All Hail Asparagus, Spring is just around the corner

  So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid, it’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS MOCK CRAB TART (dairy)

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb mock crab shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and mock crab on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

Modified from about.com

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND LOX BITES (dairy)

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 lb lox, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, lox and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

ASPARAGUS STRATA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

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ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT (dairy)

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS (pareve)

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

ASPARAGUS AND PASTA SALAD (dairy)

6 to 8 slices Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon, cut into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper chopped

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup of the water used in cooking

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan for serving

Cook the Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and but keep the oil in the pan. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for 2 more minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the cooked Morning Star Farm® fake bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

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Cupcakes for Chanukah! Recipes and more

Sorry for the lag in posting, lots of travel and family commitments but now, shes back…………………..

cup3 There are times in your life (like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.

 

Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.

 

1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.

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Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CUPCAKES (dairy)

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16

 

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BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry

 

Modified from the Joy of Baking

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ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO CUPCAKES (pareve)

This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.

 

Modified from about.com

 

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

 

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12

 

Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL

 

CANDIED CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

Topping

6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside

 

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream

 

Cupcakes

12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

 

Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.

 

LUSCIOUS LEMON CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

 

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute

 

FROSTING:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.

 

 

 

Iced Coffee Please/Recipes for Summer Fun

When is it too hot to drink hot coffee? My guess is that most people would say RIGHT NOW. When doesn’t it make sense to pay over $5.00 for an iced coffee drink? Again, my answer would have to be RIGHT NOW when everyone’s budget seems to get tighter and tighter each week. Those points being raised I am by no means suggesting that anyone give up hot coffee forever and/or occasionally stopping by your favorite java joint to indulge in a treat but rather that we take our love for that addictive bitter brew and turn it into something that isn’t making our insides as hot as it is outside and costing us an arm and a leg every time we buy it.

For true iced coffee you do not, I repeat, do not want to just brew up a pot of your regular blend and let it get cold (yes you can use left over coffee but it’s usually pretty “thick” by the time it’s left over. Hot brewed or left over coffee will give you a bitter iced coffee. Rather you want to cold brew your coffee. By cold brewing your coffee base you will get a smoother, less bitter beverage that is perfect for combining with a variety of ingredients.

For the most part you want to use a coarsely ground coffee to make your cold brewed coffee and for those of you with a favorite blend or brand, go right ahead and use it. Caffeine or no caffeine your choice.  However, since most of the time cold coffee is combined with other ingredients you can use a less expensive brand and still have the flavor of the bean come through. The follow recipes can all be made with a dairy free milk substitute if you’re allergic to dairy or have lactose intolerance. I would suggest you use rice milk, almond milk or soy milk rather than the coffee creamers that have additives and chemicals as part of their ingredient list.

The following recipes all have specific amounts for the ingredients but know with a coffee drink some will prefer a stronger coffee tasting beverage and others will like it creamier. Feel free to play with the amounts of milk to coffee to sugar to flavoring if you taste buds tell you the recipe needs a little tweaking. You won’t ruin anything; in fact, you may just invent a new way to serve yourself a cup of Joe.

 

Note: several recipes call for instant coffee instead of brewed coffee instead of brewed coffee. The taste is a little less robust but it works just fine.

COLD BREWED COFFEE

 

1 gallon cold water

1 lb bag of your favorite coarse ground coffee

Coffee filters

Strainer

 

Pour a gallon of water into a large bowl. Add the coffee and stir until the coffee completely wet. Cover and let the mixture sit for at least 12 hours (I always do this early in the evening and it’s ready to go in the morning)

 

Line your strainer with coffee filters and place it in a large bowl. Gently pour the coffee over the filters, making sure not to have too much of the coffee grounds pour out at once. You may want to do this in stages, replacing the filters once or twice during the straining. When you’re done you can put the cold coffee in a container with a lid and it keeps for up to 4 weeks (it makes A LOT of cold coffee)

 

My files, source unknown

MOCHA WHIPPED COFFEE

 

6 cups cold coffee (stronger is better)

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional cocoa powder for garnish

2 cups milk

Can of whipped cream or whipped topping (optional)

Chocolate syrup or cocoa powder (optional)

 

