Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Gorgonzola

This recipe for Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Gorgonzola stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. The original recipe uses blue cheese but as you may know, I’m not a blue cheese fan so I took a leap of faith and used gorgonzola (which I’d never had before) instead. This appetizer did not disappoint. It’s sweet yet savory, tart yet fresh. Slices of french baguette are toasted and topped with pears (cooked with shallots and dried apricots), toasted pecans, gorgonzola crumbles, and fresh thyme. I really loved the contrast between the sweet Bartlett pears and the tangy cheese. The addition of apple cider vinegar in the pear topping provides the slightest hint of bitterness which cuts through the sweetness of the pears and adds to the layers of flavors in this dish. The toasted pecans bring a delicious nuttiness and the thyme provides and herby freshness. I left out the chives from this recipe only because I didn’t have any but it doesn’t matter. I can’t rave about this bruschetta enough just the way it is!

Thanksgiving leftovers used: pear nectar, pears, thyme, shallots

The ingredients (I forgot the gorgonzola here):

Cook chopped shallots in olive oil until soft.

Add in chopped pears, dried apricots, sugar, cider vinegar, salt, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, broil baguette slices in the oven until toasted. In a small pan or skillet, add pecans and toast on a low heat until fragrant.

Top toasted baguette slices with pear topping, gorgonzola crumbles, chopped toasted pecans, and fresh thyme.

Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Chives

Substitutions:

  • Gorgonzola cheese for blue cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Turkey, Cranberry, and Pepper Jack Quesadillas

I made my own cranberry sauce this year for Thanksgiving and I will never buy canned or premade cranberry sauce again because mine turned out perfect (see note below for the link to the recipe I made). Unfortunately, of the six people who came to my house for dinner, only my aunt and I ate any of it which meant that I basically had an entire bowl leftover in my fridge. I figured, what a better way to take care of some leftovers than to throw them in a quesadilla? As a result, I came up with these Turkey, Cranberry, and Pepper Jack Quesadillas. Cranberry sauce, turkey, sliced apples, scallions, parsley, and pepper jack cheese are sandwiched between whole wheat tortillas and grilled until toasty brown. One thing I love about quesadillas is that they can be an appetizer, snack, or a light meal in a pinch. These quesadillas are sweet, tangy, and spicy and you’d never know they are from leftovers.

Turkey, Cranberry, and Pepper Jack Quesadillas (makes 2 quesadillas or 4 servings; 2 wedges per serving):

  • 4 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 McIntosh apple, sliced (or any apple of your preference)
  • 1/2 cup prepared cranberry sauce ( I made Basic Cranberry Sauce from Cooking Light)
  • 1 cup turkey breast, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese

Place two tortillas on a flat work surface. Spread 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce on each tortilla; top with apple slices. Layer chopped turkey and 1 tablespoon each parsley and scallions on each tortilla. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese. Top cheese with remaining tortillas. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat (or heat panini maker to 350°). Place one quesadilla in the pan and cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side until lightly browned (top with another pan to flatten quesadillas as they cook, if necessary). Remove quesadilla from pan and repeat procedure with the remaining quesadilla. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve with sour cream if you like.

Thanksgiving leftovers used: turkey, cranberry sauce, apple, parsley

The ingredients:

Place two tortillas on a flat work surface. Spread 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce on each tortilla; top with apple slices.

Layer chopped turkey and 1 tablespoon each parsley and scallions on each tortilla.

Sprinkle each tortilla with 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese. Top cheese with remaining tortillas.

I used my beloved Cuisinart Griddler® to make my quesadillas (heated to 350°).

Remove quesadilla from pan and repeat procedure with the remaining quesadilla. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Me 🙂

Turkey and Potato Soup with Canadian Bacon

I hosted my first Thanksgiving ever last week and as a result ended up with plenty of leftovers in my fridge. My plan for this week is to take advantage of those leftovers and make some new meals with them. This first leftover recipe I made is Turkey and Potato Soup with Canadian Bacon. I just happened to have turkey Canadian bacon in my fridge after finding it in my local Whole Foods last week and it worked perfectly in this dish. The recipe calls for baking potatoes but I threw in the leftover prepared mashed potatoes I had which melted into this soup deliciously. This is a warm, creamy, hearty soup that somehow sucks me right back to my childhood. And that is a compliment.

Thanksgiving leftovers used: turkey, mashed potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, broth, sage

The ingredients:

In a saucepan, sauté onion, celery, carrot, and Canadian bacon in canola oil until soft.

Add in broth, mashed potatoes, turkey, and sage. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Prepared mashed potatoes for baking potatoes

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Pear and Sparkling Cider Cocktails

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Yesterday I made special Turkey Day cocktails which celebrated some of autumn’s delicious flavors. These Pear and Sparkling Cider Cocktails contain pear nectar, sparkling apple cider, seltzer water, and a little bit of bourbon. I poured myself one of these early Thanksgiving morning and enjoyed it’s refreshingly light taste. I gave this cocktail to my family who all agreed that this would be ideal for a brunch (we drank the whole pitcher before noon!). I love the flavor of the pear in this drink but if you can’t find pear nectar (I searched three grocery stores before I finally found it tucked away in the international foods section of my local store), this cocktail would also be good with mango or peach nectar. No matter how you make it, this fizzy little beverage is one to try, holiday or not.

