Monday, December 27, 2010

Crustless Quiche Lorraine

We had such a lovely Christmas holiday this year.  We were fortunate to have my Mom and Tom come visit us from North Dakota for the weekend.  Christmas day was entirely full of celebrating, cooking, and eating.  A simply wonderful holiday.  We started our morning off with Jack making sure that Santa had arrived. 

And then he went to town opening up presents.

My Mom and I made our Christmas Brunch.  We kept things fairly simple: Crustless Quiche Lorraine, Croissants, Fresh Fruit, and Mimosas.  I ordered the croissants from Williams & Sonoma.  They were incredible and easy to prepare.  We put them out on baking sheets to rise the night before.  In the morning, we topped the croissants with an egg wash;  then baked them in the oven for 15 minutes after the quiche was done.  The quiche turned out perfectly and paired very well with the croissants and fruit.

Crustless Quiche Lorraine
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
6 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp.Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease quiche/pie pan with cooking spray or butter.
Fry the bacon and green onions together in a non-stick pan until done.  Sprinkle the bacon/onion mixture in the bottom of the quiche dish.  Top with 1 cup of the Swiss cheese. 
In another bowl, stir the beaten eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, paprika, and nutmeg.  Pour into quiche dish.  Top mixture with the remaining 1 cup of Swiss cheese.  Bake the quiche for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10-15 minutes before serving. 

A great way to start off Christmas day.  Next up:  Christmas Dinner.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Russian Cake

This really should be called Booze Cake.  I love it.  My mom introduced this recipe to me years ago. It's a regular menu item at our house during the holidays.  It just seems to compliment so many different kinds of meals.  I especially like it because it doesn't have a thick frosting to it. . .just a simple glaze.  It's cheating a bit, with the addition of the cake mix and pudding mix.  I don't care.  It's foolproof.  And tastes even better the following day.   I'm bringing this one to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner.

Black Russian Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding (can use sugar free)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Canola Oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vodka
3 Tbsp. coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 cup water

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup coffee liqueur

Grease and flour bundt pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, oil, and eggs.  Blend well with a mixer.  Add liquid ingredients and beat on medium for 4 minutes.  Pour into bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

 Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Combine the glaze ingredients together with a whisk.  Invert cake onto a plate.  Poke holes in the cake with a fork.  Pour the glaze over the cake, continuing to poke holes as you glaze.

Cool the cake and sprinkle again with powdered sugar.   Instant prettiness!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Corn Chowder with Bacon, Shrimp, and Fennel

Corn chowder.  We love it at our house.  I've tried various recipes. . .Ina Garten has a winner.  This one may have Ina beat.  This one is an adaptation of  "Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Fennel" from Real Simple.  I did change it up quite a bit, adding turkey bacon,  a sweet potato instead of yellow or red potato, and used 2% milk instead of whole milk.  I also blended a cup of the corn mixture, to make it thicker.   The final result was a comforting, hearty chowder.  It was perfect for the cold winter weather we've had in Minnesota.

Corn Chowder with Bacon, Shrimp and Fennel
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, February 2010
4-6 slices turkey bacon (or pork), cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, (white and light green parts), chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 8 oz. bottle of clam juice
3 cups 2%  milk
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb. cooked, peeled, and deveined medium or large shrimp
1 10 oz. package frozen corn
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Crusty bread

Saute bacon in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat until crisp.  Set aside on paper towel-lined plate.  Save pan drippings and add 1 Tbsp. butter to the Dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Add leeks and fennel to the pan; season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the flour. 
Add the clam juice, milk, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.  Stir in the corn.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove at least 1 cup of the corn/milk mixture (with leeks/fennel) and blend in a blender until smooth.  Add mixture back to the Dutch oven, along with the shrimp.  Cook until the potatoes are tender and shrimp and corn are heated through, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in parsley and lemon juice.
Place chowder in bowls and season again with salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with crusty bread (sourdough works well).  Yum!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peanut Blossoms

I'm probably going to cheat this year and buy an assortment of cookies from one of the local bakeries, Lucias or Wuollet.  However, I did want to bake Peanut Blossoms with Jack, thinking he would enjoy taking off the wrappers of Hershey's Kisses and placing them on the cookie.  When I turned to the Internet to get the recipe, I discovered an assortment of recipes. . .Pillsbury, Hershey's, Betty Crocker, and Land O Lakes.  Who would have guessed?  Here's a good taste test review of all 4 variations.  I decided to use the Land O Lakes recipe, since it has butter instead of Crisco.  I  followed most of the recipe, but used an extra large egg instead of large and dark chocolate kisses instead of milk chocolate kisses.   I also used Parker's Farm all-natural peanut butter.   They turned out pretty well. . .Jack and Courtland especially liked them. 

