Roasted Fresh Corn and Tomato Salsa

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This recipe makes about 3 cups and is best prepared a few hours in advance and chilled in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh ears of corn (remove husks and as much silk as possible)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter melted
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes – cut in quarters, remove as much seeds as possible and tough core, then slice in small pieces around a 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 small red onion –  diced very fine pieces
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper – remove the seeds and ribs, then dice very fine pieces
  • 1 garlic clove – peeled and finely chopped or use a tiny bit of crushed garlic from a jar
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves (fresh) –  diced in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup of black beans – rinsed and drained well from can
  • 1/2 ripe avocado – diced in small pieces
  • 1/2 lime – juiced into mixed ingredients at the end
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Cook Corn
    • Pre-heat oven to broil
    • Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then lay on a cooling rack on pan (ok to skip cooling rack but it does help the corn cook better)
    • Using a brush, coat the corn with butter
    • Lay corn on cooling rack if using
    • Place in oven on shelf about a third down from broil heating element for 20-25 minutes – turn every five minutes until corn is lightly brown.  Once corn is cool take a knife and remove corn from ear.
  • As corn is roasting place all the ingredients (but lime, salt and pepper) into a large bowl and stir
  • Then when ready add cooked corn, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste stirring well all ingredients.
  • Cover bowl and place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes but preferably 2-3 hours before serving.

Serve with chips or turn into a meal over rice with some roasted shrimp or other protein.

Roasted Corn Before Cutting Off Cob

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Upscale Pigs in the Blanket (Chicken Sausage-Cranberry Pigs-in-Blankets)

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I found this recipe in a mini appetizer book.  It is an upscale mini hot dog with a nice blend of sweet and tangy flavors.  It is always well received.  Kids can help make them in the kitchen.  This recipe can easily be doubled and leftovers can be frozen.  If I know I will be freezing portions to be reheated later I slightly undercook.   Often I need to make this recipe without the nuts because of nut allergies.  I personally think the recipe is more tasty with the almond slivers but it is certainly still good without nuts.  Exact measurements are not required.  Prep time for a double recipe is about 20 minutes using a Cuisinart.  Cleanup is very easy especially if you throw your Cuisinart pieces in the dishwasher.  Cooking time is 20 minutes.  Make sure you allow 30-40 to thaw your dough.  Do not prematurely pull out the dough from the freezer.  If the dough gets too soft, making the hot dogs will become difficult.

Ingredients for 1 batch:  Yields 25-30 mini dogs

1/3rd cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves – do not substitute dry

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup grated Gruyere Cheese

1 teaspoon whole-grain or creamy dijon mustard (if I am doubling the recipe I use one heaping teaspoon of each)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

2-3 links PRE-COOKED apple flavored (or other) chicken sausage.  The package I show requires just two links given the thickness of the links.

 

Directions:

Defrost Pastry Dough (allow 30-40 minutes).  Open box.  Set on counter.  Do not try to unroll dough until fully defrosted.

Combine cranberries, parsley, almonds, cheese, and mustard in a food processor fired with a metal blade and process to coarse paste.  It takes about 30-60 seconds.

Place pastry dough on work surface (cutting board works well).   Cut into 3 long strips (10 inches) and then 8-10 approximately 1 inch cuts across.

Cut sausage links in half lengthwise and then cut each link 5-7 slices the other direction depending on the brand.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a small bowl of warm water and set aside.

Press about a half teaspoon cranberry mixture onto center of each pastry strip, leaving the sides empty of paste.

Top each with piece of sausage.

Slightly wet the sides of each strip (using your water bowl).

Bring the ends together up and over the sausage.  Press firmly to seal and place on a non-stick baking sheet (I usually lay some parchment down or spray some cooking spray but neither step is necessary).

Do not crowd dogs and bake for 20 minutes if serving right away or 18 minutes if freezing for later cooking.  The pastry at either time should be baked through but at 20 minutes the dough will be a slightly darker color.

Serve piping hot with additional mustard.

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Sausage – notice words at bottom fully cooked.  I did remove the small amount of casing.  Not not all precooked sausage has a casing film.

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Parsley, Cheese, Cranberry Paste

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Prepping Pastry

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Prepping Dogs

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Preparing the Dogs

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Precooked

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Cooked cooling on a baking rack

 

Indian Shrimp with Coconut Dipping Sauce over a Bed of Quinoa

Finished Dish: Shrimp with Coconut Dipping Sauce over Quinoa

Shrimp with Coconut Sauce over Quinoa

The recipe comes from Modern Spice by Monica Bhide.  Her inspiration for the recipe per her cookbook is from Chef Jose Andres from Washington DC who owns a few restaurants in DC.  It is very easy to make and tastes and smells wonderful.  I added the quinoa, removed the shrimp tails and served over quinoa versus the recipe presented in Bhide’s book.  It is incredibly tasty and not a typical India heavy dish.

