Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gingerbread With Rum-Soaked Raisins

This recipe is a variation of one from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. I made a few changes based on what I had on hand. It comes together in a snap and smells like the holidays. Yummy!
1/4 cup dark run
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 cup sour cream
Zest from 1 orange
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice from 1 orange

1. Combine rum, raisins, and next 2 ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is combined. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add in sour cream and next 7 ingredients. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a lightly greased 8-inch-square pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely.
3. Stir together powdered sugar and orange juice. Pour over top of cooled gingerbread. Cut into squares to serve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

This recipe started with an experiment. One day this summer, I had a ton of tomatoes that had ripened at the same time and needed to do something with them fast. Canning wasn’t a timely option, so I decided to chop them up (no peeling) and freeze them. This morning, I sautéed onions and garlic and then added the frozen tomatoes to make a quick marinara sauce. A friend had given me a few green tomatoes this weekend, and I decided to chop and stir them in—they brighten the flavors of the frozen tomatoes. A quick puree with the immersion blender got rid of the pesky peels.

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Fennel seeds
1 gal. chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil for 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in salt and next 5 ingredients, and cook 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Stir in balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more seasonings, if necessary.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cashew-Crusted Chicken

This recipe would also be delicious with pecans or almonds.
3/4 cup cashews, chopped
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. cornstarch
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine cashews, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a pie plate. Combine egg and next 2 ingredients in another pie plate. Dip chicken in egg mixture, and then dredge in cashew mixture, coating thoroughly. Place chicken on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken tenderloins. Chill chicken in fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken 4 to 5 minutes per side or until crisp, golden, and done. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Best-Ever Blondies

I love blondies and am always trying to improve my recipe. This variation is unusual because you melt the butter before stirring it into the brown sugar. It’s very simple (no mixer required) and absolutely delicious! These have butterscotch morsels, but you can use whatever chocolate-fruit-candy combination you like.
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag butterscotch morsels

1. Combine melted butter and brown sugar; stir until smooth. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in salt and flour. Stir in flavor options. Pour into a lightly greased baking pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool completely on rack before cutting into squares.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Definitely try this recipe—even if you think it sounds weird! The pumpkin puree adds heft to the ricotta mixture, and you won’t miss the meat! This recipe has more pumpkin than the original. I served this at our church potluck today to rave reviews.
1 (12-oz.) box jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 (15-oz.) cans pure pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cups pumpkin)
2 cups (16-oz.) ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and pepper
1 (25-oz.) jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Combine olive oil, pumpkin, and next 7 ingredients. 
3. Pour marinara sauce into bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Stuff shells with pumpkin mixture, and arrange on top of sauce in dish. Sprinkle stuffed shells with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.