If you like this, check out Ginger Apple Bourbon.

The ingredients:

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: MarthaStewart.com

Triple-Chocolate Cake

In some homes, chocolate cake may not be a traditional Thanksgiving dessert but in my home, chocolate is always a welcome addition.  I came across this recipe for Triple-Chocolate Cake in Cooking Light Magazine last month and knew right away I’d be making it for Turkey Day.  This cake has cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, and milk chocolate and yes…it’s chocolatey!  The cake is made with egg whites instead of whole eggs and the middle layer of filling is made with whipped topping so the overall cake is light and moist.  The top glaze of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa is the richest of all layers but it doesn’t overpower this delicious cake.  I plan on saving a little bit of room after dinner tomorrow and sitting down with small plate of this cake and a little glass of milk.  I’ll be honest, this might even be my breakfast on Friday.  😉

The cake ingredients:

Combine boiling water, cocoa, and bittersweet chocolate in a bowl and mix until chocolate has melted.  Cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, butter, and vanilla.  

Beat in egg whites one at a time, mixing thoroughly.  Add in sour cream and beat well.

In a smaller bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, baking flour, and salt.  Alternate adding flour mixture and chocolate mixture into sugar mixture.

Pour batter evenly into two cake pans sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with wax paper.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

The filling ingredients:

In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and add chopped milk chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is melted.  Cover and cool.

Once the milk chocolate mixture has cooled, fold in the whipped topping.

The glaze ingredients:

In a small saucepan, combine powdered sugar, milk, cocoa, instant espresso, butter, and a dash of salt.  Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove the cooled cake from the pans.  Top one layer of cake with the filling and spread, leaving a small border.

Carefully place the other layer on top of the filling.

Pour the warm chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, spreading to cover the top.  Let glaze drip over the edges if necessary.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Crostini

I came up with this appetizer, Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Crostini, while trying to think of a flavorful appetizer I could offer on Thanksgiving. The result is a tasty bite with layers of delicious flavor. Baguette slices are toasted and topped with basil, roasted red pepper, smoked gouda, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This is an appetizer that can be made quickly if you are having a party or need a bite in a pinch. Come Thanksgiving, I hope I can steal a couple of minutes with the oven to make this because it is so tasty. I used roasted red peppers to save time but if you have fresh peppers on hand, roasting them is super easy (see below). When it comes to cheese, smoked gouda is my favorite hands down but any other smoked cheese will work here as well. This crostini is versatile too – consider tomato and mozzarella or apple and Gruyère here in place of the red pepper and gouda to make for an equally delicious appetizer. I have no doubt these will be a hit with both your vegetarian and meat-eating guests at your next get-together.

Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Crostini (makes 12 appetizers):

  • 1/2 French baguette
  • 12 pieces jarred roasted red peppers (about 1 1/2 inch in size)
  • 12 small fresh basil leaves
  • 12 smoked gouda cheese slices cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon

Note: To make your own roasted red peppers, cut fresh red peppers in half, remove seeds and ribs, flatten, and broil for 15 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place blackened peppers in a sealed zip-top plastic bag seal and let stand 15 minutes. Remove from bag, peel, and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

The ingredients:

Preheat the broiler. Cut bagette into 1/4 inch slices and put into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and place under broiler for a few minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar into a small pan and bring to a boil over medium-heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid reduces by half (about five minutes).

Remove bagette slices from the oven and top each piece with a piece of roasted red pepper and basil.

Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the basil. Top each basil leaf with a slice of gouda cheese.

Place under the broiler until cheese melts (about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes). Move crostini to a plate and, using a spoon, drizzle balsamic glaze over each crostini. Serve warm.

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Me! 🙂

Cinnamon Chip Muffins

Need something quick and easy to make for breakfast?  These Cinnamon Chip Muffins are very simple, festive, and can be made in 20 minutes.  This recipe uses biscuit baking mix, vegetable oil, milk, an egg, sugar, and cinnamon chips which are all mixed together quickly in one bowl.  The chips melt slightly as the muffins bake creating little pockets of cinnamony goodness in every bite.  What’s better than the aroma of cinnamon wafting out of the kitchen first thing in the morning?  If you don’t like cinnamon chips, chocolate chips could be easily substituted here since the batter itself is basic.  If you’ve been consumed with what to make for Thanksgiving dinner and haven’t given any thought to what to offer overnight guests for breakfast, don’t stress.  Grab a bag of cinnamon chips and a box of Bisquick while you are at the store and give these a shot.  Warm cinnamon muffins with a spread of butter and a cup of coffee sound like a perfect morning meal to me.

The ingredients:

In a mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, sugar, egg, milk, and oil.

Fold in the cinnamon chips.

Spoon batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin liners or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake at 400°F for 15-18 minutes.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Hershey’s Kitchens

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