Friday, December 24, 2010

Date Squares (A.K.A. Matrimonial Cake)

Crumb base/topping:

1 ¼ cup flour

1 ¼ cup rolled oats

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup shortening (or butter)

1 tsp baking soda

1 pinch of salt

Work together like a pie crust - do not moisten.

Prepare date filling as follows:

Date filling:

1 package of dates - chopped (8 oz.)

½ cup sugar

1 cup water

Cook until thick.

Cool before spreading on mixture.

Grease pan and spread ⅔ of the mixture in the pan.

Spread with date filling

Top with remaining crumbs - patting into place.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350*. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

7 ½ Tbs Butter, divided

¼ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Flour

3 Cups milk

2 ¼ Cups gruyere, shredded (or a mix of any soft cheeses like Monterey Jack and Gouda or Colby)

½ Cup mascarpone cheese (not really necessary, but if you don't use it try to make sure your total cheese content is about 2 3/4 cups)

¾ Cup bread crumbs

¼ Cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated

salt and fresh ground pepper

  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Cook until it’s al dente, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. While the macaroni is boiling, slowly melt 5 1/2 Tbs of butter over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Add the flour, stirring, cook together for a minute or so. Do not brown the mixture; you want a blonde roux. Add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Bring mixture to a boil and continue whisking. Lower heat and simmer for about five minutes until it thickens.
  4. While the milk is simmering, combine 2 Tbs butter and the bread crumbs, and melt together in a separate pan.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese. This adds another layer of flavor so it’s not one-dimensional. Just cook until the butter is melted. Remove from heat.
  6. When the milk is ready, add the mascarpone cheese. Then add gruyere cheese and whisk it in, and as soon as until it’s melted, remove from the heat. This will happen quickly because the gruyere cheese should be grated and at room temperature.
  7. Season with salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce, mix it well, and when it’s nicely incorporated, spoon it out into a cooking dish.
  8. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the top, using your hands to pat it down to make sure it’s nice and evenly dispersed all over the surface. The topping becomes very crunchy when it bakes. Cook for about 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Toffee Butter Crunch

1/2 C. coarsely chopped toasted pecans or almonds
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
3 Tbs. water
3/4 C. semisweet chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate)
1/2 C. finely chopped toasted almonds or pecans

Line a 13x9 pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Sprinkle 1/2 cup
of nuts in pan. Butter sides of a heavy 2 quart sauce pan. In pan, melt butter.
Add sugar, corn syrup, and 3 Tbs. water. Cook and stir over medium-high
heat to boiling. Clip candy thermometer to pan. Cook and stir over medium
heat to 290 degrees (about 15 min.). Watch carefully after 280 to prevent
scorching. Remove sauce pan from heat and remove thermometer. Pour
mixture into pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips
and let sit 1-2 minutes. Spread chocolate over mixture. Sprinkle with nuts.
Chill till firm. Lift out of pan and break into pieces.

Nut Brittle

2 C. sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. water
2 1/2 c raw peanuts
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Butter a jelly roll pan; set aside. Butter sides of a heavy 3 quart saucepan. In saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1/2 cup water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat to boiling. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook and stir over medium-low heat to 275 degrees, soft-crack stage (15-20 min.). Remove pan from heat and remove thermometer. Quickly sprinkle soda over mixture, stirring constantly. Immediately pour onto prepared pan.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Provolone-Smothered Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup zesty Italian dressing
1/2 tsp. garlic pepper blend
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil leaves
4 thin slices tomato
4 slices provolone cheese

1.Place chicken in shallow dish. Pour dressing over chicken.
Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes.
2.Heat closed medium-size contact grill for 5 minutes.
Remove chicken from marinade; reserve marinade.
Sprinkle chicken with garlic pepper. Place chicken on grill.
Close grill. Grill 4 to 6 minutes, brushing with marinade once,
until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of
thickest pieces are cut. Discard remaining marinade.
3.Sprinkle each chicken breast with basil; top with tomato and
cheese. Let stand on grill 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

For a nice change of flavor, you could use mozzarella cheese instead of the provolone and substitute Caesar dressing for the Italian.
Serve the cheese-topped chicken on toasted French bread slices with lettuce and sliced red onion.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chicken Broccoli Tortellini Soup

1tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 3/4cups Progresso® chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2cup water
1/2teaspoon Italian seasoning
1bag (12 oz) Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen broccoli & cheese sauce
1package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
1cup cubed cooked chicken
1large plum (Roma) tomato, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1.In 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.
2.Stir in broth, water, Italian seasoning, frozen broccoli in cheese sauce and tortellini. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally and breaking up broccoli.
3.Stir in chicken. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tortellini are tender. Stir in tomato. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.
Chicken-Broccoli-Tortellini Soup

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cookies

2 Cups (12 ounces) Semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup All-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking powder

Melt chocolate chips and butter in the top of a double boiler over low heat, stirring until smooth but thick.

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar salt and vanilla on high speed for about two minutes until pale yellow and slightly thickened.  Mix in chocolate on low speed.  Stop and scrape bowl.  Add flour and baking powder (Andy likes to mix the flour and any powders together before mixing with wet stuff to make sure there is a good mixture) on low speed just until incorporated, stopping once to scrape the bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 * F.

Scoop two-inch mounds onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet leaving about two inches between the cookies.  bake one sheet at a time for 12  minutes or until crusty on the outside but soft in the center.  Cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes.  Best when served warm!

To reheat cookies so the centers become soft again microwave on high power for about 10 seconds per cookie.

Microwave instructions:
heat chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl at medium power for 1-2 minutes, stirring well after one minute initially, then at 30 second intervals until smooth.  Proceed as directed.

Yield:  16 three-inch cookies