Impressive desserts don’t have to be complicated. Take these chocolate covered stuffed raspberries for example. They look elegant, yet are really easy to put together. I chose to create a lemon-mascarpone filling, but a variety of other flavors or creams would do. A few minutes in the freezer is all they need to be cold enough for the magic shell sauce to harden, resulting in a decadent dessert fit for any occasion. Just how easy these Chocolate Covered Stuffed Raspberries are will be our secret.
Chocolate Covered Stuffed Raspberries
2 pints fresh raspberries
Mascarpone filling (see below)
Magic shell sauce, chocolate
Place the filling in a squeeze bottle and gently fill each raspberry with mascarpone filling, laying them on a shallow pan or plate when filled. Reserve the remaining filling for another use. Place the plate in the freezer for ten minutes to chill the raspberries. Shake the magic shell sauce, then pour over the raspberries to coat. Once the coating has set, serve or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
¼ cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix together the mascarpone, sugar, and lemon juice. Notes: you will have mascarpone filling left over. I enjoy mine as a topping to pancakes, just as one example.
In my opinion, corn is a great compliment to any BBQ. As summer draws near, magazines and the internet abound with a variety of grilled corn recipes, including street corn recipes. It is hard to read the recipes without making your mouth water, but I have always wondered how I could serve the slathered corn cobs at a party without (a) making a giant mess or (b) compromising time with by guests. What about making a salad with grilled corn instead?
I searched for street corn salads, and most had a Mexican flavor profile. In this recipe I went for a Southern spin, with the idea of mixing in flavors that would be similar to pimento cheese. This Southern Street Corn Salad was a hit with my family and I can’t wait to serve it at a BBQ gathering. Enjoy!
Southern Street Corn Salad
6 ears fresh corn, husked
½ tablespoon melted butter
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons diced green onions
2 tablespoons real bacon bits
2 ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Preheat grill on medium high heat. Brush corn with melted butter, then grill corn for 8-10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until slightly charred on all sides. Cool and cut corn kernels off cob (will make approximately 4 cups of kernels).
In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, green onions, bacon bits, pimentos, and Old Bay seasoning. Add the corn kernels and stir until coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: recipe was entered in the Firehouse Subs Side Dish Challenge
My family LOVES tacos. It seems like we easily eat them once a week, but we do venture out to other Mexican fare. These Chipotle Chicken Crantadas are a dish I created for a contest about a decade ago, though I have revamped it some since then. This dish is a summery version of a tostada, where refried beans are swapped for a corn spread, and the salsa features dried cranberries. The sweetness of the cranberries is offset by the smokiness of the chipotle sauce on the shredded chicken.
Maybe it is time we switch to a weekly Chipotle Chicken Crantada night!
Chipotle Chicken Crantadas
2 tablespoons jarred, diced chipotle
16 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
2 lbs fresh,boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain greek yogurt
4 cup frozen, super sweet corn, thawed
1 t salt
1 t garlic
2 avocado, pitted and chopped
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
8 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons lime juice
16 Tostada shells
2 Cups shredded green cabbage (coleslaw mix)
In a large bowl mix together chipotle chilies, and cranberry sauce.
Add a small amount of the sauce to the bottom of a 4 quart crock pot, place the chicken breasts on top, then cover with the rest of the sauce. Cook on low 4-5 hrs (or on high for 2-3 hrs).
Just before serving time, prepare the corn spread. Add the yogurt, corn, salt, and garlic to a food processor, and process until a smooth spread forms.
To make the avocado-cranberry salsa, mix the avocado, onion, dried cranberries, queso fresco, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl, until evenly combined.
When the chicken is ready, shred the chicken in the crock pot, and stirring to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed. To plate the crantadas, place 1/16 of the corn spread onto each of the tostadas, layer with equal amounts of the shredded cabbage, and then equal amounts of the shredded chicken. Top each tostada with equal amounts of the avocado-cranberry salsa and serve.
One of the favorite dishes in my house that sets the tone for a beach vacation is shrimp ceviche. It is light, has vibrant flavors, and looks pretty plated to boot.
In traditional ceviche, the fish is cooked using an acid, such as lemon juice. My recipe uses pre-cooked shrimp to be able to make the dish quickly and appeal to a broader audience. The Simple Shrimp Ceviche is loaded with baby tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and cilantro in addition to the generous amount of shrimp. The final touch is a bit of lime juice, salt, and fiesta lime seasoning. The resulting dish will sure to become a summertime staple in your house too!
