Monday, December 31, 2007

Hot Spinach and Artichoke dip

Found this on and its worked well for us. Not the best I've ever had but I have made it three times this month so it must be pretty good. I added extra garlic to the dip but there is still one missing ingredient and I haven't figured it out yet. I think a trip to Olive Garden may be in my future so I can figure it out.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Apricot Cream Cheese Thumbprints

I found this on We really like these cookies. They are soft and moist. Instead of apricot jam though I use my homemade peach jam but any type of jam works well with these cookies.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the cream cheese mixture until just combined. Cover, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using your finger, make an indention in the center of each ball, and fill with 1/2 teaspoon of apricot preserves.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Antipasto Heros

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
4 tablespoons evvo
salt and pepper
3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
5 pepperoncini, rinsed and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped black olives
2 (12 inch long) baguettes
2 cups arugula leaves
1/2 pound thinly sliced hard salami or cappicola
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

In blender, puree artichokes, garlic, and 2 tablespoons oil until smooth paste forms. Transfer to small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Combine red peppers, pepperoncini, black olives, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in medium bowl.

Slice baguettes in half lengthwise and pull out most of soft crumb from tops and bottoms. Spread artichoke paste on both sides of bread.

Fill bottom cavaities of bread with pepper mixture. Layer with argula, meat, and cheese, place tops of bread over bottom, and press firmly. Wrap each sandwich tightly in foil and weight down using heavy object (canned tomatoes are perfect) for 1 to 3 hours. Unwrap sandwiches, cut each in half, and serve.

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Toasted Garlic and Sweet Pea Pasta

This recipe came from a Rachel Ray cookbook, the Express Meals one I believe. I really liked the pasta and so did the kids.

1 pound long cut pasta, whatever you have in the cupboard
1/4 to 1/3 cup evvo
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
black pepper
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 10 ounce boxes frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for the table

Place a large pot of water with lid over high heat and bring to a boil to cook the pasta. Once it comes to a boil cook the pasta. Once it comes to a boil, add salt and pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Right before draining reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

While the water is coming to a boil, add the evoo and the sliced garlic to a large skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat, spread the garlic out in an even payer in the oil, and keep an eye on the garlic, it can burn in seconds. Have a slotted spoon and some paper towels on a plate nearby. Once garlic is toasty brown, remove it from the oil with the slotted spoon and drain it on the paper towels.

Turn up the heat under the evoo to medium high, then add the red pepper flakes, onions, thyme, salt, and a little pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the onions become tender and lightly browned. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the peas and a couple of ladles of the pasta cooking liquid. Bring the sauce back to a bubble. With the back of a spoon mash about half of the peas in the skillet. Add the parsley and toasted garlic slices, stir to combine, then give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Add the cooked drained pasta and toss to coat in the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add another glug of chicken stock. Stir in the cheese, then transfer the pasta to serving plates. Pass extra cheese at the table.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Ham and Bean soup

From December's issue of Cooks Country. We really really liked this recipe. However we did make this twice, once with navy beans and once with lima beans, and the time we made it with lima beans did not taste as good as when we used the navy beans.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ham steak , patted dry and diced
1 onion , chopped
3 carrots , peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs , chopped
6 garlic cloves , minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 cups water
2 smoked ham hocks
1 pound dried navy beans , soaked overnight
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add diced ham and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, water, hocks, and beans. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are completely tender and soup is slightly thickened, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
2. Remove hocks from pot. (If desired, let cool 5 minutes, then shred meat and add to soup.) Stir in thyme, pepper, and vinegar. Serve.
3. Make Ahead: This soup can be refrigerated for several days, but the beans will continue to soak up liquid. If the soup becomes too thick, stir in 1/4 cup water at a time until the consistency is to your liking. Simmer the soup over medium-low heat until it's hot. Serve.

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Knock off of a Cafe Rio salad

I have to say I've never eaten at Cafe Rio but on a message board I frequent they talk about this place all the time. The salad just sounded so tasty I had to give it a try and so we did. I don't know where the knock off recipes came from but I found them on the pinchingyourpennies website. This was a very yummy salad and one I can't wait to make again. My boys even really liked the pork, beans, and rice. This is going to be one very long post in order to post all the recipes involved.

