Cooking

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE BAKING

By Judy Brotton

 

_DSC2734Last month’s HEALTH story was about eating gluten-free and the reasons behind it. Turns out, two people I know follow this regimen for various reasons. I presented this chocolate cake to my neighbor, Sharon, who was thrilled with the results. She shared a recipe that she uses, from Food Network’s Nigella Lawson, which includes the addition of orange zest and Cointreau. Paula Deen tops hers with a white chocolate glaze that uses white chocolate liqueur. I can’t wait for my next outing into the flourless world!

 

When baking anything that is flourless, be prepared for “the fall.” Your cake or cupcakes will appear rounded and firm when you remove them from the oven, and right in front of your eyes the center will cave in and even crack open. This is simply an opportunity to fill the completely cooled craters with ganache, cream filling or whipped cream topping. As if I needed a reason to add more chocolate or cream!

 

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter cut into pieces, @ room temperature
  • 6 large eggs @ room temperature
  • 12 T. sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder

 

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir chocolate and butter until melted, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and stir occasionally until lukewarm.

Separate egg yolks and whites into separate bowls. Add half the sugar to yolks and beat on medium to high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.

Fold chocolate mixture into egg yolks with a spatula, then fold in the vanilla and espresso.

In separate bowl with clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Little by little, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Spoon batter evenly into cupcake cups. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan, and bake 12 more minutes. Remove from oven and completely cool before icing.

 

FILLING

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. container gluten-free mascarpone cheese
  • 1 T. liqueur
  • 1 T. strong brewed coffee, cold
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 oz. cream cheese

 

In medium bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth and well blended. Spoon into plastic squeeze bottle and squeeze about 1 T. filling into the center of each cupcake. Top with chocolate ganache glaze or whipped cream and store in refrigerator.

 

_DSC2715FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chocolate, hazelnut of coffee liqueur
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 7 eggs @ room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350° F. Before buttering a 9” springform pan, remove the bottom and trace a circle onto parchment paper, and cut out. Generously butter the pan, line with parchment circle (pencil side down) and butter this also.

Melt chocolate and butter in heavy pan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from stove and stir in liqueur and vanilla, then set aside to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar on high until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes, these will never form peaks like the egg whites). Gradually add eggs to chocolate mixture, folding with spatula. Spoon into buttered pan and bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool in pan for 1 hour, then gently loosen springform and remove (run a knife around edge first). When completely cool, sprinkle cake with confectioner’s sugar or top with chocolate ganache glaze and store in refrigerator.

 

CHOCOLATE GANACHE GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 4 tsp. butter

In heavy saucepan, heat cream and butter over low/medium heat until mixture nears boiling, stirring constantly. Pour cream over chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Cool about 5 minutes, but don’t allow mixture to get too hard or it won’t pour properly. Pour over cake or spoon over cupcakes and allow to dribble down sides.

 

WHIPPED CREAM WITH ATTITUDE

Ingredients:

  • 1 container whipping cream
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. liqueur of choice

Beat whipping cream until medium peaks form. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat until firm, adding liqueur at the very end. Dollop over cake or cupcakes.

 

Finish top of cake or cupcakes with a simple dusting of powdered sugar (sift over a paper doily to achieve a pretty pattern, but remember to remove the doily before serving) or drizzle with cooled chocolate ganache glaze. Decorate tops with chopped, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate covered coffee beans, dark chocolate pomegranate drops or fresh raspberries. And of course whipped cream with attitude!

Not-so-traditional Beef Stew and Irish Soda Bread

By Judy Brotton

 

While recuperating from my recent bout with flu, I became immersed in watching the cooking channels, as well as online chefs, and was inspired to cook! So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I have prepared a beef stew that draws from these sources to tweak my favorite stew recipe. Alongside, I have made a traditional Irish Soda Bread, which contains nothing but flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. (Adding caraway seeds, currants or raisins turns the bread into “Barmbrack” or “Spotted Dog.”) This dense, rustic bread is easy to make, since there is no rising time, and was traditionally baked every few days and eaten daily. Irish women baked it early in the day and wrapped it in a damp tea towel to keep it moist. Let the bread cool for a bit before breaking it into quarters (the reason for the cross cut into the top), then slather it with fresh butter and enjoy!

 

 

_DSC1926-1BEEF STEW

  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
  • 2 T. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 ½-2 lb. lean stew meat, cubed
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium onions cut into eighths
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, quartered, tops on
  • 1 16-oz. bag baby carrots
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and halved
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 6 sprigs parsley, tied in a bundle

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine onion soup mix, flour and seasonings in large zipper bag. Add stew meat and shake until all coated. Place meat in a covered baking dish and arrange all vegetables over meat.

In a separate bowl, stir together cream of celery soup (this was a blogger’s idea, but I tried it, and it’s very tasty, but I still add the beef broth) ketchup and beef broth; whisk until smooth. Pour over the meat and vegetables, place parsley on top, cover and bake for 2-3 hours, or until beef is tender.

To serve, remove parsley bundle and ladle stew into bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve with Irish Soda Bread. (I’ve served this over mashed potatoes, but a baked potato is also great.)

 

 

_DSC1899-1IRISH SODA BREAD

  • 3 ½ cups white flour (not self-rising)
  • (For Brown Bread, substitute whole-wheat flour for 1-2 cups white flour)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
  • Butter

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly grease and flour a round cake pan. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center, and start pouring in the buttermilk so that a sticky dough forms – more or less may be needed, depending on the humidity and absorbency of your flour. Mix together and knead for about one minute in bowl. (The lactic acid in the buttermilk reacts with the soda, causing tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. Too much kneading will allow the gas to escape and your bread won’t rise properly.) Turn out onto floured surface and shape into a flattened ball. Place in pan and cut a cross into the top of the dough with a large, floured knife, going almost all the way across.

