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Monday, December 31, 2012

Quick Chicken Chili with Black Beans

They say necessity if the mother of invention, and today that was very true.  We woke to a very cold morning and it seemed like it would never warm up.  (I know the Northern states are dealing with snow and freezing temperatures, but 32 degrees in Florida is just cold!)

With Christmas decorations to put away and a few hours of work to do in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping.  So, as I looked through the refrigerator and pantry I collected a few things to throw together that would be come a soup, or a chili, or maybe a stew.  All I knew was it needed to be spicy and warm!

So with some leftover roasted chicken, some black beans and this yummy Hot Pace Salsa, dinner evolved into a very quick and easy, Chicken Chili with Black Beans.   And was it ever good!  The final touch was a spoonful of roasted and toasted sweet corn on top of the chili.  Enjoy!!

1 medium  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 small  Red Pepper, chopped
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 4 oz can  Diced Green Chilies
3 cups  Cooked Chicken, diced
1/2 cup  Pace Hot Chunky Salsa
1/2 cup  Water
1  15 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 TB  Cumin
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Dry Ditalini Pasta
1 cup  Half and Half
1 1/2 cup  Frozen Corn Kernels
1 TB  Water
1 TB  Butter

In a large soup pot, saute the onion, garlic and red pepper in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the green chilies, cooked chicken, salsa, water and black beans and stir.  Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chicken broth and pasta to the pot and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.  Add the half and half to the chili, stir and heat 5 minutes longer.

In a small skillet combine the corn, water and butter and cook over medium-high heat.  Saute the corn until the water has evaporated and the corn begins to browns slightly. 

Ladle the chili into bowls and top with a scoop of the roasted corn kernels.

Pumpkin Butter Smoothie

This yummy Pumpkin Butter Smoothie is a delicious way to start your day and, with only 3 or 4 ingredients, it only takes a few minutes to prepare.  As our first creation using Pumpkin Butter, it was a great success and will be perfect for our busy weekday mornings that start much earlier than I wish they did!

Coming in at about 215 calories and 20 grams of protein, this smoothie is full of yummy pumpkin flavor.  For an added boost of potassium, add half of a banana to your smoothie and you're still under 300 calories.

1/4 cup  Pumpkin Butter
1 cup  1% Milk
1/2 scoop  Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Ice Cream Protein Powder
1/2  Medium Banana, optional

Combine all ingredients in a small blender for 30 seconds and serve.

Pumpkin Butter

A few weeks ago, my family and I stopped by a local farmer's market where we discovered Amish Pumpkin Butter.  We had all tried apple butter before but pumpkin butter is a different thing all together, with a flavor similar to pumpkin pie, with lots of cinnamon and cloves.

This creamy spread is so delicious, we kept thinking of more and more ways to use it.  And as expected, the jar was empty within a few days.  So my mission was clear, I needed to make our own.

So far we have used this butter on pancakes and English muffins, and it also makes a great Pumpkin Butter Smoothie for a quick breakfast.  In addition to tasting yummy, it's also good for you! Just 1/4 cup of Pumpkin Butter comes in at about 55 calories and provides 150% of your Vitamin A requirements for the day.

2 15-oz cans  Libby's Pure Pumpkin
1 cup  Apple Juice
1/2 tsp  Allspice
1/4 tsp  Cloves
1 cup  Brown Sugar, packed
1 TB  Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Nutmeg
2 tsp  Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all ingredients, except vinegar, in a large saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring several times.

Remove from heat and stir in the cider vinegar.  Cool to room temperature then transfer to a glass container and store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Roquefort Burgers

Ahh.. the creamy yumminess of blue cheese tucked inside of a juicy burger.  And this is no ordinary blue cheese, but Roquefort Cheese.  As we approach the end of this holiday season, sometimes a simple burger is just what we need for a weeknight dinner.  But we decided to give these burgers a little something extra.

