Saturday, April 28, 2012

Caramel Dream Bars

2 cups almonds
1 cup dates soaked 30 minutes, drained
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch salt

Caramel Layer:
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup cacao butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
pinch salt
Garnish with cacao nibs, or desiccated coconut

To form crust, process almonds, dates, cocoa powder and salt in food processor.

Press into glass pan.

To form caramel layer process almond butter, cacao butter, agave nectar and coconut butter in food processor until smooth.

Spread on top of crust layer. Top immediately with coconut and cacao nibs, pressing them into the caramel layer so they stick.

Press in 8 x 8 square pan. Freeze until ready for serving.

Carmine's Eggplant Parmigiana

Teflon bread loaf pan (8-by-4-inch)
Frying pan with 2-inch sides
3 cups vegetable oil
1 pound flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 quart marinara sauce (32 ounces)
1 1/2 cup Romano cheese (grated)
1 to 2 black skin eggplant (medium-size and firm)
1 dozen eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 to 3 cups mozzarella cheese (grated)

Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Slice the eggplant very thin, but without making any holes in each slice. Season the flour with salt and pepper, to taste.  Take each slice of eggplant
and run through the seasoned flour. Repeat this step until all of the eggplant is floured.

Beat the eggs well and add half cup of Romano cheese, chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Next, drag one slice of floured eggplant into the seasoned egg mixture until the eggplant
is completely coated.

Immediately, and very carefully, place each slice of the coated eggplant into the properly heated oil. Do not crowd with too many slices, as you will need to allow each slice to brown evenly on
both sides. When evenly browned, place the cooked eggplant slices onto several layers of paper towels. This could be done earlier in the day and even the day before.

Take two ounces to three ounces of marinara sauce and ladle it onto the bottom of the baking pan. Start building the layers with the eggplant slices and mold the eggplant as to create a layer and
thoroughly cover all of the sauce. Continue to add marinara sauce on top of the eggplant and then spread it evenly over the top surface. Sprinkle with a quarter of the grated mozzarella and a
tablespoon of grated cheese. Add another layer of eggplant followed by more marinara, grated cheese and Romano cheese. Continue building these layers until the baking mold is filled to the top.

Finish the top with more marinara and grated cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and then tin foil. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately one hour. To test, submerge a thin skewer into the
center for 15 seconds. Pull out the skewer and place on the palm of your hand to make sure it is hot in the center. Allow to settle for one hour and then cut into pieces. Serve with marinara and grated cheese.

Serves 4-6

Panera Bread Grilled Steak Salad with Giant Croutons

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds 1" thick beef tenderloin steaks
1 Panera Sourdough baguette
extra-virgin olive oil
blue cheese sprinkles (optional)
1 10oz bag baby spinach leaves
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 16oz can mandarin oranges
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces)
3/4 cup sliced almonds (about 3 ounces)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced into rings
Your favorite Poppy-seed salad dressing

For the grilled steak, rub both sides of each steak lightly with vegetable oil, and then season with salt and pepper. Grill steaks on one side, turn and finish grilling to desired doneness. (About 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.) Transfer steaks to platter to stand until cool, about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Just before serving, slice each steak diagonally into thin pieces.

If you prefer, coat the bottom of a large, heavy skillet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the steaks and cook on both
sides to desired doneness. (About 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.) Prepare the steaks for serving as above.

For the giant croutons, cut bread into slices 3/4" to 1" thick. Place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake slowly in a 300° F oven until they are lightly browned and crisp (approximately 25-30 minutes). For extra flavor, lightly brush each slice with olive oil after they have baked for 15 minutes. If you wish, sprinkle blue cheese crumbles over the slices for the last
minute or so of baking, just until the cheese softens.

For the salad, mix all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad equally and arrange on six plates. Top with slices of grilled beef. Add a giant crouton to
the side of each plate and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Olive Garden Cream of Tomato and Basil Soup

4 Tbsp butter
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups canned diced tomatoes (or 1 12-oz can)
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add red onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add white wine and reduce by 3/4. Add tomatoes and heavy cream,
bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/2.

Puree soup in a food processor. Stir in 2 Tbsp chopped basil, salt
and pepper.

Garnish with remaining fresh basil and tomatoes and serve.

Serves 4

Pecan Pralines

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Generously grease a large baking sheet.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, white sugar and milk. Bring to a boil.

Stir in butter, pecans and vanilla. Heat, without stirring, to between 234 degrees F and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that
flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface.

Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.

Beat until thickened, then pour immediately onto prepared surface and let rest until firm and completely cool before cutting.

Yields 20 pralines.

Dave & Buster's Roasted Turkey Avocado BLT

5 thin slices Oven-roasted turkey breast
2 slices whole wheat, multi-grain bread
3 slices bacon
1/2 fresh avocado, sliced
2 romaine lettuce leaves

1 slice tomato
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Cook the bacon slices until they are crispy.

While the bacon is cooking, lightly toast the bread.

Spread some mayonnaise on one side of each piece of bread. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the sliced turkey on top of one of the pieces of bread. Then top the turkey with the lettuce, tomato, bacon and avocado slices - in that order.  Top with the remaining slice of bread.

Makes 1 sandwich

Monday, April 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Casserole

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs butter  
1 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a food processor, slice the butternut squash and apples into thin pieces or you can chop into small dices. Place the squash and apples into a baking dish or casserole dish.

Mash together the remaining ingredients with a fork until crumbly, and sprinkle over the apples and squash.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.

