Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Pockets

These little pockets of zippy goodness are so easy to make and always a huge hit.  They can be made, baked, cooled and refrigerated over night, then warmed up the next day, or served hot and fresh out of the oven. 
1 package wonton wraps
1 package cream cheese
1 jar sliced jalapenos
1 saucer of water

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place a piece of wax paper, or parchment paper on the counter.  Lay out wonton wraps.  Put 1 teaspoon of cream cheese in center of each wrap, then place a slice of jalapeno on top of cream cheese.  If jalapeno slice is too big, cut in half.  Using your finger, dip into the water, and go around edges of 1 wonton wrap.  Fold into a triangle by joining diagonal corners, then fold in the other two corners to make a little pocket.  Place it on a greased baking sheet.   Follow the same procedure for all wraps.  Spray the pockets with Olive Oil spray.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, should be browned and crisp.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tagliolini in Marinara with Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Making homemade pasta takes some time, but  is well worth the efforts in both taste and texture once you try it.  It really is incredibly good, and it's not difficult, just takes some time.  I have a partner in crime.  My husband loves fresh pasta, and says he's never going back to boxed, so he realizes if that's the case he needs to help me.  I make the dough, then he helps me roll it out.  

Dough Recipe
3 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs 
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp salt

In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook add the flour and salt and mix on low speed. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix on low. Add the oil and mix until dough comes together. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a floured surface and continue to knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth elastic ball of dough. If too dry a little water, if to sticky add a little flour until you get that smooth elastic ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes. Don't skip the rest period, the dough needs it.

While it is resting, get your sauce started so it can simmer,


1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
½-1 cup red wine (I eyeball it, so not sure on exact measurement, I just pour until desired consistency)
¼ sweet onion, small dice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tb. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tb. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried basil
Use a little olive oil or olive oil spray, and saute the onions and garlic until tender. Add all tomatoes, wine and herbs, and let come to a simmer. Keep simmering on low while you make the pasta and meatballs.

Now that sauce is simmering,  time to roll out that dough.  Pasta can be made without a pasta maker, but I don't know if I'd have the patience and skill of an Italian grandma to do all that.  I use my pasta maker.  They are not that expensive, and what a fun toy that makes incredible pasta.

Flatten the dough ball with your hand and cut it in 2 or 3 pieces and pass through pasta maker set at 0.  Do that 3-4 times until you have a flat looking piece of dough.  You can sprinkle with flour each time if it seems sticky at all.  Now set pasta maker at 1 and roll it through, then 2 and roll it through, then 3 and roll it through, and finally 4 and roll it through.  Now, using the pasta attachement, you will roll the flattened, thin dough through the tagliolini or spaghetti looking rollers and hang your pasta up to dry. Do that with each of the dough pieces you have.  Let pasta dry for at least one hour.

While your pasta is drying and your sauce is simmering, time to make some meatballs.


small (6-ounce) onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsely
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 Tbls ketchup
3 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb lean ground beef
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes  

In a large bowl, combine the onion,  parsley, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes,  salt, and pepper. Add the beef.  Using your hands, combine all ingredients.  Shape the meat mixture into 16 meatballs and place on the a broiler pan. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Preheat oven to 400° and bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.  Meatballs can be made in advance and put in refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.  

Once your pasta has dried for an hour or more, bring a pot of water to a full rolling boil.  While waiting for water to boil get that oven ready for your meatballs.  Once water is at a full boil, cook the pasta for 4 minutes and drain.  Plate your pasta, some meatballs and slather that with some sauce.  Grate some romano, parmesan, asiagio, whatsomever you want over the top, and enjoy!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pig Elwood on a Stick

It's like Big Elwood on a Stick from Fast Eddies Bon-Air, but with pork tenderloin instead of beef.  Same recipe basically, so do whatsomever you like, bovine or porcine.  Because of the soy sauce in the marinade giving it an Asian flair, I served over sticky rice with scallions and cilantro, but taters would be good also. 

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lower sodium soy sauce
1 Tbls minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
Coarsely cracked black pepper
green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares

In a container with lid combine olive oil, soy sauce and garlic and whisk together. Add tenderloin cover with cracked pepper (lots of cracked pepper). Marinade for at least 1 hour, longer is better and overnight is great.  

Prepare a medium fire in the grill.

Discard marinade; thread meat onto metal skewers alternately with peppers.
Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning as necessary.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bratty Melt

Bratzels are all the rage at the ballpark, and well, this is my version.  It's like a Patty Melt with bratwurst instead of ground beef.  If you cannot find bratwurst in bulk, no biggie, just cut off casings on bratwurst links and shape into patties, already portioned for you even.  ; )  I also get fabulous pretzel buns at our little market that makes their own brats, but most bakeries in the larger groceries have some sort of pretzel bun to offer.

4 large brats or 1 1/2 lb bulk bratwurst shaped into 4 patties
4 pretzel buns
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 medium vidalia onion, sliced
1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls. sugar
1/4 cup mayonaisse
1 Tbls. dijon mustard
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
4 slices dill havarti

Shape your bratwurst into 4 patties, and grill at medium heat about 10 minutes each side, watching so they don't burn.  While brat patties are cooking heat olive oil in skillet and add onion slices.  Brown for about 5 minutes, stirring and add vinegar and sugar and cook for about 3-5 more minutes.

As onions caramelize, make your spread with mayo, mustard and worchestershire.

Once brat patties have cooked, put havarti slices on for 1 more minute until melted.  Warm buns and slather with spread and top with brat patty and caramelized onions. 

