A Lighter Stuffed Pepper

This is my favorite time of year.  THE HOLIDAYS!  It’s about good friends, good times and good food.  (Good parties aren’t really so bad either).  Christmas is actually my favorite, with Thanksgiving a close second as far as food and parties go, but I really do love the Thanksgiving leftovers.  (I know there are more out there like me, so admit it)  Seriously, I could cook everything up, skip the dinner and just save all the food for the next day.  That is how much I love it.

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The standard turkey sandwich is one of the best ways to go, but my mom’s turkey rice soup is pretty incredible too.  The only problem is I have so many leftovers left over, that it becomes boring with the choices I have to use them all up.  I think, however, I may have stumbled on a pretty good addition to the leftover madness that ensues.

This is a recipe that I have worked out with turkey sausage and the recipe follows.  An alternative of course would be to use the equivalent of chopped turkey. If you do use the chopped turkey, it may tend to be a bit on the drier side so definitely add a bit more olive oil to the mix when you’re cooking it with the onions.  You could also add a bit of leftover gravy to keep it moist.  The options are endless!  I also used Tatsoi, which is a hardy green, sort of like a spinach or kale relative.  If you can’t find it (I found mine at the farmer’s market) you can always substitute with spinach or kale.

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The fun thing about this is you can really use anything you want.  Stuffed peppers are typically made with rice and ground beef and lots of cheese, but I’m trying to go the heart healthy way more often, so this is why I decided on this formula.  Get creative and use those leftovers up!  After all, it’s going to be another whole year before we can do this again!

A Lighter Stuffed Pepper

Course Entree
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 large bell peppers, cleaned out of membranes and top removed.
  • 1 cup Israel couscous, cooked according to directions
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (if using canned, drain first)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Tatsoi (you can also use spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago, cheddar or cheese of choice (optional) for topping

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Bring a pot of water (enough to cover peppers) to a boil.

  3. Place peppers in the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

  4. Cook couscous according to directions. Set aside.

  5. Add a small amount of cooking oil to a pan and add turkey sausage. Cook for about 5 minutes or until brown and break into small pieces.

  6. Add onions and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until onions are soft.

  7. Add diced tomatoes and heat through for another 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Add reserved couscous and stir into sausage mixture until well combined.

  9. Remove from heat and add goat cheese and Tatsoi. Stir to combine.

  10. Season with salt and pepper.

  11. Fill reserved bell peppers with sausage mixture, packing slightly. Top with additional cheese if desired.

  12. Place in a casserole dish small enough to fit tightly so they don’t fall over and bake for about 20 minutes until heated through. (they can be frozen at this point if you choose)

  13. Serve immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the leaves changing, the smell of fires in the air and the cool temperatures.  Every now and then, I will even watch a football game (go Pats!), but what I really love and it’s mostly the idea of, is a tailgate party.  How fun is that?  A group of people at the back-end of a car with good food, drinks and lots of laughs.

I need to digress here.  (Don’t worry, the two tales will eventually come together.)  There is a restaurant in upstate NY called The Boatyard.  A favorite of my dad’s and my brother’s, so we would go there at least once every time I was up there.  They are known for several dishes, but one of my personal favorites (and that of my entire family’s) are the Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls.  Yes, I did ask for the recipe, but no…they apparently didn’t want to share.  It was okay, I thought I could figure this out on my own.

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This is where the two stories come together.  It was Sunday afternoon and we were watching a football game. I decided that we were going to have a tailgate party…in our home.  It was just a casual day to make fun finger foods and along with the hot wings I was making, I decided I was going to figure out what these egg rolls were all about.

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It did take several tries (so the first tailgating, although good, wasn’t exceptional), but I think once you make this you will find that this is well worth the time and trouble and calories.  People are correct when they say that anything fried is good.  I don’t eat fried food…but I definitely would eat these on occasion.  The nice thing about these are that you can make them ahead of time and freeze them.    So try these on your next tailgating party, or cocktail party, or just a party of two.  You will want these again and again….they are that good. They are spicy, crunchy and tasty.  All the things your taste buds will need from a tailgating party.

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Go Pats, happy tailgating and a very happy Fall season to all of you!