Fill ice-cube trays with 3 cups of the coffee and freeze it. Place the remaining 3 cups of coffee in blender and process until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate. When the coffee cubes are frozen place 1/2 of them in a blender a process until they are crushed. Place the crushed coffee cubes in the pitcher with the coffee and cocoa and mix to combine. Place the remaining coffee cubes in the blender and process until crushed. Divide the crushed ice between 4 glasses and then pour the coffee and cocoa mixture between the glasses. Top with whipped cream and cocoa powder or syrup. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

Modified from gourmetsluth.com

 

RUM AND COFFEE COOLER

 

4 ounces light rum

4 ounces canned coconut cream

2 cups cold black coffee

4 tablespoons pineapple juice

4 slices of fresh pineapple

Crushed ice

 

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or a cocktail shaker and mix or process to combine. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with the pineapple slice. Serves 4

 

Modified from about.com

CINNAMON AND CARAMEL ICED COFFEE

For this recipe you will need hot coffee to start the process

 

1 1/2 to 2 cups hot coffee (the stronger the better)

1/3 to 1/2 cup caramel dessert topping

2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste

ice cubes

1 1/2 cups cold milk

Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Ground cinnamon, for garnish (optional)

Extra caramel sauce for garnish (optional)

 

In a bowl combine the hot coffee and the caramel topping (you can fudge the amounts if you prefer a more caramel or coffee flavor) Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the mixture is cold. When you’re ready to serve fill 2 tall glasses with crushed ice and fill each glass about 1/3 full (or more if you prefer) with milk. Then fill the glass with the coffee mixture and stir to combine. You can top with whipped cream, extra caramel sauce or a dash of cinnamon.

 

My files, source unknown

 

CREAMY COLD CAPPUCCINO

 

1 1/2 cups cold coffee (the stronger the better)

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup half-and-half cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

In pitcher combine the coffee and milk. Whisk in half-and-half and vanilla. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice and pour the coffee and milk mixture over the ice. Serves 4.

 

Modified from smittenkitten.com

 

INSTANT VANILLA ICED COFFEE

 

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

sugar to taste (I use brown sugar)

2 teaspoons cold water

1 1/4 cups milk

chocolate sprinkles (optional)

 

In a blender combine the instant coffee, vanilla, sugar, water and milk. Process until smooth and the pour into a tall glass with crushed ice. Garnish with sprinkles Serves 1 (you can always add the ice to the blender if you prefer more of a slushie.

 

Submitted by Angie McDonald Kalamazoo, MI

 

ORANGE ICED COFFEE

 

1/2 cup MAXWELL HOUSE Instant Coffee

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 orange zest strips (each 2×1/2 inch)

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

8 cups boiling water

 

MIX all ingredients except boiling water in medium bowl. Add boiling water; stir until coffee granules are completely dissolved and mixture is well blended. REFRIGERATE several hours or until chilled. SERVE over ice cubes in eight tall glasses.

 

Modified from kraft.com

 

MOCHA BANANA FRAPEE

 

1 ripe banana

2 tablespoons instant coffee powder or 1/2 cup cold coffee (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons instant cocoa mix (or more to taste)

8 to 10 ice cubes

1 1/2 to 2 cups milk

 

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You many need to add more milk or ice depending on the consistency you prefer. Serves 2.

Peaches and Cream/Recipes for the summer

Fresh peaches are starting to appear in the produce sections these days and I thought having a guide to help you pick out the very best of the best will set you on the road to delicious.

Peaches have been grown in the United States since the Spaniards brought them to North America in their early explorations. They’ve played an integral  part in making the fruit industry in Georgia, South Carolina and California as successful as has been (just check out the names of a lot of Atlanta streets to see what type of influence the peach has).

You should look for peaches that are unblemished and not to firm. Fresh peaches spoil quickly so don’t buy too many unless you’re going to use them. Peaches don’t get sweeter after they are picked so make sure get the ripest ones you can. If you need to peel your peaches (and you don’t have too, there’s bunches of stuff that’s good for you in the skin) you should blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute and then drop them into ice water immediately to cool and then peel. The skin should come off easily. Just know that peaches will turn brown very quickly after they are cut so you should sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice if you aren’t going to use them immediately.

