Monday, October 29, 2007

Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake Bars

These bars are similar to Turtle Cheesecake. I got the recipe out of Kraft Foods magazine and everyone loved them! They do take some advance planning because they have to cool before adding the topping and then they need to refrigerate at least 4 hours before eating, but they are worth it! Tip: Make sure that you let them cool completely before adding the caramel. I did not do this, and the caramel ended up liquifying a bit a some of the bars got soggy.

What You'll Need:
1 cup Pecan pieces, divided
1 1/2 cups crushed Nilla Wafers (about 50 wafers)
1/2 stick butter, melted
4 (8 oz.) packages Cream cheese, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Sour Cream
3 Tbsp. Flour
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 Eggs
24 Kraft Caramels, unwrapped
1 Tbsp. Water
3 squares Baker's Semi-sweet baking chocolate

What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 325.
Line 9 X 13 baking dish with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of dish.
Remove 1/2 the pecans and set aside. Finely chop remaining pecans.
Mix wafer crumbs, chopped pecans and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of prepared dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in mixer on medium speed until well blended.
Add sour cream, flour, and vanilla. Mix well.
Add eggs one at a time on low speed just until blended.
Pour into crust.
Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool competely.
Place caramels and water into microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute or until completely melted when stirred.
Pour over cooled cheesecake.
Top with reserved pecans.
Melt chocolate as directed on package and drizzle over cheesecake.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Use foil handles to remove from dish before cutting into pieces.

Four Cheese Lasagne

This lasagna is one of the best I've ever had! It is so creamy and cheesy, and is perfect for when you want to go meatless. It tastes a little like homemade mac-n-cheese and definitely falls into the category of comfort food! Sorry I don't have a picture...I had 12 hungry people waiting! Oh yeah, all the kids loved it and even ate seconds! I served this with salad, garlic bread, and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. A couple of tips: Go ahead and splurge on the real Parmesean and grate it really makes a difference. Also, make sure your top layer is cheese and not noodles...the edges of the noodles get too hard when they are on top.

What You'll Need:
12 uncooked Lasagna noodles
15 oz container Ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded Mozzerella cheese
8 oz. shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesean cheese
1 Egg
1/4 tsp. Salt
(For the Bechemel Sauce)
1/3 cup Butter
1/3 cup Flour
2 cups Milk
1 cup Chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Pepper

What You'll Do:
Cook Noodles about 6 or 7 minutes until almost done. You don't want them mushy!
While noodles are cooking, make the sauce:
In medium saucepan, melt butter over med-lo heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 mintues until smooth and golden. Whisk in milk, broth, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 9 X 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
Combine Ricotta, Mozzerella, Fontina, Parmesean, Egg, and Salt.
Spread a layer of sauce over bottom of pan. Cover with 3 noodles. Spread layer of cheese mixture over noodles. Repeat until you have 4 layers.
Cover with Foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove Foil and bake for another 20 minutes. (You may want to add one last sprinkling of parmesean cheese on the very top to brown before baking the last 20 minutes.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chocolate-Hazelnut Smooches

I saw Giada make these on "Everyday Italian" and I just had to try them! I wanted something Halloween-ish to take to a get together, and these cookies reminded me of little witches hats. They were perfect! I am a Nutella freak...I adore that stuff! However, these cookies didn't really end up tasting like Nutella to me. It just made them chocolatey. This recipe makes 36-40 cookies (I ended up with 34).

What You'll Need:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange sugar
1 (9-ounce) package of Hershey's kisses, unwrapped

What You'll Do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated.
Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls.
Roll the balls in the orange sugar, pressing to adhere.
Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Pork Chili with Cilantro and Lime

I got this recipe from GroovyGrl on the Nest. She won a chili cook-off with it and I can see why! It is very different from any chili I've ever had, but really good. The pork in it was so tender and the flavor from the cilantro gave it a great, unique taste. It did take quite some time to trim and cut up all the pork, but it was worth it in the end! I used a Boston Butt...the butcher told me that it's the same as a Pork Shoulder. Also, I omitted the scallions just because we don't like them. This chili is so perfect for cold weather...dig in!