Roquefort cheese has a unique flavor which pairs well with beef. We included the crumbled cheese inside the burger, then added about a tablespoon of cheese to the top of each burger and let it slowly melt. 

This is such a super easy burger, but the flavor is amazing.  If you are a blue cheese fan, but have never tried Roquefort cheese, this is going to be a real treat.

1 lb  Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 - 3 oz  Roquefort Cheese, crumbled
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine the beef, cheese and salt and pepper, mixing by hand to form 4 patties.  For the best flavor, try to center a few larger pieces of Roquefort into the middle of each burger.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, turn burgers over and cook 3 minutes.  Add a tablespoonful of cheese to the top of each burger and cook 3 - 4 minutes longer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nutella Cupcakes

If you are looking for a delicious treat to bring to a holiday get together, this is a great alternative to cookies.  And it contains one of our favorite ingredients, Nutella Spread.

Nutella is a hazelnut and chocolate spread that has acquired a huge (and growing) league of fans.  My kids love this stuff!  So today we decided instead of cookies, we would try making a Nutella cupcake, and this recipe turned out great.  The cupcakes are moist and chocolatey, with the familiar hint of Nutella to accompany the chocolate.  The final touch was a drizzle glaze of melted dark chocolate that we made using Hershey's Dark Chocolate Morsels. These cupcakes are so good, but I must warn you, they are a bit addictive!  Enjoy!!

2 cups  Flour
2 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/3 cup  Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups  Brown Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup  Nutella Spread
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup  Milk
1/4 cup  Hershey's Dark Chocolate Morsels
1/4 tsp  Shortening (not butter or margarine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pans with 21 liners and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add Nutella and mix thoroughly.

Add the eggs and mix until combined, then add the remaining brown sugar and blend well. 

Add the flour mixture and milk, alternating in small amounts, beating well after each addition.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake liner.  Bake cupcakes 25 - 30 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To prepare the drizzle - In a microwave safe cup combine the dark chocolate pieces and the shortening and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave for 10 seconds longer, if needed.  When the chocolate is smooth, drizzle over the cupcakes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Homemade Irish Cream

As Christmas draws closer it's time for a little holiday cheer.  Definitely my favorite cocktail for the holidays, this recipe for Homemade Irish Cream is so simple to make and costs significantly less than the name brand Irish Cream. 

Any brand of bourbon can be used, even the cheaper selections of bourbon will work nicely.  My personal favorites would have to be Irish Mist or Canadian Mist.  Both are amazingly smooth and silky.  The best thing about this recipe is that it tastes even better than the brand name Irish Cream.  Enjoy on the rocks or add a little to your coffee.

 1 tsp Instant Coffee (try flavored coffees such as vanilla)
1 1/4 cup  Milk
1 TB Vanilla
1 TB + 1 tsp Chocolate Syrup
1 1/4 cup Bourbon Whiskey (Windsor, CC, Irish Mist)
1 - 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Combine all ingredients in blender and serve on the rocks or stir into coffee.  Refrigerate and use within about 1 week.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflake Dusted Brownie Cookies {#BloggersforSandyHook}

Today's post is a tribute to the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary.  At a time when we all wish we could do something, anything, to bring peace to the people of Newtown, CT, we are at a loss.  How do we offer comfort and condolences to total strangers when our hearts ache for them?

Well, when I came across this post, Bloggers Unite for Cookies & Crafts for Sandy Hook, at Crazy for Crust, I knew I wanted to participate.  Food bloggers are a great bunch of people and this is a wonderful way to show our united support to the community of Newtown.  On Friday, December 21st, we are showing our support by posting a cookie recipe or craft project as a Tribute to Sandy Hook. (You can also follow through #BloggersforSandyHook.)  Donations for the Newtown Youth and Family Services Organization can be made HERE.

You can share in this project, too.  Grab your kids and spend an afternoon making cookies, doing some fun crafts, even cutting out snowflakes.  Have fun, hug them a little closer and be thankful that they are safe.

