! It still tastes creamy, warm and comforting, but was different than anything I had ever had.

This recipe makes a large batch, but freezes well, so save some for later, or share the love !

Potato Leek Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large leeks, thinly sliced and washed thoroughly (I try to choose those with the largest white portion)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
8 cups vegetable stock
4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons Vegeta (this is a salt/spice mixture available online or in ethnic food stores)
2 teaspoons pepper (or to taste)

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute until soft. Pour in vegetable stock, then slowly add potatoes, to prevent splashing. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until potatoes are soft enough to be blended.

Using a blender or immersion mixer, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in spices, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes, tasting for seasoning. Serve hot with bread or toasted bread crumbs on top, for texture.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Garlic Confit

It was quite awhile ago that I made a recipe for a sauce that called for garlic confit. So long ago, in fact, that I can't recall the original recipe. The garlic confit, however, I most definitely remember. 

My husband is a big garlic fan, he will even eat the cloves raw sometimes. I like it roasted, or chopped finely and used in recipes. This confit garlic is almost like candy. You can eat it alone, or in recipes, but it also has this amazing by-product. You get a nice batch of garlic infused olive oil, which I have used for grilling vegetables or even to start an omelet, in place of butter. 

And it's super simple to make. I can almost guarantee, if you like garlic, you will wind up doubling or tripling this batch ! 

Garlic Confit 
2 cups good quality olive oil 
30 cloves of garlic, peeled 

In a medium sauce pan, combine olive oil and garlic. Simmer over low heat, being careful not to boil, until the garlic is soft and golden brown. Remove garlic from oil and let both cool. Store garlic in the refrigerator, and oil is fine in a bottle on the counter.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lemon Chicken with Tortellini and Spinach

I almost always find there is a "roundabout" way to my best recipes. This was one of those... 

My husband saw a recipe on a friend's Facebook page, and asked if I could make it. So I purchased the ingredients needed, then set about making it. Then I started thinking...he loves tortellini, so why not use that as the pasta ? And since it was originally a lemon chicken recipe, why not marinate the chicken with lemon pepper ? I love mushrooms, I should add those as well ! Oh, wait...and onions, and a fresh tomato from the garden... 

You can see where this is going. All that really remained from the original recipe was lemon, and chicken. It maybe had spinach, but at this point I had already veered away so far, what else could I do to it ? Substitute a hard goat cheese for parmesan, of course ! And this was the result: 

I promised my husband I would post the recipe, so he can make this when I am not here. It may seem like a lot of steps, but it was really not hard at all ! 

Lemon Chicken with Tortellini and Spinach 
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 
Marinate with: 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon agave or honey 
2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper 
1 teaspoon salt 
Marinate at least 3 hours or overnight 

For the rest of the dish: 
1 small onion, diced finely 
8 ounces fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced 
1 medium tomato, diced 
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used garlic infused, but any good olive oil is fine here)
2 packages cheese tortellini ( I used dry, but fresh will work as well) 
3 cups fresh spinach 
3 lemons, zested then juiced 
1/2 cup salted butter 
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 
4 ounces hard goat cheese, grated (or parmesan, if you prefer) 

Start a large pot of boiling water for the pasta (whatever kind you choose, following package directions). In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, remove chicken breasts from marinade and place in the pan. Cook on one side approximately 5 minutes, then turn and cook and additional 5 minutes. When chicken is lightly browned on each side, and cooked through, remove from pan. Place on a plate to cool, then cut into bite sized pieces.

Check your pasta water, you should be ready to add dried pasta at this point. If using fresh, wait...

In the same saute pan as the chicken, add the diced onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and tomatoes. Saute this mixture until everything is soft and combined, remove from heat.  If you are making fresh pasta, add this to the pot of boiling water, and cook while you dice the chicken breast.

At this point your pasta should be cooked. Drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of liquid. Saute spinach in the liquid until it reduces down, then stir in the mushroom, onion and tomato mixture. Add the tortellini back to the pot, along with the chicken. Stir in the lemon juice, butter and pepper. Make sure it is all well combined, then top with lemon zest and grated cheese.