Cover with another pan, leaving room to rise. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake for 15 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, and allow to cool. When done, the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Wrap in a damp dishtowel to keep bread moist, then break it open along the cross cuts and serve with butter.

Cooking Up a Cure for Hunger

By Lindsay Whelchel

Riverwind Casino ManagersIn a realm of culinary delicacy known by chefs in the metro, the idea of hunger might seem pretty far away.

The food at trendy and delicious restaurants like Café 7 and The Museum Café, among many others, is plentiful. But the chefs in the kitchen understand that for far too many fellow Oklahomans, a meal is not a guarantee. Now, they’ve quite literally cooked up a plan to help.

For the 26th year, the Chefs’ Feast – a food and wine tasting event to be held March 28 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum – will raise money to support the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

“It’s a great event. The thing I like best about this event is that every chef really wants to participate. They put on a good show for the food bank, so it’s an important event for everyone in the community,” says Christine Dowd, chef and co-owner of Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. Dowd, who is co-coordinating the event for the third year alongside Chef Don Thiery of Market Source, works to help the event by mobilizing participation in the culinary community. She explains that the response from chefs who want to be involved is strong.

“It means a lot when you know that there are hungry kids, so anything you can do to help is always the best, and everyone does a great job with that,” Dowd says.

7202932780_dbff1d399c_oWhen you look at the numbers, many are sobering. One in six Oklahomans deals with hunger. One in four children struggles with not knowing where their next meal will come from. These statistics, according to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, make Oklahoma the fifth hungriest state in the nation. But the food bank, a nonprofit organization that began 33 years ago, is fighting back with a few numbers of its own.

In the year 2012 alone, the organization distributed 42.2 million pounds of products to fight hunger in the state. More specifically, the organization hosts the Food for Kids Program, which acts as an umbrella for several initiatives targeted at providing meals for children.

Last year 13,500 students were fed through the Backpack Program, in place at 475 schools in 53 counties around the state. This program allows backpacks full of food to go home with elementary-age children, to ensure they will have food over the weekend. The School Pantry Program provides meals for older students, with a food pantry located at the school. Expanding from these are an afterschool snack and tutoring opportunity, as well as a host of family and senior citizen efforts.

7202924356_cff4e12d9d_o“Our administrative and fundraising costs are less than 4 percent, so 96 cents from every dollar you donate goes back to our programs,” says Angie Gaines, director of marketing for the food bank.

Rodney Bivens, founder and executive director for the food bank, grew up in a food-insecure household. Gaines explains, “This really sets the tone for our entire organization. We’re always looking to do something better in terms of feeding more people, saving more money, doing something more efficient so we can help more people,” she says.

Hunger differs from many issues in that it has a cure.

“With hunger, there is a solution … it’s just the resources we’re lacking,” Gaines says.

Events like the Chefs’ Feast help to provide those resources.

7202920578_608fdf2218_o“All of the proceeds from this event go to the Food for Kids programs. Last year we made over $115,000 after all the taxes and expenses were paid out, and our goal is always to make over $100,000,” Gaines says.

The benefits extend beyond recipients at the food bank to the chefs themselves, Gaines explains.

“From the chefs’ side, it’s really nice because some of the chefs say it’s their favorite event. Not only are they giving back to the community with something at which they are talented, I think the fact that we try to choose themes that let them be very creative.”

Dowd would likely agree to the benefits.

7202913450_250326fe9d_o“It’s great for the chefs to be at the event because there’s a lot of communication with their direct customers, so they can actually recognize a face, have a conversation and talk about what’s coming up at their respective restaurants,” she says of the opportunity and adds that, “most chefs, are behind the scenes a lot. They’re not necessarily in front of the customer, so it gives them the opportunity to shake hands and participate on a whole different level.”

Dowd is quick to credit the friendly competition aspect of the event with adding to the fun.

“Oh, it’s very competitive. The chefs really want to try to outdo each other, so they put on their best show,” she says.

Each year, a Foodie Favorite is voted on and awarded a traveling trophy or plaque, along with good-natured bragging rights for the rest of the year.

Added to the already entertaining time are music, opportunity drawings and the theme to the evening. Last year featured an international theme, while this year it’s “television.”

For Dowd, that might mean TV dinner … “with a twist.”

“If you think about a TV dinner, you have to be able to take that idea of a Salisbury steak with macaroni and an apple thingy and update it, make it fashion-forward and trendy. So I think it’s really fun to be able to play with a theme.”

7199070656_a0f2cf89e4_oChefs may go retro-style TV and do Hawaiian for “Hawaii Five-o,” or bring the “Brady Bunch.” The possibilities are endless. Every table at the event will have a different TV show, says Gaines. She adds that the night has also become a reunion of sorts for the culinary community. One chef even met his future wife at the event, and the couple had a baby by the time the following year’s Chefs’ Feast rolled around.

But the bigger purpose for the night is ever-present.

“People are very open and there’s a lot of sharing going on, which doesn’t necessarily always happen, but that event really does create a sense of community because everybody understands a child who is hungry,” Dowd says.

There are approximately 750 guests, 100 volunteers, and 25 chefs and restaurants participating each year.

7202920578_608fdf2218_oTwo weeks before the event, tickets usually sell out; but even if you can’t attend, Gaines emphasizes there are many ways to help fight hunger.

“Everyone can help, whether it’s donating, coming out and volunteering, or holding a food drive. The food bank is here for the community; without it we wouldn’t exist, and we wouldn’t be able to help people,” she adds.

