Monthly Archives: November 2013

Creamed Spinach Phyllo Cups

I think I might have a little obsession with appetizers.  I don’t know what it is about them but I just love, love, love them!  Maybe it’s because they can be deceptive little suckers and trick your brain into thinking you aren’t eating much.  Or maybe it’s just the simple laid-back ease that come with appetizers that tells your guests to sit back with a glass of whatever and relax because we aren’t formal here.  Whatever the case may be, when I had two girl friends over last weekend, I was so excited to make these Creamed Spinach Phyllo Cups for them. 

Fresh baby spinach is wilted over the stove with garlic before being bathed in cream (I used fat-free half-and-half) and reduced-fat cream cheese.  The result is a tangy creamed spinach that would be good enough on its own but is instead spooned into baked mini phyllo shells.  A quick dusting of fresh Parmesan cheese on top finished off these little bites.  These bite-sized appetizers came together quickly and didn’t take me away from drinking wine with my friends.  I will undoubtedly and happily be making these again!

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange phyllo shells in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly coat shells with cooking spray. Bake at 425°F for 4 minutes or until lightly browned and very crisp.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until fragrant but not browned, stirring frequently.

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Coarsely chop 1 bag of spinach. Add chopped spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Chop remaining spinach; add to wilted spinach in pan. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Sprinkle spinach mixture with salt; toss well.

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Stir in cream and cream cheese; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts and sauce is thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat.

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Spoon about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture into each shell. Top evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Fat-free half-and-half

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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Savory Baked Apples

I remember when I first saw the recipe for these Savory Baked Apples, my jaw dropped and my mouth watered so there may or may not have been some drooling involved.  And since every time I come across it I remind myself how much I want to make them, I’m shocked that it’s taken me so long to actually get around to doing it.  Let’s be honest, the thought of scooping out apple pulp to make hollowed out apples sounds awful but it really wasn’t that bad. I’d scooped out tomatoes for a similar dish once and it was much, much worse than this (my kitchen counter looked like I’d slaughtered something). The key is patience, which I don’t have.  But the reality is, even if you mess it up and it looks awful, it’ll still taste the same so who cares?  This is one quintessential autumn dish that is worth it.

Apples are baked in the oven until soft and filled with a cooked mixture of sweet sausage, brown rice, carrots, onion, walnuts, apple cider, dried cranberries, and scallions.  Shredded Swiss cheese is added to the top and broiled adding the perfect cheesy bite as a finale.  Cinnamon, sage and cayenne pepper, combined with the sweet smell of the baked apples, give this dish an overall aroma of Fall that makes your whole house smell like a big warm hug.  The end result is a comforting dish that’s both savory and a little bit sweet.  Want something a little bit different for Thanksgiving?  Look here.

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes.

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Combine cranberries and cider in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add mixture to rice.

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Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out centers of apples, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell, and chop apple flesh. Brush the inside of apples with 1 tablespoon butter. Place apples on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until just tender.

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Preheat broiler to high. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan; drain.

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Wipe skillet, and melt remaining butter in pan. Add chopped apple, yellow onion, and next 3 ingredients (through pepper); sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

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Add sausage, onion mixture, walnuts, and next 3 ingredients (through sage) to rice; toss.

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Divide rice mixture evenly among apples; top with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until golden.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Sweet turkey sausage

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza

A new brewery/restaurant opened near my house over the summer and it is now my favorite place to go because of a) the proximity to my house (I can walk there!) b) the beer is good and c) the food is fantastic.  So far, one of my favorite items I’ve eaten there was a barbecue chicken pizza with smoked Gouda, green pepper, red onion, and bacon (which I 86’d).  Being a lover of smoked Gouda, I decided I could easily try to make something similar in my own kitchen.  The result was this Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza.

At the time I made this, I couldn’t remember what the restaurant included in their pizza so I didn’t include any veggies of any kind but you could easily add on anything you like here.  Since you could put smoked Gouda on a piece of cardboard and I would probably eat it, it’s no surprise I love this pizza. And barbecue chicken? I mean, come on, really? What’s not to like?  Since I used store-bought pizza dough and pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, this pizza came together in a flash.  With so many different kinds of barbecue sauces out there, you can get as creative as you want. I used plain old basic barbecue sauce but a spicy or mesquite barbecue sauce would be excellent here too.

Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza (6-8 servings)

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons store-bought barbecue sauce
  • 8 oz. shredded cooked rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken strips, chopped (such as PERDUE® SHORT CUTS® Carved Chicken Breast)
  • 2/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 package store-bought pizza dough
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro, basil or parsley for topping, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Unroll pizza dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake according to package directions, approximately 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce until chicken is lightly coated. Spoon remaining barbecue sauce onto pizza crust and spread evenly. Top with shredded chicken and red onion (if using).  Sprinkle shredded smoked Gouda over chicken, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with chopped cilantro, basil or parsley (if preferred).

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The ingredients:

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Unroll pizza dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake according to package directions, approximately 8 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce until chicken is lightly coated. Spoon remaining barbecue sauce onto pizza crust and spread evenly. Top with shredded chicken and red onion (if using).

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Sprinkle shredded smoked Gouda over chicken, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese.

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Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with chopped cilantro, basil or parsley (if preferred).

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