Monday, January 21, 2008

Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, Spinach, Walnuts and Cream Cheese

1 pound orechiette pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound turkey sausage, casing removed
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon of dried
1/2 cup cream cheese or mascarpone if you can find it
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
1 cup of packed fresh spinach or more if you like
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and onions. Using a wooden spoon break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it browns. Continue cooking until the sausage is golden and the onions are tender. Add the beans and oregano cook for 2 more minutes. Add the cup of pasta cooking liquid and stir, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cheese and stir until it dissolved into a light sauce. Add the salt, pepper, and hot pasta and stir, toss in spinach to slightly wilt and top off with toasted walnuts.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Quattros Leches Cake---4 Milk Cake in Latin America

This is my adaptation of a Tres Leches Cake. This is an Emeril recipe for Tres Leches that I have turned into my own Quattros Leches Cake. This cake is to die for!!!!!!!!

Cake: 6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream topping: 1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

After the Cream topping:
1 cup dulce de leche (homemade preferrably)***see bottom of the page

Chopped Macademia Nuts and Strawberries

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes or adjust cooking time to fit your oven....everyone's is different.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, spoon the cream mixture over it....or ladle over but don't spoon or ladle until the last ladle has soaked into the cake....this may take a few minutes to get the whole cake to absorb the patient it is worth it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Then drizzle dulce de leche over the cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving I top this cake off with chopped macademia nuts, whipped cream or cool whip and a side of sliced strawberries in their own syrup/juice.

***To make homemade dulce de leche you need to take a can of SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK and put it in a saucepan covered with water....make sure you remove the label. Gently bring the covered can up to a simmer with the lid on and simmer ever so slightly for 3 hours. DO NOT BOIL.....just a very gentle simmer. I have never had a problem with the can exploding and I suspect anyone that has has boiled their can instead of just a gentle simmer. Keep an eye on this in case you need to add some water during the 3 hours. When you open your can you will have what they call Cajeta in Mexico or Dulce De Leche in Latin America. You can use store bought sauce but I will guarantee it will not taste as good as this. It will be a dark carmel brown color and if it is stiff in your can just spoon it out and warm it up and it will thin out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Quesadilla's Swanson Style

Our family loves Quesadillas. I have 2 recipes I use faithfully. One is for BBQ Chicken Quesadillas that I make on a gas grill and then this recipe that I make inside the house.

You can use any size or flavor tortilla you like. The smaller the tortilla the more filling you will have leftover. I use those huge tortillas...I think they are burrito size and they make them in the Jalapeno&Cheddar, Spinach and then also a Sundried Tomato. Those are our 3 faves.

Tortillas of your choosing
1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can refried beans
1 cup of thawed frozen corn
Shredded jalapeno jack cheese
Shredded cheddar
Romaine Lettuce
Light Sr. Cream
Salsa of your choosing

Put beans and corn in a mixing bowl and stir together. Schmear some of the bean/corn filling on half of the tortilla. Sprinkle on some cheese. You can butter or olive oil the outside of the tortilla but I usually don't. Fold the other half of the tortilla on top and grill on one side until golden brown and then flip. Grill other side until golden. Let cool for a minute and then slice into wedges with a pizza cutter. I then top off with shredded romaine lettuce, salsa and sour cream. Quick and delicious.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cowgirl Cookies YeeeeeHAH!

The base recipe for these cookies is originally a Bon Apetit recipe for Colorado Cowboy Cookies. I however tweeked it to suit my needs........thus, Cowgirl Cookies were born. Who says guys get to have all the fun???

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate covered raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened flake coconut

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat until just blended. Stir in chocolate raisins and walnuts, pecans and coconut. (I normally put walnuts, pecans and coconut into my food processor and give it a couple of pulses until it resembles real course meal but if you don't have a processor just chop your nuts and stir it all in, no biggie).

Arrange 2 racks in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Form dough into balls, using a heaping measuring tablespoon. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten with hand slightly to make a round cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or longer depending on your oven...everyones is different. I would rotate the baking sheet about 1/2 through cooking process. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and firm in center. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Favorite Panini of All Time

1 Loaf Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
Thinly Sliced Deli Salsalito Turkey Breast
Sliced Havarti Cheese....Dill Havarti works well too
Roasted Red Pepper Strips
Dijon Mustard
Dickinson's Premium Cranberry Relish

I know this sounds like an odd combination but it suits my tastebuds just fine.

Assemble the ingredients into the bread to make a sandwhich. Brush outsides of bread with some EVOO and put between your panini press. Serve with a salad of baby lettuces and some really good organic potato chips.

I could eat this every week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Date Night Risotto

4 Servings

4 Italian Turkey Sausage Links (hot or sweet), casings removed
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2 small bay leaves
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine
3-4 cups of low sodium chicken stock/broth (put in a saucepan and keep hot)
1 cup of frozen baby peas
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
*pinch of saffron while cooking is optional

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausages and break up with a fork. Add onion and bay. Saute' until onion is translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add rice and boil until wine evaporates. Turn to med-low heat. Start adding hot broth 1 ladle at a time and keep stirring risotto until liquid evaporates and then add another ladle. Continue to do so until rice is tender and all liquid is gone.......about 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese and the cup of frozen peas. Discard the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Pass cheese along for topping. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a nice salad.

Crack open a bottle of prosecco (italian sparkling wine). If you want to get real creative buy a good quality sorbet of any flavor and add a scoop to your prosecco.