Thursday, May 31, 2012


Makes 4 servings

Rich and spicy, this dish always steals the show.

1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
Zest from 1 orange
1 minced chipotle chilie in adobo sauce
1/2 c. Grand Marnier
1/4 tsp. each salt, pepper
2 fresh duck breasts
1 Tbsp. barbecue seasoning blend (e.g., WHAM)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine sugar and wine vinegar in medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until sugar melts and begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.

Add juice, zest, chipotle, Grand Marnier, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced and slightly thickened; set aside.

Heat oven to 400°F.  Season duck breasts with seasoning blend.

Heat olive oil in large oven proof skillet.  Add duck breasts, skin side down.  Sear 4 to 5 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Turn breasts; place pan in oven.

Roast duck 10 to 12 minutes or until just pink in center.  Remove pan from oven, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice ½” thick.  Serve with sauce.

Best barbecue seasoning!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latter Day Lasagna

Scrutiny is part of the political process.

Latter Day Lasagna
Makes 6 servings

Enjoy this traditional Italian favorite later in the day, because it’s prepared in a slow cooker.

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 can [28 oz.] whole peeled tomatoes
1 can [14 oz.] diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
20 fresh basil leaves, chopped, divided (about 1/4 cup)
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) Italian blend shredded cheese
1 egg
6 uncooked lasagna noodles

Heat oil in medium saucepot on medium heat.  Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute until fragrant (do not brown).  Stir in whole tomatoes and their juices.  Use immersion blender to puree sauce.  Stir in diced tomatoes, salt, sugar and pepper.  Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Stir in half of the basil.

Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, egg and remaining basil.
Spoon 1 cup sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles (broken to fit) and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups sauce. Top with remaining noodles (broken to fit), cheese mixture and sauce. Cover with lid.
Cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted.

In a hurry?  Substitute a jar of spaghetti sauce + 1 cup water for the homemade sauce.
This recipe works just as well using whole wheat lasagna noodles, part-skim ricotta cheese and reduced fat shredded cheese blend.  This version will reduce calories (460 vs. 320), fat (26g vs 15g), saturated fat (12g vs 6 g), cholesterol (100mg vs 60 mg) and increase fiber (3g vs. 5g).
This is one of my favorite summer recipes, because you don't heat up the house using a slow cooker.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wrestling with the Issues Raspberry Lemonade

Wrestling with the Issues Raspberry Lemonade

I'm not really sure what the issues are anymore (both candidates seem to have forgotten).  After a few of these, I'm sure I'll remember.

1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
12 oz. frozen raspberries
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled vodka

Combine zest, lemon juice, sugar and water in a pitcher, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no more than 24 hours.  Strain mixture into 3-qt. serving pitcher.

Add 1 cup lemonade and half of the raspberries to blender container; cover and blend until smooth.  Stir into pitcher along with vodka and remaining raspberries.  Serve in ice-filled wine glasses with lemon wedges.

In a hurry?  Prepare a 12 oz. can of frozen lemonade as directed.  Continue as directed, reducing vodka to 2 cups.

Dedicated to the NOTRE DAME COLLEGE PREP Wrestling Club and Team

Monday, May 28, 2012

American as Apple Pie

Happy Memorial Day!  Thanks to all the service men and women who keep us safe.

American as Apple Pie
Makes 8 servings

2-1/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. butter, cut up
8 Tbsp. butter-flavored shortening
4 to 5 Tbsp. ice water

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
8 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 8 cups, 3/16" slices)
3 Tbsp. butter, cut up
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Coarse sanding sugar

Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl.  Add butter and shortening; blend into flour mixture with pastry blender or gloved hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle water over mixture and press with spatula or hands until mixture comes together in a ball.  Knead 1 or 2 times, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large bowl until combined.  Add apples; toss gently to completely coat apple slices with sugar mixture.  Let stand 15 to 20 minutes.

