Taco Bites

These tasty morsels are always the first to go. I have to be careful not to make too many because everyone fills up on them.



1 Jar or homemade salsa
2 to 2 1/2 cups Guacamole
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound ground chuck
2 tablespoons taco seasonings
1/4 cup water
1 package mini-filo-shells (you can find them in the frozen food section)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded small (I like to use the white cheddar, but yell is fine or mix)

Leaves from 2 to 3 cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

Heat a heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add the oil and swirl it around the pan. Add the ground chuck, breaking the meat into really fine bits with a metal spatula. Brown until the beef starts to form a crust and most of the juices have evaporated.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning over the beef. Add water and cook until all the water has evaporated and the meat starts to sizzle. Keep breaking up the beef into the smallest pieces possible using the metal spatula.

Place a bowl underneath a mesh strainer and pour the beef into the strainer to strain out the excess oil. Discard the oil.

Heat the filo cups according to the package directions. Cool.

Place 1 teaspoon of the beef on the bottom of the filo cups. Spread a teaspoon of the guacamole over the beef as you would icing on a cake. Add 1 teaspoon of the shredded cheese, and top with a touch of salsa. Add one small cilantro leaf on the top for garnish.


Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken



A platter of this crispy, tender, golden brown chicken would be a hit at almost any potluck or picnic. Immersing the chicken pieces in the buttermilk brine for several hours gives the chicken loads of flavor and helps keep the meat moist as it fries.

4 cups Buttermilk
Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whole chicken (cut up about 3 1/3 pounds)
Canola oil for deep frying
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup salt


To make the buttermilk brine, in a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 1/3 cup salt. In a mortar, crush together the oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage with a pestle (or pulse in a spice grinder) until finely ground. Whisk the ground herbs, garlic, and cayenne pepper into the buttermilk mixture. Cute the chicken into 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, and 2 breast halves, reserving the back and giblets for another use. Cut each breast half crosswise to make 4 breast portions, for a total of 10 chicken pieces. Add the butter milk brine, making sure that the chicken is submerged. (If it isn't, transfer everything to a smaller bowl) or plastic zip lock bag. Cover and refrigerate for a least 4 to 6 hours.

Pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches into a large, heavy saucepan and heat over high heat to 350 degrees on a deep frying thermometer. Set a large wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. Have ready a second rimmed baking sheet.  While the oil is heating, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Remove half of the chicken from the buttermilk brine, letting the excess brine drip back into the bowl. Add the chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat evenly, then transfer to the second baking sheet.

When the oil is ready, in batches to avoid crowding, carefully slip the chicken pieces into the hot oil. The temperature will drop, but adjust the heat to keep the oil bubbling steadily at about 325 degrees. Deep fry the chicken pieces, turning them occasionally with tongs, until they are golden brown and show no sign of pink when pierced at the thickest part, about 12 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the chicken to the rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve warm.

To make gravy:

After frying the chicken, in a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour, simmer for 1 minute, then whisk in 2 cups heated half and half or mild. Bring to a oil, then simmer until thickened about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and your chicken.

Baby Back Ribs

Folks can't eat these tasty ribs without licking their fingers. The double-cooking method first rubbed with pungent spices and slowly baked, then finished outdoors on a hot grill with a zesty glaze.




2 racks (about 5 pounds total) Baby back ribs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
1 teaspoon Dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup peach or apricot preserves
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Canola oil for grilling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut each rib rack into 2 or 3 section. Mix together the salt, paprika, oregano, thyme, granulated garlic, onion powder and pepper.  Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the ribs and rub into the meat.

Arrange the ribs, overlapping slightly if necessary, in a large roasting pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, place in the oven, cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the ribs, and return to the oven. Continue cooking until the ribs are tender and browned, about 30 minute more.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a small sauce pan, stir together the chili sauce, peach preserves, molasses, vinegar, mustard and hot sauces and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the ribs are cooking, prepare a grill for direct heat cooking over medium high heat. Lightly oil the cooking grate.  Brush both sides of the ribs with the sauce. place on the grill, cover, turning once until shiny and glazed, about 3 minutes per side. (Alternatively, increase the oven temperature to 425. Pour off the fat in the roasting pan, then return the ribs to the pan. Brush the ribs with some of the sauce and cook until the ribs are shiny and glazed, about 5 minutes. Turn, brush with more of the sauce, and cook to glaze the other side, about 5 minutes more.

Transfer the ribs to a craving board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut between the bones into individual ribs, heap on a platter, and serve with any remaining sauce.