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Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Package egg roll wrappers
  • 3 cups finely diced chicken (you can poach breasts, use prepared rotisserie, leftovers, etc)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk (depending on creaminess desired)
  • 8 ounce cream cheese (use whipped or soften the cheese beforehand for easier mixing)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce (more or less for your personal taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 4 ounces blue cheese crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

BLUE CHEESE DIP

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

Instructions

  1. Mix mayonnaise and sour cream together.

  2. Add buttermilk, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and combine until well blended.

  3. Add shallots and blue cheese and combine.

  4. Season to taste and set aside.

  5. Place wrapper flat and place approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture onto the middle of the wrapper. Roll according to package directions, seal with water and set aside.

  6. (at this point you may freeze if desired)

  7. Heat peanut oil in heavy duty pan until it reaches frying stage 350 degrees F to 400 degrees F

  8. Place rolled wrappers in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes turning occasionally. Remove and drain on paper towels.

  9. Slice in half on the diagonal and serve immediately with blue cheese dip. (directions follow)

  10. BLUE CHEESE DIP

  11. Whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice and chives. Fold in blue cheese crumbles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  12. Refrigerate before serving.

What’s in the Pantry?

Let’s face it.  There are always going to be those times where you just don’t feel you can find another minute to get things done.  For the last two weeks, it seems I did not have any time at all.  I had been overwhelmed with baking (cheesecakes for a friend), taking a continuing education course for my profession (it certainly would have helped if I had not waited until the last-minute), food judging for the area home shows and the list goes on and on.

The other night I came home and my husband asked me what was for dinner.  I just looked at him, probably like a deer in headlights.  I hadn’t even considered dinner and now it was already late.  I didn’t want to go back out to the grocery store, so we had to figure out something.  That’s when operation pantry surprise went into action.

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We have always kept something in the pantry we can work with.  You never know if there would be people collecting for a food drive or the electricity is going to go out.  I took a look in the pantry to see how my creative juices were going to flow.  I had soup, noodles, canned chicken and a jar of roasted vegetables.  The creativity started to flow.

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I was able to put together a meal that was easy, fairly quick and satisfying for the family.  The next time you don’t have time, but you have hungry eyes waiting for you to feed them, don’t order a pizza.  Look in your pantry and see what you can find.  I’ll bet it will be something good.

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Sunday Dunk

It was a Sunday afternoon and it was cold and rainy.  Fall was definitely here and the weather was definitely matching my mood.  Football games were on and I really didn’t want to spend my day cleaning (even though we all know that is what I should have done), so I started focusing on what I could make for dinner.  When in doubt, cook.

It was a perfect day for comfort food, but I wanted something different from my standard go-to pasta dish.  I didn’t feel like soup and I was really over cooking chili.  And then that momentary flash-back occurred and I remembered the garlic show I had seen the day before.  There were a couple of dishes that I liked but didn’t like either of them enough to make one.  I did however like parts of them enough to combine them and create a dish that was exactly what I was looking for.  A warm, comforting, sit on the couch and dunk dish.

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Who doesn’t like garlic?  This was a perfect combination of a warm soup, a hearty dish and the feel good that you get from a pasta.

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You could easily pour this over pasta or rice, even mashed potatoes and make a nice dinner out of it. For me, however, sitting there dunking my crusty bread loaf into the roasted garlic yumminess was the inside tailgating atmosphere I had been looking for.

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The Patriots won a great game and much to my husband’s disappointment the Giants lost….again.  It can’t get any better than that.

 

Smokey Chicken Stuffed Shells

It seems like I’ve been out of commission for a little while, although it’s only been a week.  I have no excuse except the cool crisp air has made me want to go to bed earlier.  It’s darker in the morning when I wake up and darker in the evening so my evenings feel shorted.

What is great about this however, is I love the Fall!  I want to have a fire in the fireplace, wear sweaters and cook comfort food.  I’m seriously ready to wear jeans and boots but living in the south I feel ridiculous doing that now….especially when everyone else is still wearing shorts and flip-flops.

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The one thing I can do when it’s colder in the evening is make a satisfying dinner that makes the soul warm.  That usually involves some form of pasta because I am apparently a carb freak, but in trying to make it semi healthy, I have adapted this recipe so I don’t feel so guilty.

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Leaves are changing color, nights are cool and despite the fact that your neighbors are still wearing flip-flops, you can still enjoy the Fall with comfort.  That will include a satisfying dinner.