The food bank has a volunteer center where last year 44,160 volunteers gave their time and saved the organization $2.4 million in labor costs, Gaines says. Since $1 can provide five meals to those in need, it seems the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has found a recipe for success in battling hunger.

In this case, a pinch of help and a dash of hope are the perfect ingredients.

Tickets to Chefs’ Feast are $120 in advance, with patron tables offered at $1,400. For a list of participating restaurants and more information visit www.regionalfoodbank.org

CHOCOLATE & COFFEE TREATS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

By Judy Brotton

 

One of the best things about Valentine’s Day is CHOCOLATE! Research tells us that there are actually many benefits to eating DARK chocolate, including the abundance of flavonoid compounds that can lower the risk of heart disease; it can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels; it contains a number of antioxidants to protect the body from aging; stimulants like theobromine and caffeine work to produce endorphins that can reduce stress levels; it lowers blood sugar; and since it is made from plants, it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. The Aztecs believed chocolate was a source of wisdom, energy and sexual power … so on the off chance that any of this research is true, lets dive into dark chocolate.

 

_DSC1340Add this all to the reported benefits of coffee consumption – including lowering the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, as well as being effective in weight management – and you have the perfect recipe for Valentine’s Day.

 

 

COFFEE CAKE

  • 1 pkg. ladyfingers
  • 2 containers Braum’s Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
    • or Braum’s Premium Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • Small carton Whipping Cream
  • ¼ cup Clear Crème de Cacao
  • Heath Bar baking bits
  • Chocolate syrup

 

Line a springform pan with ladyfingers. Scoop in the softened frozen yogurt or ice cream and return to the freezer. Before serving, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in the crème de cacao and beat until stiff peaks form; pipe inside the ladyfinger border. Sprinkle the Heath Bar bits in the center. Slice and serve with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

 

 

_DSC1254ESPRESSO BROWNIES

  • 1 box Pillsbury brownie mix
  • Vegetable oil, water and eggs per package instructions
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Topping
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/8 tsp. instant espresso coffee
  • 1-2 T milk or cream

 

Bake brownies as directed; remove from oven and place on wire rack. Melt chocolate chips and butter in a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat, and with a wire whisk, stir in the coffee and enough milk until desired consistency. Add the walnuts and drizzle over warm brownies. Cool and cut into bars.

 

 

STRAWBERRIES & DIP

  • Large strawberries, tops left intact or long-stemmed
  • Sour cream
  • Brown sugar

 

Wash strawberries and place on platter with small bowls of sour cream and brown sugar. To serve, dip a strawberry in sour cream, then brown sugar, and feed to your loved one.

 

Or, if you prefer, melt a 3.5-oz. dark chocolate bar in a bowl placed over boiling water. Starting with 2 T cream, stir until chocolate is just melted and smooth; add more cream as needed. Allow to cool slightly, pour into small bowl and serve with strawberries.

 

 

_DSC1295VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE

  • 1 cup strong coffee brewed using your preferred method
  • 2 T sweetened condensed milk
  • Ice cubes

 

Place milk in glass. Drip coffee into the glass over the back of a spoon so the coffee and milk remain separated. Pour over a tall glass of ice and stir just before serving.

 

My favorite Vietnamese restaurant serves this tableside – during your meal, you smell the incredible aroma as coffee drips from the single-cup metal coffee filter into the milk. This is then poured over a glass of ice and vigorously stirred with a long spoon until the coffee is refreshingly chilled. This is the best part of any meal.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pies, Glorious Pies!

Throughout history, many cultures have had their form of pie – handheld savory pies during the Medieval ages were called “coffins,” calzones from Italy, the Cornish pasty, cottage or shepherd’s pie from Great Britain, empanadas from Latin America, Canadian tourtières, our own pot pies, and doubtless many more. These savory pies may contain anything from fish and lamb to chicken, beef and pork, even vegetarian versions.

 

I decided to try my hand at pie making, but with the help of refrigerated pie crusts, crescents, puff pastry and pizza dough. Flaky ham and cheese breakfast pockets using puff pastry, while mini chicken pot pies and turnovers were formed from refrigerated pie crusts. Shepherd’s pie, which makes a delicious all-in-one dinner, is topped with mashed potatoes rather than pie crust.

 

Sweet pies come in so many delightful varieties – cream pies and meringues, fruit and chocolate. Armed with some new kitchen gadgets and a pile of clipped recipes (a strange hobby for someone who rarely cooks!) A double-crust berry pie uses ingredients found in a jar at Williams Sonoma (cheating, yes, but seemed to go hand-in-hand with refrigerated pie crusts). Since these jars are a bit pricey, utilize any leftover berries to make tarts or mini tarts.

 

I tried my hand at a rustic cherry pie, with edges folded in over the filling, leaving the cherries and sliced almonds visible. I was a bit greedy and my over-filled rustic pie began to lose its shape, so I simply pulled it into a pie pan to finish baking. What I lost in “rusticity” I surely gained in fabulous cherry flavor.

 

Making pie is not as easy as … pie! Even refrigerated pastry does not guarantee a successful finished product. But as with anything, practice makes perfect, so I look forward to many more delicious baking sessions. Who knows – I may even graduate to making pie crust from scratch!

 

 

SAVORY

 

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • ½ cup A-1 Steak Sauce
  • ¼ cup beef broth
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes

 

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent; add garlic and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms cook down. Add the frozen vegetables and heat through. In separate pan, sauté ground beef until no longer pink; stir in A-1 sauce and broth and stir. Add beef to vegetable mixture and cook for a few minutes to allow flavors to marry. Add pepper to taste and salt if needed.