Put a spin on it: Pork spareribs are also excellent prepared with the oven barbecue method. They are larger, meatier and a little tougher than baby back ribs, so they will take about 45 minutes of covered baking, another 45 minutes uncovered and a final 15 minutes for the glazing on the grill.

Ruben Sandwiches



2/3 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Ketchup styled chili sauce
2 tablespoon finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles
Cooked corned beef (about 3/4 pound, sliced)
8 slices Rye Bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup well drained refrigerated sauerkraut
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)

To make the Russian dressing, in a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, and chopped pickles. Set aside

To make the sandwiches, preheat a griddle or 2 large frying pans over medium heat. Add the corned beef and cook, turning occasionally, just until heated but not browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Lay the bread slices on a work surface and spread each slice with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Trim the slices of Swiss cheese to fit the bread slices, then place 1 cheese slice on each of the 4 bread slices. Top each with one fourth of the corned beef, followed by 1/4 cup of the sauerkraut, and then 1 more slices of cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices, dressing side down. Spread the outside top and bottom of each sandwich with 2 tablespoon of butter.  Place the sandwiches on the griddle and reduce the heat to medium-low. The sandwiches should cook fairly show to allow the bread to grow without burning while the cheese melts, Flip the sandwiches and brown the second sides, about 4 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and cut in half.

Philly Cheesesteak



Boneless beef top loin or rib-eye steak
1 1/4 pounds, in one piece
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
1 red large seeded and thinly sliced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Canola oil for cooking
6 ounces, thinly sliced provolone cheese
4 Crusty French or Italian rolls

Freeze the meat until it is firm but not frozen, about 1 hour. Using a sharp thin bladed knife, cut the meat across the grain into slices 1/4 inch thick.. Using a meat mallet, pound  the meat until it is a uniform 1/8 inch or thinner. Cut into pieces about 3 - 4 inches.

Meanwhile, in a frying pay, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and stir well. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 23-30 minutes. Uncover and stir in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is tender, 2-3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler. Heat a large griddle or 2 frying pans over medium high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle, or add 1 tablespoon oil to each frying pan and tilt to coat the bottom evenly with the oil. Add the meat slices and cook until browned on the undersides, about 1 minute. Turn the meat slices and divide on the griddle into 4 equal mounds. Top each mound with the equal amount of the Provolone. Cook until the undersides of the mounds are browned and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 1 minute longer.

Meanwhile, place the rolls, split side up, on a baking sheet and toast in the broiler until lightly crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer the rolls to plates. Using a metal spatula, transfer each mound of beef and cheese into the toasted roll bottom. Spoon equal amounts of the onion-pepper mixture onto each mound, place the top of the roll on top and serve at once.

Note: if you want you can add Mozzarella, mild cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese are all good choices to replace the provolone.



Stuffed Bean Poblano Chiles




Ingredients


  • Preparation
  • medium poblano chiles, halved and seeded
  • (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
  • (8.8-ounce) pouch microwaveable cooked long-grain rice (such as Uncle Ben's Original Ready Rice) $
  • 1/2 cup picante sauce $
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional) $
  1. 1. Place chile halves, cut sides up, on a round microwave-safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 3 minutes.
  2. 2. While chiles cook, combine beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Uncover chiles, sprinkle each half with 2 tablespoons cheese, and microwave at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro, if desired.

Pesto Sauce







Ingredients

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/basil-pesto-recipe2.html?oc=linkback

Linguine with Shiitake (or button mushrooms) with Cream Sauce


5 to 6 dried shiitake mushrooms (or button mushrooms)
1 pound uncooked linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream

In a small bowl, cover shiitakes with 1 1/2 cup boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes to re- hydrate.  Drain mushrooms, reserving water.  Chopping the mushrooms, and place between paper towels to dry.  If using button mushrooms, slice mushrooms and saute with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Salt to bring out the excess water. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare linguine according to package directions; drain and keep warm

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and coat stirring, 1 minute or until fragrant but not brown.  Carefully add wine and simmer until reduced by half.  Add mushroom water and reduce again by half. When the water level gets low, turn heat down significantly. Add mushrooms and cream; reduce until desired consistency.  Add cooked linguine and toss to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

What's for dinner? Mom: Pesto Chicken Pasta

What's for dinner? Mom: Pesto Chicken Pasta: 1 16-ounce package uncooked penne pasta (or any shape) 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves Montreal chicken seasoning (optiona...