Peanut Blossoms
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (all natural)
1 extra large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 dark chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375.  Combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in a large bowl.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla, and salt, beating until well combined.  Add the flour and baking soda.  Continue beating, scraping bowl, until well mixed.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls (if dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30-60 minutes).  Roll the balls in bowl of 1/4 sugar.  Place the balls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets (or with silpad on top).

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown. 

In the meantime, remove wrappers from candy kisses.

When cookies are done, immediately press a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. 

Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

He couldn't wait for them to cool:)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon and Holiday Guacamole

We had a wine party last night.  There was a blizzard outside.  A big one.  We were amazed that our friends made the trek to celebrate with us.  For those that braved the elements and came over, we had a fantastic time.   Everyone brought an appetizer or small dish to share.  I made Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped with Bacon and Holiday Guacamole. 
 We originally had the dates at a wine party a few years ago, and I've been waiting for the opportunity to make them.  The original recipe is from Food and Wine, and calls for sauteing the dates on the stove.  In an effort to spend time with our guests, I figured baking them would make more sense.  I prepped them earlier in the day, then put them in the oven right before the party.  The dates were sweet and savory at the same time.  And rich.  If you wanted to have a lighter variety, you could use turkey bacon.

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon
Adapted from Food and Wine, 2008 

1 link chorizo sausage, casing removed
24 Medjool dates, pitted
12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the chorizo crosswise in thirds.  Halve each third lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 lengthwise strips to have 24 small sticks.  Stuff each date with chorizo stick and wrap bacon around date, securing with a toothpick.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-18 minutes, until bacon is browned.  Drain on paper towels before serving.

I made Holiday Guacamole from All About Food  last year for Christmas and remembered it was a hit with our family.  It's my favorite guacamole recipe.   I cut back on the Serrano chilies, and eliminated all the seeds. . . it's still spicy enough for most Minnesotans.   If you haven't ever removed pomegranate seeds before, cut the pomegranate into fourths and soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes.   The seeds are much easier to remove from the flesh. . .and there's less of a chance of making a mess.

Holiday Guacamole
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup chopped red onion
3 Serrano chilies, seeds removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
4 ripe avocados, mashed
2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, divided
freshly ground black pepper

Mix onions, chilies, garlic, and salt in a bowl.  Add the mashed avocados and lime juice; stir gently.  Fold in 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds.  Season with ground pepper.  Store bowl in refrigerator, pressed with plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve with chips. 

Holiday parties.  Love them.  Friends, food, drink, fun:)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peanut Clusters

Chocolate and peanut butter. Two of my favorite treats.  A perfect marriage of flavors.  When I was a kid, my mom and I would make Peanut Clusters during the holiday season.  Thank goodness no one in our family has a peanut allergy, because we all ate a handful of them.  They're super easy to make.  In fact, make two batches.  These will be gone in no time.

Peanut Clusters
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all-natural Parker's Farm)
1 cup salted peanuts, walnuts, or almonds

Melt butterscotch chips and chocolate chips with peanut butter over medium to medium-low heat in a saucepan.

Add the nuts. 

Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper. 

 Set to chill in refrigerator.   Store in Tupperware.  My mom always puts hers in the garage:)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce

In an effort to use what was in my pantry and freezer this last week, I decided to cook up Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce for the second time.  I wasn't as fond of the mustard sauce this time around.  Courtland really liked it though. . .so if you're a fan of Dijon mustard, you probably would too.  The original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup lentils, but I only had 1 cup and think it actually wasn't as dry as the first time.  I also soaked the lentils in a pot of water for 30 minutes, then drained them.  My favorite part of the dish is the lentil/sweet potato combo.  Sprinkled with salt and pepper, it made great leftovers for lunch.

Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, October 2008
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup green lentils, soaked at least 30 minutes in water, then drained
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 6 oz. pieces of halibut
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and sweet potato.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and lentils.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the fish with salt and pepper.  Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes each side.
In a bowl, whisk together mustard, wine, and tarragon.  Drizzle over the fish and lentils.

Served with baked asparagus.  A light and healthy meal.