Serves 6

Morrison's Rogue River Lodge Orange Dinner Rolls

1 cup lukewarm water
1 packet active-dry yeast
3 1/4 cups (13.8 ounces) flour, divided, plus additional for kneading
2 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons shortening, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and one-half cup flour, stirring to dissolve. Set aside just until the yeast is activated (the mixture will begin to bubble), 5 to 10 minutes.

While the yeast is activating, combine the remaining flour and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl.

With a fork (if working by hand), or using a dough hook, work half of the flour/sugar mixture into the activated yeast, then add the shortening and egg until combined. Slowly add in the remaining flour/sugar mixture (the mixture will at first be stringy, then very sticky as the flour is absorbed). Stir in the salt.

Move the dough to a floured surface. With floured hands, gently knead the dough (it will be sticky at first) about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed just to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers or the kneading surface. The finished dough will be tender, soft and slightly tacky.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 24 inches by 10 inches.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the orange zest.

Brush the dough with the softened butter, then sprinkle over the orange sugar mixture.

Roll the rectangle lengthwise into a tight tube (as when rolling cinnamon rolls). Cut the tube into 24 (1-inch) slices, using thread if possible (the thread will slice more easily and cleanly than a knife). Roll the tube one-quarter turn after each slice to keep the tube round; otherwise, it will flatten from all the slicing.

Place each of the slices into a well-greased muffin tin (the tins must be well-greased or the finished rolls will stick to the bottom). Cover loosely and set aside until the rolls double in size.

Bake the muffin trays 1 at a time, until the rolls are puffed and golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the trays halfway through for even baking.

Cool the rolls slightly, then unmold. Serve warm.

Makes 2 dozen rolls

Carrabba's Italian Grill Pesto Sauce

4 tablespoons walnuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon softened butter
3/4 cup firmly packed fresh basil, leaves only
1/4 cup firmly packed Italian parsley, leaves only
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, except the cheeses and olive oil.

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and pulse for a few seconds, until will blended but not liquefied.

Remove the pesto from the food processor to a mixing bowl and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano.

Store in a glass jar or airtight container. Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for 1 month for 4-6 months in the freezer. Make sure the pesto is covered with at least 1/4-inch (6mm) of olive oil to prevent the surface from turning brown.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cashew Chicken Chop Suey

2 Boneless Chicken breasts
1/2 cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Onion , thinly sliced
3 tablespoon Soya sauce
1 teaspoon Ginger -- fresh minced
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
3 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup -Water
1 cup Chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Bean sprouts -- fresh
1 can Water chestnuts -- 8 oz, drained
1 can Bamboo shoots -- drained
1 cup Mushrooms -- fresh sliced
1/2 cup Cashews

Combine chicken, celery, onion, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in 2 qt casserole dish, mix well.

Cover and Microwave at HIGH for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink, stirring twice.

Blend cornstarch and water in 1 cup measuring cup. Add to casserole dish.

Stir in remaining ingredients (except cashews).

Microwave uncovered at HIGH (100%) 15-19 minutes or till mixture is thickened stirring 2 or 3 times.

Sprinkle with Cashews.  Serve over noodles or rice.

Old Firehouse Restaurant's Hollywood Shrimp

Hollywood shrimp:

Oil, for sautéing
1/2 pound sliced country ham
3 pounds (21 to 25 count per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large lightly oiled skillet, sauté the country ham over medium heat until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then slice or chop; the restaurant juliennes the ham.

In a large casserole (about 11 by 15 inches), place the peeled shrimp in a single layer. Top the shrimp with the minced garlic, country ham and drizzle with melted butter. Place the casserole in the oven and cook just until the shrimp are opaque and firm, about 15 to 25 minutes. Serve the shrimp over the cooked grits.


2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup grits
2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a 3-quart stock pot, combine the water, milk, butter and salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then stir in the grits. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, following the package instructions.

Remove from heat, and stir in the cream for added richness.

This makes about 4 cups cooked grits. Serve immediately.

Makes 6-8 Servings

Qdoba Mexican Grill Mango Salsa

2 cups of mangoes, fresh or frozen; cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1 medium red pepper, diced into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1 medium cucumber, diced into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1/4 of a red onion, diced into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced (or approximately 2 tablespoons of juice)
1 tablespoon of sugar
a pinch of salt

If you are using fresh mangoes, you will need to follow the procedure below:

The mango has a flat, oblong pit that you want to cut around, separating the flesh of the mango from the pit. Stand the mango on its end with the stem side down. With a sharp knife, cut from the top of the mango down one side; repeat this on the other side. You should end up with three pieces-two sides, and a middle section with the pit. Take the outer section of mango and make lengthwise and crosswise cuts without cutting through the skin. You will then be able to peel the pieces away from the skin. Repeat this step with the other outer section of mango. Add pieces to the mixing bowl.
If using frozen mangoes, thaw and then cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces; place in mixing bowl.

Cut ends of cucumber and peel skin. Cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon scrape out seeds. Dice into small pieces and add to the mixing bowl.

Dice 1/4 of a red onion and a whole red pepper; add to bowl.

Mince the jalapeno and add to bowl. If you like heat or spice, leave the ribs in. If you don't want extra spice, cut out ribs and seeds. If your skin is sensitive to the heat, wear gloves or coat hands with a small quantity of salad oil, which makes it much easier to rinse the pepper from your hands.  This is a must for contact wearers.

Chop cilantro and add to bowl.

Squeeze juice from one lime (approximately 2 tablespoons) and add to bowl.

Add sugar and salt; stir.

Refrigerate until needed.