So turn up the air, put on a sweater and enjoy!

Smokey Chicken Stuffed Shells

Course Entree
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 4 links chicken sausage ( I use the garlic and roasted red pepper from Whole Foods)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 12 ounce package jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces chopped roasted red pepper, drained
  • 4 ounces chopped fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

  1. Remove the chicken sausage from casings and cook over medium heat, breaking into small bite size pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Add onion, garlic and paprika and cook for 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes and basil, mixing in well and set aside.

  2. Mix together ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, beaten egg, Add chicken mixture and combine well.

  3. Stuff cooked shells with chicken and cheese mixture and place in a baking dish.

  4. Bring the oil to medium heat in a saucepot. Sweat the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat until fragrant, about one more minute. Stir in the peppers and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Working in batches, process the sauce on high in a food processor until smooth. Return the sauce to the pot, reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cream. Remove the heat an stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Pour sauce over pasta shells and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

  6. Serve immediately.

Spiced Honey Cake with Caramelized Figs

I was in Fresh Market the other day and saw they had fresh figs.  I’m not sure where they were from and honestly I didn’t care.  It was the last hurrah of summer and I was going to make something with them.

I brought my delicious little turkey figs home and immediately started looking through my hoard of recipes. (yes, I am a recipe hoarder). I had so many, but I wanted something different from the jam that I had made previously and I finally settled on this Spiced Honey Cake.  It was from CHOW.com and posted by Kate Ramos, although I’m unsure if she was the actual creator of this cake.  Whatever the case may be, this was an incredible looking cake and I was anxious to see if it was going to taste as good as I thought it might.

It did.

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I want to let you know that the honey liqueur that it requires is not the turkey honey whiskey stuff my husband likes to bring out at the boy’s card games.  There is a real honey liqueur and I would recommend Celtic Honey, a product from Ireland, or Bärenjäger.  Either one will work well.

This was a very nice, moist cake and the fig mixture on the top really enhanced the flavor of the cake.  If you love figs, you need to make this.  Well, even if you don’t like figs…you should still make this.  It’s that good.

I am already looking forward to next year’s crop of figs.  Yum.

Spiced Honey Cake with Carmelized Figs

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • Butter, for coating the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 2 pints figs, halved (you can use mission or brown turkey)
  • 1/2 cup honey liqueur
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 10-inch spring form pan with butter. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and ground cloves in a large bowl to break up any lumps and aerate. Set aside. Whisk together honey, oil, coffee, sugar, and eggs in another large bowl until eggs are broken up and mixture is smooth and combined. Add dry mixture to wet and stir until combined.

  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out completely clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside perimeter of the pan and remove the springform ring.

FOR THE TOPPING

  1. While the cake is cooling, add the butter to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the figs cut side down. Cook undisturbed until browned, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the liqueur and honey, stir to coat the figs, and cook until the syrup is golden brown and the figs are soft but still intact, about 10 minutes. Top the cake with the fig mixture and serve.

Chocolate Temptation Cake

There are some days when everything just goes so right.  This was one of those days.  I had my first piece printed in the local newspaper and although it doesn’t seem like much, it meant a lot to me.

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It all came about when an acquaintance,  Lorraine Eaton, wrote a cookbook titled “Tidewater Table.”  She happens to work for the local paper.  They came up with the idea that if anyone made a recipe from her cookbook and wrote about it they would publish the piece in the paper.  Well, I certainly wasn’t going to turn down a chance at notoriety for a day, so of course I had to get the book out and figure out something to make!

There were many good ideas, but I made my decision when I saw the picture of the “Chocolate Temptation Cake.”  Who doesn’t love chocolate?  I for one could live on chocolate but what made this even better was the fact it had hazelnuts and raspberries in the cake.  This recipe was from Williamsburg’s Marcel Desaulniers, the author of several chocolate-centric cookbooks, including “Death by Chocolate.”   I had to try to make this, despite the fact it was a bit of a challenge.

It really wasn’t that hard to make, just time-consuming.  The hardest part for me was skinning the hazelnuts, if you can believe that.  Those skins just didn’t want to come off!  The taste however, was well worth the time into it and would be a great ending to any dinner party you had.

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Try this recipe, try the cake and buy the book.  It will be a great addition to your collection!