This recipe makes enough for 4 small appetizer servings or 2 dinner dishes.  To bulk up the counts increase your shrimp count.  If you multi-task the quinoa, shrimp, and sauce well, this dish can be completed in well under an hour easily and cleanup is painless.  You can use the same large pot to cook the tomatoes, the shrimp, and the sauce.  You only need one cutting board.

Ingredients Coconut Sauce and Shrimp

1 small red onion minced

2 small tomatoes pureed * instructions below

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin (her recipe called for 1 teaspoon of the actual seeds which I don’t stock in my pantry)

1 teaspoon red chili powder (or less if you prefer less spicy)

1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and minced (go fresh if you can versus ground ginger spice)

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of sea salt

Cooked 1 pound of nice sized shrimp **

* Puree tomatoes – WikiHow has great instructions on how to do the puree.  I left the seeds and juices in. I stopped after Wiki step 8 because I was just needed simple tomato puree.  You can reuse the pot from the tomato puree step for the recipe later.
Before Puree

After Puree

After a few pulses (above)

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Tomato-Puree

** For cooking the shrimp, I keep it pretty simple because I want the sauce to be the flavor of the shrimp.

Remove shells, tails, and devein the shrimp (dark brown or black vein) with a sharp knife.

Rinse what you just prepped in cold water and drain.

Fill pot with enough water to cook shrimp; then boil the water on high heat.

Add shrimp and push under water initially, allow the shrimp to cook 1-2 minutes until you see small bubbles to break the surface of the water.  Stop at that point and remove pot from heat.  Shrimp cook quick and should start to have a nice pink tinge (you will need to peak at a shrimp because the water will be murky).  Cover the pot and let the shrimp cook in the hot water off the heat for about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of shrimp.  They will now fully have that nice pink color you are looking for.  Don’t overcook.  Drain the shrimp and set aside.

Prepped Shrimp

Shrimp ready to go off heat

Cooked after staying in warm pot 7 1/2 minutes.

Above 3 shrimp photos – prepped, in the pot on heat with bubbles surfacing, fully cooked

Directions for Coconut Sauce

1) Combine the onion, tomatoes, coconut milk, cumin, chili powder, ginger, pinch of salt, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl and mix well.  Add more salt after tasting if desired.

Uncooked Sauce

2) Pour mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.    Begin to prepare your Quinoa ***

Cooked Down Sauce

3) Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

4) Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature

5) Process in a blender until smooth – can serve sauce cold or warmed

Blender Pre Blend

Sauce After Blending

After blending thoroughly (immediately above)

*** Preparing Quinoa –  I admit I am spoiled here and use my Zojirushi rice cooker which makes it perfectly with little fuss in less than a half hour.  Rinse one cup of quinoa over a fine mesh strainer and once drained place in rice cooker pot.  Add 2 cups of either water, vege stock, or chicken stock (my preference), add a pinch of sea salt, set on the quick start and wait for it to be done.   As for stove top methods there are tons of options online or follow the instructions on your Quinoa container.   Again for this recipe I keep the quinoa flavor simple because I am counting on the coconut sauce to flavor the shrimp and quinoa.  

Cooked Quinoa

Serve

Layer a plate with quinoa bottom, add shrimp portion, and pour over some sauce.
Shrimp with Coconut Sauce over Quinoa



Barefoot Contessa’s Crab Strudel – Luxury Appetizer or Entree

When I saw this in Ina’s Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I was attracted to the small number of ingredients, 20 minute prep time, and the ability to freeze the dish and bake-off at a later date.  I was secretly also hoping to get a wow factor from the crowd, and I had success.  The good news indeed the ingredients are easy to find in a store.  The bad news is that 20 minutes of prep is not realistic.  I would say if you are prepping this solo, count on 30-40 minutes unless you are proficient with pastry dough.  In addition you need to plan ahead before making the dish.  The dough needs to defrost for 8 hours or overnight in your fridge.  Then it needs to rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.  I suggest you gather all your ingredients, then take out the dough, and start your timer and complete your prep work.  The sheets needs to be soft but not too soft.  Yes you might have time to kill waiting for the dough to get just right, but you can always start cleaning up.  Once you start working with the sheets you need to cover the unused sheets with a damp dish cloth (non fluffy type that won’t stick to dough).    Finally my experiment freezing went well but I thought the dish tasted slightly better when baked immediately after prepping vs the frozen but not enough for your guests to likely care.  Her yield says 6-8.  If it is a main entree I think that sounds about right.  But I served a half a recipe for 6 people as an appetizer and it was a perfect quantity.

