Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pimiento Cheese Crostini

This was an appetizer idea I had for Thanksgiving. Andy's dad is a big fan of pimiento cheese and I try to make it for him regularly. Spreading homemade "shimmy" (my family's word for pimiento cheese) on baguette slices and toasting it—how can you go wrong? Everyone really liked this, especially our nephew Aubrey! It's very easy and would be great for holiday parties. Enjoy!

Pimiento Cheese Crostini
Use a food processor to shred the cheese; replace the shredding disc with the knife blade and chop the cheese to achieve the best texture.
2 (8-oz.) blocks Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (12-oz.) block American cheese, cut into cubes
4 oz. diced roasted red pepper or diced pimientos
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 baguette, sliced

1. Chop shredded and cubed cheeses in food processor. Place cheese mixture in a mixing bowl, and stir in diced red bell peppers and next 3 ingredients.
2. Spread pimiento cheese on one side of baguette slices.
3. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This terrific recipe says "Thanksgiving" to me. I prefer it to pumpkin pie—the subtle cream cheese flavor is nice with pumpkin. Also, the pecan-and-gingersnap crust has won over some gingerbread-haters in our family. The original recipe is from Frank Stitt's Southern Table. The one change I've made to his recipe is that I cook all the cream cheese mixture in the springform pan as opposed to reserving a small amount to spread over the top of the baked cheesecake. The idea of raw eggs is unappealing to me. Instead I serve this with Amaretto whipped cream. Cheesecake is very easy to make and it never fails to impress. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake
30 gingersnaps
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1/4 heavy cream
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
Amaretto Whipped Cream

1. Pulse gingersnaps and pecans in a food processor until ground. Combine crumb mixture with brown sugar and melted butter. Press mixture in bottom and up sides of a lightly greased springform pan.
2. Beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in pumpkin and next 3 ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; then run knife around edge of pan and release sides. Cool completely on rack. Chill cheesecake 8 hours or overnight. Top with Amaretto Whipped Cream, if desired.

Amaretto Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto

1. Beat cream with an electric mixer, gradually adding in sugar and Amaretto. Beat until soft peaks form.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rosemary Biscuits

I served these with Beef Tenderloin on Thanksgiving. They made great sandwiches for the leftover beef the next day. Enjoy!

Rosemary Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Cut in butter into flour mixture until it resembles sand. Pour in buttermilk, and stir until combined. Stir in black pepper and rosemary.
2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface; cut with a round cutter. Place rounds in a lightly greased baking pan with sides of dough touching. Brush tops with melted butter.
3. Bake at 350° for 15 minute or until done. Serve warm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beef Tenderloin

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving with Andy's family. His parents, sister, brother-in-law, our two nieces, and nephew came for dinner. We had Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter, my mother-in-law's famous sweet potatoes, Slow-Cooker Green Beans, Rosemary Biscuits, and Pumpkin Cheesecake. We love Beef Tenderloin. It's very easy to make and super impressive! (The only thing you need to know is that it is a pricey cut of meat; Costco usually has the best price.) Enjoy!

Beef Tenderloin
1 (4-lb.) beef tenderloin
Olive oil

1. Drizzle beef tenderloin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on all sides. Place in a roasting pan.
2. Bake at 425° for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in center registers 140° (medium). Remove from oven, and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apple Fritters

Tonight Mel, Russ, and the girls came for dinner. I made meatloaf, which Russ likes and Mel never cooks (she doesn't care for ground beef). For dessert I made Apple Fritters. (It had been a while since we had fried dough!) This recipe is based on one from The Joy of Cooking. The batter is very thick and it's hard to stir in the apple pieces, but that makes dropping it into the hot oil easy. Lizzie helped me sprinkle the hot fritters with powdered sugar. We ate them with vanilla ice cream (next time, I'll make some caramel sauce too). Enjoy!

Apple Fritters
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp. melted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
4 apples, cored and thinly sliced
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Combine milk and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture. Stir apples into batter.
2. Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven. Carefully drop batter into hot oil using a small scoop. Cook until golden brown and done. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle hot apple fritters with powdered sugar.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower

Call me lazy! We don't have a lot of side dishes around here—I'm more of a one-dish kind of cook who occasionally throws a salad or green beans into the mix. But my laziness doesn't stop me from looking for yummy-sounding sides. I read a lot of food magazines and lately have noticed several recipes for cauliflower. I've never been a fan of raw cauliflower; it's too strong. It's one of those vegetables that you don't see very often, except leftover on a crudité tray. Andy grew up eating cauliflower and likes it, so tonight I decided to roast it. (I feel strongly that I need to try foods I don't think again. This philosophy has expanded my palate in numerous ways.) I served it with Beef Burgundy and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I really liked the flavor of the cauliflower; it will probably reappear on my Thanksgiving menu. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 slices sourdough French bread
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cut cauliflower florets into slices. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Bake at 425° for 20 to 30 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown and softened.
3. Process bread slices in food processor to make crumbs. Melt butter, and stir into breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; stir in marjoram.
4. Combine roasted cauliflower and breadcrumb mixture in a gratin dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

