Monday, January 30, 2012

Appetizer: Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Baked Jalapeno Poppers are a favorite of mine to make for our Superbowl  Party.   Not only do they add a little spice to the party they are easy to make. In making the poppers, you need to pick jalapeno peppers that are firm, smooth and a solid green color.  The filling consists of a seasoned ricotta pepper jack cheese mixture.  Then you fill, dip and bake.  The panko breadcrumbs add a crunchy texture to the peppers.  The peppers are baked long enough to cook through but they are not mushy.

The heat of the jalapeno pepper is moderately hot.  On a heat scale from 1 to 10, they are a 5.  If by chance, you happen to get a pepper which is really hot,  consume a dairy product like, milk, yogurt, or ice cream.  Dairy products contain casein which will help reduce the burning sensation in your mouth.

When working with jalapenos, or any chili pepper, try to wear disposable gloves.  The capsaicin in the peppers could burn your skin and eyes.

                                        Baked Jalapeno Poppers


12 fresh jalapeno peppers
1-cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1-teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½-1 teaspoon salt (depending upon taste)
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup flour
1-cup panko breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line baking sheet with foil.  Coat lightly with cooking spray.
3. Remove stems from jalapeno peppers.  Slice jalapenos lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes.  A melon ball scooper works nicely.

4. Mix together the ricotta cheese, onion powder, ground cumin, Mexican Oregano, garlic powder, salt, chili powder, and white pepper in a small bowl.  Add the pepper jack cheese and mix well. Taste and add more salt if  needed.
5. Beat together the eggs and milk in a small bowl.
6. Place the flour in a shallow dish.  In another dish place the panko breadcrumbs.
7. Fill the jalapeno pepper halves with one tablespoon of the cheese filling.

8. Dredge the pepper halves one at a time in the flour.  Next, dip in the egg mixture.  Finally, dredge in the panko crumbs pressing the crumbs in place if necessary.
9. Place the jalapeno peppers on the prepared baking sheet cut side up.

10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.
11.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Serve.

Makes 24 servings

Friday, January 27, 2012

Broth-Braised Potatoes

These potatoes  are bursting with flavor.  There is no need for butter, sour cream, cheese, gravy, and any other food items you put on your potatoes.  You start with a chicken broth base, add lemon zest, garlic, olive oil,  rosemary or thyme, add your potatoes and cook.   I used fingerling potatoes in this recipe.They absorbed the flavor of the broth nicely.  In addition to the great taste, the smell is absolutely intoxicating as  they are cooking.

This recipe can be found on page 358, Around My French Table.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Granola Bars

Today, I made some granola bars.  These granola bars are great for a quick breakfast, snack, or lunch treat.  They have lots of goodness baked in them -  oatmeal, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and wheat germ.  These granola bars have a nice chewy nutty texture to them.

In addition to tasting good, you are getting  antioxidants, folic acid, Vitamin E, and zinc. Just to name a few  good minerals and vitamins for your body.


Granola Bars

1-cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups quick cooking oats
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
½ cup toasted wheat germ
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1 cup chopped dried cherries
½ cup butter at room temperature
1-cup pack brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Whisk together the flour, backing powder, salt and ground cinnamon in a medium-mixing bowl.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, puffed brown rice cereal, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and dried cherries.  Stir well .
4. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugars.
5. Add the egg to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
6. Add the honey and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter a little at a time mixing well.
8. Stir in the nut and fruit mixture. Stir until combined.
9.  Press the mixture into the prepared pan.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the top is  lightly brown and set.
11.  Cool and cut into bars.

Yields 24 bars

Ready for Oven

Out Of Oven

Monday, January 23, 2012

BA: Party Mix

I made snack mix from a recipe I found in the December 2011 issue of "Bon Appetit" magazine. I like this recipe because it has a lot of goodies in it - peanuts, pretzels, Terra Stix, pumpkin seeds and Bugles. You will notice the BA recipe calls for roasted green peas. I could not find any so I substituted dry roasted edamame. They are a tasty and healthy substitute.  The Dijon mustard adds some spiciness to the mix, but it was not overpowering. The Terra sticks added great color and taste. This is a great mix for snacking,  parties, and other get togethers. You can make this mix up to 1 weeks ahead. Just store it in an airtight container at room temperature.