 

Spoon into deep-dish pie pan or casserole and spread mashed potatoes over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes start to brown. Sprinkle shredded cheese or green onions on top, and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Chicken Pot Pie (minis, turnovers or whole pie)

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 ½ cups chopped white meat from rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can Progresso Recipe Starters creamy roasted garlic cooking sauce
  • Salt & pepper
  • Refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 egg white, beaten

 

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent; add garlic and mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms cook down. Add the frozen vegetables, chicken and enough Progresso sauce to moisten (I used about ¾ can). Add pepper to taste and salt if needed.

 

Arrange bottom crust in pie pan and spoon in the meat mixture. Place second crust over pie, and cut several slits to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg white and bake in 425-degree oven for 15-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

 

For mini pies, prepare as above, but use small pans for each pie and reduce baking time as needed.

 

Turnovers: Pie crust can be used to cut round shapes, or refrigerated crescent sheets for turnovers. Spoon a small amount of meat mixture onto dough; brush edges with egg wash and seal, then crimp all around with a fork. Pierce the tarts or turnovers with the fork to allow steam to escape. Bake as above, but reduce baking time just until pies are golden brown. (Phyllo dough can also be used.)

 

Ham & Cheese Breakfast Pockets

  • 8 eggs
  • Milk
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1 T. butter
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • Bacon, Canadian bacon or ham, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • Puff Pastry, thawed per package directions
  • Egg white

 

Sautée onion in butter; add mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms are cooked down. Add the meat and scallions; scramble the eggs with milk, add salt and pepper, and pour into pan. Stir until cooked, then stir the cheese into the mixture.

 

Prepare the dough as directed, cutting each slab into 6 equal rectangles. Roll out and make sure the edges are squared. Spoon some of the egg mixture onto three of the rectangles, and brush the edges with the egg wash. Top with another dough rectangle and crimp edges all around with a fork. Pierce top with the fork to allow steam to escape. Bake 15-20 minutes in 375-degree oven. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Can be wrapped and frozen, reheated in oven or microwave.

 

Spinach & Feta Pie

  • Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed per package directions
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 16-oz. container Ricotta
  • 1 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. package feta, crumbled
  • 4 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

 

Prepare the Puff Pastry as package directs. Place in a pie pan with dough edges hanging over the edge of the pan.

 

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, garlic, feta and black pepper. Taste before salting since the cheeses are already salty. Add the spinach, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and Mozzarella; gently combine.

 

Spoon mixture into pan, then fold the pastry over the top, leaving the center open. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden and set. After 20 minutes, you may need to loosely cover with foil if pastry is getting too brown. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.

 

If you’re looking for a great appetizer, bake Phyllo shells until lightly browned. Spoon spinach mixture into center of each shell and continue to bake until nicely browned and spinach is warm. You can also use refrigerated crescents or puff pastry to make turnovers or small tarts. Cover with foil if pastry gets too brown. Serve warm.

 

 

SWEET

 

Berry Pie

  • 1 package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 ½ jars Berry Patch Pie Filling from Williams Sonoma (a luscious blend of Michigan blueberries, Washington boysenberries, and Oregon strawberries and marionberries)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Sparkling Sugar

 

Arrange bottom crust in pan and spoon in the berries – I used 1 ½ jars for the pie, then used the rest to make tarts using refrigerated crescent sheets. Place the second crust on top of the pie, cutting slits on top to allow steam to escape. Brush top with egg wash and add decorations cut from another sheet of dough. Brush these with egg wash also; sprinkle top of pie with Sparkling Sugar and bake 35-40 minutes in 350-degree oven. Remove from oven and let cool before serving with ice cream.

 

Use any leftover berry pie filling to make tarts or turnovers using either refrigerated pie crust or crescent sheets.

 

Rustic Cherry Pie

  • 1 can tart cherry pie filling
  • ½ bag frozen tart cherries (not thawed)
  • refrigerated pie crust
  • 2 T. Amaretto liqueur
  • Slivered almonds
  • Sparkling Sugar

 

Cover sheet pan with parchment paper, and arrange pie crust in center of pan. Mix together the cherry pie filling and frozen cherries, and add the Amaretto (or almond flavoring). Spoon the fruit into the center, leaving about 2 inches of dough all around. Fold dough over fruit, making pleats as you go all around, leaving about a 3-inch opening. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sparkling sugar; sprinkle slivered almonds over the cherry center. Bake 35-40 minutes in 350-degree oven. If your crust cracks and the filling starts to ooze out as mine did, carefully remove from the oven and transfer with the parchment paper into a pie pan; finish baking. Remove from the oven and leave as is, cutting away the parchment paper, or remove from the pie pan for a rustic look. Let cool before serving with ice cream.

Holiday Five Spice Seared Sea Scallops with Cranberry Relish, Sweet Potato Edamame Mash and Steamed Broccolini

Chef Phil Levinson
Executive Chef, Nebu

 

 

These succulent scallops speak elegance. Savory, sweet and salty, they are perfectly balanced in flavor, resulting in a delicious, healthy meal sure to satisfy the most sophisticated of palates.

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep Time: 90 Minutes
  • Cooking Time: 60 Minutes

 

ScallopsDirections for Scallops:

  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil for marinade
  • 1 Tbsp. Japanese rice wine (not vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 18 large sea scallops

 

1. In a medium bowl, combine ginger, garlic, five spice, sesame oil, rice wine and soy sauce for marinade. Add scallops and marinate, chilled, for 1 hour.

2. In cast iron pans over medium heat, add olive oil and brown the scallops on one side until halfway cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Do not move the scallops around, rather leave them in one spot in order to develop the best “sear.” Flip over and cook about 1 minute more until just cooked, or 130 degrees.

