July 29, 2011

Dinner Club - Theme Cookout

Dinner Club was at it again.  This time our theme was cookout/barbecue.  Funny since it was so hot out we actually didn't even go outside; but I digress.

The shrimp and jalapeno poppers you see above were Shannon's!  YUM! 

Lisa W. made this yummy chicken.  Here's how she did it:

She browned the chicken in some oil, added some onion and garlic and seasoned the chicken with seasoning salt.  Top with a jar of spaghetti sauce and serve over pasta.

Thanks Lisa, it was delish!

Teresa made a yummy salad with peaches, goat cheese and bacon.  Yummy as usual Teresa!

This masterpiece was made by Melissa.  I say masterpiece because it's actually a recipe that a friend of mine made up and it was so good that people named it after her.  So now it's known as Kristi's dip.  I'll be posting the recipe on this one separately from this post.  It will be a permanent fixture in your recipe book.

We had a wonderful time at Shannon's house and can't wait to do it again!

Oh, I made the lemon bars that I posted on earlier. :)

July 28, 2011

Lemon Bars

Recently we had another dinner club night in my neighborhood (more on that later) and the theme was BBQ or cookout.  So I made lemon bars of course.  As a kid growing up on Montana I can't remember ever going to a cookout where there weren't lemon bars.  I turned to my trusted advisor for the recipe. Ina Garten has never let me down.
These bars are a beautiful yellow color from the 6 eggs! The lemon is beautifully balanced with the sweet confectioners sugar topping and cookie crust.  You will love these.

You begin by making the crust and spreading it out into a 9x13 inch pan. 

You want to build up the crust on the sides a little.

Bake the crust and then let cool.  While it's cooling you can begin making the filling.

Eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice, some flour and you've got yourself the filling.

Pour the filling into the cooked crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar right before serving.

Recipe by Ina Garten can be found here

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in your stand mixing bowl using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Keeping the mixer on low add the flour and salt together and then slowly incorporate it into the butter mixture until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and work into a ball.  Put the dough into a 9x13 inch dish and flatten out with your hands.  Build up the sides to about 1/2 inch higher than the base. Chill. Bake at 350 for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cook on a wire rack.  Leave the oven on while you make the filling.

In a medium to large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour together until smooth. Pour over the baked crust and put into the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The filling should be set (meaning not giggly).

Cut and dust with confectioners sugar.  Refrigerate leftovers.

July 26, 2011


Pavlova.  Wondering what the heck that is?  OK, here's a quick rundown.  There is an ongoing debate about whether this dessert was created in New Zealand or Australia and it was named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It's a sweet (very sweet) meringue cake that is marshmallow in texture on the inside, and crisp and dry on the outside. It is usually served with whipped cream and fresh fruit on top. 

This is one of those desserts that I have always wanted to make, but not sure I'll ever make it again.  The reason is because it's extremely sweet and does take a while to sit in the oven after the initial cook time.  It is however one of those show stopper desserts and I can see how I might make it again for a very special event if it were requested.  I'm glad I tried it though, I can check that off my list now.

There is an excellent video for making this found here.

Get your egg whites to room temperature.  Leave on the counter for about 30 minutes or so for this.

You'll need superfine sugar.  Since that's difficult to find sometimes you can make your own by putting regular sugar in a food processor and blending for a minute or so.  Keep checking it.

Mix the egg whites until soft peak forms.  That means that if you tip this whisk upside down it won't hold a peak.

Now begin adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time until it's all used up.  You should now have a glossy stiff peak meringue. To test to make sure the sugar has dissolved, put some on your finger and rub two fingers together to see if it's grainy or not.  If it's grainy, just mix it some more.

Now add the vanilla extract.

Sift in the cornstarch

Add the vinegar also and incorporate well by hand with a rubber spatula.

Draw a 7 inch circle on some parchment paper, then flip it over and put the meringue filling in the template.

You want to bake this slowly so the outside gets dry and crispy but the inside stays marshmallow-y. Put into a preheated 250 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until the outside is a very pale beige color and is dry to the touch.  Some cracking is normal.  Once done, turn off the oven and let it sit in there with the door propped open until completely cool.

At this point you can store it in an airtight container for several days if needed.

Since the Pavlova is so sweet, it's best to top it with unsweetened whipped cream and fruit.  I used strawberries as you can see but next time I'd probably use a berry that wasn't quite as sweet. 