Chocolate Temptation Cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 6 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted)
  • 6-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces
  • 2/3 cups egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup egg whites

FOR THE GANACHE

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces

FOR THE FILLING AND SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 pints red raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • (I would double this)

FOR THE CURLS

  • 1 ounce solid piece semisweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat the insides of two 9-by-1 1/2 inch round cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat the parchment paper with more melted butter. Set aside.

  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

  3. Heat 1 inch of water in bottom of double boiler over medium heat. Place the remaining butter and 6 1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate in top half of double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir until smooth and hold at room temperature.

  4. Place 2/3 cup egg yolks and 1 cup sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle. Beat on high until lemon colored and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for additional 2 minutes.

  5. While egg yolks are beating, whisk 2/3 cup egg whites ina large stainless-steel bowl until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.

  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture. Add a quarter of the beaten egg whites, and stir to incorporate, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

  7. Divide between the prepared pans, spreading evenly and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes. During baking the surface of the cake will form a crust; this crust will normally collapse when the cake is removed from the oven. Adjust the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Invert cakes onto cake plates. Remove parchment paper and refrigerate the cakes for 1 hour.

  8. While cakes are cooling, prepare the ganache. First toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in the 450-degree oven. Remove from the oven, and immediately cover with a damp towel. Invert another baking sheet over the top to steam the skins off. After 5 minutes, remove the skins from the nuts. Allow the nuts to cool to room temperature. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, chop nuts into 1/8-inch pieces.

  9. Heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup sugar in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Place 10 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces ina stainless-steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, and allow to stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir until smooth.

  10. Remove 1/2 cup chocolate ganache, and combine with chopped hazelnuts. Hold this mixture at room temperature to use for the filling. Remove another 1/2 cup chocolate ganache and reserve under refrigeration for 1 hour (this 1/2 cup will be used to decorate the Temptation) Hold the remaining chocolate ganache at room temperature until needed.

  11. Puree the raspberries and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade for 12 to 15 seconds. Transfer to a stainless-steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

  12. Assemble and decorate the cake. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Using a cake spatula, spread 1/4 cup raspberry puree over the one cake. Spread the puree evenly to the edges. Spread the ganache and hazelnut mixture over the raspberry puree. Spread the ganache evenly to the edges. Invert the other cake layer on top of the ganache covered cake. Press the cakes together. Using a very sharp serrated knife, trim the top and sides of the cake so they are even. At this point, the cake must be refrigerated for 30 minutes.

  13. Remove the well chilled cake from the refrigerator. Pour the room temperature chocolate ganache over the cake, spreading the with a spatula to create and even coating of ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 20 to 25 minutes to set the ganache.

  14. Transfer the 1/2 cup well chilled ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a No. 2 star tip. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Pipe eight to 12 stars on the top of the cake.

  15. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate curls from the 1 ounce piece of chocolate directly onto the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour before slicing.

  16. Temper the cake slices at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before serving. Portion 1/4 cup raspberry puree onto each plate. Place a slice of cake in the center of each plate and serve.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

If we all had one thing from our past that we all agreed was a favorite, I would have to guess that it would be warm chocolate chip cookies just pulled from the oven.  Add to that, a cold glass of milk and that chewy, gooey cookie was the only thing that seemed to make homework tolerable when I would walk in the door from school.

As the years went on, I made chocolate chip cookies for college roommates, my husband and finally my children and the cycle continued.  Well, okay….I really didn’t make them that often but when I did they still loved them like I had when I was their age.

Like most people, I always used the Toll-House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag.  I mean, what other recipe was there?  However, I have to say over the last few years I haven’t thought they were very good.  I’m not sure if it was me or the recipe, but they just didn’t taste the same.

It was time to change tradition.

As luck would have it, I was watching the Food Channel one Saturday morning and there it was on the show “The Best Thing I Ever Made.”  Chef Elizabeth Falkner was making Chocolate Chip Cookies and calling them the best ones ever.  Yes, you and I both know what happened next.  I made them.

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They were the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies ….EVER!

The edges were crisp and the inside chewy.  They were gooey and easy to make and so good I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe.  It does seem a bit sacrilegious to say, but I will never go back to Toll-House again.

