Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cranberry Bruschetta

Cranberry Sauce is the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers. Aside from topping leftover turkey sandwiches or riding shotgun to sliced turkey on Thanksgiving day. It's great on toast or muffins on post-holiday mornings. It's basically jam afterall. I decided to elevate the humble toast with jam to these easy and deliciously sweet Cranberry Bruschetta. 
Inspired by an old Pampered Chef recipe for Strawberry Bruschetta, I dug up my scalloped bread tube and baked up a loaf of this beautiful bread that was toasted crisp with butter and cinnamon sugar. I slathered it with a sweetened creamy mascarpone cheese generously flavored with lemon zest and then  topped with cinnamon cranberry sauce, more lemon zest, and finely minced rosemary. Perfect for a light breakfast or dessert!  Enjoy!

Cranberry Bruschetta

Makes ~20

french baguette, sliced*
3 T cinnamon sugar
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
zest of 1 lemon and 1 T lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup leftover homemade cranberry sauce 
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t fresh rosemary, finely minced (garnish)
lemon zest (garnish)

Butter baguette slices and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Place bread slices on cookie sheet and broil until toasted ~ 4minutes. Set aside to cool. 

*Note: I used my Pampered Chef Scalloped Bread Tube and 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough, baked 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees to bake up the scalloped bread slices pictured. 

Mix Mascarpone cheese, sifted powdered sugar and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Spread cinnamon toasts generously with mascarpone cheese spread.  Top cheese with 3-4 sliced almonds. 
Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon to left over cranberry sauce and top cheese toasts with about 1 tsp cranberry sauce. Garnish with more lemon zest and finely minced rosemary. 
Other recipes to try:
Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Cake
Blackberry Oatmeal Bars
Zucchini Bruschetta

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Polenta Pizza with Sausage

Is anyone else tired of Turkey Day leftovers? I know I am. I could not get myself to eat another turkey sandwich or eat any more reheated side dishes leftover from Thanksgiving. I needed a change of holiday pace and boy do I have a recipe for you. A mouthwatering and satisfying dish that is decidedly the farthest thing from Thanksgiving...Polenta Pizza with Sausage replaces the typical pizza crust with a soft, creamy, cheesy polenta crust topped with a heavenly sausage ragu made with San Marzano tomatoes, sweet Italian sausage, onions and garlic and two cheeses broiled to bubbly perfection. It is absolutely incredible! 

My mom shared this recipe with me after I had it at her house one afternoon. I loved it, so she loaded me up with a ton of leftovers and I literally ate this for breakfast, lunch and dinner the whole next day. It was so delicious! My mom was quick to point out that this recipe is from Chef Michael Symon from The Chew.  She's a huge fan of the show and Chef Symon. All I can say is thank you Chef Symon and thank you mom for sharing it with me.  Trust me, you may never want regular pizza again. Enjoy!

Polenta Pizza with Sausage

Serves 8
slightly adapted recipe by Michael Symon

Polenta Crust 
2 cups Instant Polenta (I used Quick Grits)
7 cups water
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (I added 3/4 cup)
2 T butter
salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large saucepan, bring 7 cups of salted water to a boil. Add Polenta or Quick Grits and stir. Heat over medium low heat for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. 

Add butter, marscarpone and Parmesan-reggiano cheeses to the prepared polenta. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Prepare large sheet pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper)I lined with parchment). Pour prepared Polenta into a large sheet pan and refrigerate until set about 30 minutes or while you prepare the sausage ragu.

 Sausage Ragu
14 oz. package sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1- 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, chopped ( I added the whole can with juice)
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
fresh basil  

In a large dutch oven, brown Italian sausage. Add onions and garlic and continue to cook over medium high heat until onions are translucent ~5 minutes. Add San Marzano tomatoes and continue to heat until tomatoes break down and sauce is reduced and thickened. About 45-60 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble Pizza: Pour sauce over set polenta crust and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Heat under the broiler for 7-9 minutes until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. 

