Friday, May 30, 2014

Strawberry Amaretto Pastries

With very few ingredients, you can make these impressive pastries! 
June is Strawberry Shortcake Month and Driscoll's Berries is kicking off this event with a recipe contest for the best Strawberry Shortcake!

The Daily Meal - Culinary Content Network is teaming up with Driscoll's Berries to find the best recipe for America's favorite summer dessert!  I think we all love those little sponge cake circles filled with berries and a squirt of whipped cream, but this recipe adds a little crunch with the almonds and a delicious Amaretto cream.  It's a great combination!

  • 1/2 pkg. frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Amaretto (or almond extract)
  • 1-1/2 cups whipped cream
  • 12 large strawberries, sliced
  • Orange zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Unfold pastry dough onto baking pan.  Finely chop half of the almonds and combine with granulated sugar.  Sprinkle evenly over surface of dough.  Lightly press almond mixture into dough.

Cut dough lengthwise into three strips; cut strips crosswise into four squares for a total of 12 squares.  Gently separate squares evenly over surface of pan.  Bake 16-18 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Remove from pan onto cooling rack.

Meanwhile, place remaining almonds into a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool.  Coarsely chop.

Whisk sour cream, powdered sugar and almond extract in a medium bowl.  Fold in whipped cream.  Slice strawberries.  Split open each pastry square;  arrange half of the strawberries into bottom of each shell.  Top with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling and sprinkle with chopped almonds.  Top with remaining strawberries.  Zest orange over strawberries.  Place tops of pastry shells over filling.  Serve immediately.

These are dainty and delectable!

~Adapted from The Pampered Chef
Cooks Tip:  If not serving immediately, fill right before serving.  Sliced peaches can be substitued for the strawberries.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie Popsicles

Making homemade popsicles was part of being a kid!
It's fun for the kids and now there are so many healthy choices that can go into popsicles!

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie Popsicle

1 cup diced fresh strawberries
1-1/2 cups lowfat organic vanilla yogurt
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 Tbsp. sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add all ingredients in blender and blend to combine.
Freeze in popsicle molds

Mix and match with your favorite fruits and yogurt!
Makes 4 Groovy Pops
Pop Molds available at Whole Foods

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

White Castle Sliders

The ideal combination of a steamed bun, tender patty and flavorful onions is the magic behind the White Castle Slider.

"Sliders" seem to be the new snack and appetizers now, but we all know what the "original" sliders are.  We would often have to bring a case of them to friends that have moved and no longer have a White Castle nearby.

1 lb. 80% ground beef
3 Tbsp. dried minced onions
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water (for beef)
1/2 tsp. salt
Dill Pickle slices
Peppridge Farm Slider Rolls (I used Martin's Potato Dinner Rolls)
Try for find buns that are White Bread Style
American Cheese slices

In a small bowl, combine dried minced onions with 1/2 cup water and set aside.  I did try this recipe with fresh minced onions, but the onion was too strong - this was just right.

In a food processor, place the ground beef, salt and water.  Pulse until blended and the meat forms a paste.  

Place meat mixture on a piece of parchment paper.  Cover with another piece of parchment paper and roll meat out into 1/4" thickness.

Cut meat into 3" squares.  Perforate each piece five times with the end of a plastic straw to create steam holes.  

Cover hamburger with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove from freezer and using a pizza cutter, cut out hamburger squares.  At this point, hamburger patties can be frozen with individual pieces of wax paper in between.  

When patties are ready to prepare, add beef broth and onions to a medium saute pan (that also has a cover).  Bring broth and onions to a simmer.  Place patties in pan and cover with lid to steam.

  Turn patties after 2-3 minutes.  Top with cheese slices.  Place bottom side of bun on burgers and place the top of the bun on the bottom bun and cover to steam buns and finish cooking the sliders, about 1-2 minutes.

Flip out the sliders like you work at the place, top with ketchup and a perfectly placed pickle, and have what you crave!
This blog post is featured on New Jersey's new Digital Magazine!

Makes about 18 sliders
Sharing with The Better Baker @ Weekend Potluck

Monday, May 5, 2014

Buffalo Grilled Shrimp

Everyone is getting in the spirit for Cinco De Mayo!
Buffalo style sauce plus the addition of some mexican spices makes a great appetizer or even dinner served with some rice and a salad.
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot sauce (Frank's RedHot)
1/2 tsp. McCormick Mojito Lime Seasoning (or chili powder)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish
Wooden skewers
2 lbs. fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
(if frozen, thaw under cool water)

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

In a small saucepan, add the butter, hot sauce and seasoning over medium-high heat.  Once the butter melts, add the garlic and saute until it sizzles and is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Keep warm.

Stick 3 shrimp on each skewer.  Season the salt and pepper on both sides.  Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, basting with the sauce the last few minutes of grilling.

Remove the shrimp to a platter and drizzle reserved sauce over the shrimp or place on the side for dipping.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!
Sharing with Weekend Potluck
The Midnight Baker - Summer Blog Hop

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Warm Ham & Cheese Party Rolls

This is a great recipe I found from one of my blogger buddies Brandie @ The Country Cook.  I tried them once and they have been a hit ever since!  Every one loves them and everyone asks for the recipe!  It's understandable really - a butter and brown sugar glaze with warm ham and melted cheese!!

Your guests will go "pupule" (crazy) for these rolls!
The beauty of these is that they can be served fresh from the oven, or they can be served at room temperature.  

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard (I used Country Dijon)
1 (12 oz.) package King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1/3 lb. low sodium ham, sliced paper thin
Provolone cheese (6-8 slices)
Raspberry Preserves

Preheat oven to 350F degrees

In a small pot, melt butter with Worcestershire Sauce, brown sugar and mustard and mix well to combine.

Slice rolls in half horizontally, keeping rolls attached.
Brush the glaze mixture on cut side of each half of the rolls, saving a small amount to glaze the top of the rolls.

On the bottom side of the rolls, add sliced ham and cheese.  Put halves together and brush the top of the rolls with remaining glaze.  Cover with aluminum foil ad bake for 25 minutes.

Serve these rolls with warmed Raspberry Jam.  
The jam really really makes these a sweet and savory sensation!

Brandie's Ham & Cheese Party Rolls

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weeknight Meat Sauce with Rigatoni (Pressure Cooker)

If you have never invested in a pressure cooker, you really should consider it.  The new models are so easy to use and take all the fear out of making a quick meal.  

This quick meat sauce with all the flavor of Bolognese, is cooked with the uncooked pasta and is ready is 5 minutes!

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. 85% lean ground beef (or turkey)
3-1/2 cups water
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes (crushed by hand)
1 lb. rigatoni
Chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat oil in pressure cooker on "Brown" setting.  Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned.  Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, oregano and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until jjno longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Stir in water, crushed tomatoes and pasta.

Lock pressure-cooker lid and cook on High Pressure for 5 minutes.  
Let pressure come down naturally.  Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with basil and cheese

Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...