Divide dough in 2 pieces, one a little more than half and the other slightly less than half.  Roll larger dough into 10-inch circle between 2 sheets of waxed paper that are lightly dusted with flour. Peel back top sheet. Place 9-in. pie plate on top of crust and flip over.  Peel back 2nd sheet of waxed paper, pressing crust gently into dish and allowing extra crust to hang over edges.  Fill crust with softened fruit. Dot with butter. Roll smaller dough portion in same manner, peeling back top layer of waxed paper and flipping over fruit-filled pie before peeling back second layer of waxed paper.  Turn edges under and crimp as desired (bigger is better – see note).  Cut 4 small slits in top of pie for steam to escape. 

Use a soft-bristled pastry brush to brush pie crust gently with egg and water mixture.  Sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar and lightly grate nutmeg over top, if desired.

Place pie on foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack of 400ºF oven.  Bake 30 min.  Reduce temperature to 350ºF and continue baking 30 min, covering edges of crust with foil if necessary.

Let cool 2 hours before slicing.  

I usually weigh the pie crust before I divide it, using 60% for the bottom crust and 40% for the top crust.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Expatriate Mango Pudding

Can you believe it?  Billionaire suspends his passport to avoid paying 15% capital gains taxes.  FIFTEEN PERCENT!  That's less than the middle class pays.  Good riddance, Saverin...

Expatriate Mango Pudding
Makes 4 servings, 2/3 cup each

A creamy, refreshing dessert for deserters...and taxpayer's, too!  It's as good as you’d find at any hawker stall in Singapore.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 ripe mangoes, fruit pureed (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup ice cubes (about 4)

Dissolve gelatin and sugar in water in small bowl.

In medium bowl whisk mango puree and milk.  Whisk in gelatin mixture and ice cubes until ice is melted.  Pour into 4 dessert cups.  

Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.  Serve garnished with mango slices and fresh mint leaves.

Enjoy with a freshly brewed cup of green tea.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fair Game Frostbite Infusion

Game on!

Fair Game Frostbite Infusion
Makes 6 cocktails

All bets are off when you serve this one up.

12 oz. white rum
4 oz. white cream de cacao
4 oz. blue curacao
4 oz. cream
8 Maraschino cherries for garnish

Stir together rum, white cream de cacao, blue curacao and cream in a small pitcher. 

To prepare drinks, pour into cocktail shaker filled with ice; shake well.

Strain into chilled cordial glass or ice-filled old fashioned glass.  Garnish each drink with a cherry.

Substitute silver tequila for white rum.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chief Cost Cutter Hummingbird Cake

Apparently, Obama is spending a lot less than the GOP would like us to believe.

Chief Cost Cutter Hummingbird Cake

Cut into THIS!

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
6 mashed ripe bananas
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 sticks butter, divided
2 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 cups finely chopped pecans, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°F.  Line 9x13-inch pan with foil and spray with no stick cooking spray.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl; set aside.  In large bowl, whisk bananas, pineapple, oil, 1 stick butter, melted, eggs, and 2 tsp. vanilla until well combined.  Stir in dry ingredients and 1 cup nuts with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until dry ingredients are completely moistened.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is springy in center when touched.  Let cake cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting:  Beat remaining butter, softened, remaining vanilla and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar.  Reserve 1/2 cup frosting.

Quickly lift cooled cake out of pan using foil handles.  Cut cake in half horizontally to create 2 9x6-1/2" cake layers.  Place 1 cake layer on serving platter.  Spread top with frosting.  Top with remaining layer, upside down.  Frost sides and top of cake.  Gently press remaining chopped nuts onto sides of cake.  Pipe reserved frosting decoratively along top edge of cake.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

False Ally Fennel Coleslaw

Pakistan used their "tribal courts" to punish the guy that helped us find bin Laden.  They were pissed because it became visibly apparent that they were hiding him.  Shame on Pakistan!

False Ally Fennel Coleslaw
8 servings, 1/2 cup each

A bona fide partner for grilled-meat.

3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 small head fennel
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl.

Coarsely chop fennel fronds.  Quarter fennel bulb vertically and thinly slice.  Add fennel fronds and slices to bowl with cabbage and green onions.

