Monthly Archives: November 2013

Parmesan-Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes

For someone with a massive sweet tooth, I didn’t like sweet potatoes as a kid. You would think that with them being smothered in brown sugar, maple syrup or marshmallows, my chubby face would have been all over these. But it never took with me. I liked my sweets after dinner, not next to my chicken. In fact, I actually thought they were too sweet. Now that I have a newfound affection for sweet potatoes, I’m happy to try new recipes and have found that when they are made in a savory way, I’m all over them. These Parmesan-Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes are a perfectly non-sweet way to enjoy these sweet spuds.

Sweet potatoes are microwaved (I used the pre-wrapped sweet potatoes from the grocery store) and then cooled before the pulp is scooped out and mashed with a little bit of butter, fresh sage, and salty Parmesan cheese. That’s all there is to it. In about 9 minutes, you can have yourself a healthy, superfood side dish. If I liked having sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, I might consider making these on Thursday but this year I’ll be sticking with plain old mashed potatoes like I had when I was a kid. I’ll save these sweet potatoes for every other night of the week.

If you like this, also check out Roasted Chipotle-Lime Sweet Potatoes and Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle.

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The ingredients:

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Pierce each potato with a fork 3 to 4 times on each side. Wrap each potato in a damp paper towel. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes, turning after 4 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half; scoop pulp into a bowl. Mash pulp.

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Stir butter, milk, sage, Parmesan cheese, and salt into potato pulp.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Maple-Chipotle Peanuts

I’ve had so many people say to me lately, “Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving?” I don’t know what’s surprising about it to people but it’s no shock to me.  Maybe it’s that I think about food all the time and have been thinking about what I want to make for Thanksgiving since the calendar changed to November.  Either way, yes, Thanksgiving is this Thursday so I hope everyone is ready.  It’ll be low key for me, just me and my cousin, so I have no stress in making a ton of food.  But if you have a bunch of people coming by and wonder how you’ll get everything done, consider making these Maple-Chipotle Peanuts if you need a quick and easy, no stress, no fuss appetizer that can be made ahead of time.

Maple syrup and chipotle chile pepper are simmered together until slightly thickened and then mixed with dry-roasted peanuts.  Once cooled, the result is sweet, salty, and spicy peanuts that are seriously addictive.  Once the peanuts cool, the peanuts become ooey and gooey and it’s hard to not want to shove your face into these.  Once they’ve cooled overnight, the syrup hardens, the gooeyness is gone and the peanuts become candied.  Whichever way you prefer, these are amazing.  The smell of these peanuts reminded me of being at a carnival or my county fair as a kid for some reason.  I realized that if I continued to eat these peanuts at the rapid rate I was, there was a good chance I would have devoured an entire container of peanuts in two days.  So consider yourself warned.  If you have a lot of guests coming, you might want to make two batches.  And if you have any leftover, throw a handful on top of some pumpkin ice cream.  Yum!

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The ingredients:

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Simmer 1/3 cup maple syrup with 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder in a saucepan until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

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Stir in 2 cups salted dry-roasted peanuts.

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Pour onto a lightly oiled pan and let cool.

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Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Food Network magazine

Easy Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

I have to be honest.  I’ve been trying to watch my carbs lately.  It’s a pattern with me.  I get mad at myself so I torture myself by watching my carbs and end up getting mad at myself even more.  So, straight up I’ll tell you that I made this recipe for Easy Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce a while ago.  I wish I could say I made it recently but sadly, no.  Would I give my left arm for some of this now WITH the pasta underneath it? Probably.

Cherry or grape tomatoes are added to olive oil, garlic and red pepper flake and heated until they open up and become juicy (if they don’t open on their own, use a wooden spoon and get some delight in popping them open against the side of the pan – it’s kind of like popping bubble wrap).  Once heated through and the juices flow, remove from the heat and add fresh basil.  Literally, that is it.  When the title of this recipe says “Easy”, it means it.  And not only is this easy to make but it truly is so fresh tasting that my first bite made me think of what fresh restaurant pasta sauce tastes like.  The only thing I have to say is that I used A LOT less olive oil that it called for.  I used 1/4 cup (as opposed to 1/2 cup) and my sauce was plenty oily.  Next time, I’ll use even less.  So use your own judgment when it comes to the oil.  You want the tomatoes to be the star and trust me, if I stick to this low-carb thing much longer, I’m not too proud to make this sauce and just eat it with a spoon.  Seriously.

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The ingredients:

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Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Add tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. (If tomatoes stay whole during cooking, pierce each one with the tip of a knife to release juices; cook 1 or 2 more minutes.)

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Remove from heat; stir in basil.

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Divide pasta among serving bowls; top with tomato sauce, cheese, pine nuts, and additional black pepper, if desired.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Pine nuts

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Zucchini Tart with Crumbled Sausage and Dijon

I’ve become a big fan of puff pastry.  What’s more simple than thawing out some frozen dough and having the result be flaky and buttery without you doing a lick of the work to get it that way?  Last week I brought you a pizza made with phyllo (which I loved) and this week I bring you something similar.  This Zucchini Tart with Crumbled Sausage and Dijon isn’t technically a pizza but it’s just as simple.