I've been on a chocolate cookie binge this season and this is another recipe to add to the files.  Tasting just like a brownie in a cookie-style package, this is a great cookie to leave for Santa.

2/3 cup  Shortening
1 1/2 cups  Packed Brown Sugar
2  Large Eggs
1 TB  Water
3 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups  Flour
1/3 cup  Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  Baking Soda
12 oz  Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Blend in the eggs, water and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda;  gradually add to the creamed mixture and beat just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Drop by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed and set around the edges.  Do not over bake.  Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring the wire racks.  Lightly sprinkle the cookies with confectioners sugar while the cookies are still warm.  Allow to cool completely on wire racks.  Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roquefort Cheese Appetizers

With its creamy-rich texture and distinct, somewhat salty flavor, Roquefort Cheese is kind of the Cadillac of cheeses.  Roquefort is a type of blue cheese made from sheep's milk and it has a very unique flavor. It's also one of my husband's favorite cheeses.

So, when I came across this cheese at our local market I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a few appetizers for the upcoming holidays. 

First, we started with olives.  Big queen-sized olives.  These would be the perfect shell for the creamy Roquefort.  The best part is, this isn't really a recipe as much as just an assembly project, and a great project to get your kids involved in. 

To make the olives, remove the pimento from the center of the olive, if necessary, and use a small spoon (a baby spoon works great!) to fill the olive with the cheese.  It takes a bit of patience, but the results are delicious. 

Our second project was deviled eggs.  We started with a small batch of 6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced in half and the centers placed in a medium bowl.  Place the egg whites on a plate and set aside.

Crumble the egg yolks lightly with a fork and add a pinch of salt, (not too much is needed because the cheese is slightly salty), 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of Roquefort cheese.  Crumble the cheese into the mixture and blend with a fork until the filling is very smooth and creamy.  Use a small spoon, or a piping bag if you want to get fancy, and fill the egg whites with the yolk filling.  Place a small sliver of Roquefort cheese on top of each egg half and serve.

The best thing about appetizers like this is that they can be prepared hours before a party.  Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

Many people like to serve ham for Christmas dinner and with the great sale prices this week, this is the perfect time to pick up an extra ham for quick and easy weeknight dinners.  I usually try to slice about 1/3 of the ham for sandwiches, then chop/dice the remaining ham and freeze it in individual baggies.  Add the defrosted ham to scrambled eggs, Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya or soups.  Which brings me to this tasty family recipe for Ham and Bean Soup.

This is a great soup to prepare with leftover ham and the soup bone from your holiday ham.  (Don't throw away the soup bone!  There's a lot of flavor in there.)  This soup does take a little extra time to prepare, but the low and slow approach creates a soup that's full of flavor, with just a slight zing from a generous dash of hot sauce.  Enjoy!!

1 lb Dried Great Northern Beans, prepared in advance
2 quarts Water
1 Meaty Ham Bone
2 cups of Diced Ham
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Ketchup
1  small  Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
3 - 4 dashes Tabasco Hot Sauce (optional)

Place the dry beans in a medium soup pot and cover with about 2 inches of water.  Let soak for 6 - 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain the beans, then return to the soup pot.

Combine beans with 2 quarts of water.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring the soup to a full boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally.   Serves about 5 - 6.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My New Favorite Wine - 2009 Noceto Sangiovese

It's always exciting to come across a wine that has all of the flavors you love, and is still affordable.  And that's just the case with the 2009 Noceto Sangiovese, from the Vino Noceto Winery in Plymouth, California.

I always like to mention that I do not have any affiliation with this winery, or any others, but I do like to bring a little extra attention to wineries that offer such amazing products as this Sangiovese.  I especially like to bring attention to smaller wineries, whose wines are some of the best kept secrets in the business.

For our first tasting, we served this Sangiovese with our Shrimp and Blue Cheese Noodles and the wine was a beautiful pairing.  On the second occasion it also tasted great served with a simple grilled New York Strip steak.  The wine has a Chianti-style flavor and would also work beautifully with a Grilled Pork Roast with Cherry-Balsamic Sauce, various Italian dishes or even with a great pizza.