Here is what you'll need:
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 Cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp. white vinegar

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.  Make a 7 inch circle on some parchment paper and then flip over and put on a cookie sheet.
Put the room temperature egg whites in a completely clean and dry mixing bowl and whip with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
One Tablespoon at a time, add the sugar.  You can make your own superfine sugar by putting regular sugar in a food processor for a minute or so. Add the sugar slowly until it's all incorporated.  You should have glossy stiff peaks now. Test with your finger to make sure the mixture isn't grainy. Keep mixing until the sugar has been absorbed and it is not grainy. Now add the vanilla and incorporate.  Next sift in a 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and vinegar and hand mix with a rubber spatula. 
Spoon the mixture onto the parchment paper circle and use the template to form the circle.  Level off the top as much as possible.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the outside is dry (possibly cracked) and is a pale beige in color.  Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door and let sit until completely cool.
Top with unsweetened whipped cream and fruit of your choice.

July 21, 2011

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

This isn't really a recipe, as much as it's a dinner suggestion.  It's quick and easy and has ton's of flavor.  Use whatever kind of sausage you like and there are a lot of low fat variations on the market now too.  This is one of my hubby's favorite meals.

What you'll need:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Pkg sausage of your choice.  I used Sweet Sausage above. 
1 Bell Pepper - cut into pieces that are on the larger size.
1 Onion - cut into pieces about the same size as the bell pepper.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Par boil the sausage in a pan where the water comes about half way up the sausage for about 10 minutes on each side.  The sausage will start to look sort of gray in color.
Cut the par boiled sausage into bite sized pieces.  Now put some Olive Oil in a large skillet or dutch oven and add all the sausage and veggies at once.  Cook over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the sausage is nicely browned and the veggies are slightly tender.  You still want the veggies to have bite to them.
Salt and pepper to taste.  My husband and I eat this alone but it would be yummy served with some mashed potatoes.  Just sayin.

July 18, 2011

Quick Turkey Tetrazzini

My friend Amanda invited me over for dinner one night so I documented her Turkey Tetrazzini recipe to share with you.  Thank you Amanda!

Amanda doubled this recipe and made some slight modifications based on her own tastes.  Start with the sour cream.

Add Parmesan cheese.

Chopped onion

Cream of mushroom soup

Chopped turkey (or chicken)

Zucchini - chopped

Noodles of some kind - cooked

Stir together until well coated in the soup mixture and then bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

What you'll need for one recipe:

1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup onion - diced
1/3 Cup sour cream
1 small zucchini - chopped
1 1/2 Cup turkey - cooked and chopped
1 1/2 Cup noodles

Combine all of the ingredients in an oven safe dish and mix well.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

Original recipe found here

July 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

For this past 4th of July long weekend I had three parties to go to in three days.  I knew that I wanted to make brownies but I also wanted them to be more than just the average brownie. I found this recipe on one of my favorite foodie websites and modified it slightly to incorporate the peanut butter cups I wanted to use.  They were such a hit that I ended up making them the next day for another party with another slight variation.  These are wonderful. So chewy and fudgy and when you get one of those little peanut butter cups you are just in heaven.  I plan to make these again many times.

Whisk the cocoa powder and water in a small bowl until well mixed.  You can add espresso powder here too if you're using it.

I used semi-sweet chocolate here because that's what I had.  Just cut it up so that it will melt quickly when you add in the hot water/cocoa powder mixture. Whisk together until smooth.

Melt some butter in a bowl and then stir in the oil. 

Add the butter/oil mixture into the chocolate mixture. It will look a little funny at first but should mix together nicely.

Next add the sugar and mix well.

Then add the flour and mix until incorporated.

Next I added an entire bag of those new Reese's Mini's.  I found them in the candy isle. Pop a few in your mouth first, just to make sure they're edible.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 

To tell when they are done, insert a toothpick halfway between the center and an edge.  You want it to come out mostly clean but with some small pieces clinging to the toothpick. This will ensure their fudgyness.  Yes, I make up words.

Let cool for about 30 minutes or so and then pull the tin foil edges up and remove the brownies from the pan.  Place on a cooling wrack and let cool completely before cutting.

Cut and serve with a big glass of milk! So good!

The original recipe was found here. Thank you Brown Eyed Baker!

Below is the recipe with my tweaks:

1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa - I also tried this with regular cocoa powder and liked both varieties.
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini's
Put your oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving about a one-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk cocoa and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the shaved semisweet chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. After you add the butter/oil it might look sort of funny, but keep whisking and it ends up looking smooth. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and incorporate all the ingredients until smooth. Whisk in sugar and then add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. I added Reese's mini peanut butter cups.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

Use the foil overhang to lift the brownies from the pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into and serve.