Wednesday, March 10, 2010

February Dinner



Thai Limeade:

Makes 6-8 servings

6 Fresh limes
1/2 Cup Granulated sugar
2-1/2 Cups Boiling water
1/2 tsp Salt
12 Ice cubes

Roll limes on cutting board to loosen flesh and juice. Cut limes in half and squeeze juice into a jug. (Remove seeds and lith.) Reserve rinds.
Place rinds in another jug and cover with sugar. Pour in boiling water; steep for 5-10 minutes, depending upon your taste. Add salt and stir thoroughly.
Strain warm liquid into juice jug. Refrigerate.
Crush 8-9 sprigs of mint into 1 liter of 7-up.
To serve, add 2 parts 7-Up to 1 part Limeade. Serve over ice.







Asian Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers; sliced (unpeeled)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp. chili paste

Mix ingredients together and chill up to 24 hours

Baked Chicken Teriyaki
1 T cornstarch
1 T cold water
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs or 6 chicken breasts

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish. Brush chicken with sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.


White Chocolate Raspberry Tuxedo Brownies

1 package brownie mix
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 cups fresh rasberries
3 squares white chocolated
2 packages (16 oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
chocolate shavings

Prepare brownie as indicated. Cool completely. Spread jam onto brownie; arrange 1 1/2 cups raspberries evenly over jam. Microwave chocolate and stir until completely melted and smooth. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Gradually whisk in melted chocolate and milk. Fold in whipped topping, spread carefully over raspberries. Refrigerate 2-3 hours until firm. Cut into squares. Garnish with the reserved raspberries and chocolate shavings.

November Dinner

Hostesses: Stephanie Mehner, Carma Barnett and Hillary Sorenson

White-Grape Raspberry Punch ~ Carma

One frozen white, grape, raspberry frozen concentrate
One liter sprite
Sprinkle fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries on top

Chicken Brochettes ~ Stephanie & Carma

1 lb boneless skinless chicken
1 pkg bacon
40 oz artichoke hearts
freshly ground pepper

Cut chicken and artichoke hearts into bite sizes. On a half strip of bacon place one piece of chicken and one piece of artichoke side by side and roll bacon up. Sprinkle with pepper. Place on broiling pan or cookie sheet with rack so drippings fall away from brochettes. Cook at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, insert toothpicks and enjoy.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup ~ Hillary

2 ¾ lbs. Pumpkin, Butternut Squash or combination, halved and seeded
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2-3 shiitake mushroom, stemmed, caps wiped clean
1 garlic clove, peeled
½ c. olive oil
Coarse Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 c. homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut pumpkin/squash into 2-inch pieces. Combine pumpkin, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30-45 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.

Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

**Note: to make extra smooth I also passed soup through a fine sieve. We garnished with a spoonful of Mascarpone cheese and a sprinkling of candied walnuts

Gorgonzola Pear Salad ~ Hillary

Romaine and Red-leaf lettuces, washed and chopped
Roasted Pecans (350 degrees for 10 minutes), lightly chopped
1 lb. cooked bacon, crumbled
3-4 ripe pears, quartered, seeded and sliced
Gorgonzola Cheese
Pomegranate, seeded OR Craisins if not Pom. Season

Dressing: (can halve this, it makes A LOT)

1 ¼ c. vegetable oil
2 t. salt
2 c. sugar
3 – 4 shallots, finely minced
2 t. dry mustard
1 c. red-wine vinegar
2 t. poppy seeds

Toss lettuces with enough dressing to lightly coat and layer other ingredients over top.

Sweetened Pork Loin with Apples and Pears ~ Carma

2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1-3 lb. boneless pork loin roast
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 apples, 2 pears (cut in halves, wedges, or slices)
2 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line shallow roasting pan with heavy foil. Place meat rack in pan, set aside. In bowl combine pepper, salt, garlic powder. Brush pork with olive oil, rub with pepper mixture. Place pork on rack. Roast 35 minutes. For glaze, in skillet combine molasses, vinegar, and soy sauce. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer one minute. Remove to bowl. Set glaze and skillet aside. Brush pork with some glaze (reserve 2 Tbsp. for fruit). Continue roasting 20 minutes, brushing with more glaze halfway through. Roast 10 minutes more or until thermometer reads 150 degrees. Cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, in glaze skillet heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Toss fruit with sugar. Add fruit to skillet, cover and cook 2 minutes, uncover and cook 3 minutes more until crisp and tender. Add reserved glaze; heat through. Serve pork with fruit and drizzle with pan juices. Serves 8.

White Cheddar Sweet Potatoes ~ Carma

3 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 7 medium)
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
3 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large red onion, cut in thin wedges
2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes, prick with fork, and place on foil lined baking sheet. Bake 40-60 minutes or until tender. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. When potatoes are cool, scrape pulp from skin. Transfer to bowl. Mash with 2 Tbsp. butter and 3/4 tsp. salt. Stir in cheese, juice, cream, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar. Transfer to buttered casserole dish, cover, bake 30 minutes or until heated. Meanwhile, in microwave combine remaining butter, brown sugar, salt. Add onion, cook 3-4 minutes or until onion is crisp and tender. Add to potatoes, garnish with fresh thyme.