Trust me. Ditch the bag of chocolate chips and try these.  It’s worth the break in tradition.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not over mixed. (If you opt to use a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes) Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir just until combined.

  2. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently just until combined. Add the chocolate and nuts if using and stir just until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  3. Position the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  4. Scoop up 1-inch balls of the dough with a spoon for mini scoop and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies, rotating the pans after 7 to 9 minutes, for 13 to 17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. If you like very soft cookies, bake them for 13 minutes. If you like your cookies crisp, bake them for 17 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. These cookies are best the day they are baked, but they will keep in an airtight container or cookie jar for up to 4 days. If they last that long.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green TomatoesI grew up in the North where things like okra, hush puppies and fried green tomatoes were a foreign language.  The first time I even heard about fried green tomatoes was when the movie by the same name came out.  I watched it, and I saw the things she was putting on the plates and I wondered at the time why anyone in their right mind would want to eat something like that.  Fried tomatoes?

Living in the south you have to adjust….most times in a good way.  What’s that saying?  When in Rome…..?  I’ve been here long enough that I feel I am a southerner, so when the time came a few years ago and I saw Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu, I had to try them.  Well, either the southern humidity finally got to me or we were on to something good.  Fried Green Tomatoes?  OH YES!

As it usually is in my world, once I like something, I have to try to make it.  And it has must right.  I have tried many recipes but I believe I have finally got one that has become my favorite.  With a few tweaks here and there I have adapted this from Southern Living to a point where I think it’s worth sharing.   It’s got a nice tang, a little spice and a lot of crunch and you can always add a garlic aioli or basil mayonnaise for added enjoyment.

So for you Yankees…..you may have won the war, but you’re missing out on some good eating.   I hope you try this because you will be glad you did.

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Fried Green Tomatoes

Course Entree, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Canola or Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine eggs and next 3 ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup all purpose flour and , panko, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan.
  3. Dredge tomato slices in remaining 1/2 cup flour, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in a large cast iron skillet, heat to 375 degrees. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels or a rack. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt.
  5. (You can keep cooked tomatoes warm at 250 degrees in the oven).

Fantastic Fig Spread

When I was growing up my closest connection to figs were in the Fig Newtons my mom used to buy.  I wasn’t a big fan.

Then came the bunko game a few years ago.  We all brought a dish to share and the only thing I remember from that night of eating was the basket my friend Leigh brought.  It had a small dish of fig jam in it and I don’t recall, but I’m sure I ate the entire thing myself.  I could not believe that was what figs really tasted like.

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After that I became obsessed with figs.  We bought a small fig tree the first year, with no results.  The next year we bought more fig trees and solicited advice from the sales rep.   He knew more than we did apparently, because that year I harvested five figs.  (yes, I did say the number five).  This year, we tried netting, something for the bugs and some fertilizer and we have a bumper crop!  I have so many that I can make Fantastic Fig Spread!

I don’t know where Leigh got this recipe from but I’ve made it before and it truly is fantastic.  In the past when I have made it (from store-bought figs) I have followed the recipe exactly.  This year I opted to add a little orange flavor to it and it was…..dare I say it?…FANTASTIC!!

This is an easy recipe and if you’ve never canned anything before this would be the one to start with.  Give it a try.  You will love it so much that next year you’ll be planting fig trees like I did.

As Ina Garten would say, “How easy is that?”  Enjoy!

Fantastic Fig Spread

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh figs, trimmed and quartered (I would chop a little smaller)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 ounces dried figs, stems trimmed and chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

Note: you can add 2 tablespoons orange zest and 1/2 orange juice to the above ingredients if desired.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and cool overnight.

  2. Stir jam, and bring to a boil over medium-high het. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until jam is thick, stirring often.

  3. Meanwhile, sterilize jars and lids: Submerge jars in a large pot filled halfway with simmering water, and lids in a small pot of simmering water. Keep jars and lids in hot water until ready to use.

  4. Remove jars one at a time from hot water and fill with jam, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Seal with lids. Place canning rack or cake rack in bottom of a large pot, and return sealed jars to pot, adding extra water to cover jars by 1 inch, if necessary. Bring water to a boil and boil ten minutes. Remove jars from water and cool completely.

  5. **Once cool, check lids. They won’t have that “pop” in the center. If they do, use them immediately or throw away.

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