Serving Size: 3 each

 

Directions for Cranberry Relish:

  • ½ cup Asian sweet chili sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice

 

1.   In a heavy bottomed saucepot, over medium heat, cook the sweet chili sauce and rice vinegar for approximately 8-10 minutes, slowly reducing the amount of liquid until reaching a thick syrup consistency.

2.  Next, simmer minced red onion and ginger with the orange juice in a small sauté pan until all the liquid is dissolved. Add this mixture to the chili sauce vinegar reduction and mix together gently with a wooden spoon or spatula.

3.  Add cranberries and simmer 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Serving Size: 4oz

 

Directions for Broccolini:

2 Bunches Broccolini

  • Trim ends of Broccolini with paring knife and arrange pieces over steamer basket.
  • Steam about 3-4 minutes, until stems are tender when pierced with a knife but still have plenty of texture. Serve immediately.
Serving Size: 3oz

 

Pumpkin MousseDirections for Sweet Potato Edamame Mash:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup soybeans (edamame), shelled
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Miso paste, mellow white
  • 1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

 

1.  Roast whole sweet potatoes in 350-degree oven for 50 minutes, or until soft, turning once. Allow to rest.

2.  Heat canola oil in a sauté pan and combine ginger, garlic and scallions. Sauté over medium heat until they develop an aroma.

3.  Add edamame and water, cook 3 more minutes until edamame is heated through.

4.  Halve the yams and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash in miso and peanut butter.

5.  Fold in edamame mixture, transfer the mash to a serving bowl and keep hot for plating.

Serving Size: 6 oz

 

Directions for Plating:

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 10-12 chives
  • ½ cup soybeans (edamame), shelled

 

1. Place three dollops of Sweet Potato Edamame Mash on a long, rectangular plate, about 2 tablespoons each, 2 Inches apart.

2. Place two tablespoons Cranberry Relish next to the first and last dollop of Sweet Potato Mash. Use the back of a spoon and swipe the sauce in opposing directions, creating a swoosh pattern.

2. Place one piece of Steamed Broccolini on top of the Sweet Potato Edamame Mash, all facing the same direction, on an angle.

3. Place one scallop on top of each Broccolini, and lightly sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon chopped peanuts. Decorate plate by sprinkling with chives, more chopped peanuts or edamame, or use edible flowers and micro greens.

Serve and enjoy!

 

DESSERT:

Silken Pumpkin Mousse with Nutella Cream

Now you can carve your pumpkin and eat it too! Enjoy this smooth, silky and not-too-sweet pumpkin mousse, which will satisfy your guests’ cravings for decadence without the additional calories and fat typical of most desserts.

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep Time: 1 Hour
  • Cooking Time: 1 Hour
  • Plating Time: 10 minutes

 

Directions for Mousse:

  • 30 oz. canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 lb. silken tofu, drained
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground clove
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt

 

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine pumpkin purée and drained silken tofu. Process until combined, about 1 minute.

 

  1. Add maple syrup and seasonings, and process until combined, about 30 seconds more.

3. Transfer mousse to a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

 

Directions for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar

 

Combine seeds, oil, spices, salt and sugar, and spread onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Roast in 350-degree oven 12-15 minutes. Cool completely.

 

Directions for Nutella Greek Yogurt:

  • 2 oz. Nutella
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, 0% fat
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 whole mini pumpkins

Whisk together Nutella, Greek yogurt and vanilla extract until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

 

Directions for Roasting Mini Pumpkins:

1. Rub 6 mini pumpkins with oil, place on a parchment-lined sheet tray.

2. Roast at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes, until tender.

3. Cool completely, then carve off top of pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and insides.  Reserve the top for garnish.

 

Directions for Plating:

1. Drain any water that has accumulated from mousse. Give it a quick stir and scoop 1 cup mousse into each of 6 small roasted mini pumpkins.

2. Top each serving with 2 teaspoons Nutella Greek Yogurt mixture.

3. Sprinkle with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Chef Phil Levinson is currently the Executive Chef for Nebu and Aravalli Restaurants, located in the Devon Energy Center, downtown Oklahoma City. Originally from Chicago, Chef Phil combines a passion for cooking high-volume, sophisticated cuisine with experience operating some of the top restaurants in the Midwest.

Keeping Good Health in Your Holidays – Simple Strategies For Success

By Alison Acerra MS, RD

National Nutrition and Wellness Manager, Guckenheimer

 

Holidays are a time spent connecting with family and friends, expressing gratitude for good fortune, wishing for peace on earth and lending a hand to those who need it most. The holiday season draws out the best of us in many ways, yet tests us in so many others. Perhaps more than any time of year, this is the season of temptations, complete with cocktails and finger foods, office potlucks and boxed chocolates, dinner parties and freshly baked desserts. Pair these enticements with the daily stresses of the season (which also leave little time for exercise) and these early winter days can present a challenge to even the most health conscious among us.

The good news is that we overestimate – and the media widely exaggerates – pounds gained during the holidays. Contrary to popular opinion, a 2010 National Institute of Health study found that the average holiday weight gain is closer to just 1 pound, not the alleged 5-10! The downside is that Americans do, on average, gain 1-2 pounds per year once they reach middle age. This tells us that the seemingly minor gain during the holidays, if not lost, can have a significant, lasting impact on long-term weight status and can increase risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease later in life. While weight loss during the holidays may not be the most realistic goal, weight maintenance can be considered a great success. If that isn’t good news, this is sure to be: you can still enjoy the generosities in food and drink the holidays have to offer and keep your health and waistline in check. It’s all about balance and moderation, and we’ve got a plan in place to help you achieve just that.

