Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

Winter is a time for squash. I don't care for the stringy-ness of acorn squash as much, but the sweet flavor of butternut squash is to die for. It is so easy to make and needs almost no preparation (just a long baking time).

1 butternut squash - any size
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Peel and cube the squash into 3/4 inch chunks. Toss with the olive oil. Lay on a baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with pepper and conservatively with salt. Bake at 425 for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chocolate Truffles with Irish Cream

Don't spend a fortune on store bought truffles - they are one of the easiest candies to make! They keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months and make a lovely homemade hostess gift. I use Irish Cream but it also works well with Rum, Kahlua, or any sweet liquor of your choice.

-1/4 cup butter
-3 tbsp heavy cream
-4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
-2 tbsp Irish cream

-4 oz bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 cup chocolate sprinkles (jimmies)

In a saucepan over med-high heat, bring butter and cream to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate until completely melted. Then stir in rum. Pour the mixture into a pan and chill until firm, 2ish hours. When firm, take rounded teaspoonfulls of the mixture and form small balls. Place them on a wax paper coated baking sheet and chill until firm, half an hour or so.

To make the coating: In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate with the oil, stirring until smooth. Remove from water, cool completely. Set the sprinkles in a bowl or cup.

Drop the truffle balls 2 or 3 at a time, into the melted chocolate coating. Using a fork, lift them out and allow excess coating to drip. Roll the coated truffles in sprinkles and put them back on the baking sheet. Chill until they are set, 30 minutes. Wonderful!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Coconut Snowballs

Having impromptu company and looking for a quick dessert without exotic ingredients? Looking for a way to dress up simple vanilla ice cream so it's pretty enough to serve? Look no further! These coconut snowballs please most palates, look nice on the plate, and take no more than ten minutes. You can even make the ice cream balls ahead of time and keep them in the freezer. This multi-purpose chocolate sauce hardens quickly when in contact with cold foods, making it perfect for ice cream dishes.

Vanilla ice cream - scoop and shape into round balls 2-3 inches in diameter
2 cups of sweetened coconut flakes

2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
4 tbsp butter or margerine
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/4 cup half and half or whole milk

Scoop the ice cream, shape into balls. Put in the freezer until they harden. Toast the coconut on a baking sheet until just browned, approx 5 minutes.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over med-high heat. Stir until smooth. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the confectioners sugar and cream in small amounts until chocolate sauce is smooth. You may need more or less sugar for consistency.

Roll the ice cream balls in the toasted coconut, patting with your hands to coat them. Drizzle chocolate sauce on plates and center the ice cream, top with more chocolate.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chicken or Pork in Balsamic Reduction

This recipe has a very tangy, flavorful sauce that works well on chicken or pork cutlets. It's an easy but relatively low-fat recipe.

4 chicken breast cutlets or boneless pork chops
olive oil
1.5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
pinch of dried parsley
2 tbsp chilled butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
splash of red wine

Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides and add to the hot skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, remove from skillet and keep warm under foil.

Add chopped onion to the skillet with minced garlic. Sautee until soft. Add broth, vinegar, and red wine to the skillet, simmer until liquids have reduced by half. Remove from heat. Add cold butter and stir into sauce, then add the meat and juices to the pan, coating the chops in sauce. Serve finished with the pan sauce, or over rice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Slow Cooker Chunky Applesauce

Nothing says "fall" like the smell of baking things with apples. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple compote, anything. The bad news is that they are all full of fat and sugar, you just can't go right with flaky pie crust or cripsy oatmeal topping. But you CAN go right with homemade spicy applesauce - all the warm cinnamon apple goodness without any added fats or sugars. All you need is a crockpot.

Apples - peeled and sliced (I use 8lbs of apples to fill a 7qt crock pot, adjust as needed)
Cinnamon - 1 tsp for every 4-5 lbs of apples or so
Sugar (optional) - 1/8 cup for ever 4-5 lbs of apples

Peel and slice the apples. Toss with the cinnamon and sugar. Put everything in the crockpot with 1/4 cup of water. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours (overnight works wonderfully), stirring towards the end. Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lemon Cake

Nothing says summer like a fresh lemon cake! Super easy and super lemony, make a regular white cake from recipe or mix, but replace all the water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and then fold into the batter the zest of 3 lemons. For lemon buttercream icing, beat as normal and replace the milk with lemon juice, and a drop of yellow food coloring if it's not quite yellow enough from the butter. Garnish with candied lemon slices. Voila! This is can be to the table in an hour or less if you use thin 6 inch cakes (3 layers) that cool quickly.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Peach Apricot Cobbler

This is a super tasty, rich, and easy cobbler type dessert. It can be made with virtually all kinds of canned fruit, so it's excellent for mixing and matching and using whatever you have! I've used peaches, apricots, pears, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and cherries in different combinations and all to pleasing results.

-1/2 c sugar
-2 tbsp cornstarch
-1 can (1 lb, 13 oz) sliced peaches - drained, juice reserved
-1 can (10.5 oz) apricot halves, drained, juice reserved
-1 tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

-1/2 c flour
-1/2 sugar
-3/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp NaCl
-2 tbsp butter, softened
-1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in 1/2 cup each of the reserved fruit juices. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add peaches and apricots. Spoon mixture into a 1.5 qt casserole.
3. For the topping, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and egg. Drop in small chunks or spoon topping over the fruit mixture.
4. Bake cobbler until slightly golden, 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
5. For a nice garnish, beat up some heavy cream with 2 tsbp of honey and a pinch of cinnamon. Serve over the warm cobbler!