If you are still shopping for Christmas or New Year's Eve wines, or you are just ready to stock up your cellar for the new year, stop by the Noceto web site to see the entire selection of wines they have available, including a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel, grown on vines dating back to the 1860's. Yum!  Since Old Vine Zinfandel has always been my favorite in the past, and I cannot wait to try this, my husband might be buying me a few bottles Zinfandel for Christmas...he just doesn't know it yet!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Andes Creme de Menthe Cookies

These cookies are the second result of my cookie baking binge this week.  While I was successful in finding more of the Nestle Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels to make the Mint Chocolate Delights, I was pleasantly surprised to also find a package of Andes Mints that are now available in tiny crumbles called Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips. These mint pieces have the same peppermint flavor as the traditional mints, just cut into small slivers and chunks. 

I knew just the recipe to try for my first experiment with these chips.  The base of this cookie is the same dough from the Triple Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter.  This recipe combines unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder which creates a very elegant, silky chocolate flavor.  If possible, try to use a Dutch-process cocoa powder for a darker color and more complex flavor, but regular cocoa powder also works well.

For this recipe, I used 6 ounces from the 10 ounce bag of Andres Chips and that amount seemed to add a nice balance of that familiar peppermint flavor to the chocolate.  This cookie has definitely been added to our list of favorite cookies.  Enjoy!!

1 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1/4 tsp  Salt
4 oz  Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 oz)  Unsalted Butter
1-1/2 cups  Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs, beaten
6 oz  Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 325.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate with the butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Scrape the melted mixture into a medium bowl to cool.

When the chocolate has cooled, add the sugar and vanilla and stir to blend, then add the eggs and stir.  Next add the flour mixture and stir until you have a smooth dough mixture, then stir in the Andres Mint pieces.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten the cookies slightly.  Bake for about 13-14 minutes or until the cookies are slightly firm, but still soft in the center.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto wire racks to cool.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

We have enjoyed these cookies each Christmas for the past dozen years or so and I always look forward to making them.  (Warning: These cookies are highly addictive, which is why I try to only make them during the holidays!)

This dark chocolate sandwich cookie contains three types of chocolate and the filing is a simple natural peanut butter.  When preparing the cookies, try to keep the portion of dough to just about a teaspoon so the cookies are not too large.  Since you will be stacking two of the cookies together, you don't want the cookies to be too overwhelming.  Although in this case that could be a good thing..lol.

These cookies make a wonderful gift for friends and family.  The flavor is so unique and decadent that all of the recipients will be delighted.  Enjoy!!

1 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Dutch-process if available)
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1/4 tsp  Salt
4 oz  Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1-1/2 cups  Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2  Large Eggs, beaten
4 oz  Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup  Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter

Preheat oven to 325.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate and the butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Scrape the melted chocolate into a bowl to cool.  Stir in the sugar and vanilla and blend.  Stir in the eggs,  followed by the flour mixture and blend until you have a smooth dough, then fold in the milk chocolate chips.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.  Flatten the cookies slightly and bake for 13-14 minutes or until he cookies are firm outside but still soft in the center.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire rack to cool.

When the cookies have cooled, spread the flat side of half of the cookies with about 3/4 teaspoon of peanut butter, then top with the remaining cookies

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mint Chocolate Delights

Yum!  When chocolate and mint come together in a cookie, it's a pretty great cookie.  What makes these cookies even better is that they taste exactly like the Thin Mint Cookies you can buy from the Girl Scouts!  You have GOT to try these for yourself!  I used the recipe on the back of the package to see how these little chips would taste and the recipe is remarkably easy and the cookies are well named, Delights.

I found the Nestle Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels at our local Target store and it seems like Target might be one of the few stores that sell the seasonal Nestle products.  I have yet to find these at any other area store, so grab them while you can!