Gently toss with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate 1 hour to blend flavors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Catholic Concerns Cappellini with Roasted Tomato & White Bean Sauce

Catholic-Americans are NOT one issue voters, though if you were to believe what's printed in the media you would think that we are all obsessed only with outlawing abortion. Central to the Catholic faith is a belief in peaceful coexistence, social welfare and community.  So, while conservative candidates might appeal to those Catholics who are utterly opposed to abortion, liberal candidates appeal to Catholics who believe that supporting one another and living peacefully is most important.

Catholic Concerns Cappellini with Roasted Tomato & White Bean Sauce

Everyone will agree that this is a great meal.

3 lb. Campari tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (19 oz. each) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb. cappellini (angel hair) pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat oven to 400°F.  

Place tomatoes in single layer on baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast tomatoes 20 to 25 minutes or until soft.

Heat remaining oil in medium sauce pot on medium heat.  Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and their liquid.  Puree using immersion blender. Bring to boil, then cook 20 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.  Stir in beans and cook 2 minutes or until heated through.

While sauce is cooking, cook pasta as directed.  Drain pasta and toss with sauce and basil.  Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

An Italian red wine, like Il Poggio Sangiovese Rubicone, is a nice accompaniment to this dish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LATINO VOTE Pineapple Boat

LATINO VOTE Pineapple Boat
Makes 3 cups salsa (24 servings)

A moat with alligators will keep hungry 
neighbors where they belong when you serve this.

1 pineapple
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup finely diced red pepper
2 chipotle chilies, rinsed and minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey

Slice pineapple in half lengthwise.  Remove core and finely dice fruit from one half, leaving a ½” shell.  Peel, core and dice remaining pineapple to make 2 cups (eat any remaining pineapple or reserve for another use).

Combine diced pineapple with remaining ingredients, mixing lightly.  Spoon salsa into pineapple bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Serve leftover pineapple salsa with grilled meat or fish (see photo below with barbecue chicken).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Big Bank Time Bomb Banana Muffins

Big Bank Time Bomb Banana Muffins

You'll be blown away by how good these are.

2 cups flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 container (6 oz.) vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
3 medium overripe bananas (1 cup), gently mashed
3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375°F.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In separate bowl, mix butter, yogurt, milk, eggs and bananas.  Stir in dry ingredients and walnuts until just moistened.  Spoon evenly into 12-cup muffin pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.  Serve warm.

This is my "go-to" recipe for muffins.  I always have overripe bananas in my freezer, and this is a simple way to get rid of them.  

You can replace the walnuts with pecans if you like, but be sure to toast them.  Toast nuts in the preheated oven on a baking sheet for 5 to 7 minutes, or toast in a shallow microwave-safe dish in microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NATO Nutballs

NATO Nut Balls
18 servings

An insanely good snack.

1 cup walnuts, divided
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
12 pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. honey

Finely chop 1/2 cup walnuts in food processor fitted with metal blade; remove and set aside.  Add remaining nuts and sunflower seeds to work bowl.  Process 30 seconds or until finely ground.

Add dates, raisins, cocoa powder and honey; process 30 seconds into a crumbly, sticky mixture.

Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll balls into chopped walnuts to coat.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preemptive Posturing Potatoes

Does this mean that bringing up polygamy, temple garments and baptizing dead Jews is off-limits for Dems?

Preemptive Posturing Potatoes

No bluster required, these yummy potatoes can hold their own!

2 lb. small white potatoes (4 to 6 potatoes)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 Tbsp. minced chives
6 oz. Havarti cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Heat oven to 350°F.  

Cook potatoes in boiling water 20 minutes or until fork tender; drain.  When cool enough to handle, slice potatoes 1/4" thick.

Whisk flour and milk in large bowl.  Add sour cream, chives, half of the cheese, salt and pepper, mixing to combine.  Gently stir in potatoes to coat with mixture.

Spoon into greased 2-qt. casserole dish; top with remaining cheese.