 

Start off  bright with breakfast

If you do nothing else to prevent holiday weight gain this season, start your day off right with breakfast. Missing meals, especially the first one of the day, can leave you with cravings and extreme hunger, making it difficult to avoid impulsive choices (especially on high-fat, high-sugar foods) and the urge to overeat later. While it may seem counterintuitive, skipping meals is likely to sabotage your best efforts at saving calories. Always include a balanced breakfast, complete with high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein and a bit of healthy fat – such as whole grain cereal, atop Greek yogurt, with some fruit and nuts. You’ll be more likely to keep your calories in check at your evening affair and throughout the holiday season.

Lighten up your recipes

Another strategy to ward off holiday weight gain is to be creative in the kitchen and consider ways you can lighten up dishes by reducing the calories, added fats and sugars in traditional favorites. Take mashed potatoes, a definite crowd pleaser. Why not prepare them using cauliflower instead? This simple swap can save plenty of calories, with no compromise in taste or texture (they really are delicious!) Healthful oils, rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, can be used in place of butter; and buttermilk, with its lower fat content, can take the place of cream. Make seasonal fresh fruits – ripened to their sweetest, accented with spices and herbs like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon – the focal point of your desserts. Instead of creamed veggie dishes, prepare them roasted, drizzled lightly with olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper. Not only do the true flavors of the main ingredient shine, these are easy, fast, healthy and delicious preparations that are sure to satisfy.

 

Eat your veggies

Prepare vegetables in creative ways, and it will be much easier to include them more often.  Make it your goal to build half your plate with water-packed, fiber-full seasonal vegetables at each meal. They will fill you up on few calories, leaving some, but less room for rich, calorie-dense foods. This provides for built-in portion control, and will help you find some balance as you enjoy sampling a variety of more indulgent offerings in healthier amounts.

 

Selective eating

If healthier recipe modifications aren’t your style, and loading up on veggies just isn’t realistic, mindful eating is a technique you will want to master. This is an important approach to eating for good health any time of year, but can serve you especially well during the holidays when temptations are bountiful. At holiday gatherings, from hors d’oeuvres to desserts and everything in-between, there are typically more than enough options from which to choose. It’s important to zero in on the ‘must haves’ and those things you can leave behind. Why spend your calories on foods available to you any day (think dip, crackers, bread and butter) when a delicious made-from-scratch pumpkin pie is waiting for dessert? In the same vein, if you know your sister’s stuffing leaves something to be desired but her candied yams are out of this world, perhaps that’s the choice to make.

 

Listen to your body

Another aspect of mindful eating, sometimes referred to as “intuitive eating,” is the best strategy to keep your body in proper balance. Often, we let external cues (time, habit, stressful situations) dictate what and when we eat. Instead, try to focus on your body’s true internal hunger and fullness signals to help determine food choices and amounts. Slow down, taste and savor the subtleties of flavor in your favorite foods. Keeping a slower pace at the dinner table will do two things to help you avoid overeating. First, it will give your stomach time to signal to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat and you are, in fact, full. This way, extra helpings of even the tastiest foods will be far less tempting. Secondly, you are sure to have a more enriched, satisfying dining experience, and less truly does become more.

 

All is not lost …

Here are some other strategies to keep you feeling healthy and at your best this holiday season:

  • Just as you would a doctor’s appointment or a dinner party, schedule time for exercise.  Book social engagements a bit later in the evening to fit in an aerobics class after work, shop online to save you time and stress at the stores, or take a few 15-minute breaks from your day to squeeze in some power walks. While you might not be able to dedicate as much time to exercise as is typical, every bit counts.
  • Be sure to stay well hydrated and take frequent sips of calorie-free fluids like fresh water, fruit and herb-infused waters and herbal teas. Dehydration can reduce energy levels while increasing hunger and the desire for sweets.
  • Be conscious of liquid calories. Alcohol is caloric and can loosen inhibitions, making it harder to put good intentions around healthful dining into practice.
  • Be aware of using food and alcohol to “lubricate” uncomfortable social dynamics. Do your best to stay centered; take deep breaths, eat mindfully and practice a positive frame of mind.

Remember, the holidays are a time of joy, occasion to come together with loved ones and revel in the culinary delights of the season. There is nothing wrong with over-indulging from time to time, and if you do, all is most certainly not lost. Reflect on the pleasurable time you had and start your new day fresh, back on track with healthy eating and exercise. Rich foods and flowing drink are characteristic of the season, but holiday weight gain need not be.

Cheers to healthy and happy holidays!

 

Alison Acerra, MS, RD, currently serves as Guckenheimer’s National Manager of Nutrition and Wellness, where she brings 10 years of professional experience to her role, specializing in weight management, cardiovascular disease, diabetes prevention and management, as well as culinary nutrition, offering a balanced, no-nonsense approach to maintaining optimal health through good nutrition.

 

Guckenheimer traces its roots back to 1963, when founders Stewart and Jeanie Ritchie began selling artisan sandwiches from a cart at Stanford Medical School to finance Stewart’s studies. The focus on delicious and nutritious food combined with service customized for each account continues to drive Guckenheimer, which today has more than 2,470 employees serving over 300 locations in 31 states. They proudly serve some of America’s finest companies and organizations, including many that are listed on Fortune’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For.”

CELEBRATE THE FLAVORS OF FALL

By Judy Brotton

 

Fall is a wonderful time – football games, potluck suppers and family gatherings … a perfect time to unearth recipes for chili, soups and other favorite comfort foods. Our spread this month takes advantage of some of our leftover Halloween candy to add color to a burlap tablecloth and fall leaves. Several of these recipes contain pumpkin, always tasty this time of year, so add these to your arsenal of autumn recipes.

