Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Olive Garden Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This recipe is from, my comments are in parentheses. I love this stuff!!

2 fresh artichokes
1 lemon, juice of, squeezed
1 teaspoon salt


1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced (I used fresh, but I LOVE canned. Mmmmm.)
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature (This is Italian cream cheese. It comes in a tub.)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leave
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 fresh garlic clove, minced
5 green onions, chopped
ground black pepper
1 (6 ounce) package fresh spinach, chopped
(I added 4-5 slices bacon, cooked crisp then crumbled)
8 slices crusty Italian bread (I used a round loaf of sour dough, sliced thin.)
extra virgin olive oil-to drizzle on bread (I didn't do this step)

1. Artichoke Preparation:.
2. TRIM off stems and dry leaves/ends of leaves
3. BOIL artichokes in 3 quarts water with 1 tsp salt and lemon juice for 30 minutes.
4. COOL artichokes. Clean, peel, remove center “choke” (the hairy part) and slice artichoke.
5. FOLLOW Dip Preparation steps below.
6. Dip Preparation:
7. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
8. MIX all ingredients in a large bowl, except bread and extra virgin olive oil. (Room temperature cheese wasn't soft enough to stir, so I microwaved it all together for almost a minute. I figured it was going to get baked anyway.)
9. COAT a large non-stick baking pan with pan spray; fill pan with mixture. Bake at 325ºF for about 25 minutes or until bubbling and center is hot.
10. DRIZZLE both sides of bread with extra virgin olive oil. Grill bread on both sides. (I left out the oil and just used my toaster.)
11. SPRINKLE top of heated dip with Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with grilled bread.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cheese

I wouldn't say this is the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, but if anyone ever gives me Brussels spouts, I will make this again rather than throw them away.

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, julienned
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1 recipe Basic Brussels Sprouts, recipe follows
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1-ounce blue cheese, crumbled
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Place the bacon into a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan and set over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crisp and brown. Remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan using a slotted spoon. Decrease the heat to low. Add the onion and cook just until they turn semi-translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the salt and apple and continue to cook for another minute. Add the Brussels sprouts, heavy cream and mustard and cook just until the Brussels sprouts are heated through, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon, blue cheese and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Basic Brussels Sprouts

* 1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowing outer leaves. Cut each Brussels sprout in half from top to bottom. Place the Brussels sprouts, water and salt into a 3 to 4-quart saucier and cover. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove and serve immediately.

Olive Garden Stuffed Mushrooms

A recipe from recipezaar, now Anthony really likes Olive Garden's stuffed mushrooms, so we gave these a shot. My comments are in parentheses.

8-12 fresh mushrooms (I used 17 large-ish ones)
1 (6 ounce) can clams, drained and finely minced, save 1/4 cup of clam juice for stuffing
1 green onion, finely minced
1 egg, beaten (I used 2 because I had so many mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 tablespoon melted butter, cooled
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated romano cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated mozzarella cheese; for stuffing
1/4 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese; for garnish (I substituted all cheeses for Kraft's Italian Cheese Blend)
1/4 cup melted butter
fresh parsley; for garnish (I never use parsley)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly oil a small baking dish.
3. Gently wash and stem mushrooms; pat dry. Save stems for another recipe. (I included the stems to bulk up my stuffing.)
4. Combine clams, onions, garlic salt, minced garlic, butter and oregano in a bowl and mix well.
5. Add Italian bread crumbs, egg, clam juice, mixing well.
6. Add Parmesan, Romano, and Mozzarella cheeses to the clam stuffing and mix well.
7. Place approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of the clam stuffing mixture inside mushroom cavity and slightly mound (You should be able to stuff between 8- 12 mushrooms depending on the size of mushrooms. I stuffed 17 and had way more than enough left over. Maybe I should have left out the stems...).
8. Place the stuffed mushrooms in slightly oiled baking dish and pour 1/4 cup melted butter over the top of the mushrooms.
9. Cover and place in oven for about 35- 40 minutes. (This is important! I forgot to cover it and all the cheese and butter in the bottom of the pan burned!)
10. Remove cover; sprinkle the 1/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese on top and pop back in oven just so the cheese melts slightly.
11. Garnish with freshly diced parsley.
12. Serve hot.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Apricot-Pineapple Jam

I looked and looked online and only found one recipe that asks for fresh pineapple. The rest say canned.

This is DELICIOUS! I posted the recipe as I found it, and my notes are after it.

5 cups of apricots, (skins removed and pitted--about 4 pounds)
1 medium sized pineapple, peel and core removed (about 1 cup)
1 Box Pectin
6 cups sugar, divided (4 1/2 cups and 1 1/2 cups)
1 pat butter

Water bath canning pot and rack. (I used a steam canner and it worked fine.)
Clean jars, lids and rims.
Clean towels, long tongs and a jar lifter (or tongs with rubber grips)
Pot of water for metal lids and rims.
Bowl of ice water (to remove apricot skins)

To easily remove apricot skins, cut a small “x” at the bottom of each fruit.
Gently dunk into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
Remove, with a slotted spoon.
Starting with the “x”, peel the skins off by sliding with your thumbs. It’s that easy!