Bake 30 minutes.

Customize these potatoes any way that you like, by substituting a few cloves of minced garlic or sliced green onions for the chives, and substituting another cheese, like Gruyere or sharp Cheddar, for the Havarti.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Graffiti Green Chilie Cornbread
"Violence is Weak" - how profound!

Graffiti Green Chilie Cornbread

Save your creative expression for the dinner table.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted, divided
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
¼ cup finely diced red pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400°F. Pour 1 Tbsp. butter in 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, and use a pastry brush to spread butter over bottom and up sides of dish; set aside. 

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, green chilies and red peppers in medium bowl.

Add combined remaining ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Spoon into prepared dish.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cut into wedges to serve.

If you don't have buttermilk, substitute 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar (let stand 10 minutes).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him...

Makes 24 bars

Sweet and tart, like a long overdue endorsement that comes as the elevator doors are slamming shut.  Maybe not quite love...

1 cup softened butter
2-1/4 cups flour, divided
2 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F.

Mix butter, 2 cups flour and ½ cup sugar in medium bowl.  Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 13x9-inch pan.  Bake 20 min. or until edges are lightly browned.

Mix remaining flour and sugar.  Whisk in eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice until well blended.  Pour over crust.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until center is set and edges are golden brown.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Quickly lift out of pan to flat cutting surface by grasping ends of foil.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Cut into bars to serve.

If you refrigerate the bars for an hour they are easier to cut.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Shortfall

Strawberry Shortfall

No flavor deficit HERE.

1-1/2 lb. ripe strawberries, hulled (6 cups), divided
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk
Coarse sanding sugar (optional)
1 cup chilled heavy cream

Mash 2 cups strawberries in a medium bowl using a potato masher.  Slice remaining berries and stir them into the mashed berries with 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Let the berries stand at room temperature while preparing biscuits.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and sugar in medium bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add milk; stir with fork or spatula until soft dough forms.

Place dough on lightly floured surface; knead 8 to 10 times or until smooth. Pat dough lightly into 9x6-inch rectangle and cut evenly into 6 pieces.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.

Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.  Transfer biscuits to wire rack.

In a large, chilled metal bowl, whip the heavy cream and remaining sugar to soft peaks with an electric mixer.

Split the biscuits in half horizontally and place bottoms on large serving platter or 6 individual dessert plates. Spoon 1/3 cup berries and their juices over biscuit bottoms. Top evenly with whipped cream and cover with biscuit tops.  Spoon remaining berries and whipped cream over shortcakes and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloodsucking Mary's

Bloodsucking Mary’s
Makes 10 servings, 8 oz. each

Starts out sweet,  but the conclusion is fiery.

6-1/2 cups tomato juice
1-1/2 cups vodka
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. Kosher salt (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 Tbsp. hot sauce or to taste
1 bottle (12 oz.) Guinness beer

Whisk ingredients in a pitcher.  Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Gently stir in beer.  Pour over ice and garnish with celery and/or olives. 

For a cool look, pour Kosher salt on medium plate.  Rub rim of glasses with lemon wedge and dip glasses in salt before filling with ice and beverage.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Betty White Sangria

Betty White says she endorses Barack Obama.

Betty White Sangria 
10 servings, 8 oz. each

Like Betty favors Barack, you will "very much favor" this beverage at your next cocktail party.

1/2 cup each freshly squeezed orange juice and lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. apple liquor (e.g., Calvados)
1 bottle (1500 ml) white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay)
16 oz. cold club soda

Mix together juices, sugar, liqueur and brandy in large pitcher 2 min. or until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in wine; cover and refrigerate. 

To serve, fill glasses with ice; add cut-up fruit and sangria.  Top each glass with 2 oz. club soda.

For cut-up fruit use sliced strawberries and blueberries for a patriotic look, or use oranges, peaches, halved grapes and whatever fruit you happen to have on hand.

This recipe can be increased in any amount for large gatherings.  The flavors are best if you make it 1 or 2 days in advance.