Simple Shrimp Ceviche
1 lb cooked, tail off shrimp, chilled
1 cup chopped baby tomatoes (~1/2 pint)
1 cup diced red onion
1 large Hass avocado, pitted and chopped
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fiesta lime seasoning
Chop the shrimp into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add in the tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and cilantro. Cover with the lime juice, salt, and fiesta lime seasoning and stir to coat and mix evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
A good steak is hard to beat, and often a must for summer barbeques or celebrations. I often find myself making tri-tip, as my whole family loves it for its great flavor and tenderness. Part of what makes the steak so irresistible is the easy marinade of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. The marinade imparts just the right amount of salt and umami for a crowd pleasing steak. You can bet this is on the menu for Father’s Day!
Marinated Tri-Tip Steak
¾ cup soy sauce
¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4-5 lbs tri-tip steak
Mix the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion flakes, and garlic powder on a large bowl. Place the tri-tip in a sealable, plastic bag and cover with the marinade. Place the marinating steak in the refrigerator. Marinade the steak, flipping at least once, for 2-12 hours (longer time makes for a stronger flavor). When ready to grill, remove the steak from the marinade and grilled to the desired temperature.
Broccoli Salad seems to be one of those dishes that is a go-to for potlucks and parties. Most recipes though mix in raisins and are coated in a mayonnaise sauce, which I wasn’t in the mood for this week. Instead, I opted for a Broccoli Salad that had more of a Mediterranean vibe.
I mixed in feta, baby tomatoes, parsley, and walnuts for a refreshing dish. Oh, and did I mention bacon? You can’t go wrong with adding bacon to a Broccoli Salad. A simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette is all that is needed to dress the salad. This dish was just as much of a hit as the classic recipe – why not give it a try at your next gathering?
½ pound broccoli pieces
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ pound baby tomatoes, halved
½ cup curly parsley, chopped
¾ cup walnut pieces
¼ cup crumbled bacon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Place the broccoli, feta, tomatoes, walnuts, parsley, and bacon in a large bowl. In a separate dish, mix together the oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour over the broccoli and stir to combine until the salad is mixed and evenly dressed. Serve; store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
I was browsing through some magazines this weekend and came across a recipe for a shrub, which is an alcoholic drink with a base of pickled fruit puree. Could you quick pickle fruit for a fun dessert topping I wondered? Time to experiment in the kitchen.
I used red wine vinegar that I flavored with cinnamon, and anise to make pickled raspberries. I LOVED IT. The play of the sour berries against a creamy vanilla ice cream was fantastic. Who knew you could eat “pickles” for dessert?
¾ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup white granular sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1 star anise
1 cup raspberries, washed
Place the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, and anise in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place the raspberries in a glass jar, place the cinnamon stick and anise on top and then and slowly pour the vinegar over the raspberries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably over night. To serve, place vanilla ice cream
One of the cooking contests I am currently experimenting for is the Our Family Garden applesauce contest. This contest has been so much fun, in part due to the enthusiasm of the host. He has been giving contestants frequent insights into their products and business, making it a joy to share my cooking hobby with them.
The other reason this contest has been so much fun is that the applesauce line is amazing. Their products taste like your favorite, homemade batch – so much so that I had to be diligent to bake with it, rather than eat it right out of the jar.
One of my favorite recipe creations so far was an Apple-Cheddar Bread. The bread is sweet, with a hint of savory, even with using the unsweetened applesauce. I loved the end result, as did my kids. They kept requesting slices, which meant we polished off the loaf in under 24 hours. I enjoyed eating it warm as an afternoon snack and as a breakfast treat. I can’t wait to hear which way you prefer to eat this delightful Apple-Cheddar Bread!
Apple Cheddar Bread
2 cups flour (plus some for dusting pan)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened Our Family Garden applesauce
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded, sharp cheddar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch by 5 inch loaf pan and then dust with flour.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, basil, and salt; set aside. In a separate large bowl mix together the applesauce, melted butter, and eggs and stir to mix evenly. Gently stir in the flour mixture in small batches until it is all incorporated. Gently fold in the cheddar, then pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool to desired temperature, then cut to serve. Can be served warm or cold.
Last year my Punch Box Birthday Cake was well received, so I thought I would do another “cake” idea to celebrate by daughter’s birthday at school. Like many schools, it is sensitive to food allergies, so edible treats for birthdays are not allowed.
Instead, birthdays can be celebrated with small trinkets. This is where my Giant Cupcake comes in. I have fashioned mini treat bags to look like slices of cake, topped with a mound of “frosting”. As each student takes a slice (i.e. treat bag) they find a trinket and stickers inside.