Today turned out to be a 2 for Tuesday Cookie Day, as I was able to finish two batches of cookies in the same day.  Needless to say, the kids were happy to taste test for me.  It seems like once the house is decorated for Christmas the baking mood strikes.  I'll post our second cookie project shortly, but for now, here is a picture of the finished Christmas Tree and the yummy cookies.


2 cups  Flour
2/3 cup  Baking Cocoa
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 cup  (2 sticks) Butter, softened
2/3 cup  Sugar
2/3 cup  Brown Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2  Eggs
1 - 10 oz pkg  Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy, then blend in the eggs.

Gradually blend in the flour mixture and then stir in the morsels.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 11 - 13 minutes until cookies are puffed and centers are set.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catfish Po'Boy with Creole Slaw

Well, today was my lucky day.  I have been hoping to find catfish on sale and today was the day.  For some reason the price of catfish has skyrocketed over the last few years. The fillets we used to pay $2 per pound for are now almost $10 per pound. For catfish!  Catfish is one of my favorite varieties of fish, but when it costs more than salmon?  Well, salmon will win every time.

Many Po'Boy sandwiches have a mayonnaise-based sauce or dressing, and I was hoping to avoid that on this sandwich.  The catfish needed to be crispy-crunchy without drowning in sauce.  I also wanted to try out a Creole-style slaw to go on top of the fish.  A slaw that would add crunch, but not be drippy with dressing, and this recipe came together perfectly.

For the slaw I started with a bowl of finely shredded cabbage and one shredded carrot.  Then I added a few basic slaw ingredients like mayo, cider vinegar and a bit of sugar.  But I wanted this to have a Cajun flavor, so I needed to spice it up just a bit.  A little Creole mustard and a pinch of paprika were all it needed.  I prepared the slaw about 3 hours before dinner, so it was still nice and crunchy when we assembled the sandwiches, but the cabbage had absorbed the flavors nicely.

We served the catfish on hoagie rolls and added a few slices of these beautiful orange tomatoes we found at the farmers market.  The tomatoes have a slightly citrusy flavor and they combined nicely with the fish and slaw.  A few squeezes of lime juice on top were the only "sauce" this sandwich needed.  Enjoy!!

To Prepare the Slaw
4 cups  Shredded Cabbage
1  Carrot, shredded
1 TB  Sugar
1/2 cup  Hellman's Light Mayonnaise
1/4 cup  Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TB  Creole Mustard
1/4 tsp  Paprika
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and stir to evenly coat all of the cabbage.  Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours.

To Prepare the Fish
3  Large Catfish Fillets (about 1-3/4 lb), cut in half
Canola Oil for Frying
2  Large Eggs
2 TB  Frank's Hot Sauce
2 TB  Heavy Cream  or  Milk
1/2 cup  Cornmeal
1/4 cup  Flour
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1/2 tsp  Paprika
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
Sliced Tomatoes for Garnish

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, hot sauce and cream or milk and stir well.  Set aside.

In a large bowl or dish combine the remaining dry spices and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a 1/2-inch of canola oil and heat until shimmering.  Dip the fillets one at a time into the egg mixture, then into the cornmeal coating.  Place each piece into the skillet and cook about 5 - 6 minutes, or until browned and crispy.  Turn the fish over and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Serve the catfish fillets on hoagie rolls with sliced tomatoes and a spoonful of the Creole slaw on top.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Swai Fillets with Kumquat Butter

Between living in Phoenix and now Florida, we have been most fortunate to be on the receiving end of many baskets of fresh citrus fruits.  Residents of the southern sunbelt always have an overabundance of lemons and limes at home and they are more than happy to share their harvest with their coworkers.