Winter Wassail ~ Stephanie

1 quart apple cider
1 quart apple juice
8 oranges
4 lemons
6 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1/4 tsp mace

In a large pot, combine apple juice and cider. Wash and slice oranges and lemons. Throw them in. Create a spice bouquet by wrapping 6 cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and mace in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin. Add to juice. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake ~ Stephanie

1 pkg. two layer devil's food cake mix
1-1/3 cups water
1/2 cup safflower or peanut oil
3 eggs
16 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, using water, oil and egg measurements above. Bake in two greased and floured 8" round pans at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Melt chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat. Heat cream and butter together in a large saucepan until it boils. Pour cream over chocolate and beat with wire whisk until smooth. Cool 20 minutes.

Line 9" spring-form pan with waxed paper. Cut cooled cake into cubes. Place cake cubes in large mixer bowl. Pour 1-1/3 cups ganache over the cake cubes and mix on low speed with an electric mixture until texture is like thick fudge. Spread evenly in prepared pan, smoothing top. Freeze for one hour. Un-mold cake, place on serving plate, remove waxed paper, and coat cake on the top and sides with remaining chocolate ganache. Store in refrigerator. 16-20 servings

Caramel Pots de Crème ~ Hillary

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place six 4-ounce ovenproof ramekins or pots de crème in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch roasting pan; set aside.
Place 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until sugar has caramelized and is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Swirl pan, dissolving un-melted sugar; reduce heat to low.
Slowly and carefully whisk in the milk and 1 cup cream. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan and add the pod. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; remove the pan from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt; continue whisking until pale yellow in color. Slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this new mixture through a fine sieve set over a large liquid measuring cup; discard vanilla pod.

Using a tablespoon or a small ladle, skim the surface to remove any visible air bubbles. Pour approximately 1/2 cup liquid into each ramekin. Fill roasting pan with hot water to within 1 inch of ramekin tops. Cover roasting pan with foil, and poke small holes in two opposite corners for vents.
Carefully place pan on center oven rack; bake until just set, about 35 minutes. Remove foil; transfer ramekins to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, place the remaining 1/2 cup cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add a dollop of whipped cream to each serving.

**NOTE: I used about 16 mini ramekins, about 1 oz. each, available at Sur la Table for $1 each.

Walnut Cookies ~ Hillary

Makes 25 sandwich cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon walnut liqueur
Confectioners' sugar, for mold

Chocolate-Walnut Filling, recipe follows

Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl. Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolk and walnut liqueur, then add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Form dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Using a dry pastry brush, generously dust a walnut springerle mold with confectioners' sugar. Cut a piece of dough about the size of the mold (available from House on the Hill). Press dough into mold with fingers, working from center. Gently coax dough out of mold with fingertips and onto a baking sheet, and trim edges with a knife. Repeat, spacing cookies 1 inch apart on sheets and cleaning mold often. Freeze for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Pipe or spread 1 teaspoon chocolate-walnut filling on flat side of 1 cookie. Press flat side of another cookie onto filling to sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

***NOTE: The Walnut Mold for the cookies can be purchased at this website: -- Type “walnut” in the search box and the mold will come up.

I found walnut liqueur at a regular liquor store. The brand I have is called Nocello, but I am sure any brand is fine. It has a really nice aroma and contributes to the main flavor of the cookie. It is a little pricey, around $25, but worth it to me. Liquor has a long shelf life so, stored properly (capped tightly in a dark pantry is good), you would be able to use it for years. I have never tried the recipe without it but I am sure if you wanted to you could omit it and use a small amount of another flavoring.

These cookies are REALLY good and fun to make, but they do take awhile and are a little too difficult for young kids to do. Here are some things I have learned making them several times… Keep the dough REALLY cold while you are molding it. After chilling the disks, like it says in the recipe, cut them into about 1” pieces and put them in the freezer only taking out a few at a time and then forming them right away. It is easiest if you sugar the mold, as directed and press the dough into the mold with your fingers (not handling too much, the dough thaws quickly). But then to get it out (this is the hard part), press the mold - dough side down onto a cutting board very firmly. When you lift the mold up, the molded walnut should stick to the cutting board, making removal much easier.

If this way doesn’t work for you, another way I have gotten them out is by sticking the point of a knife in the edge of the dough and carefully prying it out. Either way you do it, after the walnut is formed, there is usually some extra dough that you have to trim off the sides with a sharp knife. There is also a video on under “Walnut Cookies” that gives you the basic gist of the recipe. Happy cookie making!!***

Chocolate-Walnut Filling ~ Hillary

Makes 1 1/4 cups, enough for 25 cookies
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Pinch of salt
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and salt until smooth and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Stir in walnuts until incorporated. Use immediately.