Pesto Chicken Pasta



1 16-ounce package uncooked penne pasta (or any shape)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Montreal chicken seasoning (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 7 ounce container refrigerated basil pesto (or homemade)
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta al dente according to the package directions. Add pasta to salted water that's at a rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and let sit for 7 minutes undisturbed. Drain. Perfect every time with any pasta.

Season chicken breast halves with Montreal chicken seasoning, if desired, and salt and pepper.  In a large nonstick skillet cook chicken 8 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink.; turning once. Transfer to a cutting board and slice thinly.

In a serving bowl, combine cooked pasta, chicken, pesto and Parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

Fresh Spring Rolls


Ingredients:

10 to 12 sheets round rice paper
1 cup shredded raw carrots
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and patted dry
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into thin 2 inch long strips
1 1/2 cups cooked rice noodles
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts or cashews
10 to 15 large fresh basil or mint leaves
Purchased peanut sauce or hoisin sauce

Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap; if desired spray very lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring a large skillet of water to a simmer over high heat, reduce heat to low. Place 1 sheet spring roll rice paper in the skillet for 5 to 10 seconds to soften; very carefully remove with two pairs of tongs (paper tears easily so be gentle).

Place rice paper flat on a clean work surface. Working quickly. Place a small amount of carrot and bean sprouts at one end of the paper. Top with some cumber strips, rice noodles and chopped peanuts. place 1 to 2 basil leaves flat on the top of the file of filing. Fold the bottom of the rice paper over the filing, fold in rice paper sides (as if rolling up a burrito or egg roll). Tightly roll up rice paper and filling; place seam side down on prepared sheet pan. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with peanut or hoisin sauce. Makes 5 to 6 spring rolls.


Diana's Almond Butter Cake


Ingredients:

1 cup butter (no substitutes), at room temperature
1 cup almond paste (do not us almond filling)
2 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white
sliced almonds
Coarse decorating sugar

In a large bowl, combine butter, almond paste, 2 eggs, granulated sugar, and almond flavoring. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. add flour and blend well.

Spread batter into two 8 inch round cake pans that have been buttered, floured, and lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon water.  Brush egg mixture on the two cakes.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and coarse decorating sugar. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40 minutes to 42 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes 16 servings.


What's for dinner? Mom: Stuffed Flank Steak Roll

What's for dinner? Mom: Stuffed Flank Steak Roll: 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 10-ounces package frozen chopped spinach,...

Stuffed Flank Steak Roll





1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10-ounces package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/3 cup golden raisins, snipped (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 finely shredded Asiago cheese
1 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
salt
ground black pepper
1 2-pound beef flank steak, cut 1 inch thick
6 slices smoked provolone cheese (4 ounces)
2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degree. In a large skillet cook onion and garlic in the 1 tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, raisins, pine nuts, Asiago cheese, lemon peel, and salt pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Butterfly the flank steak by cutting it in half horizontally to, but not through, the opposite side, opening the steak like a book.  Place the steak between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound steak lightly into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Discard plastic wrap. NOTE: you can always ask your meat market to do this for you.

3. Spread spinach mixture evenly over flank steak to within 1 inch of edges. Layer provolone cheese and then prosciutto over top. Fold steak into a spiral, making sure the ends stay tucked in. Using heavy 100-percent cotton kitchen string, tie roll at a 2-inch intervals. Place roll on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush roll all over with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with additional salt and pepper.  Insert an oven going meat thermometer into the center of the roll.

4. Roast, uncovered, about 45 minutes or until internal temperature registers 135 F for medium rare. Cover with foil; let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Temperature of the meat after standing should be 145 F. For medium, roast for 55 minutes or until internal temperature registers 150 F. Cover with foil; let stand for 15 minutes. Temperature of meat after standing should be 160 F. Slice meat into 3/4 inch thick slices.
Makes 16 servings.

Veggie Bars

Recipe from Jeannie Majka-Sherwood, Kenneth City, Florida


Nonstick cooking spray

2 8-ounces refrigerated crescent rolls (8)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 8-ounces packages cream cheese, softened
1 1-ounces envelope ranch dip mix
1 medium green and/or red sweet peppers, sliced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 8-ounces package shredded cheddar cheese


1. Lightly coat a 15-10-x inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Unroll and place crescent roll strips on the prepared pan. Shape to form crust going only lightly up sides. Bake according to package directions or until slightly browned. Cool completely on a wire wrack.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together mayonnaise, cream cheese and ranch dip mix. Spread over cooled crust.
4. Arrange veggies on top of cream cheese mixture. Press lightly into cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with plastic wrap and chill 3 hours or overnight.

Makes 12-24 servings.