The phrase peaches and cream can literally mean eating “peaches” and “cream” together in a dish or pie or cake or whatever way your imagination (or taste buds) desire. The following recipes all combine peaches and some kind of cream or cheese and every single one of them is going to make you say you’all come back and try me again real soon!

SUPER DOOPER PEACHES AND CREAM PIE (dairy)

 

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 (3 ounce) package non-instant vanilla pudding mix

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained and syrup reserved

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease sides and bottom of a 10 inch deep-dish pie pan.

In a mixing bowl of a food processor combine flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Process just to combine. Add the butter, egg and milk and process until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan. Arrange the peach slices on top of the pudding mixture. Don’t clean the processer bowl. Put the cream cheese in the bowl until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons reserved peach syrup. Process until smooth. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over peaches to within 1 inch of pan edge. Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and sprinkle it over the top of the peaches. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Chill completely before serving. Serves 8.

 

Modified from a recipe by Debbi Borsick, source unknown, submitted by Tracey Malrick

 

PEACHES AND CREAM BAKE (dairy or pareve)

 

1 lb French bread or challah egg bread, cut into chunks

8 large eggs

2 1/2 cups milk or ½ and ½ or non dairy substitute

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 15-oz. cans sliced peaches packed in juice, drained

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Grease a 9X13 baking pan. Arrange the bread pieces so they fit tightly in the pan. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid over the bread. Arrange peach slices on top of the mixture and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 30 minutes before baking take the pan from the refrigerater. Preheat oven to 350. Bake, uncovered until the top is lightly browned and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

 

Modified from about.com

PEACHY CREAM CAKE (dairy)

 

3/4 cup self rising flour (yes self rising)

1 pkg. cheesecake or vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 ounce)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 large (about 28 ounces) can sliced peaches, drained, save the juice

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch deep dish pie plate. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, pudding, butter, egg and milk. Mix to combine. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the peach slices over the top of the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons peach juice and process for 2 minutes. Spread the topping over the top of the peaches, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Serves 8.

 

Submitted by Charlie Aronoes NY, NY, source unknown

PEACHES AND CREAM CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

 

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 tablespoon herbs de Provence

1 1/2 cups seedless red or green grapes, halved

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 fresh pineapple cut into tidbits

3 to 4 peaches, sliced

1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded

2 cups fresh baby spinach

 

DRESSING

3/4 mayonnaise

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1/2 cup frozen pareve whipped topping, thawed

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons pine nuts

 

In a salad bowl combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence, grapes, celery, almonds, pineapple and peaches. Mix to combine. In small bowl combine the mayonnaise, herbs de Provence, whipped topping, salt and pine nuts. Mix to combine. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture; stir gently to combine. To serve, arrange the lettuce and spinach on a serving platter or individual plates; spoon chicken mixture over greens. Serves 8.

 

Modified from tablespoon.com

 

CREAMED CHICKEN AND PEACHES (meat)

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

3 peaches, cut into wedges

1 shallot or 1 tablespoon onion, minced

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup non dairy liquid almond milk or soy milk

1/3 cup snipped chives or green onions

 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Lightly sprinkle both sides of chicken with the salt and pepper and then cook them just until golden on each side so that it’s just done in the middle 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove the chicken from the pan and set it on a plate and set it aside.  After removing the chicken from pan, reduce heat to medium and add the wine. Stir so that the bits on the bottom are scraped up. Add the peaches and onion and stir to coat, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mustard and no dairy substitute, whisk to combine. Place the chicken into the sauce and cook, uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken as it cooks. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle the top with chives and serve. Serves 4

 

Modified From Chatelaine Magazine

 

GRILLED PEACHES AND MOZZARELLA (dairy)

 

1 lb block or ball of mozzarella, cut into slices

5 to 6 ripe Peaches (not too mushy), cut in half, pitted

1 tablespoon minced onion

2 tablespoons oil

1 head each romaine and bibb lettuce, combined

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Zest of one lime

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup shredded basil leaves

 

In a small bowl combine the minced onions and vinegar.  Whisk in the lime juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper. After the mixture is combined add olive oil and whisk to combine then set it aside. Arrange lettuce on a large platter and set it aside.