BA Party Mix
Bon Appetit  December 2011

 4 cups Bugles(original flavor)
 3 cups whole wheat sesame pretzel rounds or other small pretzels
 2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
 1cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
 1 cup store-bought roasted green peas (not wasabi flavor)
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 large garlic cloves, crushed
 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
 1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika plus more for sprinkling
 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups Terra Stick

 Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

 Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and gently cook to infuse butter, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small bowl,  pressing to extract garlic juices. Discard garlic. Stir in Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, salt, paprika, and pepper. Pour over mixture in bowl and toss gently to coat.

 Divide mixture between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry and toasted, about 1 hour. Sprinkle mixture with a few pinches of paprika. Toss and let cool completely on baking sheets (party mix will become crispy as it cools).

Transfer party mix to a large bowl. Add Terr Stix and toss to mix well.

Do Ahead: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Friday, January 20, 2012


It's Friday which means it is French Friday's With Dorie.  Today, we made  a Quatre-quarts cake.  This cakes is made with four equal parts  eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.   Quatre-quarts cake is the French cousin of the American pound cake.  It is slightly drier than a pound cake, but just as delicious.  This cake  has a delicate  flavor  that goes great with just about anything.

I cut the cake in wedges and served it with fresh fruit.

This recipe can be found on pages 434-435 in "Around My French Table."

Ready For The Oven

Out of Oven

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Soup of The Day: Lentil and Pasta Soup

January is National Soup month.  Soup is my winter comfort food.  Today's recipe is a Lentil and Pasta Soup.  This is a rich hearty soup that could be a one-dish meal.  It is loaded with veggies, sausage,  lentils, and pasta, in a beef broth. The soup has a subtle spicy flavor from the Kielbasa sausage.
Not only does the soup taste great, lentils have been listed as one the  5 healthiest foods.  They are high in protein, dietary fiber, folate, Vitamin B and minerals.

I usually serve this soup with a crusty piece of bread.

                                       Lentil and Pasta Soup


1 cup dried lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced Kielbasa Sausage
1 cup diced potatoes
¾ cup sliced carrots
½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup diced celery
1 cup canned plum tomatoes coarsely chopped
5 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup Ditalini pasta
Salt to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese


1. Discard any foreign matter from the lentils.  Rinse lentils under cold water.  Drain and set aside.
2. In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Once a haze forms on the olive oil add the butter.
3. Add the diced Kielbasa sausage to the oil and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
4.Add the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery to the oil.  Stirring occasionally cook for 5 minutes.
5.  Add tomatoes and cook an additional 5 minutes.
6. Add the lentils, beef broth, ground black pepper, and bay leaf to the vegetable mixture.  Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until lentils are tender stirring frequently.
7. Cook pasta to al dente while the soup is simmering. .  Drain and set aside.
8. Add pasta to the soup and stir.  Remove the Bay leaf.
9. Taste and add salt if needed.
10. Ladle soup in bowls and serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Makes 8 servings

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls

I have been wanting to make these Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls for a long long time.  My husband was at a Scouting event where they were served.  He said they were really really good.  I got in contact with the person who made them and was told the  recipe came from "Our Best Bites" blog.

I finally got around to making the rolls this past weekend.  They were relatively easy to make.  You make them  like you would cinnamon rolls.  You roll  the dough into a rectangle, spread/sprinkle the filling, roll up like a jellyroll, cut, rise, and bake.  The fillings for these rolls are a garlic  buttery spread (recipe included in the link) and mozzarella cheese.

Your first rise is 1 hour and the second rise is however long it takes you to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  You have to keep your eye on them during the last 10 minutes of baking to be sure they don't get too brown.  If they do, just lay a piece of foil on top of them.