Remove from oven, slice and top with fresh basil and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Other recipes to try:

Tandoori Chicken Pizza

Pizza Soup 
Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Monday, November 26, 2018

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies

Thanksgiving is over, so that can only mean one thing...Christmas! What better way to get ready for the holidays than to make Christmas Cookies! How about gingerbread cookies without all the work of rolling and cutting. These Gingerbread Spritz Cookies have the buttery goodness of a classic Spritz combined with molasses and warm spices of holiday gingerbread. Quick and easy cookies with tons of Christmas cheer!  
                                            🎄Happy Holidays!🎄

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies

Makes ~5 dozen

1 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
1/8 t white pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add the molasses and the egg and beat until incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and pepper. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
Add cookie dough to cookie press and press out desired shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes until dough is just set but not brown. Cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T milk
Stir all ingredients together and drizzle over cookies and put some icing in a squeeze bottle for detail work if desired. Top with sprinkles while icing is still wet.

More Christmas recipes:
Gingerbread Petit Fours
Gingerbread Biscotti
Red Velvet Brownies

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Corn and Squash Casserole

As the days edge closer to Thanksgiving, I'm feverishly trying to finish up my Thanksgiving dishes before the big day. I need to finish all these blogs by end of day today, because starting Monday, I need to clean my house, shop, and prep for my family Thanksgiving get together. So what type of dish hits our table every Thanksgiving? Casseroles! Yes. Cheesy, comforting, satisfying casseroles. Whether its green bean casserole, creamed corn casserole, a potato gratin or stuffing, I love them all. SO this year I wanted to try a casserole with squash and corn and it turned out incredible. Check out this beauty shot below....loaded with yellow and green squash, corn and onions, two kinds of cheese and topped with cheesy panko breadcrumbs creating a caramelized crust of cheesy goodness just under the surface. Delicious and perfect for Thanksgiving!

Corn and Squash Casserole

adapted recipe from Plain Chicken

Serves 8-10

1 1/2 lbs. yellow squash, diced
1 1/2 lbs. green squash. diced
1/4 tsp. butter
2 cups onions, diced
3 cups corn
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare vegetables.  In a large skillet melt butter and add onions and saute until onions are translucent, ~5 minutes. Add squash and corn and saute for about 5 minutes until squash is just beginning to soften, but is not fully cooked. It'll finsh cooking in the oven. Add garlic and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute and then remove from heat. 

Transfer vegetables into a large bowl and allow to cool a bit. Add cheese, mayo, sour cream and beaten eggs and mix well. Add salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix panko flakes and parmesan reggiano cheese together. Add about half the breadcrumb mixture to the vegetables and give it a stir. Spray your casserole dish with cooking spray and transfer the vegetable mixture to your prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining breadcrumb mixture and bake uncovered in the oven about 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Enjoy!

Other recipes to try:
Potato Cauliflower Gratin
Parmesan Creamed Onions
Sweet Onion Casserole

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Apple, Fennel, and Onion Slaw

I've been blog cooking Thanksgiving dishes all week and I must say...I'm stuffed! I've gained 5 pounds this week alone and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I've had to make most of my the recipes twice to tweak it here or there until the flavors are just right. So the day I started this salad was a welcome reprieve from the "Chilaquiles Corn Bread Stuffing, Creamed Corn Casserole, Pumpkin Challah bread, Corn and Squash Casserole, and Pumpkin Pasta Manicotti Eating Extravaganza" of this last week. It's simple, light and loaded with deliciousness. This recipe is so good, I surprised myself. 😋 Besides it's awesome flavor, it's a make-ahead salad so it's super easy and convenient to make and bring to Thanksgiving potlucks or family get-together any time of year. 
Shred up some crunchy green cabbage, slice up some paper-thin red onions, shave up a bulb of fennel, cut up some super sweet crisp apples like Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, or Rockit™ apples toss with a sweet Maple Dijon Vinaigrette and refrigerate overnight! Let the flavors mingle and get to know each other and come morning, you have the perfect blend of fresh and bright, crunchy and sweet Apple, Fennel and Onion Slaw! Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple, Fennel, and Onion Slaw