Pad Thai with Asian Pork Satay

* 4 oz hoisin sauce
* ¼ cup chili garlic sauce
* 2 T honey
* 2 T rice vinegar
* 1 T toasted sesame oil
* 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Simmer hoisin, chili garlic sauce, honey, vinegar, oil, for the satay in a saucepan over medium-high. Cook marinade 5 minutes, then set it aside to cool.

Prepare pork, cutting it first into thirds lengthwise, then in half crosswise to make 6 pieces. Finally, slice each piece in half lengthwise to make 12 strips, each 4- to 6-inches long. Toss pork strips in the marinade, then thread strips onto skewers.

Arrange satay on the grill so the skewers extend over the edge; cover and cook 3–4 minutes. Flip satay, baste with marinade, then grill until cooked through, 3–4 minutes more.

Pad Thai:
* 8 oz. (SERVES 2) Pad Thai rice noodles (thin, flat linguini-like noodles)
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 shallot (OR 1/4 cup red onion), finely chopped
* 2 cups bean sprouts
* 2 green onions, sliced
* 1/3 cup fresh cilantro chopped
* 1/4 cup ground (or well-chopped) peanuts (OR substitute cashews or slivered almonds)
* lime wedges for serving

 Pad Thai Sauce:
* 3/4 Tbsp. tamarind paste (available at Asian/East Indian food stores)
* 1/4 cup hot water
* 3+1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce)
* 1/2 to 2 tsp. chili sauce (to taste), OR 1-2 fresh red chilies, minced
* 3 Tbsp. brown sugar


Place Rice noodles in a pot of cold water for 1 hour, drain.

Dissolve the tamarind paste in the hot water. Add the other pad thai sauce ingredients and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add as much or as little chili sauce as you prefer, but don't skimp on the sugar (you need it to balance the sourness of the tarmaind). Reserve.

Place your wok (or large frying pan) over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. oil plus the garlic and shallot. Stir-fry 1 minute to release the fragrance.

Push ingredients aside and add 1/2 Tbsp. more oil to the center of the wok/pan.  Now add the drained noodles and 1/3 of the sauce. Stir-fry everything together for 1 minute using 2 utensils and a tossing motion (like tossing a salad).
Add a little more sauce and continue stir-frying in the same way for 1-2 more minutes, or until the noodles begin to soften and become sticky. Reduce heat to medium if noodles begin to stick and burn.

Add the bean sprouts plus the remaining sauce. Stir-fry to incorporate everything together for 1-3 more minutes, or until noodles are done. Noodles are cooked to perfection when they are soft but still deliciously chewy and a little bit sticky.

Remove from heat and taste-test, adding more vegetarian fish sauce or soy sauce if desired for more salt/flavor.

To serve, scoop noodles onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the green onion, cilantro, and ground nuts. Add wedges of fresh-cut lime on the side. Serve immediately and ENJOY!. (Thai chili sauce can also be served on the side for those who likes their noodles extra spicy).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tunisian Sweet Potato Salad with Harissa Aioli

Preheat oven to 425°
1.5-2 lbs (2 large) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
 fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Mix and toss in roasting pan and roast for 20, stir and roast 20 to 25 minutes more until crisped and caramelized on outside, tender inside.    Set aside to cool. 

Harissa Aioli
1/2 cup light mayonaise
1/4 cup plain greek fat free yogurt
2 Tbsp. harissa paste
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground coriander seed
2 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard

Mix aioli and set aside.

Sweet Potato Salad
Roasted potatoes
14-16 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
about 1/2-3/4  Harissa aioli, save the rest for sandwiches
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Once potaotes have cooled, mix in olives, onions, feta and aioli.   Garnish with cilantro.  Serve now or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

This is a recipe from Cuisine at Home, and it's perfection. 

Crust, process:
2 sleeves chocolate graham crackers, 18 crackers (2 1/4 cups crumbs)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 stick butter, melted (8 Tbsp.)

Cheesecake, melt:
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (ghiaradelli chocolate chips 60% cacao work well)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 lb. cream cheese, softened (I used the Neufch√Ętel, 1/3 less fat)
1 cup sugar
3 egss
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ganache, heat:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 325°.  For the crust, process graham crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine.  Drizzle in melted butter and process until combined.  Spray 9 inch springform pan with non-stick spray, and press crumbs into bottom and sides.  Bake crust 10 minutes; set aside.

For the cheesecake, melt chocolate with 2 Tbsp. butter and espresso powder in a double boiler; set aside to cool slightly. 

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.  (if using the same mixer and bowl to whip cream to fold in, you may want to whip cream first and chill in another bowl until you are ready to fold into chocolate mixture.)  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add melted chocolate mixture to batter and beat until combined.

Fold whipped cream and vanilla into batter, then pour into crust; bake until edges are set but center is still jiggly, 40-45 minutes.  Turn oven off; leave cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven.  Cool completely, and cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the ganache, heat 1/2 cup cream in microwave 1-2 minutes until boiling.  Add chocolate chips and let sit for 2 minutes and then stir until smooth.   Cool ganache, 5 minutes.  Drizzle cheesecake with ganache, and remove sides of spring form pan and slice with a sharp knife.  Dip knife in hot water and wipe dry for each slice.  Once sliced top with fresh raspberries, strawberries, chocolate curls or cherry sauce for serving.

Cherry Sauce with Moscato d'Asti
makes about 2 cups

1 lb. frozen tart cherries
1 1/4 cup Moscato d'Asti
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt


2 Tbsp. cherry juice or water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Heat cherries, wine, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.   Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

Whisk cherry juice into cornstarch in a small bowl, then whisk into cherry mixture.  Cook sauce until slightly thickened, 2 minutes.  Stir in almond extract.  Serve sauce over chocolate cheesecake.