 

MINESTRONE SOUP

  • Layout Set5-7 oz. ham (a ham bone would be great here)
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced in julienne strips
  • 2 potatoes, cubed (peel on)
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 lg. bag spinach
  • 1 ½ tsp. basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente (not in the soup)
  • Garnish: chopped parsley, shaved Parmesan cheese

 

Brown ham; stir in tomato paste, salt & pepper. Add garlic and vegetables, along with the chicken stock. Simmer until vegetables are done; add rinsed kidney beans, spinach and basil and just heat through. Ladle over spaghetti noodles; top with chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan cheese.

 

BREADS:

Spinach BreadSpinach Cheese Swirls

  • (From a box of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets)
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat 1 egg with 1 Tbsp. water.
  • Stir together ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack or Muenster cheese, 1 chopped green onion and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.

Unfold one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and brush with egg mixture. Top with cheese mixture and spinach. Starting with a short side, roll up like a jellyroll. Cut into 20 ½-inch slices and place cut-side down onto baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Parmesan Breadsticks

Using a can of refrigerated breadsticks, unroll and brush with egg white mixed with a little water. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, roll as directed and bake per package instructions.

 

SWEETS:

DipPumpkin Crescent Rolls

We were skeptical about these, but they were fantastic! Makes enough for a large crowd (from the Pillsbury website).

  • 1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (my variation)
  • 4 rolls refrigerated crescent rolls
  • ½ cup sugar

Heat oven to 375. Blend cream cheese, pumpkin, milk, flour and spices in large bowl until smooth. Unroll crescents, separate and lay flat. Spread about 1 ½ Tbsp. of pumpkin mixture evenly over uncooked dough. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and dried cranberries, and roll into crescent shape. Sprinkle tops with sugar, place on baking sheet and bake 11-13 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

 

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

We printed this recipe several years ago, and we still love it!

Mix 1 15-oz. can pumpkin pie with a large package of low-fat cream cheese and a box of instant vanilla pudding mix. Blend until smooth, then fold in one 8-oz. container of frozen whipped topping, thawed. Chill until set. Serve with sliced apples and ginger snaps.

 

DRINKS:

Mulled Cider (Wine, Tea or Brandy)

In a crock pot, heat your beverage of choice as directed on a box of Aspen Mulling Cider Spices. Put a cinnamon stick in each glass, fill with hot mulled beverage, and top with an orange slice.

A Classy Halloween Spread

By Judy Brotton

 

Haloween SpreadI happen to LOVE Halloween! Each year I look forward to creating a theme – pumpkin orange, ghoulish green, ghost white, blood red or wicked black. This year I decided on a classy adult theme using the red and black of Dracula’s flowing cape, with accents of silver and white.

Start with a black backdrop (I used a black shower curtain, ready to hang on removable hooks) topped with shredded and slashed cheesecloth, accented with cobwebs and large, glittery black spiders.

The table is spread with a red cloth, then topped with a black mesh runner and spider web doily. Black serving platters are highlighted by black and white napkins, encircled by spider web napkin rings. Red and black candies are displayed in various sized glass jars decorated with spider web ribbon and more spiders. Red and black candles, with silver accents, are displayed on black iron candleholders. Also, a pair of white tapers drip blood in their black candleholders. I couldn’t find a black cake stand, so I used a large black candleholder for the cake. A spider web cupcake stand displays more desserts, while a metal spider web basket draped with a black spider web doily holds a brie baker and crackers.

 

DRINKS

Blood Red Punch
(recipe from Williams Sonoma)
  • 3 cups cranberry-raspberry juice blend (or other berry juice)
  • 3 cups sparkling water
  • 2 cup thawed frozen raspberries, pureed
  • 2 cup crushed ice cubes

I served this in a pumpkin-shaped punch bowl on a black iron base decorated by leaves and an owl-topped ladle (from Pottery Barn). Earlier in the day, dip the pumpkin-shaped glasses into corn syrup dyed black with food gel. Turn glasses upright and allow black goo to drip down the sides of the glasses, and let dry for a while. Drip some of the black goo along the rim of the punchbowl also. To serve, carefully fill each glass, then use a stick of black licorice to decorate. For an adults-only party, spike this punch with vodka.

 

Blood Red Punch

Vampire Martini

  • (Pomegranate Cosmo, or your favorite red drink recipe)
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 cup real pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup Cointreau
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • (Another option – Dracula’s Kiss, which uses black cherry vodka, cola and a dash of grenadine.)

Dip rim of martini glasses in black-dyed corn syrup and allow to drip down the sides of the glasses, set aside to dry before using. Carefully fill with martini mixture and float wax fangs or eyeballs (if you can find lychee nuts, put a blueberry in the center) in each glass.

(If you prefer, serve a Black Cat Martini – made with black vodka and a bit of Chambord – and dip the glassware into red corn syrup for the appearance of blood. Fabulous!)

 

FOOD

I found lots of fun recipes on the Internet, including the Dracula’s Dentures. Bake your own or use store-bought cookies. Cut a cookie in half and spread bottom sides with red-dyed frosting. Line one edge with 6-8 mini marshmallows and put top on. Place two almond slivers as fangs from the top cookie.

 

Spider Web Cookies

Again, you can use store-bought cookies, iced in white with black webs, or chocolate with white webs. Both are wonderful.

For the webs, starting at the center, make a spiral to the outside edge of the cookie. Drag a wooden pick from the center to the outer edge of each cookie until a spider web is formed – about 7-8 times for a perfect web. You can put a gummy spider on each, or a spider ring that can be a party favor.

 

Skull CupcakesSkull Cupcakes

I ordered silicone skull cupcake cups online, and filled them with Pillsbury Pink Lemonade cake mix. I used Pillsbury Pink Lemonade frosting tinged with red for the “brains” – start with a line down the center, then swirl the icing over each “lobe.”