 Serves 10-12

1 head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly shaved
1/4 red onion, thinly shaved
3-4 sweet crisp apples, cut into matchsticks (I used Rockit™ Apples)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Maple Dijon Dressing
1 small shallots, finely minced
3 T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2  t.  salt
1/4 t. pepper

Prepare dressing first. Combine all ingredients, adding the oil slowly while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette and set aside. 
Next, prepare the vegetables and apples. Finely shred cabbage, rinse and spin dry and place in a large bowl.Thinly slice about 1/4 cup of red onions and add to cabbage. 

Cut apples into matchsticks and place in another bowl and squeeze with lemon to prevent browning, let apples sit in lemon juice while preparing the fennel. 

Cut fennel in half and remove the core and then finely shave thin slices of fennel placing the shaved fennel in a small bowl with about 2 T of dressing. Stir to coat fennel with dressing to prevent browning, then add it to the bowl with cabbage and onions. 
Now add the apples and almonds to the bowl. Add about half the Maple Dijon dressing using tongs to turn and coat the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight. Reserve the remaining dressing. The next day, remove slaw from the fridge. Note that the cabbage has softened a bit and some of that water has now collected at the bottom of your bowl. Carefully drain some of that liquid that collected overnight and then toss with more of the reserved dressing and enjoy! Top with more almonds if desired.
More recipes to try:

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Pancetta
Kale Salad with Walnuts and Golden Raisins
Sauteed Collard Greens

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Chilaquiles Corn Bread Stuffing

The turkey may get center stage every Thanksgiving, but for me the side dishes are the stars of the show and this Chilaquiles Corn Bread Stuffing is sure to steal the show on Turkey day. A Latin-inspired stuffing that blends traditional corn bread stuffing ingredients like corn bread, celery, carrots and onions with chorizo, fresh corn, green chiles, salsa and fried corn tortillas. Then instead of slathering the whole thing with gravy like traditional stuffing, I topped mine with crunchy corn tortilla strips, crumbled cotija cheese, cilantro and salsa! Flavor packed comfort food, that's not just for Thanksgiving. Make this casserole for a holiday brunch with a crisp green salad or fruit, or throw a few over-easy eggs on top just like you'd find on traditional Chilaquiles and have it for breakfast on Christmas Morning. Happy Holidays.

Chilaquiles Corn Bread Stuffing

Serves 8-10

11 oz. Beef, Pork, or Soy Chorizo 
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 - 4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 cup corn
6 yellow corn tortillas, cut into strips
oil for frying tortillas
6 cups corn bread stuffing mix (I used Mrs. Cubbison's®)
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups prepared salsa or tomato sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Top with:
Fried tortilla chips
Cotija cheese, crumbled
cilantro, finely chopped
green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, add chorizo, onions, carrots, and celery and heat over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add green chiles and corn and mix and set aside while you fry the tortillas.

In a separate frying pan, add enough oil to fry tortilla strips until light brown working in small batches. Remove tortillas from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
Add corn bread stuffing mix to a large bowl. Add the meat mixture to the corn bread stuffing mix and stir well to incorporate. Add enough chicken stock to moisten the corn bread meat mixture.

IN a small bowl, add salsa and about half of the fried tortillas and mix to coat the chips in salsa. Make sure to reserve the rest of fried tortillas for garnish. Add the salsa coated chips and cilantro to the corn bread mixture. Pour into a buttered casserole dish, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. 

Top with lots of crunchy fried tortillas, cotija cheese crumbles, cilantro, and green onions. Serve with salsa. Enjoy!
Other recipes to try:

Creamed Corn Casserole
Autumn Slaw with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Tortilla Dressing