Not only is this a fun way to celebrate a birthday, it is a fun project to make with your birthday boy or girl. My daughter had fun “frosting” the giant cupcake, which made this all the more special.
Now I just have to decide if I make two Giant Cupcakes to serve all 24 kids in her class, or come up with a second treat . . . .
Classroom Treat Giant Cupcake
1 plastic, 10” diameter cheap plastic bowl ( I bought mine at the Dollar Store)
2 sheets of tissue paper (one for frosting, another for the cherry)
Confetti or sticker gems
12-13 mini treat bags
Goodie bag treats
Bottom of 10” diameter spring form pan (or 10” round cardboard circle)
Place the plastic bowl open side down. Lightly spread glue on bottom of bowl with a foam brush and smooth squares of first tissue paper over sides to “frost” the bowl. Glue a small ball of second tissue paper on top like a cherry. Glue small gems or confetti on sides like sprinkles; let dry. Place trinkets in bags, then fold over top, half using one fold and the remaining using two folds. Gently tape down fold with masking tape. Place two strips of masking tape on spring form pan, sticky side up. Arrange treat bags in a circle, alternating bags in with one fold and two folds. Gently place bowl on top (open side down) on top.
Each 10-inch round cake holds 12-13 mini bags.
One of the ways I express my love for others is through the food I make. It doesn’t matter if the recipe is detailed or easy, but that I have cared enough to put consideration and love into it.
Take, for example, a simple rice cereal treat. These treats were a staple on camping and climbing trips for my husband and I, back when we were dating. They packed well and we both loved them.
This weekend I took a traditional recipe and swapped out 1 cup of rice cereal for 1 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut. Since my hubby loves coconut, you can bet they were a well-received treat. The kids loved that I went the extra step and cut out hearts and drizzled a bit of colored candy melts and sprinkles on the top.
Complicated? No. But did it show that I cared? You bet.
Coconut Rice Cereal Treats
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups mini-marshmallows or 10 ounce bag of large marshmallows
5 cups crisped rice cereal
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Melt butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal and coconut and stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. Cut into squares when cool and serve.
Every January, Healthy Solutions Spice Blends hosts a recipe contest. Of course this means I can’t wait to enter. All of their products are great low salt and low sugar options, without sacrificing taste.
This year I decided to experiment with the Ultimate Burger blend. While the namesake might lead you to think that my recipe entry is a juicy burger, think again! I used it to make an amazing vinaigrette to create my Ultimate Beet Spiral Salad.
The Healthy Solutions Ultimate Burger blend is mixed with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a well balanced and low salt dressing. I used the vinaigrette to dress a salad of raw beet spirals, shelled edamame, baby tomatoes, and feta for a light and healthy salad that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Ultimate Beet Spiral Salad
10.7 oz. (~4 cups) red beet spirals
½ cup shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
1 cup orange baby tomatoes
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2teaspoons Healthy Solutions Spice BlendsTM Ultimate Burger
Place the beet spirals, edamame, baby tomatoes, and feta in a large bowl and stir to toss. In a separate, small container, mix together the oil, vinegar, and Ultimate Burger spice blend until uniform. Pour the dressing over the beet salad and toss to coat. Serve.
When I plan a special meal, such as holiday gatherings or a Valentine’s Day dinner, I like to start with a fancy salad. Making a special salad such as this Endive and Watercress Salad looks and tastes impressive, yet doesn’t require much more effort than your everyday iceberg and tomatoes version.
I took inspiration from two different salad recipes I had saved from magazines (one from Good Housekeeping and one from Better Homes and Gardens), switching out the dressings for a balsamic vinaigrette and replaced walnuts with pecans. I added currants for extra sweetness and kept the presentation as a tossed salad, which was easier to prepare for a large gathering ( I made a double batch for our Thanksgiving dinner this past year).
This Endive and Watercress Salad was a huge hit, and I had multiple family members ask for the recipe. I’m sure it will be a keeper in your house too!
Endive and Watercress Salad
1 package of watercress, (2 cups chopped)
2 endives (1/2 pound)
1 large Bartlett pear, cored and chopped
½ cup dried currants
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
½ cup pecan halves
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Remove the watercress from the package, and remove the roots. Wash and roughly chop the watercress and place it in a large bowl. Chop the endive in thin rings and add to bowl. Add in the pear pieces, currants, blue cheese, and pecans and toss. Pour over the vinaigrette and toss until coated evenly. Divide between four salad plates and serve.