Tonight I decided to make soup from a real pumpkin, not from pumpkin puree (I'm not actually sure you could make soup with the canned stuff). I approached this recipe as I do many—sautéing chopped bacon in my blue Dutch oven. Such an auspicious start! You can't cook with any old pumpkin—I used a small pumpkin labeled "pie pumpkin" from the grocery store. After cutting the pumpkin into thirds and cleaning out the seeds, I drizzled it with vegetable oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Then I roasted it in the oven for 45 minutes. By far, this was the longest part of the process. The flavor is similar to butternut squash soup; adding some fennel was the perfect flavor complement. I topped the savory soup with crumbled bacon and Homemade Croutons (or toast, as Andy prefers to call them—he's not a fan of croutons, go figure). Enjoy!

Pumpkin Soup
1 pie pumpkin, cut in thirds and seeded
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

1. Place pumpkin pieces on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until softened. Scoop out pumpkin with a spoon, and discard skin.
2. Sauté bacon in a Dutch oven until browned; remove from Dutch oven. Sauté onion and next 2 ingredients in drippings for 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in chicken stock and next 3 ingredients. Stir in pumpkin, Use immersion blender to puree soup mixture. Stir in fennel seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until thoroughly heated.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

This was a brainstorm I had the other day. Pumpkin, chocolate, and cinnamon are terrific flavor to pair. The combination is spicy and rich. To make the cake, I used a combination of butter and cream cheese, like in Cinnamon-Apple Cake, which yields a moist, tender cake. This batter bakes best in a springform pan. If you've never tried pumpkin and chocolate together, here's your invitation. Yummy!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Beat sugar and next 2 ingredients until blended and creamy. Mix in vanilla and eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to cream cheese mixture, beating until blended. Stir in pumpkin and chocolate chips. Pour batter into a springform pan coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until done. Let cool for 30 minutes in pan; release and remove sides of pan, and cool completely.

Marmalade-Mustard Pork Tenderloin

I do not like the taste of pork (the exception is bacon). So whenever I make it, I choose strong flavors to cover up the meat taste. Tonight's pork tenderloin (I prefer this cut as opposed to a pork roast) was roasted in a combination of Dijon mustard and orange marmalade. This combination gave the meat a sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor. Orange is a nice complement to pork. I served the tenderlone (as Granny Hunt called it) with Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and roasted fingerling potatoes. Enjoy!

Marmalade-Mustard Pork Tenderloin
1 package pork tenderloins
Salt and pepper
Country-style Dijon mustard
Herbes de Provence
1 jar orange marmalade
1 Tbsp. water
2 onions, thickly sliced

1. Remove pork tenderloins from package; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread Dijon mustard on outside of meat. Use kitchen string to tie tenderloins together. Spread Dijon mustard on outside of meat, and sprinkle with herbs de Provence. Combine marmalade and water in a glass measuring cup; microwave for 1 minute or until marmalade melts.
2. Place onion slices on bottom of roasting pan. Place tenderloin on top of onions. Pour marmalade over tenderloin.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Remove from oven, and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with pan drippings, if desired.

Roasted Tomato-Mozzarella-Bacon Sandwich

Sunday lunch is the meal each week that I don't plan. We go to church early and by the time we get home, we're pretty hungry and don't want to wait to eat. Usually we have leftovers or sandwiches or, if we can decide what we want, we'll go out to eat. Today's sandwich idea was inspired, if I do say so myself. On the way home from church, I thought we would have bacon-grilled cheese sandwiches, but then I remember the leftovers from Roasted Caprese Salad that were in the fridge. So I melted some butter in the microwave, and spread it on four sourdough bread slices. Then I layered on some of the leftover tomato and mozzarella slices and topped it all with bacon slices. I baked the sandwiches in the oven at 350° until the bread was golden and toasted. They tasted as good as I imagined they would. So easy and so delicious—enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

Andy and I really like pancakes—we eat them often on Saturday mornings. I often experiment with flavor combinations. My friend Katie mentioned earlier this week that she thought pumpkin would be good in pancakes; this is my attempt to develop a recipe. We had these this morning and really liked them. Next time, I plan to add toasted chopped pecans to the batter, which would make them even better. We definitely have these again. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes
This recipe can be doubled easily—this amount makes four pancakes.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
Warm maple syrup

1. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Combine butter and next 4 ingredients; gradually stir into dry ingredients.
2. Drop batter onto a hot griddle by quarter cupfuls. Sprinkle top with pecans. Cook until bubbles begin to form on top; flip pancakes, and cook until done. Serve hot with warm maple syrup.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roasted Caprese Salad

This is my new favorite salad—it tastes like summer. Serve it warm or at room temperature. The inspiration came from a Barefoot Contessa recipe, which uses year-round plum tomatoes; the roasting caramelizes the flavor of the tomatoes. It's very easy to make, but you need to allow 1 1/2 hours for roasting the tomatoes. This salad would also be great topped with a cooked and crumbled bacon. Enjoy!