 

Brush a  grill pan with oil and then grill the peach halves, cut side down for about 3 or 4 minutes or until there are grill marks and the peaches are warm. Flip them over and grill for 2 to 3 more minutes.  Place the peaches on a cutting board and cut them into thin slices. Arrange the peaches and mozzarella slices on top of green in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the shredded basil over the top and then drizzle the dressing over the top and serves. Serves 8.

 

From my files, source unknown

 

CREAMY PECAN PEACH PIE (dairy)

 

1 readymade pie crust uncooked

4 cups sliced peeled peaches

2 tablespoons peach preserves

1 cup sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

TOPPING:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

 

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine peaches and preserves. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell. In bowl combine the sugar, sour cream, egg yolks, 1/4 cup flour and vanilla. Whisk to combine and then pour the mixture over the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, sugars, pecans and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs mixture over the top of the peaches.

 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and topping is golden brown. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Cool completely on a wire rack for 3 hours before serving.  Serves 8.

 

Modified from tasteofhome.com

 

KIWI PEACH AND CREAM SALSA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of fruit or onion in this salsa and a few drops of a hot sauce can be added if you like a little kick to your salsa.

 

1 pkg (8 oz.) Neuchâtel or cream cheese, softened (you can use chive cream cheese)

2 peaches, chopped

2 to 3 kiwi, peeled, chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

4 to 6 green onions, sliced thin, green and white parts

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro

1/2 to 2/3 cup creamy Italian Dressing

Corn chips or crackers

 

Spread the cream cheese on to the bottom of serving plate leaving about an inch around the edge. In a bowl combine the kiwi peaches, red pepper, green onion, parsley and the Italian dressing. Mix to combine and then spoon the mixture over the cream cheese. Serve with chips and crackers. Serves 8 to 10

 

My files source unknown

 

Make Mine Mac & Cheese/ Kosher Recipes

There’s something about digging into a bowl of macaroni and cheese that brings out the kid in all of us. With car pools, busy schedules and extracurricular galore we’ve all defaulted to whipping up the boxed variety and calling it dinner more often than we’d probably like to admit. It’s nice to know, however, that if you take that extra 10 or 15 minutes of time the made from scratch variety of macaroni and cheese (or a doctored boxed version) can become a gourmet dish with unlimited potential to please everyone from a finicky whiney hungry four year old to the finicky whiney hungry four year old within us all.

So what makes the difference between a so-so macaroni and cheese recipe and a great one? The cheeses used, the pasta used and the method you use to prepare it.

Elbow macaroni pasta is the traditional pasta used in macaroni and cheese (duh) but you can actually substitute any type of cooked pasta that you like. Some styles will work better than others. Smaller curved shapes, like cork screw, bow tie and shell are great alternatives to elbow macaroni and hold on to the cheese sauce better than  spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  Cheddar is usually the cheese of choice. You can choose from yellow or white cheddar and sharp or mild cheddar. All work great. American cheese is another popular choice. Note, however, American cheese is a processed product (additives, preservatives etc) and is a fairly bland cheese flavor compared to Cheddar. Swiss, Gouda and Havarti cheeses are better choices but they give the cheese sauce a very different flavor. Parmesan can be used but should be used in conjunction with other cheeses. Of course, you can always combine any of the above cheeses to suit your taste.

The white sauce method is considered the classic version of macaroni and cheese. It starts with a white sauce (butter, flour, and milk) with cheese added to the hot sauce. This method is usually baked. The layered method is created when cooked noodles and grated cheeses are layered in a baking dish, then covered with milk and baked. The stovetop method is never baked. It’s prepared on the stove and served immediately.

So what’s the very best macaroni and cheese recipe? The answer is which ever one is in front of you right now. The following recipes are all easy to prepare, run the gamut from mellow to spicy and best of all, can be on the table in 30 to 40 minutes.

 

MACARONI AND CHEESE PIZZA

This is a guilty pleasure meal that my children loved to make when they were first learning how to cook.