Cilantro Lime Rice
3 c water
3 c rice
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp salt
¼ cup lime juice
1/2 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro, remove large stems
1 small can green chiles

Place water, rice, bouillon, and salt in pot. Bring to boil. Place lime juice, onion, garlic, cilantro and green chilies in a blender and puree. Stir into rice. Simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.

Black Beans
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 Tbl finely mined onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup tomato juice
3 Tbl chopped Fresh Cilantro
1 tsp salt
Fry onion, garlic and cumin in a small amount of olive oil. Add beans, tomato juice, cilantro and salt and heat through.

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa
Pork Roast: Put it in a crock pot with a little water and cook until very tender (about 8 hours on low).
Shred pork and add:
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small can diced green chilies
1 can Coke (not diet coke)
1 cup brown sugar
salt to taste
Cook for one more hour.

Pico de Gallo
4 ripe Tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 jalapeno, minced (remove the seeds and veins if you don’t like a lot of heat)
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
lime juice, to taste
salt, to taste
Mix everything together.

2-3 ripe Avocados
1-2 Tbl lime juice
1/2 tomato, finely chopped
2 Tbl finely chopped onion
salt, to taste (or use garlic salt)
Mash avocado and lime juice with a fork. Fold in the tomato, onion, and salt.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
1 package Ranch Buttermilk Dressing mix
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup Mayonnaise (I use half mayo and half sour cream)
3 fresh tomatillos
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Just put everything in a blender and puree.Refrigerate for a couple of hours and if you need to, adjust the thickness by adding more buttermilk to thin it out, or sour cream to make it thicker.

Now to make the salad place the following things on the plate in order listed:
1. Large Flour TortillasUse homemade or buy the uncooked ones and cook them on a griddle. Sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and cook until the cheese is melted. Place the cheesy tortillas in a cake pan.
2. Spanish Rice
3. Black Beans
4. Meat of your choice
5. Romaine Lettuce
Wash thoroughly, and cut into large squares.
6. Pico de Gallo
7. Guacamole
8. Lime Wedges
9. Grated Cotija cheese
10. Cilantro sprigs
11. Crispy Tortilla Strips Just cut some corn Tortillas in thin strips and quickly fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
12. Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

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Harvest Vegetable and Potato Soup

4 cups cubed potatoes (do not peel)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/2 cup string beans
1 green, red, or yellow pepper coarsely chopped
1 cup sweet peas
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 (10 ounce) bag spinach
6 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place vegetables in a dutch oven. Add water, bring to a boil. Add butter, salt, pepper and herbs. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

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Plum Pudding Smoothies

4 canned purple plums, pitted
4 large strawberries
1/2 ripe peeled banana
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 to 8 ice cubes

Place ingredients in a large blender; cover and blend until smooth, scraping down sides once or twice. Serves 4.

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Finnish Gingerbread Men (Pepparkakor)

We used this recipe to make gingerbread cookies. They were quite tasty and the boys really loved them. They had a nice spicy flavor to them. I was out of nutmeg though so I subbed ground allspice for the nutmeg. My husband thought they were missing something though.

2/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon each ground cardamom, ground coriander seed and ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 cup water

Cream butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl, beating until fluffy. Add spices; beat well.

Add baking soda, salt, flour, cider vinegar, and just enough water to make a smooth pilable dough. Roll into a ball. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press ball into a disk and roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shapes; transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet, placing cookies about 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart. Chill dough in between batches.

Bake 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks. Decorate.

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Elsie's Gingerbread

This was a way yummy cake. All three of my boys loved it, so much so that we've made this two times so far this season. I found this in a newspaper insert from our local newspaper.

cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom only of a 9 inch square pan or 9 inch tube pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening to make a crumbly mixture. Scoop out 1/4 cup and set aside.

Add egg and molasses to flour mixture and stir. Combine buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir well (and there will still be a few lumps). Pour into prepared pan; sprinkle reserved flour mixture evenly over top.

Bake about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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