Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apple Pecan Monkey Bread

Served this Christmas morning and it was quiet yummy!! 


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 (12 oz) or 2 (16 oz) cans refrigerated biscuits, seperated and cut into quarters
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan.
  2. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip-lock plastic bag; add the biscuit dough in batches of 10 to 12 pieces and shake to coat. Alternate layers of the chopped apples and pecan with the coated dough pieces in the prepared pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat; stir the brown sugar into the melted butter. Bring to a slow boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and pour over the apple, pecan and biscuit layers. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 35 minutes. All the bread to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate to serve. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

FINALLY!!! A new post ... let's see if I can do a better job of writing down and posting the things that are cooking in my kitchen ;)

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
served with Parmesan Crusted Baguette


2 T butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2-3 cups cubed butternut squash
½ cup diced carrots
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (I used honey crisp)
1 rib celery, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ cup dry white wine
1/3 cup cream
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Couple sprinkles of allspice
2 T chopped chives


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potato, squash, carrots, apple, celery and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, or use a stick blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Once the soup has been pureed, return it to the pot and stir in wine and cream. Season with nutmeg, allspice, salt, and pepper; simmer gently for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Panko Crusted Crab Cakes
12 ounces (3/4 cup) shelled cooked crab
¼ cup finely diced celery
¼ c minced green onions
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp hot sauce (optional)
1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Combine celery, minced chives, mayo, egg, mustard and hot sauce; mix well with a fork.  Add crab and ¼ c panko; stir gently just to mix.

Put remaining 1 c panko in a shallow bowl. Shape crab mixture into 24 cakes each about 2” wide and 1/2 “ thick. 

Turn each cake in panko to coat on all sides, pressing gently to make crumbs adhere.  Place cakes slightly apart in an oiled 12/17 baking pan. 
Bake in a 475 degree oven until golden borwn, 15-18 min.  Serve hot.

Simply Sinful Spread

¾ c parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tbsp green onions, chopped
¼ c sour cream
1 c hearts of palm, chopped
2/3 c  mayonnaise
2  Tbsp roasted red pepper or pimientos, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.  Transfer to shallow baking dish. 
Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Bakes Brie with Cranberry Chutney
2 refrigerated pie crusts (Pillsbury)
1 wheel of brie cheese
1 cup of cranberry chutney (can substitute whole cranberry sauce)
Unroll one pie crust and place brie wheel in center.  Wrap up  sides  of brie and trim dough to the top of the brie.  (Leftover dough can be used to decorate the top crust  e.g. leaves, berries, wreath etc)  Spread the cranberry chutney over top of cheese wheel.  Unroll second pie crust and lay over the top of the brie and fold over and under the bottom crust and  seal.  Please in an oven proof pie plate or serving dish and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until light brown.  Serve with crackers and extra dollops of cranberry.
Cranberry Chutney Recipe:
1 cup water, 4 cups fresh cranberries, 1 cup raisins, 1 small can crushed pineapple, drained, 2 cups sugar, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground allspice, ¼ tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally, untilcranberries burst and the mixture is thickened.  Cool and refrigerate.  Can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Also delicious with a holiday ham, turkey or pork.

Tomato Bruschetta
Baguette bread loaf
3 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
Handful of Italian parsley
Handful of fresh basil
Salt, pepper, a few turns of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Add salt to chopped tomatoes and let drain in a colander for one hour, stirring a few times to release juices.  Add chopped herbs to the tomatoes in a bowl.  Add fresh ground pepper and olive oil and crushed garlic. 
Slice French baguette and brush one side with olive oil.  Place on baking sheet and toast in 350 degree oven until top side is crisp.  Remove from oven and rub a cut-side of garlic over each baguette slice.  Top with tomato bruschetta and garnish with grated parmesan cheese

Ricotta Gnocchi with Butter & Sage Sauce
Pork Tenderloin ala Rosemary
French Green Beans Almondine
Green Salad
Garlic Toasts

Ricotta Gnocchi

1 lb ricotta cheese, drained if needed (see note below)*
1 egg, beaten
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
¾ cup flour, plus additional for kneading & handling

*Note:  If ricotta is too wet, the day before, place ricotta in cheesecloth  and  set in a strainer over a bowl in the refrigerator. 

Mix ricotta and egg
Add parmesan cheese
Mix  flour and salt
Add flour mixture to ricotta mixture and mix well.