What You'll Need:

1/2 pound sliced bacon
4 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper
1 large white onion, chopped
1 to 2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
32 ounces Chicken Broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
14.5 ounces can tomato puree
2 (19-ounce) cans small red beans, rinsed and drained (I used one can of kidney beans and one can of chili beans)
2 cups frozen Sweet Corn
1 Lime, juiced
1 cup Cilantro, Chopped
1 cup Scallions, sliced thin

What You'll Do:

Cook bacon in a 6 to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain and pour off all but 4 tablespoons fat from pot and reserve the rest. Crumble bacon.
Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat bacon fat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
Brown pork on all sides in about 6 batches without crowding and transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. If you see the pan is becoming to dry add more reserved bacon fat or vegetable oil.
Add onion and jalapenos and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
Add garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, then cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Return pork to pot with any juices accumulated on plate and add broth, bacon bits, tomato puree and tomatoes with juice.
Simmer chili, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender, about 2 hours. If Chili is becoming too thick add some water. Stir in beans and corn, bring to a simmer, stirring.
Right before serving finish w/ lime juice and cilantro, and top w/ scallions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chicken Scallopini (Macaroni Grill style!)

Our favorite dish at Macaroni Grill is their Chicken Scallopini. I searched online for a recipe, and I was amazed at how much this really did look and taste just like it. If it seems like it contains alot of butter...that's because it does! It takes ALOT of butter to make this dish. The original recipe calls for an entire pound of butter...that right, 4 whole sticks! I actually used a little less than the original recipe calls for and it was still very delicious. Also, remember that this sauce is enough for an entire box (pound) of pasta, so it does make alot. Next time, I will half the recipe because we had a quite a bit left over.

What You'll Need:
4 oz lemon juice
2 oz white wine
4 oz heavy cream
1 lb butter (I used 3/4 lb)
6-8 chicken breasts, pounded thin (I used cutlettes)
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
6 oz pancetta, cooked
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
12 oz artichoke hearts, sliced
1 Tbsp. capers ( I used more because we love them)
1 lb. cappellini (angel hair pasta), cooked
chopped parsley for garnish

What You'll Do:
To make the sauce:
Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third.
Add cream and simmer until mixture thickens (3 to 4 minutes).
Slowly add butter until completely incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and keep warm.

To make chicken and pasta:
Cook pasta and drain.
Heat two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet.
Dredge chicken in flour and saute in pan, turning once, until brown and cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan.
Add remaining ingredients to pan.
Heat until mushrooms soften and are cooked.
Add chicken back to pan. (At this point, I cut the chicken into large pieces, but you can leave them whole if you prefer.)

To serve: Place cooked pasta on each plate. Add butter sauce to chicken mixture and toss. Place chicken mixture over pasta. Garnish with parsley.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Greek Turkey Burgers

These burgers are a nice change to regular boring burgers. The oregano and feta give them a great flavor, but I think it's the Tzaziki sauce that makes them great. My friend Sarah (sdkrlm) from the AL board gave me this recipe. I believe it originally came from Racheal Ray. I served them on flatbread with the sauce, tomatoes and baby spring mix lettuce. Next time, I will try Pita bread instead because the tzaziki sauce made the flatbread too soggy. They were still good though!

What You'll Need:
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/2 onion, diced and sauteed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. steak seasoning
1/4 lb feta cheese
(Tzaziki Sauce)
1 1/2-2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 peeled, seeded cucumber
1-2 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
What you'll Do:
Mix together the first 6 ingredients and seperate into 4 patties. Cook on medium to medium-hi for about 6 minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, put the last 4 ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This soup was so yummy. It reminded me a little of Brunswick Stew, if you've ever had that before...only it is not as thick. It was really easy to make. Since it goes in the crockpot, the recipe calls for 2 uncooked, chopped chicken breasts, but I used a rotissere chicken from the store and just shredded the breast meat (thank you, RachelJohnson from the AL board, for this great idea!) Since I added cooked chicken, I turned the crockpot on low and cooked it for about 5 hours. I found this recipe on BMK's blog and it is originally from the Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook.

What You'll Need:
2 skinned and boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 10 oz package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
1 10 ½ oz can tomato puree
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

What You'll Do:
Combine all in crockpot. Cover and cook on High 6 hours. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips and garnish with fresh cilantro.