Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Bars

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Wow! These turned out great. I took portions of two different recipes to come up with this one. They are buttery, rich, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Denny's favorite!

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour

Blueberry Filling:
6 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cups sugar
3-4 T cornstarch (use 4T if using frozen berries)

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Sliced almonds (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl using a mixer, combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour and mix just until blended (do not overmix). Press dough with fingers into a 13x9x2 pan which has been lined with foil. (Make sure the foil hangs over the edges of the pan by 2". You will grab the foil to remove the pastry from the pan when cooled). Bake crust 20 min. until golden brown. Cool slightly.

In a 3-quart saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar and cornstarch. Heat to boiling over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Boil 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.

In a medium bowl using a pastry blender or two knives, mix the flour, butter and sugar, until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Spread the blueberry mixture over the crust. Sprinkle streusel over the blueberries. Sprinkle almonds on top, if desired. Bake 45-50 min. until the blueberry mixture bubbles, and the top is golden brown. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. After an hour or more, lift the pastry out of the pan by lifting the foil. Cut into 36 serving size portions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Caramelized Nuts

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These caramelized pecans are so addicting -- we can't stop eating them. They are delicious sprinkled in a salad or as a standalone snack, an easy recipe that takes just a few minutes to cook. It makes a unique hostess gift when wrapped in a cellophane bag with a festive bow.

Ingredients:
3 T unsalted butter
3 T sugar
1-1/2 cups walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

In a frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter, add 3 T sugar, stir until bubbling. Add the nuts and cook until the nuts are golden brown, stirring often. Transfer nuts to a foil-lined baking sheet, and let cool for 15 min. In a separate bowl, mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add the nuts and mix until coated. Remove nuts from excess cinnamon sugar, and store in an air tight container.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Korean Tofu Soup

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My son, Stephen, got us hooked on eating Korean food, especially the soft tofu soup. I love the little dishes of pickled veggies and condiments that accompany the entrees at Korean restaurants. I combined a couple of Korean tofu soup recipes to come up with this version. On cold winter days, this soup is just the thing to warm you up. It is especially good over rice. You can adjust the hotness of the chili flavoring to your taste. Pictured here is Uncle Stephen babysitting his nephew Seanie (6 mos.).

Ingredients:
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 brown mushrooms, chopped
8 oz. ground turkey
1/2 onion, medium-size, diced
1/2 cup kim chee (optional)
1 T miso paste
1 tsp Kochujang paste
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 carton soft tofu, cut in squares
Dash or two of chili oil (optional)

Mix these seasonings together: the miso, kochujang, sesame oil and garlic. In a frying pan, heat a little canola oil, add the seasonings and saute for a few minutes over medium high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, saute for a few more minutes; then add the meat and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the broth, kim chee (optional) and tofu. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over cooked rice in a soup bowl. You can add a fresh raw egg to this soup if you wish.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dana's Lasagna

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YUM! You have to try Dana's lasagna. It is absolutely delicious. We had bowlsful while watching a Chargers game one Sunday afternoon. It was the perfect ratio of sauce, cheeses and pasta, and was equally delicious as leftovers the next day. This was originally a Betty Crocker recipe that was tweaked slightly. It is well worth the effort.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
6 oz lean ground pork
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 can (1-lb) crushed tomatoes
1 can, (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 T parsley flakes
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil leaves, dried
3 cups ricotta cheese (low-fat)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 T parsley flakes
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano leaves
1 pkg, (8-oz) lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
3/4 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Saute and stir ground beef, pork, onion and garlic in a large saucepan or Dutch oven until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off all fat. Add tomatoes and break up with a fork. Stir in tomato sauce, 2 T parsley flakes, sugar, 1 tsp salt and basil. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered one hour or until mixture is the consistency of spaghetti sauce. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 T parsley flakes, 1-1/2 tsp salt and oregano. Reserve 1/2 cup meat sauce for the thin top layer. In an ungreased baking pan, 13x9x2", layer 1/4 each of the noodles, remaining meat sauce, the mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese mixture; Repeat 3 times. Spread reserved meat sauce over the top; sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. If desired, lasagna can be covered and refrigerated several hours at this point. Bake uncovered 45 minutes -1 hour. Allow an additional 10-15 min if refrigerated. For easier cutting, let stand 15 min. after removing from oven (highly recommended). Makes 12, 3-inch square servings.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Asiago Crisps with Pine Nuts

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These little gems are delicious, so easy to make and are a unique appetizer. They resemble thin, delicate crackers, but are just three ingredients: asiago cheese, pine nuts and fresh sage. I found the asiago cheese already shredded at Safeway (Von's). You are supposed to gently curl the crisps around a rolling pin while hot, but I left them flat as they were too hot to handle, and you would need to curl them quickly right from the oven. This recipe came from the Food Network Magazine.

Ingredients:
2 pkgs (6 oz) shredded asiago cheese
1 pkg fresh sage (whole leaves)
1/2 cup of pine nuts

Finely mince the fresh sage; set aside. Place a Silpat on a cookie sheet. Place a heaping tablespoon of asiago cheese in a small mound as you would if you were making cookies, approximately 1-2" apart. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of pine nuts on top. Top with minced sage. Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 min until golden brown around the edges. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Pictured below is adorable little baby Sean at 6 months of age.