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23Dec/110

Double Chocolate Cookies with Dried Cherries

This is an easy light version of chocolate chip cookies that everyone will love.

1 1/4 cup of flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
5 tbsp of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1 large egg white
1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
1/4 cup of dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and brown sugar and beat until well combined. Add the egg white and vanilla and quickly beat until blended. With a hand mixer or in a mixer, slowly combine flour mixture into the butter mixture. When combined, add chocolate and cherries and mix well. Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray and add formed cookies. The trick here is to put the cookie sheet with cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will help the cookies keep their shape when they cook. Because the cookies use only the egg whites, they will bleed if cooked without freezing. Bake the cookies on 350 for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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21Dec/11Off

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears – Contest Winner!

Looking for a new twist on cheesecake we went with this recipe from Martha Stewart. After making a practice version a few weeks ago we gave it another shot so we could enter Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pairs into a company Christmas party baking contest. The competition was stiff with over 12 amazing desserts; fortunately, we came out on top! We made a few adjustments from the first effort - such as light cream cheese to help lighten just a little bit. A great dessert for the holidays, it really has fantastic flavor with the nilla wafers and maple syrup.

For Crust:

6 Oz vanilla wafers (about 2/3 of a box)
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 Tsp coarse salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). If you don't have access to a food processor you can use a blender or use a meat tenderizer and smash the cookies in a ziploc bag. Add sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined.

Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. (If using a springform pan, press crumbs halfway up sides.) Bake until crust is dry and set, say 15 minutes. Let the crust cool completely before filling.

For Filling:

2 bars (8 ounces each) light cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 medium pears, sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup maple syrup; beat until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar on high until soft peaks form (see picture). With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, then fold in remainder. Transfer to crust and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Roast until pears are soft, 20 minutes. Remove from oven and heat broiler. Brush pears with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and broil until browned in spots, about 4 minutes, rotating sheet frequently. Keep a sharp eye on the pears under the broiler as they can go from brown to burned quickly. To serve, arrange pear slices, overlapping slightly, on cheesecake.

11Dec/11Off

Basil Hayden Manhattan

To celebrate the holiday season we have a nice classic Manhattan recipe using Basil Hayden small batch bourbon. This recipe follows the classic Manhattan technique. As always, a Manhattan can be served straight-up or on-the-rocks. Serving the cocktail on-the-rocks will introduce a bit of water as the ice melts and that will mellow the flavor if desired. For this recipe we will describe the process for straight up presentation.

2 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
½ part Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Cherry for garnish

Take a martini glass or Manhattan glass and fill with a few ice cubes and water to chill the glass. Be sure to chill the glass thoroughly (3-5 minutes should suffice). In a tin, fill 2/3 with ice and pour in bourbon, vermouth and bitters. Stir the contents in the tin using a cocktail spoon (a long-handled spoon which traditionally has a twisted handle, although any long spoon will do). The technique is to stir classic cocktails which contain all alcoholic ingredients. Shaking would introduce air bubbles and cloud the cocktail, so stir for perfection. Let the ingredients sit for 30 seconds and dump the ice/water from the chilling glass. Add cherry to the bottom of the glass and strain the contents of the tin. The glass should be filled so that the width of a finger remains from the rim of the glass to the liquid. Sláinte! Enjoy!

Basil Hayden Manhattan

Basil Hayden Manhattan

20Nov/11Off

Mrs. Scorsese’s Lemon Chicken

We came across this dish when on the "tasting along the wine road" November 6 & 7, 2010. The event features cuisine and wine parings by wineries all across the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County California. This particular dish was featured at Francis Ford Coppola's Winery and was paired with his Director's Cut chardonnay. We just attended the 2011 Wine Road event, so stay tuned for more recipes!

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 3-lb chicken, cut into serving pieces (leg and thigh separated and breast into 3 pieces)
3 Large garlic cloves
1-1/2 Cups lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup of water
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, torn plus 3 additional sprigs.

Preheat the oven to 400

Coat the bottom of a cast iron baking dish with olive oil. Peel and cut the garlic cloves into thirds. Evenly distribute the garlic pieces in the pan.

Rinse the chicken and pat the pieces dry with paper towel. Arrange the chicken in the baking dish, skin side up.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste the mixture, and if it's too sour or acidic add water as desired. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the chicken, turning to coat all sides. Add the torn oregano and sprigs to the top (skin side) of the chicken. If you don't have access to fresh oregano, just use your favorite seasonings such as Italian seasoning or Fines Herbes etc.

Put the baking pan into the oven and cook the chicken until the skin is browned, basting occasionally with the pan juices, for approximately 40-45 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and pour pan drippings in a sauce boat to be served separately.

Alternatively you can shred/pull the chicken and pour the pan drippings over the pulled chicken and serve over rice or even on a salad.