Using a food processor (or by hand, if you prefer), pulse the apricots until they are chunky smooth— not pureed. You want bits of apricot for texture.Strain the apricots and reserve the juice.

For the pineapple:
Trim the pineapple by removing the top, cutting off the shell and then cutting into quarters.
Removing the core, is easier.

I like to use my food processor, but you can cut the pineapple, by hand. I pulse the cut pineapple until it’s fine but not pureed.

Strain the pineapple, reserving the juice with the apricot juice. I ended up with about 3/4 cups juice.

In a large pot, add the fruit, box of pectin and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Combine and bring to a low boil.

Slowly stir in the remaining sugar.Bring to a continuous roll, stirring frequently, so it doesn’t stick.

Bring to a gel stage (approximately 10 minutes).

I like to chill a plate in my freezer. Spoon a little of the cooked fruit on the cold plate. Run your finger through it, and see if it separates. Let is sit a minute more and feel the texture. If it gels, it’s ready.

Pour into sterilized clean class jars with lids.

Set the filled jars in a rack, covered by at least 2” of boiling water. Keep the pot covered and set a timer for 10 minutes, from when the water begins to rapidly boil.

Remove from the pot, carefully, with a jar lifter onto a clean towel.

Listen for the “pop” of the vacuum on the lids…and/or press a finger on the top. If it’s firm, you have a good vacuum.

If a jar is not sealed, properly, you can repeat the water bath boil method, or refrigerate this jar and eat within 2 weeks.

A few things happened when I was making the jam.

First: I forgot the butter. No big deal, my sister says it just keeps the jam from foaming. But I scooped the foam into one of the jars and I'm just eating that one first and it's VERY yummy!

Second: The lady says to reserve the juice, but then doesn't say what to do with it. My sister says you use that if you don't have enough fruit to make 5 cups or whatever. This would have been good to know, because I only had 4 cups apricots and I ended up pureeing one cup of pineapple and mixing it in, then chopping up another cup for the pineapple bits. Still tasty, but it gives it a much stronger pineapple flavor.

Third: The tip about the plate REALLY helped. My sister was trying to explain how to test for the gel stage by dipping a spoon in the jam, but when I did it, it still seemed super runny. But when I put it on the plate after the 10 minutes of cooking, it jammed right up.

This is the first time I've ever made jam and it was super easy!

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

This is another P90X recipe. OMG, it is the best salad on the planet! I crave it all the time! It's a lot of work, but so worth it!

The Pork:
16 oz Lean Pork Tenderloin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t chile powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 T fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/2 T Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with the spice rub.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over moderately high heat and brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes
3. Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of tenderloin. Place pork in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. (It took closer to 35 for me, but my oven is wacky.)

**I used a glass brownie pan and covered it with foil, so the juices wouldn't escape. Then I pull the pork instead of cutting it in pieces. I also like to make the meat in double batches, and freeze the leftovers, because this is the most time consuming part of the salad.

The Dressing; Cumin Vinaigrette:
4 T Fresh Lime Juice
1 T Orange Juice
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 t Cumin Powder
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Black Pepper
2 T Olive Oil

Whisk together. Store covered in refrigerator
**The easiest way to measure fresh juice from something, is to squeeze it into a bowl and then spoon it out. Do NOT try to squeeze straight into the spoon!

The Salad:
1 orange, peeled and cut
3 cups fresh spinach
1.5 red bell pepper, cut in strips
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 cups cabbage, shredded
16 oz Island Pork Tenderloin
cumin vinaigrette dressing

1. Peel and cut oranges crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices and set aside.
2. Toss spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, and raisins in a large bowl.
3. Prepare the dressing.
4. Mound salad mixture on a large plate. Arrange pork and orange slices on top and drizzle with dressing.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Since you make these with whole wheat flour, you can pretend they're healthy! Right up until you pour syrup all over them. They are my FAVORITE pancakes, and they taste good even after you refrigerate them.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk (I used regular milk)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup frozen blueberries

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Add frozen blueberries.

Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter.

If you use tiny blueberries, don't use a full cup. it will be blueberry overload!
Sometimes I like to mash in 1 or 2 super ripe bananas. This makes them VERY moist (which I like) but maybe you'd want to cut back on the milk to 1 1/3 cups instead of 1 1/2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Miso Soup

We got this recipe from a P90X cookbook, but made a few alterations. I'm also going to give you some tips:

*Miso is soy bean curd. They sell it at Asian grocery stores. It's about a pound, and in the refrigerated section. I used yellow Miso.
*Tofu goes bad after about a week. If the water is discolored, or it's extra slimy, or it smells bad, throw it away. To prolong the life of your tofu, you should replace the water every day and keep it in an airtight container. Tofu is also found in the refrigerated section, but you can get it at most grocery stores.

Miso Soup

½ t Dark Sesame Oil

⅓ c Onions -- finely chopped

3 T Miso

1 quart Vegetable Stock

¼ c Firm Silken Tofu – diced

Optional: 3-6 finely sliced mushrooms

3 T Green Onion -- sliced for garnish

1. Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent.

2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Remove a small amount of stock and dissolve miso in it. Add miso, tofu, and mushrooms to stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with green onion.

Sorry I don't have any pictures!