Put out onto floured board and knead until smooth, adding a little extra flour if dough is too sticky. 
Flour the board lightly and break the dough into pieces the size of a small orange.  Shape pieces into rolls about the thickness of your thumb. 
Cut rolls into 1 inch pieces.
Hold a fork with its tines resting against a work surface at a 45 degree angle and the inside curve toward you.  Take a little dumpling and press it with your index finger against the outside curve of the fork at the tip end.  Quickly slide dumpling up along the length of the times, pressing with the index finger.  Remove finger and let dumpling fall back onto work surface.  (Groves made by fork and finger indentation will absorb the sauce.)  Repeat with the remaining dumplings.  Arrange dumplings on a floured tray or large plate.  

Bring a large pan of water to boil and add  2 Tbsp of salt.  Drop handful of gnocchi into boiling water and wait for them to surface and remove with slotted spoon and place into butter and sage sauce.    Cook for a minute to let it absorb flavor of sauce, then transfer to a serving dish and dust with grated parmesan cheese.  Keep warm while you finish cooking remaining gnocchi.

Butter and Sage Sauce

1 cube butter
1 handful fresh sage leaves (chopped)

Melt ½ cube of the butter in sauté pan over medium heat until butter begins to brown, add sage leaves and saute together for a minute and then add half of the gnocchi.  Repeat with remaining half of butter, sage, and gnocchi.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary

Pork Tenderloin (Costco has a pkg of 4 and you can freeze what you don’t use)
Olive oil, approx ¼ cup
Garlic, 3-4 cloves, chopped
Rosemary, 2 sprigs, leaves removed from stem and chopped
Soy Sauce, approx 1/8 cup
Salt, Pepper, a few shakes of each

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a  ziplock freezer bag, add oil, garlic, rosemary, soy sauce, salt, pepper and mix.  Add pork tenderloin, zip up  and roll around to cover loin.  Set on a plate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, turning once if possible.

Remove and place in a preheated oven proof glass or roasting pan.  Cook for 45-50 minutes.  Note:  You want it a little bit pink inside.
 Let set for about 10 minutes, slice and arrange on platter.  Pour pan drippings over top and serve.

Green Beans Almondine

1 pkg French green beans from Costco (stem tops are removed)
14 cube butter
¼ cup sliced almonds
Juice of ½ lemon

Place beans in boiling water to cover and let come to boil again.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until beans are tender-crisp.  Meanwhile ready a bowl of ice water.  Drain beans and plunge them in ice water to stop cooking process and retain color.  Drain beans well.
Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat and add almonds and cook until toasted.  Raise heat to medium high and add lemon juice and cook until lemon juice has reduced by half.  Add the green beans into the pan and stir to coat and heat them. 
Grilled Tomato Crostini
1 pint red grape tomatoes, 1 pint yellow pear tomatoes, 4 roma tomatoes, quartered
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¾ in thick slices of ciabatta bread
1 garlic clove, halved
Olive oil for drizzling
20 small basil leaves
Fresh ricotta cheese (optional)

·         Light gas grill.  Arrange four 12x24 in sheets of foil on work surface.  Mound the tomatoes in the center of each sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold up the foil to create tight packets.
·         Set packets on grill and cover.  Grill over moderately high heat for about 18 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to soften and burst. 
·         Grill the ciabatta until toasted and charred in spots, about 1 minute per side.
·         Transfer to plate and rub with the garlic halves. 
·         Using scissors carefully cut open the foil packet and spoon the tomatoes and their juices over the grilled bread and drizzle with olive oil. 
·         An option is to top with a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese. 
·         Sprinkle with salt and basil and serve.
Grilled Pizza with Balsamic BBQ Chicken & Assorted toppings
Pizza Crust: (1 recipe will make 4 medium crusts)
 2 cups bread flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 pkg quick rise yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
¾ c warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
·         Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.  Combine water and oil; add to flour mixture.  Stir until mixture forms a ball.  Note:  This can also be done in a food processor
·         Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 min).  Place the dough into a large bowl coated with olive oil, turning to coat the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (free from drafts) for 45 min or until doubled in bulk.
·         Punch dough down; divide in four pieces.  Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), roll each portion into a 10 inch circle on a lightly floured surface.
·         Place crusts onto cornmeal dusted baking sheet; separate the crusts with a piece of waxed or parchment paper which is dusted with cornmeal.
Page 2

Pizza Toppings: 
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 recipe Balsamic BBQ Sauce (recipe to follow)
2 red onions, cut into ½ thick rounds
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup roasted red peppers
Thinly sliced tomatoes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup olive oil mixed with chopped basil, oregano, salt & pepper
·         Preheat a gas or charcoal grill.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush.  Place the chicken on the grill.  Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side.  Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes.  Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into ¼ inch slices
·         While chicken is cooking, brush onion rounds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on grill, cooking until slightly softened. 

