Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bell Pepper and Onion Crostini with Pesto

141. If you are looking for a "drop-dead", fabulously yummy, can't get enough of, need to try this! I read over the recipe and had all the ingredients and of course, love pesto so I gave it a try. The flavors meld together so could make a meal of these little babys! I found the recipe on Epicurious and you can link to it here.

Bell Pepper and Onion Crostini with Pesto

Gourmet | July 2002

Yield: Makes 60 crostini
Active Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr
For toasts
1 (18- to 22-inch-long) baguette, cut into 60 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For peppers and onions
6 assorted red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (3 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large onions (1 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

For pesto
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan (1 ounce)
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (or as much as you want)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Make toasts:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put baguette slices on 2 large baking sheets, then brush tops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Cook peppers and onions:

Cook bell peppers, onions, and garlic with salt in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Cover pot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and just starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes more. Stir in vinegar and remove from heat.

Make pesto while peppers cook:

Pulse all pesto ingredients except oil in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream and blend until combined well.

Assemble crostini:

Put about 1 tablespoon pepper mixture on each toast and top with about 1/4 teaspoon pesto.

I love to use the small leaf Greek Spicy Basil when it is in season. It gives the pesto an extra flavor boost. And they are beautiful as well as irresistible!"There is no such thing as a little garlic. "
~A. Baer

Friday, February 26, 2010


140. This morning when I woke up and looked outside, there was 10 inches of snow on the ground and snow drifts against the windows. A winter wonderland! A snow day is an invitation to bake or cook something wonderful! How about Popovers?My popover pan is about 27 years old and has been hiding in my pantry for several years. While reading blogs the other day, I came across Maya*Made's post on Popovers. Her recipe is the basic recipe that always turns out great! Years ago I had a recipe that incorporated melted butter in the batter...I...just...can' remember...where I put it.
I mix the batter vigorously, butter the popover pan and I sprinkle just a bit of flour inside my pans. I've always had a "sticking" issue in this pan...anyone else have this problem?
The batter is thin and runny...but not watery.

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all together in a mixer, blender, or by hand with a whisk. Pour into prepared muffin cups or a popover pan filling cups only half full. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes then decrees heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes longer till the crust turns golden brown. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE BAKING!!!

Serve with butter and jam, lemon curd or honey butter.
They will be crispy on the outside and soft and damp on the inside from the steam.

Time to shovel snow! Bake something today!

“If thou tastest a crust of bread,
thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
~ Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lemon Tassies

139. One of my favorite flavors is lemon and I just adore this recipe for little Lemon Tassie Cookies. I found a recipe that Paula Deen makes and it is so good! You can find it here.
I purchased a bag of beautiful Meyer Lemons and washed them well. I like to add lemon zest to my lemon curd for additional flavor. I also like to use a cookie scoop so you will have the same amount of dough in each cup. Brilliant!
Lemon Tassies

1/2 cup of butter or margarine
1 (3-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
Vegetable cooking spray
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Fresh whipped topping
Lemon zest

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour, beating well. Shape pastry into 24 (1-inch) balls. Press balls into miniature (1 3/4-inch) tart pans coated with cooking spray or use a non-stick pan.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and lemon rind in a bowl. Gradually add water and lemon juice; stir until blended. Add egg and beat till mixed. Spoon filling evenly into pastry shells. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
Top each with whipped topping and lemon zest or powdered sugar. Yield: 24 tassies.

I had extra dough so I placed several white chocolate melting disks into the crust and baked them. So good!
~ Alfred E. Neuman

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Extreme Makeover Maggie's Room Edition

My dear, sweet 11 year old has loved Hello Kitty and the color pink for many years. But lately she has wanted a change. The thought of painting over the sweet pink walls and her Hello Kitty Mural I painted for her when she was 6 years old, caused me to feel a bit sentimental.