Puff pastry is thawed and topped with Dijon mustard, browned turkey sausage and thinly sliced fresh zucchini before being baked until golden and puffy.  For so few ingredients, you might think that this could be bland – at least I did.  But I’ll tell you what, the Dijon adds such a pop of flavor to the tasty sausage that I was almost thankful for the mild zucchini (of course you can always use hot sausage instead for an even bigger punch).  Any other flavor might have taken this tart right over the edge.  I do recommend going on the lighter side with the Dijon because a little really does go a long way.  Make this tart for people and I guarantee it won’t stand a chance.

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The ingredients:

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Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked partway through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon; reserve the skillet.

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Add the zucchini, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

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Unfold the pastry on a baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, leaving a ½-inch border around the dough. Spread the mustard on the pastry (avoiding the border); top with the zucchini and sausage. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Cut the tart into 8 pieces.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Sweet turkey sausage

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Real Simple magazine

Chicken in Deviled Gravy

I just love it when I come across a recipe and realize that I already have the ingredients in my kitchen so I can start cooking immediately.  It doesn’t happen often.  Let’s be real…part of the reason why we don’t make recipes we come across is because it calls for something we don’t have.  Part of the reason for this blog is to challenge me into making things that I would normally throw to the side because I don’t have/want to buy the necessary ingredients.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love it when no trip to the store is required like with this Chicken in Deviled Gravy.

A simple mixture of shallots, garlic, and red pepper flake is thickened with flour, broth, and wine and then bumped up with even more flavors of paprika, dry mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley.  The result is a rich, deep, bright gravy which brings tons of flavor to basic boneless, skinless chicken but would be equally impressive with beef, pork or seafood.  Each bite of this chicken had me guessing what it was that I was tasting but it really is the marriage of all of the flavors combined.  It’s not buffalo chicken and it’s not barbecue chicken.  And it’s definitely not boring chicken.  It’s something entirely its own that is sure to have people guessing what it really is.

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The ingredients:

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Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, for 10 minutes. Off the heat, cover to keep warm.

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Add the butter to the pan over medium-low heat. Stir in the shallots, garlic and chile (or crushed red pepper); season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour, paprika and mustard. Whisk in the stock and vermouth (or white wine); bring to a bubble.

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Whisk in the hot sauce, parsley and Worcestershire.  Add the chicken and its juices to the gravy and turn to coat completely.

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Serve the chicken on the toast points (if desired).

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Toast

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine

Walnut Cream Cheese Sandwiches on Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

I will never look at grilled cheese the same way again.  Never in my life had I ever considered a sweet grilled cheese.  I’ve had sweet sandwiches before (like this Panini with Chocolate and Brie) but nothing like this Walnut Cream Cheese Sandwiches on Cinnamon-Raisin Bread.  Every once in a while when I go out to get a bagel from the bakery, I’ll splurge and get the walnut-raisin cream cheese but it’s rare because it seems so decadent.  Well, the walnut cream cheese in the middle of this sandwich tastes nearly identical.  And I’m obsessed.

Cream cheese (I used reduced-fat), walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon are mixed together until creamy and spread between two pieces of cinnamon-raisin bread which is then grilled in a little light butter until golden and slightly crispy.  Even with using reduced-fat cream cheese and light butter, I still found this sandwich to be a little rich so if you aren’t into sweets for breakfast, this would make a great after dinner dessert.  I mean, why not?  You can control however much cream cheese you want in your sandwiches so you can make it as hearty as you like.  Trust me, any leftover cream cheese mixture is stunning on a toasted bagel.  Or licked from a spoon.  Or licked from your fingers.  Not that I know anything about that.

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The ingredients:

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Combine cream cheese, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

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Spread cream cheese mixture on 4 bread slices; top with remaining 4 bread slices.

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Spread outside of sandwiches with softened butter.

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Cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat 2 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and bread is golden brown.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • 1/3-less fat cream cheese
  • Light butter

Overall Rating:  Love It Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes

I have to tell ya, I’m really getting into this pizza on Fridays thing.  And since I’ve been trying all different kinds of pizzas, I’m used to eating pizza that doesn’t have a lick of tomato in it at this point.  But now I’m resorting to making a pizza that doesn’t even use pizza dough?  Who am I?  The great thing about phyllo dough is it can easily be used in both sweet and savory dishes (à la Baklava and Spanakopita) so why not make it the basis of a pizza?  This Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes does just that perfectly.

Sheets of phyllo dough are layered with a combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, and feta cheeses and topped with slices of fresh tomatoes, basil and scallions. Fragrant oregano gives this pizza a traditional Italian herby feel while the phyllo and feta keep it grounded with classic Greek flavors.  A simple pizza with nothing more but tomatoes and basil is always going to be a hit to me but the addition of phyllo and feta here make it extra special.  Don’t worry if you get confused by the directions like I did, just layer the cheese and phyllo sheets and even if you mess it up, it’ll still taste perfect.  This pizza is a real winner!

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise. Working with 1 phyllo sheet half at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), place phyllo sheet on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Repeat with 2 more layers of phyllo.

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Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Repeat layers 5 times, ending with 2 phyllo sheets.

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Coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Pat tomato slices with a paper towel. Arrange tomato slices on top of cheese, leaving a 1-inch border.

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Sprinkle with onions and the remaining 6 tablespoons cheese mixture. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until golden.

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Sprinkle with basil leaves.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Reduced-fat mozzarella

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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