Monday, December 31, 2012

Polenta Crostini with Caramelized Onion

Happy New Year!

Polenta Crostini with Caramelized Onion and Cranberry
one log of ready made polenta
3 Tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon bacon fat
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 Tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat oven to broil.
Trim ends of polenta and slice into 16 slices. Brush polenta with olive oil on each side and place on foil lined baking sheet. Broil on each side until crisp on the outside.
Mix goat cheese and cream cheese in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large saute pan, heat bacon fat and add onions and 3 stems of thyme and cook until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove thyme stems.
Slather cheese mixture over cooked polenta slices. Grind fresh pepper of top of cheese. Divide onions over top of each polenta, cheese mixture and sprinkle with cranberries and thyme leaves.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salmon Frittata

We had a beautiful king salmon for dinner and with the leftover salmon made this frittata. The following evening, a fresh green salad and a slice of salmon frittata rounded out dinner.
Salmon Frittata

8 ounces of cooked salmon, flaked
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/4 cup of mayo
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
dash of hot sauce

Preheat oven to 325F.
Butter a 9 inch pie plate.
In a medium size bowl, blend eggs, sour cream, yogurt, and mayo. Fold in salmon, cheese, chives, dill and hot sauce.
Pour into pie plate and bake for about 40 minutes or until firm.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Peppermint Bark

Normally this arrives in the mail from a certain store in a red and white tin, but so far this year it has not been delivered, so I tried this at home with good results.
Peppermint Bark

12 ounces good quality dark chocolate chips
16 ounces good quality white chocolate
1 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided
8-10 red and white peppermint candies, crushed

Line a 12 x 8 inch baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with canola oil.
In a double boiler heat dark chocolate over a low simmer until melted, add half of peppermint extract and stir. Pour onto baking sheet and spread evenly.
Let chocolate set up in fridge.
In a clean double boiler, heat white chocolate until melted and add remaining peppermint extract and stir to combine. Pour over top of dark chocolate layer and spread evenly.
Top with crushed peppermint candies and slightly press into chocolate layer.
Chill to set up.
Take foil out of baking sheet and break apart or cut with a knife.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Caramelized Butternut Squash
I found this online and it was contributed to Ina Garten. This has a touch of cayenne that can be omitted if you prefer not having a little heat!

2 medium butternut squash (4-5 pounds total)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut off ends of squash and discard. Peel squash and cut into half lengthwise.
Using a spoon, remove seeds. Cut squash into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
Place cubed squash on a foil lined baking sheet and toss with melted butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and cayenne.
Layout squash in a single layer and roast 40-50 minutes, turning a few times.
Roast until squash is tender and glaze begins to caramelize.
Top with walnuts and serve hot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Mushroom

I was looking for a quick, last minute snack the other night and this came together.
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Mushroom
baby portabella mushrooms
quality blue cheese
applewood bacon slices

Preheat oven to 350F.
Wash and remove stems from mushrooms.
Stuff each mushroom with blue cheese.
Cut fat from bacon. Take each slice of bacon and wrap around mushroom cap, cutting bacon to fit and stitching together with toothpick.
On a foil lined baking sheet, place finished mushrooms and bake about 20-25 minutes until bacon is cooked.
Note: Blue cheese could also be combined with cream cheese.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brussel Sprout and Marcona Almond Salad

If you don't care for brussel sprouts, this winter salad may change your mind.
Brussel Sprout and Marcona Almond Salad

peel of 1/2 a large lemon, cut into strips, no white pith (I used Meyer Lemon)
6 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound of brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
3/4 cup Marcona almonds
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Place lemon strips in a small skillet. Pour olive oil over lemon strips and allow to steep over very low heat, until bubbles form around the edges of lemon strips.
Turn off heat and allow to sit in pan another 10 minutes. Put oil and lemon strips in a small container, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 3 days.

Thinly slice brussel sprouts and put in a bowl. Set aside 4 Tablespoons of almonds and coarsely chop the remainder. Add chopped almonds to brussel sprouts.

In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper until blended. Remove and discard lemon strips from oil, stir oil into lemon juice mixture. Pour over sprouts and toss to coat. Divide among 4-6 salad plates. Garnish with reserved almonds.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

This classic warm dip is great served with a variety of vegetables, french bread or pita, crackers or corn chips.
Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

1- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
2 -14 ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
dash of hot sauce
fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, mix the spinach, artichoke hearts, 3/4 cup of Parmesan, mayonnaise, sour cream, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
Put into a baking dish and sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Bake until warm throughout and top is brown, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pomegranate Martini

Refreshing and festive, these little ruby jewels are perfect for any holiday celebration.
Pomegranate Martini

1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3 ounces Pomegranate juice
1/2 lime
ice cubes
fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish

Pour vodka, Cointreau, Pomegranate juice, squeeze of lime over ice cubes in a martini shaker. Shake until well blended and pour into iced martini glass. Garnish with lime slice and pomegranate seeds.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Smoked Salmon Rolls

For a great alternative to smoked salmon on bagels, try these simple one bite appetizers.
Smoked Salmon Rolls

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon capers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1 Tablespoon green onion, finely sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, plus some for garnish
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, horseradish, green onion, dill, salt and pepper.
On a cutting board, lay slice of smoked salmon. Take 1 Tablespoon cream cheese mixture and put at edge of salmon. Roll salmon to the end and press edge. Cut off bottom of salmon so edge is level. Repeat with remaining salmon.
Stand on serving plate and garnish with fresh dill.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hot Crab Dip

Hot Crab Dip
 This hot crab dip is easy to prepare and can be held in a little crock pot. Perfect on cool evenings or for holiday gatherings.

16 ounces crab meat
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon sweet onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
dash of freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
1 green onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a heat safe baking dish, combine cream cheese, onion, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. Fold in crab meat. Top with almonds and bake about 20 minutes, until heated throughout.
Garnish with green onion and serve with crackers, sliced baguettes or fresh vegetables.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

I was looking for a little cookie recipe that used caramels, oh and chocolate is always good too!
I found this combo on the blog, comfort of cooking.
Chocolate Caramel Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
20-24 Rolos, unwrapped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 375F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter, add egg and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Add flour, cocoa powder and baking soda, mix well.
Cover bowl and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Take about 1 Tablespoon dough, roll into a ball and place 1 Rolo in the center, cover with dough.
Roll each in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and press slightly. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt.
Bake 8-10 minutes, cool and transfer to cooling rack.

Monday, December 3, 2012

San Marzano Tomato Soup

These sweet tomatoes are rounded out with a smokey flavor by the addition of a little browned butter.
I am addicted to brown butter and sage on pasta and wanted to try it with the tomato for a little winter mellowness.
San Marzano Tomato Soup

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2- 28 ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup of cream
3 Tablespoons of brown butter

In a large saucepan, add butter and olive oil. Stir in carrots, onion, celery, and cook until softened. Add tomatoes, garlic, water, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper and cook about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes.
Stir in cream and heat gently.
Meanwhile heat 3 Tablespoons of butter in a small saute pan, swirl the pan around as the butter turns brown, do not burn.
Add the brown butter to the tomato mixture. Process in batches in the blender.