My husband was right, these rolls are delicious.  I served them with soup, but you could also serve them with pasta.  
The link for the recipe is: Our Best Bites

Garlic Seasoning

Dough Spread with Garlic Butter

Topped With Mozzarella Cheese

Rolled Jellyroll Style

Ready for Second Rise

Cheesy Garlic Swirls

Friday, January 13, 2012

There's A Meal In My Kitchen:Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Yesterday, I got up extra early to get things done.  Then the phone rang.  After a long day I came home to a hungry family.  I rummaged through my fridge and pantry to see what I had.  My kids told me not to worry we could always go out.  I informed them I would find something.

After a few minutes, I had the fixings for Monte Cristo Sandwiches.  Bread, mesquite smoked turkey, Black Forest Ham, Smoked Gouda Cheese, eggs, bread and Dijon mustard.  The sandwiches were served with Veggie Chips, a cutie, and a glass of milk.  Voila dinner was served.

                                                      Monte Cristo Sandwich


4 slices of bread
Dijon mustard
4 slices Smoked Gouda cheese
2 slices Mesquite Smoked Turkey
2 slices Black Forest Ham
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Confectioner’s sugar


1. Spread mustard on 2 slices of bread.
2. Layer the 2 slices of bread with cheese, smoked turkey, Black Forest Ham, and cheese.  Top with the remaining slice of bread.
3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.
4. Melt the butter over medium- low in a skillet.  Dip a sandwich in the egg mixture turning to coat the other side.
5.When the butter is foamy place the sandwich in the skillet.  Brown the sandwich, about 3-4 minutes, turn and brown the other side.
6. Place sandwich on a plate and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crock Pot: Shredded Beef In Sweet Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

On days when I am going to be super busy, I like to cook food that does not require a lot of attention.  The crock pot is my cooking appliance of choice.  You put the ingredients in, turn on the pot, and go.

One of my favorite foods to cook in the crock pot is beef.  It cooks up tender, moist, and flavorful.  Today's recipe of Shredded Beef is  cooked in a sweet n spicy barbecue sauce.  The sweetness comes from the brown sugar and honey.  The spiciness  comes from the chipotle chili powder and the mustards.

I use a beef eye of round roast.  I find it tends to absorb more of the flavor of the sauce.

This beef makes terrific sandwiches and is a great topping for baked potatoes.  You can also eat it by itself with a side of baked beans, corn or fries.     It is good no matter which way you eat it.

                                    Shredded Beef in Sweet Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Special Equipment: Crock Pot

Olive oil
1 (3 lb) beef eye of round roast
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and finely minced
1 ½ cups ketchup
1-cup beef broth
¼ cup honey
1/3-cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2-tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcheshire Sauce
1-teaspoon soy sauce
1-teaspoon liquid smoke
1-teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
½ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. 
2. Pat the roast with a damp paper towel.  Sprinkle the roast with pepper.
3. Brown the roast on all sides in the skillet.  Set aside
4. Mix together all of the remaining ingredients.
5. Pour a small amount of the sauce in the bottom of the crock-pot.
6. Place the roast in the crock pot.  Pour the remaining sauce over the roast.
7. Cook on low for 7 1/2 hours.  
8. Remove the roast from the crock pot and place on a cutting board. 
9. Shred the beef with two forks and return the beef to the crock pot.
10. Cook for another 30 minutes.
11. Serve.

Serves 6

Sweet Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Roast In Crock Pot With Small Layer of Sauce On Bottom

Barbecue  Sauce Poured Over Roast

Shredding Beef With Forks

Barbecue Beef Baked Stuffed Spud

Monday, January 9, 2012

Southwestern Egg Cups

These  Southwestern Egg  Cups are easy, quick, and delicious.   The eggs are baked in custard cups with hash browns, black beans, cheese, bacon bits, and enchilada sauce.  They are great to make when you are busy and you want to serve a great breakfast/brunch.