 

2 boxes of packaged macaroni and cheese mix
2 eggs
2 cups readymade pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and set it aside. Cook macaroni and cheese as directed on the box. Add the eggs to the mixture and mix to combine. Spread the mixture on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure to spread the mixture so that it’s no more than about an inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and spread the pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top. Return the “pizza” to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and lightly golden. Serves 6.

SPICY MACARONI AND CHEESE

This recipe is based on one I originally saw in Gourmet Magazine. I tweaked it a little and came up with something really spicy and delicious.

 

1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups milk

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, well drained

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack

1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar

1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 pan and set it aside. In a large heavy saucepan combine the butter, leeks, the garlic, chili powder and the cumin and cook, over a low heat, stirring, until the onion becomes soft. When the onions are soft stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk to the onion mixture, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly and then whisk in the tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 2 minutes and add the salt and pepper to taste.

 

In boiling salted water cook the macaroni for 6 to 7 minutes, or until it is barely al dente, drain it well. Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture. Stir in the Monterey Jack and the Cheddar cheese. Spoon the mixture in the prepared pan. In another bowl combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni mixture. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling. Serves 6 to 8.

BROCCOLI AND CHEESE WITH MACARONI

16 ounces elbow macaroni
2 cups broccoli florets fresh or frozen
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons four
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs

 

Grease a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente, or still slightly firm. Drain well. Fill another saucepan 3/4 full with water. Bring water to a boil, add broccoli, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente; Drain the broccoli and set it aside. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter. Over a medium heat add the flour, stirring for 1 minute until the mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continually until thickened, about 3 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat.  Set aside 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Stir the remaining Cheddar, Gruyere, Parmesan, salt, and cayenne into the sauce until the cheeses melt. Add the cooked macaroni and broccoli to sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with reserved cheddar and bread crumbs. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.

 

BAKED MAC AND CHEESE DECADENCE

 

2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups shredded/grated cheese (I cup Cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 cup Parmesan)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish and set it aside. Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente. Drain well and set aside.  In a large saucepan melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook 1 minute, whisking and then whisk in the milk, whisking continually until the mixture is smooth. Continue cooking and as soon as it thickens add the nutmeg and stir. Add the cheeses a little bit at a time, stirring continually until the cheese is melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and mix well to combine. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Combine the rosemary and thyme with the breadcrumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the breadcrumbs.  Bake, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. About 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

OOEY GOOEY MAC AND CHEESE

Marshall Shafkowitz, chef at Le Cordon Bleu created this recipe and this is my variation of his version. Be warned this recipe is not for the calorie conscious.

 

1 gallon of milk

1 of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 pound smoked Gouda

12 tablespoons of butter

1 cup flour

2 cups saltine crackers, crushed

salt and pepper

1 pound uncooked Macaroni or corkscrew pasta

 

Fill a large pot 1/2 way with hot water. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils add the noodles and cook at a slow boil.

 

Pour the milk into another large pot and bring it to a simmer. While the milk is heating melt the butter in a skillet. When the butter is completely melted add the flour all at once and whisk to combine and the mixture pulls away from the side of the skillet. As soon as this happens remove the mixture from the heat and put the mixture to a large bowl.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Take roughly 2 cups of the hot milk and pour it over the flour/ butter mixture and whisk until the mixture is combined. When this mixture is smooth add it to the remaining hot milk and whisk until combined. Let the milk mixture cook, over a low heat, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Drain your pasta and then place it in a casserole dish. Slowly add the cheese to the milk mixture. Stir continually to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan. When all the cheese is mixed in season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Sprinkle the crushed crackers on the top of the casserole and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

 

SOUTHWEST MAC AND CHEESE

 

2 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup diced onions

1/2 to 1 cup red, yellow and green bell peppers, finely diced

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large can, white albacore tuna, in water, drained

3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound penne or other pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup slice green onions, including green part

In a large saute pan combine the butter onions, chili powder and peppers and saute, over a low heat until vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the milk and cream in the sauce pan and bring the mixture it to a simmer. Add the cheeses and stir well until the cheeses are completely melted. Add the tuna and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to simmer another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained pasta and mix well. Place the mixture in serving bowl and top with a dollop sour cream. Garnish with the sliced green onions. Serves 6 to 8.