That was the case this week when my sous chef came home from work with something new, a bag of kumquats.  (Kumquats?  What do you do with those?) These cute little fruits look like small oranges, and when I scratched the rind they even smelled like oranges. But how do you peel such a tiny thing?  Well, you learn something new every day!  When my husband asked the same question of his coworker, he was told to eat the entire thing, rind and all, which seemed a bit weird.  So we did what most skeptical parents would do, we let our oldest daughter try one!  Turns out she loved these juicy little fruits and so did we.  The rind was sweet while the center was juicy and tart.  A very interesting flavor that I could not wait to experiment with.

I had been wanting to make a citrus-based Swai dish and this recipe was the perfect solution.  Quickly searing the fish is a great way to highlight the natural flavor of the fish, while combining the bright flavor of the kumquats.  Be sure to serve a few sliced or whole kumquats on the side.  This fish is delicious served with a light rice pilaf and a simple veggie.  Enjoy!!

Kumquat Butter
3 TB  Butter, softened
6  Kumquats with seeds removed
1 tsp  Lemon Zest
1 tsp  Orange Zest
1 tsp  Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper

After you have removed the seeds from the kumquats, (you can use a small knife to do this), finely mince the kumquats, including the rinds.  Combine the kumquats with the butter, lemon and orange zest, ginger, salt and pepper, and set aside while you prepare the fish.

5  Swai Fillets (about 2 lbs)
2 tsp  Butter
2 tsp  Olive Oil

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rub the fish fillets generously on both sides with the citrus butter, then place the fish in the hot skillet.  Cook fillets for 4 - 5 minutes then carefully turn the fillets over and cook 4 minutes longer, or until fish is opaque in the center and slightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This is a yummy alternative to pizza that we used to make when our kids were very young, and they always loved them.  Little did they know, I was just trying to get them to like spinach. (It worked!)

A calzone is a type of rolled, stuffed-in-the-center type of pizza that has many variations.  The dough is traditionally similar to pizza dough, but the filling is where the differences really begin.  Calzones  are often filled with several types of cheese, with ricotta being the base of this creation.  Some restaurants will include meats, olives or sauce inside of the calzone, so the filling combinations are endless, and you can easily create your own favorite filling.  For our calzones, we like to keep the sauce on the outside, but you could also incorporate the sauce into the filling mixture.


We started with an easy bread machine dough that is rolled out into squares.  Each square is lined with a meat, cheese and spinach filling, then rolled over into a rectangle.  The edges are sealed with a fork, then spritzed with a bit of olive oil and baked.  Serve with a spoonful of seasoned tomato sauce on top.  Enjoy!!

Calzone Filling

15 oz  Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 cup  Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup  Grated Mozzarella Cheese
3 oz  Diced Pepperoni
10 oz  Frozen Spinach, cooked, cooled and well drained
1/2 lb  Fresh Sausage, cooked and drained
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Calzone Dough in the Bread Machine

1 cup + 2 1/2 TB  Water
2 1/2 TB  Olive Oil
3 cups  Bread Machine Flour
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Sugar
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Bread Machine Yeast
Calzone Filling
Flour, if needed
Olive Oil Spray

Combine all ingredients in the bread machine pan and set the machine to the Dough Setting.  At the end of the first kneading cycle, press the stop/clear button and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until almost double in size.

Punch the dough down and remove from the bread machine pan to a lightly floured cutting board.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  The dough will have a very smooth texture.

Using a dough slicer or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 equal portions.  Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a square about 6 or 7 inches across.  (Add a few teaspoons of flour to the cutting board surface if the dough is a bit sticky.)

Place 3 - 4 tablespoons of calzone filling onto the lower half of the dough, then gently roll the dough over and crimp the edges using a fork.  You can also roll these up "burrito-style" by folding in the edges and rolling the dough so none of the filling is visible.  Place the calzones on a baking sheet and continue with the remaining calzones.

Lightly spray the calzones with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden.  Serve with a spoon of seasoned tomato sauce** on top.

**Note:  To make a quick sauce for the calzones, heat an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce in a small saucepan.  Add Italian seasoning, some fresh basil if available, a little garlic powder, salt and pepper and heat until warm.