                                    Southwestern Egg Cups

1 cup green or red enchilada sauce (your preference) - divided
1 cup thawed hash browns
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
6 eggs
Salt and Pepper
½ cup shredded Mexican Cheese
½ cup bacon bits


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly spray 6 ovenproof custard cups.
3. Layer each custard cup as follows:
                1-tablespoon enchilada sauce
                2 tablespoons hash browns
                2 tablespoons black beans
                1-tablespoon enchilada sauce
                1 egg
                 Salt and Pepper
                1-tablespoon enchilada sauce
                1 tablespoon shredded Mexican Cheese
                1-tablespoon bacon bits

4. Bake eggs in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until white is set and yolk is beginning to set, but not hard.
5. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Layer 1

Layer 2

Layer 3 and 4

Layer 5- 7

Layer 8

Layer 9

Southwestern Egg Cups

Friday, January 6, 2012

French Fridays With Dorie: Bubble-Top Brioches

I recently joined "French Fridays with Dorie,"   an online cooking group.  I have been a fan of Dorie Greenspan for the last 2-1/2 years.  My introduction to Dorie came when I was reading an issue of "Bon Appetit" magazine.  I  went to my local library to check out some of her cooking books.   Since then, I have my own library of Dorie's cookbooks.
Dorie's latest book, "Around My French Table," is where the recipes for "French Fridays With Dorie" are from.  A different recipe is made each week.  This week, the recipe was for Bubble-Top Brioches.

This recipe was not difficult to make.  It was well written and easy to follow.

The brioches were rich, buttery, and flaky. They are perfect for dinner or a continental breakfast.

Yeast Dissolved in Water and Milk

Brioche Dough

Deflating Dough

Divided Dough

Ready for Final Rise

Brushing On Egg Glaze

Bubble-Top Brioches

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Perfect Side: Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes go great with just about anything.  With their rich buttery texture how could you go wrong.  I love to load up my mashed potatoes with cheese, garlic, butter, and cream.   MMM delicious.
In my Garlic n Cheese Mashed Potatoes I put lots of butter, cream and cream cheese.  I add some spices to give them  extra  zing.  These mashed potatoes will add pizazz to your meal.

                                                Garlic n Cheese Mashed Potatoes


6 medium Russet potatoes
2 teaspoons salt - divided
3 cloves of garlic peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1-cup heavy cream heated
3 ounces cream cheese softened
1-tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon pepper


1. Wash and peel potatoes.  In a large pot of water place the potatoes, salt and garlic.  Bring to a boil.   Reduce heat. Cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are tender about 20 to 30 minutes.
2. While the potatoes are cooking cut the cream cheese into bite-size pieces.
3.  Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Over low heat, mash the potatoes and garlic cloves with a potatoes masher.  Add the butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, onion powder, salt, dried parsley flakes and pepper to the potatoes.
4. Stir the potatoes until the ingredients are incorporated.  If the potatoes are too stiff for your taste, add some more heavy cream.
5. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.   Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, January 2, 2012

Soup of the Day: Chicken and Vegetable Gnocchi

Chicken and Vegetable Gnocchi Soup
After all the holiday feasting, I decided we needed something healthy and lighter to eat. I made a stock based soup that is loaded with yummy, healthy vegetables.  The stock is lightly seasoned with Italian spices to compliment the veggies.    I  also added  gnocchi to the soup.    Gnocchi are tender little dumplings which add extra goodness.  You could make this soup a meal or serve it as a starter.

               Chicken and Vegetable Gnocchi Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
1- cup diced white onion
1-teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves minced
1-1/2 quarts chicken broth
1  (14-1/2 ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes
2 -cups cooked chicken breast diced
1- cup sliced carrots
½ -cup diced celery
1-cup green beans cut into bite-size pieces
1- cup diced baby zucchini
1-cup corn
1- cup sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1- tablespoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (16 ounce) package potato gnocchi
1 cup kidney beans rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese


1. In a Dutch oven heat the olive.  Add the onion and salt.  Sautee the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the next 13 ingredients.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. While the soup is simmering cook the gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain.
4. Add the gnocchi and the kidney beans to the soup.  Cover and cook and additional 15 minutes.
5. Remove soup from heat.  Remove bay leaf.    Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
6. Serve in bowls and top with the Pecorino Romano cheese.

Makes 8 servings

Yummy and Healthy

Ready for the Soup

It's Soup