In terms of difficulty, I upped this to medium because pastry dough is tricky.  However in reality if you just read the box directions and the directions in the recipe, I think it is hard to mess this recipe up.  I used Wegmans Ready to Use Phyllo Pastry Sheets.   http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=713431&storeId=10052&langId=-1  Our store carried two sizes and I used the larger size but the smaller size would be fine.   My recipe yielded 4 meaty size loaves.  I got the crab at Wegmans too.  The brand was called Graham & Rollins Inc. Crabmeat, Jumbo Lump.  It came in a one pound container and I never saw one shell and the crab tasted great.  Downside is that the container costs close to $30.00.  At Wholefoods it would be significantly more.

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided   (2 tablespoons + 10 tablespoons)

3 scallions, chopped (use whole of scallion cut into small slices)

2 garlic cloves, minced (I hand diced small)

1 teaspoon curry powder (I think you could add a touch more (extra half teaspoon?) and have a more favorable result.  In the website many wrote in they used Old Bay.  I think that would be fine too but give a different flavor for sure)

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm) – I used Wegmans brand and 20 sheets (4 rolls, 5 sheets each)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs – I used a half cup at least and would measure at least that amount out.  (I used Panko style)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder (or old bay) and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper.   She then says add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.  I found it easier to add the scallion mixture to the crabmeat bowl.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.

TIP:COVER YOUR DOUGH WITH WET CLOTH WHILE YOU PAINT WITH BUTTER AND SPRINKLE CRUMBS – CAREFULLY MOVE THE SHEETS TO YOUR WORKSPACE

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  (My sprinkles caused me to end up using 1/2 cup total).   Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

If you are using a previously made batch from the freezer I had success pulling it out of the freezer 1 hour before cooking and resting at room temperature.  I remelted some butter and painted the tops again before baking.  Make sure your score marks are deep enough if you are using previously frozen dough so you get a good chance at the crab evenly warming.  At the same time, you don’t want to score all the way through or the dish will fall apart.   I had to bake closer to 18 minutes on the frozen logs.  The straight to the oven pieces needed 12 minutes max.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/crab-strudel-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

Below are pictures just before going into the oven and as it came out as well as the crab mixture.

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Guy Fieri Pepperoni Pizza Dip – Good Not Great

Have to say I followed this recipe to a tee and was disappointed.  It was not because it was bad, but just because it wasn’t outstanding for the amount of work to make this dish.  I would not make it again.   Pizza is simply better.  If you do proceed, make sure to plan ahead and leave out the cream cheese to soften before doing anything else.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/pepperoni-pizza-dip-recipe2.html

I was pumped up after watching guy make it two weeks ago.  The recipe tasted fine but not worth the large amount of effort is you ask me.  His prep time says 30 minutes  – even with a helper and being perfectly efficient we could not complete the prep of this dish in 40 minutes.  You also have a lot of clean up in this recipe.   So with one person, unless you are super efficient, forget about it.  The sauce using exactly his ingredients was fine.  Even expensive fresh whole food cheeses did not perk this dish up.

Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri
Total Time: 1 hr 50 min: (my notes: hands on time for prepping and cleaning up 1 hour to one hour fifteen minutes +)

Prep: 30 min Cook  (my notes, expect 40+ just to get it ready for the oven,  plus clean up time + time to bake)

Yield:8  – probably tad more

Level:Easy – nothing is too complicated but for a novice I would skip this recipe and I think an expert would not be excited about the outcome.  People still ate the dish at our party, but it was not a “crowd wow”.

Ingredients

Pizza Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (recommended: fire roasted Muir Glen)
1 tablespoon julienned fresh basil leaves, plus sprig for garnish
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bottom Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

Pizza Toppings:
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup thinly sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup quartered and thinly sliced crimini mushrooms
1 cup small-dice buffalo mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Serving suggestions: Toasted pizza dough strips, toasted pita strips, or crackers
Directions (I made King Arthur’s Artisan Bread Sticks, my next entree)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the pizza sauce: Add the olive oil to a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the onion. Saute until translucent. Add the garlic and red chile flakes, cook for 1 minute, and then add the canned tomatoes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has thickened, stir in the fresh and dried spices. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Remove from the heat.

For the bottom layer: In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, garlic and spices. Spread the mixture evenly into an oven-safe casserole (2-quart capacity or a 9-inch pie pan). Set aside.

For the toppings: In a small saute pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and the pepperoni. Saute until the pepperoni is just crisp, 4 to 5 minutes, and then drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the remaining olive oil and the red bell peppers and saute over medium-high heat until just starting to soften. Add the shallot, cook for 2 minutes, and then add the mushrooms. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes and remove from the heat.

To assemble: Spread the pizza sauce over the top of the bottom layer of cheese, sprinkle with the pepper and mushroom mixture, and then the pepperoni. Evenly distribute the mozzarella over the top and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Garnish with the basil sprig and serve hot with pizza dough strips, toasted pita strips, or crackers.