Roasted Caprese Salad
12 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Place tomato halves on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle evenly with salt, pepper, sugar, and minced garlic.
2. Bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven; cool 30 minutes. Layer tomatoes and mozzarella slices on a serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped basil.

Shrimp and Grits

This is one of my favorite dishes. My brother and I make a version of this for our family's Christmas breakfast each year. Tonight some friends came over for dinner, so I decided to serve this dish with a twist. Instead of creamy grits, I made grits cakes instead. These are getting closer to the ones I'm trying to re-create from The Red Bar than my first attempt. The shrimp mixture is a cinch to prepare. Enjoy!

Shrimp and Grits Cakes
4 bacon slices, chopped
1 1/2 lb. shrimp
1/4 Tbsp. butter
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock
Juice from lemon half
Salt and pepper to taste
Grits Cakes

1. Peel and devein shrimp.
2. Cook bacon in Dutch oven until done. Drain bacon on paper towels. Remove drippings from Dutch oven. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Sauté shallots and garlic until tender. Stir in chicken stock and lemon juice. Add shrimp, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with bacon. Serve over Grits Cakes.

Grits Cakes:
4 cups Cheese Grits, spread on a sheet pan and refrigerated at least 24 hours
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1. Shape grits into patties. Dip each patty in egg; roll in panko. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet; cook grits cakes, in batches, until golden brown.

Cheese Grits:
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 cup butter
2 cups colby-Jack cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring milk and chicken stock to a boil. Gradually whisk grits into milk mixture. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in butter and cheese until melted; stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese

This is absolutely the easiest appetizer on the planet! In fact, there's really no recipe. Now, if you're not from these parts, you might be a bit skeptical of the name of this spread. But trust me, it's good! All you need is a block of cream cheese (regular or reduced fat, not fat-free) and a jar of red pepper jelly. (I like Braswells brand, which is made in South Georgia, because it has a little kick to balance the sweetness). The creaminess of the cheese is the perfect foil for the sweet-and-slightly spicy flavor of the jelly. To serve, place the cream cheese on a plate and spoon the jelly over the top. Then spread it on crackers, toasted baguette slices, or sea salt bagel chips (my favorite). Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Blondies

This recipe was inspired by one of Andy's and my coworker Katie's favorite candies—Reese's Pieces. I love blondies because they're so easy to make and go well with a variety of flavors. For these, I used a combination of Reese's Pieces, peanut butter morsels, and chocolate morsels (there were several partial packages in the pantry). The colors are reminiscent of Halloween, hence the name. These are a snap to make. The batter is very thick, so I think clean hands are the best tools for spreading it in the pan. Enjoy!

Halloween Blondies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 package Reese's Pieces
1/2 package peanut butter morsels
1/2 package chocolate morsels
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
2. Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in Reese's Pieces and next 2 ingredients.
3. Line a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Coat with cooking spray. Spread batter into pan.
4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pan, and cut into squares.

Beef With Broccoli

Let me begin by saying that Andy is not a fan of Asian cuisine, so we rarely have it. (When he's out of town, I usually get Chinese or Thai takeout.) However, sometimes stir-fry sounds good for dinner. That was the case tonight. I knew when I decided that we would have Beef With Broccoli that he wouldn't like it, but call me an eternal optimist—I hoped that maybe this dish would win him over. It didn't! But I really liked it and have leftovers for lunch. It's very easy and comes together quickly. The brown rice, which takes 45 minutes to cook, was the longest part of the meal prep by far. Enjoy!

Beef With Broccoli
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Peanut oil
1 lb. thin-sliced steak
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1/2 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup beef stock
2 broccoli heads, cut into florets
Hot cooked rice

1. Sauté shallot and next 4 ingredients in hot oil 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper; toss with cornstarch. Cook steak in pan until it begins to brown. Stir in soy sauce and next 4 ingredients. Remove steak from pan, and bring soy sauce mixture to a boil. Stir in carrot mixture, steak mixture, and broccoli. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beef Burgundy

I bought a sirloin tip roast and wanted to make a take on the traditional Boeuf Bourginon. The roast itself was pretty inexpensive, so serving it this way really elevates the humble cut of meat. This is a conglomeration of a couple of recipes. I served the rich stew over Loaded Mashed Potatoes. Just right for a cool fall evening. Andy thought this recipe was a winner!

Beef Burgundy
1 (1.75-lb.) sirloin tip roast
Montreal steak seasoning
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. flour
2 slices bacon
2 onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
5 carrots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
8 oz. sliced portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. flour

1. Cut roast into cubes. Sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning, and cook in hot oil over high heat until seared on all sides. Remove from oven-safe Dutch oven, and toss with 2 Tbsp. flour to coat.
2. Sauté bacon in Dutch oven until brown and crispy. Remove from Dutch oven, reserving drippings. Sauté onions and next 3 ingredients in hot drippings until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add in red wine, stirring to loosen browned particles on bottom of pot. Stir in beef stock, mushrooms, beef, and bacon. Return to a boil. Combine melted butter and flour, and stir into beef mixture. Cover pot with oven-safe lid.
4. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.