Balsamic BBQ Sauce
1 cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Assembling the pizzas:
·         Take a pizza crust and place on heated grill and cook until underside is firm and has lightly toasted grill marks.  Turn crust over and grill until firm and lightly toasted.  Remove from grill and brush with olive oil, basil and oregano mixture. 
·         Add choice of cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken, peppers.  Drizzle with a bit of the remaining BBQ sauce and return to grill until cheese is melted.

Page 3
Grilled Romaine with Roquefort Dressing and Toasted Hazelnuts
Heads of romaine, halved lengthwise (Costco has the easiest to work with)
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Good quality Roquefort salad dressing
Crumbled Roquefort cheese
Olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper

·         Heat grill
·         Brush cut side of romaine half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper
·         Place cut side down on grill and cook until slightly charred and then flip and do same on other side.  Romaine should be tender-crisp
·         Remove from grill and place on serving platter.  Drizzle dressing over romaine and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and crumbled cheese.  Serve warm.
Chicken Parmesan
Servings 4

v  1 cup flour
v  1 egg
v  1 cup breadcrumbs
v  1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
v  1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
v  1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
v  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
v  4 (3-ounces each) chicken breasts, pounded out to ½ inch thick
v  3/4 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows or purchased marinara sauce
v  4 or more slices of fresh mozzarella
v  8 teaspoons grated Parmesan
v  1 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
v  1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Mix breadcrumbs and herbs on a plate. Coat the chicken with flour and dip in the egg then roll in breadcrumbs. Melt one tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side then place the chicken in an oven-proof baking dish. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Lay a slice of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the cutlets. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
v  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
v  1/2 small onion, chopped
v  1 cloves garlic, chopped
v  1/2 stalk celery, chopped
v  1/2 carrot, chopped
v  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
v  1 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
v  2 to 4 basil leaves
v  1 dried bay leaves
v  2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.
Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Champagne Risotto
Servings  2
v  4 thin slices prosciutto
v  3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
v  2 tablespoons butter, divided
v  1 shallot, finely chopped
v  3/4 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
v  3/4 cup Champagne
v  1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
v  1/4 teaspoon salt
v  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place the slices of prosciutto on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto slices are almost completely crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. The slices will crisp up even more as they cool. Reserve for garnish.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spoon the risotto into serving dishes and garnish by breaking the crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately.
Roasted Asparagus
Servings 4
v  One bunch of asparagus
v  3 tablespoons oil
v  Salt & Pepper
v  Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Wash and trim asparagus spears by bending and allowing each spear to snap (this will remove the tough stem). Dry the spears. Put 3 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of an oven cooking sheet. Coat the asparagus in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 10 minutes, turning half-way through. Move to a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts if desired.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pumpkin Ravioli

I've made this recipe using pumpkin and sweet potatoes ... both turned out DE-LISH :) As for the sauce, I primarily used the same ingredients, however, with pumpkin ravioli I added a bit of Gorgonzola cheese to the sauce. Hubby said he preferred the sauce with the Gorgonzola. 

Ravioli Ingredients: 
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (drained on paper towel for 5-7 minutes) or cooked and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (substituted paprika for sweet potatoes) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces Mascarpone cheese
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Wonton wrappers
  1. Combine pumpkin, sage, nutmeg, salt, pepper, cheeses, and breadcrumbs. 
  2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to form a half-moon. Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.
  3. Fill a large pot with water; bring to a simmer. Add a dozen of ravioli to pan (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying). Cook 4 minutes or until done/rise to the top (do not boil), stirring gently. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.  
Sauce Ingredients: 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup milk, cream, or half & half
  • 1 tablespoon flour (if using milk ... to thicken if desired)
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese (for pumpkin ravioli) 
  1. Saute garlic and shallots in in olive oil and butter until tender and fragrant. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients and heat through over medium low heat until desire thickness. 
I severed this dish with pan roasted chicken breast and ... APPLES!!! Yes ... apples! Its adds a crisp, refreshing twist to the dish. When plating, I placed two apple slices on the bottom, topped with 4-5 raviolis, chicken, then topped with the sauce, an apple garnish and a sprinkle of chopped pecans. Enjoy!!