 

Spider Web Brownie

Bake a brownie in a round cake pan, allow to cool, then frost with white icing. As with the cookies, starting at the center using black gel icing, make a spiral to the outer edge of the brownie. Drag a stick from the center outward until you have gone all the way around the brownie, forming a spider web. Decorate with an edible spider, or a spider ring party favor.

 

Bloody Brie

Place a wheel of Brie in a baking dish, and with a sharp knife, score the top in an asterisk shape. Peel these open like a banana, and top with a few spoons of fruit drizzle made for cheese, or your favorite chunky fruit jam mixed with chopped nuts. Jalapeno jelly would be great also. Bake per package directions, and serve with crackers. If you’re not a Brie fan, try using just a block of cream cheese dripping with the same red jams or jalapeno jelly. Don’t forget a tombstone spreader!

 

Gory CakeGory Cake

I spotted various versions of this cake online, and decided to make it my centerpiece. Any flavor of cake will work, but I used chocolate with white frosting. You can include a layer of cherry pie filling inside, which makes a stunningly gory mess when sliced, but be careful it doesn’t get on the outside frosting. “Stab” a knife into the center of the cake, and put more cherry pie filling around the knife. With a wooden pick, carefully drag some of the syrup to the edge of the cake, and allow

more to drip down the sides … like blood. Place several plastic severed fingers by the knife … oops! The Wilton website shows a wonderful green cake with protruding fingers, eyeballs and even a tongue, plus lots of “blood.” Over the top!

This adult-themed party can be adapted for children – just leave out the alcohol in the drinks. Depending on the age of the children, you may wish to temper the blood and gore of the desserts. But most of all, have a frightful Halloween!

Pizza for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert!

By Judy Brotton

Dinner PizzaPizza is such a versatile food item, and can be adapted to anyone’s palate by individualizing with their favorite toppings. Today, almost anything can top a pizza, from red sauce to white, pesto or simply garlic-infused olive oil, plus any combination of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Fold the crust around the fillings and seal the edges for a savory pie popular in many cultures, including Italy (calzone), Asia (samosa), Russia (pierogi), Latin America (empanada), Vietnam (pâté chaud) and Cornwall (Cornish pasty) – a perfect hand-held lunch no matter what you call it.

This month we feature pizzas inspired by The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. We have built them with some of our favorite toppings – pesto, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula, along with fresh Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan cheese. For those who enjoy pizza for breakfast, we take these same ingredients and add eggs, transforming our pizza into a sunny-side-up morning treat (inspired by The Wedge and chef Christine Dowd’s egg-enhanced pizza at Trattoria il Centro).

Never ones to skip dessert, we have created a Brownie Banana Split “Pizza” that is not to be missed!

 

Pizza with Pesto, Prosciutto, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Arugula

Breakfast PizzaIngredients
  • Pizza crust
  • Basil – a lot!
  • Pine nuts – 6 oz. package
  • Garlic – 3-4 cloves
  • Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
  • Prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • Arugula
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Eggs (1 per person)

 

Pesto

Fill food processor with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic and black pepper. (Wait until the end to see if salt is needed – the pine nuts and Parmesan are already salty). As you pulse, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you reach the consistency you desire, starting with about ½ cup. Add more olive oil if using on pasta. Add about 4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese and pulse just long enough to mix everything but still chunky. Check for salt, and add if needed. This also makes a great spread for a roast beef sandwich!

 

Directions

You can take the easy route by purchasing pizza dough from your favorite pizza shop. We went to The Wedge on Western – they will even roll out the dough for you if they’re not busy. A pizza stone is recommended – heat in 500-degree oven about 30 minutes, or as directed by the manufacturer.

 

Roll out dough and make a small ridge around edge to hold in toppings. Spread with pesto and top with sliced fresh Mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake about 12-14 minutes (depending on your oven), until cheese is bubbly and crust is just golden. Carefully arrange prosciutto around pizza, then top with a mound of arugula and curls of shaved Parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake about 1 minute more, until crust is nicely browned and arugula is just wilted. Keep an eye on your pizza to make sure prosciutto and arugula don’t burn – it can happen very quickly!

 

To change this up for breakfast, prepare as above but bake for about 8 minutes initially. Carefully crack eggs on top, then return to the oven for about 5 minutes – crust should be nicely browning and eggs should be set. Then top with the prosciutto, arugula and shaved Parmesan curls, and return to the oven for about 1 minute more. It’s amazing how great the runny egg yolk tastes on the pizza!

 

 

Dessert PizzaBrownie Banana Split “Pizza”

  • Your favorite brownie mix and ingredients called for on the box
  • Fresh pineapple, thinly sliced into rings, drained
  • Fresh strawberries, sliced
  • One banana, sliced and sprinkled with 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • Chocolate syrup to drizzle on top
  • Pecans
  • Maraschino cherries with stems, drained

 

Prepare the brownie mix in a disposable foil pizza pan. Baking time will be less than recommended on the box, so watch carefully. When you begin to smell it, test with a pick and don’t over-bake. Allow to cool – can be prepared ahead and refrigerated.

 

Cream
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ cup marshmallow cream
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla

 

Mix ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make sure all your fruit is drained and patted dry or your dessert will be soggy. Arrange sliced strawberries over brownie crust, then top with the chilled cream. Arrange sliced pineapple on top, along with bananas. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Scatter a few cherries on top, and your banana split is ready to eat! (Alternatively, spread softened vanilla ice cream instead of cream mixture over the crust and strawberry slices – make sure to freeze pie to give ice cream a chance to re-freeze. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and finish with pineapple and banana slices, chocolate syrup, nuts and cherries.)