And of course, we have to do away with all the Disney Princess accessories.
Disney Fairies would be the new theme...with the color purple, aqua, and light green. I love the colors and the thought of it...but I sure would have loved to have a crew helping me with painting and moving everything. So, off to Home Depot we went for paint and the job began.
I didn't want to spring for a new clock so we took the princess clock and pulled it apart, used the front cover of a coloring book, painted the frame purple and purchased number stickers for only $1.50.
Maggie wanted two walls light purple and two walls aqua. Then we cut stencils of the leaves, stars and ferns we saw in the pictures and came up with a random pattern. Emily helped me with the leaves.
It took us two days to paint and decorate. The clock turned out so cute.
Then I picked up a cute, small lamp shade at Target and added stick on sparkles to the bottom edge. If you notice, I painted the base of the lamp purple, which was a strawberry pink in the first picture with a Hello Kitty shade. Maggie loved the change.
The room is small, so it is hard to take a full picture but you can see our makeover from these few pics, and Maggie is loving it! And I need a vacation to rest!
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul,
and paints his own nature into his pictures."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza

137. Have you tried a recipe with Broccoli Rabe yet? Here is another suggestion to enjoy this wonderful green, Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza. This is my own recipe and it is so delicious. You can use it as a main meal with a salad or veggies and dip on the side, or use this pizza as an appetizer. Just cut it into small squares or long skinny slices.

If you want to read about the healthy benefits of Broccoli Rabe and how to make another delicious recipe just click here.

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza

4 cups of washed, trimmed and chopped Broccoli Rabe. Discard stems
large pot of boiling salted water
1 recipe for pizza dough (See my own recipe here)
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, out of casings
1 small onion, roughly chopped
olive oil, or use infused olive oil with garlic & Italian spices
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tblsp parmesan or Romano cheese
salt and pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Drop all the chopped Broccoli Rabe into the boiling water and boil for about 1 minute. Drain and set aside to cool.
In a frying pan add olive oil and heat. Crumble Italian sausage into hot oil and break up larger pieces. Brown the meat and stir. Add the chopped onion, salt and pepper. Continue to saute on medium till meat browns. Place a lid over pan and turn heat to low allowing the sausage to tenderize and the onions to virtually disappear and dissolve, about 25 minutes.
Prepare your pizza dough and shape into a pan, onto a stone or cookie sheet.
Set the prepared dough aside for about 15 minutes.

Once the sausage is tender, stir in the cooled broccoli rabe and pepper flakes. Spread the meat over the prepared dough almost to the edge.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Then cover the pie with mozzarella cheese.

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake till the crust is light brown and cheese is browning on top.'s so good!
"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six. "
~Yogi Berra

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crème Brûlée

136. Here is a delicious recipe by Alton Brown for:

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided (make vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla bean into a container with sugar.)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 quarts hot water


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks

until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually.

Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top.

Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh fruit, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or anything of your choice. Whipped Cream is a wonderful accent.

"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening,
or build a boat in the basement.
Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen,
because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing,
or wood carving, or music."
~ Julia Child

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rosemary Chicken with Broccoli Rabe

135. I've had a taste for broccoli rabe know, dark green leaves, broccoli tops, rich in
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. It's also a good source of Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper and a very good source of dietary Fiber and protein.

This recipe for Rosemary Chicken with Broccoli Rabe is so delicious and was so unique in flavor. I pared it with Basmati Rice and the presentation was fantastic. There is a trick to draw the bitterness from the broccoli rabe by plunging it into boiling salted water for a minute or so. Then drain and use in your recipe. I learned about the bitterness once when I added the broccoli rabe directly to my recipe. We could barely eat the dish...the bitterness was so strong.

This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken but with only bone in, skin on chicken, it worked just beautifully. The baking process took a little longer than the recipe states, approximately thirty or forty minutes more.

Rosemary Chicken with Broccoli Rabe

Bon Appétit | September 1995

If you can't find broccoli rabe (an Italian green), collard greens, Swiss chard or mustard greens will work well also.

Yield: Serves 4
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
5 teaspoons minced garlic
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

2 bunches broccoli rabe or collard greens, thick stem ends trimmed, tender stems and leaves cut into 1-inch pieces (about 12 cups)

2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

Combine lemon juice, shallots, 2 teaspoons oil, rosemary and 1 teaspoon garlic in glass dish. Add chicken; turn to coat. Cover; chill 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add broccoli rabe;

cook 1 minute. Drain.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 teaspoons garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe; stir until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.

Heat same skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet; sauté until brown but not cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Arrange chicken atop broccoli rabe.

Add broth and reserved marinade to skillet; boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour over chicken. Cover with foil; bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

You could serve mashed or smashed potatoes with this lovely dish!
It smelled so good but tasted so much better!!!

"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."
~ La Rochefoucauld


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