12Nov/110

Easy Weeknight Chili

This recipe is easy because you can use any meat that you might have. For this recipe, we had leftover (uncooked) pork tenderloin and flatiron steak from earlier in the week. You can also use ground beef or turkey.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 small can of diced green chilies
1 can of chopped tomatoes in juice
Your meat of choice (about 1 lb)
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp of chili powder (add more based on desired heat)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb of cubed pork tenderloin
1/2 lb of cubed flatiron steak
1 tsp flour
Juice of half a lime
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
1 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotle in adobo)

Warm a large pot on the stovetop. When the pot has heated add olive oil. When that is warm add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the pork and steak and cook on medium heat until the meat is browned and about 75% cooked. The meat will continue to cook as you make the chili, so you do not want to overcook the meat. When the meat is browned, add the flour and stir. This will add a little bit of thickness to your chili. What makes this recipe so easy is that now you just need to add the beans, corn, tomatoes and juice, and the spices and stir. Let this mixture cook for about 40 minutes or until you get the desired flavor. A few minutes before you are ready to serve, add the lime juice. We think that this adds a little tang to the chili. Once you have put your chili in the bowl, top with shredded cheese (and sour cream if you like). One suggestion if you like sour cream and heat is to mix in a little bit of adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobe to the sour cream. A little adobo goes a long way, so be careful of how much you add. The flavor is incredible, spicy and smoky, and will add a great flavor to your chili. We love to serve this chili with cornbread, so please see our Skillet Cornbread recipe to serve with this dish. As with most stews and soups, this recipe will get better the next day, so make enough for leftovers!

8Nov/11Off

Tomato Bruschetta

1 Lb tomatoes
2 Cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
3 Tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
6-8 Fresh basil leaves for garnish
1 Pinch red chile peppers
4 Tbsp oregano
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6-8 Slices of country bread (sliced not too thin)
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp vinegar

Cut tomatoes in 2, core and clean by removing seeds and juice. Chop the tomatoes into very small pieces and transfer into a colander and sprinkle with some salt (this will help draw out excess moisture). After 20 minutes or so, transfer to a bowl and add the garlic, basil, oregano, red chili peppers, olive oil and a drop of wine vinegar. Cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for another 30-60 minutes. Toast the bread just before serving. Arrange the bread on individual plates, top with the tomato and garnish with a whole basil leaf and serve immediately.

Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta

2Oct/11Off

Cedar Plank Grilled Lake Trout

On a trip to Lake Tahoe we hauled in 15 Lake Trout and kitchen supplies in the condo rental did not include a knife sharp enough to filet....so we decided that grilling the cedar plank was the best approach, and what a great time we had. Best part was the crew on the boat cleaned the fish so we were set to go!

First, catch many fish...
Second, immerse cedar planks in water for 2 hours...
Cut off fish heads...
Turn grill on medium-high and - once heated - place the planks on the grill for 30 seconds then flip and place the fish on the planks. Grill the fish for about 8-10 min a side, you will see the skin turn a nice gold color. Squeeze fresh lemon over the fish and enjoy!

2Oct/11Off

Garlic Lime Fajitas (from McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations)

This recipe came from McCormick's Recipe Inspirations and we decided to make it when a friend gave us a package containing the ingredients pre-portioned. This meal is perfect for a busy weeknight when all you need is a few ingredients and a few minutes...

1/4 Cup fresh lime juice
1/4 Cup fresh orange juice
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp onion flakes
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp cilantro
1 Tsp oregano
1 Cup sliced onion
1 Cup sliced peppers (pick your favorite colors)
1 Large chicken breast, sliced

Combine seasonings and lime/orange juice in a mixing cup and stir and set aside.

You can cook the chicken and onion/peppers using a regular skillet, an iron skillet or using the barbecue. We used a stove top cast iron grill and it worked great.

Start by grilling the chicken and add 1/2 of the seasoning to the chicken as you grill. Cook the chicken until it is almost done, (6-7 min) and set aside momentarily.

Add peppers and onions to the grill and cook until nearly done (3-4 min). Add chicken back to the grill and stir in the remaining seasoning and cook for another 3 min and remove from the grill and cover.

Using the hot grill (or your preferred method) warm tortillas and serve on the side.

19Sep/110

Iron Skillet Corn Bread

Corn bread! Great as a side for bbq, soups, or holiday dishes. This is a simple recipe for corn bread using an iron skillet in the oven. You can also use this same recipe for cooking the corn bread on the grill using the skillet.

1 Package Jiffy Corn Bread mix
1/3 Cup of milk
1 Egg
1 Tbsp butter (for skillet)

Preheat the oven to 400 and mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside for a few minutes. Coat the inside of the iron skillet (we use a 10 inch) with butter. Give the batter a quick mix after it has sat for a few and pour contents into the skillet. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

29Jul/11Off

Waffle Cone Cannolis

1/2 Cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 "waffle" ice cream cones
2 Tbsp pistachios, smashed
8 Oz cream cheese, softened
1 Cup ricotta cheese (skim milk)
1 1/2 Cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 Tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with waxed/parchment paper. If working with whole pistachios, place them in a small ziploc and smash them using a meat tenderizer.

In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave the 1/2 cup chocolate chips on, in 10 second intervals, stirring, until melted. Dip - or paint with rubber spatula - the top 1 1/2" of the waffle cone into the chocolate and immediately sprinkle with the smashed pistachios. Place on the wax paper lined pan to harden.

Beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, icing sugar and almond extract until smooth.

Transfer to a pastry bag or use a ziploc bag and snip the corner.

Pipe the filling into the cones.

Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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