Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Antipasto Pasta Salad

I joked that one of my recipes for this challenge was going to be the eggplant, peppers, and mushrooms that Sarah sent me along with a fork. I could eat them all as-is, they’re so good!

However, I had to try to be a LITTLE creative, so instead I made a version of antipasto pasta salad. I added pasta, salami, provolone, and a garlicky dressing to the veggies, and the result was amazing. I could eat this stuff every day! Thanks again, Sarah!

Antipasto pasta salad
by Jennifer
Adapted from KCET Weekend Recipe: Antipasto Pasta Salad

8 ounces rotini pasta
8 ounces salami, sliced into matchsticks
8 ounces provolone cheese, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 jar Cosmo’s marinated mushrooms, drained
1/2 jar Cosmo’s marinated eggplant, drained
1/2 jar Cosmo’s Italian-style antipasto peppers, drained
5 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling over pasta
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cook rotini to your liking, then drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil then stir in salami, cheese, mushrooms, eggplant, and peppers. In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, 4 Tablespoons olive oil, mayonnaise, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over pasta mixture and refrigerate, stirring a few times to coat evenly with dressing until ready to serve. Gently mix in herbs right before serving.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

I was inspired to make a second recipe from the box of goodies I got from Jenny, who blogs at Creative Cooking Gluten Free, as part of a 37 Cooks challenge. One of the items she sent me was a jar of Run Dog Farm Pure & Raw Honey.

Mmmm...honey.

I sort of forgot about it when I was thinking about what recipe I could make, but then the lightbulb lit. Why not make honey ice cream?

Yeah, that's what I said.

It was pretty simple, really. I used honey instead of sugar - and not as much honey since it tastes sweeter than sugar - and the rest was a pretty basic recipe.

You can really taste the honey in this, and the vanilla adds a nice richness. As I was mixing it up, I was trying to think of a third flower-related flavor to add, but then I decided I didn't want to muddle the honey and vanilla, and I let it be.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
by Donna

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk

Mix the honey into the cream until it dissolves. If it doesn't want to dissolve, you can heat the cream gently to encourage the honey to melt. You won't need to get it more than lukewarm, so don't get carried away

Add the salt, vanilla, and whole milk and stir until it's all combined.

If your ice cream maker has its own compressor, you can start churning right away. Otherwise, refrigerate the mixture until it's fully chilled before churning.

Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a storage container and freeze until firm.

I wouldn't tell anyone if you decided to drizzle a little extra honey on top when you serve.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You've Never Had a Crouton Made with These!

Jennifer sent me some fresh grits from Georgia. She bought them at her local Farmer’s Market. I thought this salad would be a nice way to showcase those amazing grits. Make this for a potluck or serve as a main course. It goes a long way.

Southern Caesar Salad with Fried Grit Croutons
by Tracy
Adapted from Texas Caesar Salad on epicurious.com

Croutons:
2 1/2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon hot sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 cup grits
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Nonstick cooking spray
Vegetable oil for frying

Bring, milk, hot sauce, garlic, cayenne, salt and butter to a boil over medium high heat. Whisk in the grits and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Do no stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the grits in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Cool the grits and then chill them in the refrigerator until ready to use. When ready, cut the grits into 1/2-inch cubes. Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan until it reaches about 1/2 inch high. Heat oil to 350°F. Fry the croutons in batches until they are golden. Set on a paper towel to drain.

Spicy Pecans:
1 cup pecan halves
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Toss pecan halves with melted butter, cayenne, hot sauce and salt. Sprinkle on the chili powder and toss to coat again. Lay out pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Stir the pecans every 10 minutes to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Dressing:
1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt

Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Salad:
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
3 heads romaine lettuce, cored and torn into pieces
2 cups frozen white corn, thawed
1 jar (8.5 ounce) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil., drained and sliced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
6 slices thick bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled.
Parmesan cheese for serving

When ready to serve, fry up the croutons. Toss the salad ingredients and spicy pecans with about 1/2 of the dressing. Portion onto individual plates and top with the croutons. Sprinkle more Parmesan and serve.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chile Nachos

This was such a fun challenge for me. I was paired with my fellow 37 cook Gary Gee and he sent such a fabulous Texas selection for me to try. To be honest, I almost ate everything, I couldn't stop sampling! One of my favorite things in the world is nachos and when I saw my surprise, I just had to make them.

Chile Nachos
by Christine

Oil for frying
4 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups cheddar jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 4 ounce can Hatch chiles, chopped, save juice
2 Tablespoons cilantro 
Hot sauce
2 limes, cut into quarters
Guacamole
Black bean dip
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan. Place a tortilla in the oil for about 20 seconds to lightly brown. Flip tortilla and using a pair of tongs, start to bend sides up to make a bowl shape.

Fry until golden brown and crisp, about a minute. Drain on paper towels while the remaining tortillas are being made. Place fried tortillas on a baking sheet and divide the cheddar jack, Parmesan and chiles between each tortilla. Bake until cheese is melted to your liking. Sprinkle with the cilantro, 4 or 5 shakes of hot sauce, a drizzle of the reserved chile juice and a squirt of lime. Serve with a lime slice, guacamole and black bean dip on the side.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do You Try New Recipes on Guests or a Personal Standby Like this One?

My surprise box came with three great items. One's a must-have in my kitchen, and the other two are things that are very new to me and I expect I'll have a lot of fun with them this summer. My box contained extra-virgin olive oil, Adobo seasoning, and a mojo criollo marinade.

It was a hectic week here, and rather than try something brand new on guests, I went with a personal standby: an olive oil, preserves, and vinegar marinade. I've used this in different variations for a long time. If you don't have apricot preserves, orange marmalade works well. No wine vinegar either? Try just lemon juice and olive oil. Add herbs if you want them in there. Use up the end of a jam jar - see what you come up with!

Apricot and Orange-Glazed Chicken
by Maurita

Serves 4

3 Tablespoons apricot preserves
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 chicken, cut up
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

Combine apricot preserves, orange juice, red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and minced garlic. Mix with a whisk until well combined, and set aside.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, then when the oil is shimmering hot, add the seasoned chicken parts. Cook until golden brown on the first side, about 4 minutes.

Turn the pieces over, then pour the apricot sauce evenly over top. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook 10-15 min more, until the chicken is cooked through. Check often, different parts cook at different rates!

Serve the chicken with sauce drizzled on top.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pecan Pineapple Cheese Balls

A big thank you to Maryjo Bentley-Hibbert for sending the wonderful box of TJ Texas pecans, a wonderful container of pecans with 4 different flavours (honey roasted, praline, orange and cinnamon) from Treasure Journeys in Roanoke, TX. 

Pecan Pineapple Cheese Balls 
by Nancy

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoon green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey roasted pecans from Treasure Journeys, finely chopped
1/2 cup cinnamon roasted pecans from Treasure Journeys, finely chopped
24 pretzel sticks

Mix the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl until soft. Stir in the green onions, pineapple, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and combine. Place in the fridge till it is firm and will hold together to form small round balls. Use small melon baller and roll the cheese mixture into the combined pecans and place a pretzel stick in the centre. Makes approximately 24.

Can be made two days ahead, but do not add the pretzel stick until day of party.