Friday, May 24, 2013

Greek-Style Panini

***Taste & Create is a fabulous monthly blog event 
in which participants are randomly paired off 
to choose and prepare a dish from their partner's blog. 
 If you'd like to join us, please email me at 
cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com for more information!  
We'd love to have you.**
For this month's Taste & Create, I was paired with Pavani of Cook's Hideout.  She has a lot of great recipes, but I wanted something simple and these paninis caught my eye!  Pavani's recipe is for one sandwich, but we have 4 in our family so I increased all the ingredients.  I mixed most of a package of frozen spinach with an entire 4 ounce container of feta, and there is probably enough of the spinach mixture left to make two more sandwiches.  

I was generous with the hummus, using more than 2 tablespoons per sandwich (I just spread some on), and unfortunately I didn't have any roasted red peppers!  Our teeny tiny grocery store doesn't carry them, (quite honestly I was shocked to finally find feta there) and my stash was gone, so I bought some roasted red pepper hummus as a compromise.
My panini press is at the ranch and I was making these in town, so I improvised with a cast iron pan that fit inside my regular frying pan to weight the sandwiches down.  Worked great but I missed those signature ridges from the press!
These sandwiches are light but filling, and my husband and I thought they were delicious although they received mixed reviews from our sons.  I think I'll be making these again, at least for the adults!  I know they'll be even better when I get my pantry stocked up with roasted red peppers too.
Serves about6
6 Kaiser rolls, cut in half
about 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
4 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
Jarred Roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
Hummus (I used store-bought as Pavani did, but I agree, homemade would be even better!)

In a small bowl, combine thawed spinach and feta cheese. Spread this mixture on the bottom roll and top it with the red pepper strips. Spread hummus on the top half of the roll.
Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in pan.  Set the sandwiches on the skillet, pour a bit of olive oil on top of each one.  Weigh the sandwiches down with something heavy or with heavy cast iron skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until toasted and golden.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rhubarb Bundt Cake

This recipe was given to me by my friend Amber, who is a fabulous cook.  She got it from a cookbook called Hollyhocks & Radishes: Mrs. Chard's Almanac Cookbook, which is actually a book from Michigan.  (hey, me too!) It has lots of great recipes in it, and I look forward to purchasing my own copy and trying many more!  Some that have caught my eye:  Old-Time Doughnuts (which I'm hoping are similar to the ones my Great Grandma used to make), Smoked Whitefish Pâté, and Double Chocolate Pound Cake.  These are just the tip of the iceberg!

This cake is pretty easy to put together, as cakes go, and is a wonderfully flavored light cake, tangy with bits of rhubarb.  Yum.  The only problem I had was I felt too anxious to get it out of the pan, so I didn't wait until the cake was cool, and it split in half!  The top half stayed in the pan.  My advice to you:  Grease the pan WELL and WAIT until the cake is cool before you attempt to turn it onto a plate.  I ended up digging the top out of the pan and setting it on top, which is why you may notice there isn't a picture here!  Luckily the mishap didn't affect the flavor of this fabulous cake.

Here's the recipe.  Don't forget to buy the cookbook!

Rhubarb Bundt Cake 
Serves 12 or more
Prepare: 20 minutes
Bake: 1 hour

1-1/2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (I used almost 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup light vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously oil a 3-quart Bundt pan.

Combine rhubarb with 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and remaining 2 cups sugar.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then oil, lemon juice, and vanilla. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir flour mixture into mixing bowl in 3 batches, alternating with milk.  Fold in nuts.

Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan.  Top with 1/2 of the rhubarb mixture.  Repeat, then cover with remaining 1/3 of batter.

Bake 60-65 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Set cake pan on cooking rack.  When cool enough to handle, invert onto serving plate.  Before serving, you may wish to dust top with powdered sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon.  (I felt this to be unnecessary)

By the way, this cake freezes beautifully.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strawberry Balsamic Freezer Jam

I found this recipe on the Ball website,  It is attributed to Barbara H. of Park Hills, Missouri.  And it is fabulous!

I am adding it to my fruit preserving/harvest repertoire, as well as sharing it with you.


Strawberry Balsamic Freezer Jam

Makes about 5 (8 oz) half pints
1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups crushed strawberries
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons Ball® RealFruit® Instant Pectin

Pour balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced to 3/4 cup. Chill until cool.

Mix strawberries, honey and cooled balsamic vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add pectin. Stir 3 minutes.

Ladle jam into clean jars to fill line. Twist on lids. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

Chile Con Queso

Was inspired to try this recipe after a good friend make public her addiction to mass-produced chile con queso eaten straight from the jar. After reading the ingredients on one of those jars, I can't imagine going any other route than using the recipe below when a craving hits.

Chile  Con  Queso
Serves 8

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup or 7-ounce can diced green chiles
16 ounces tortilla chips

1. Melt butter in medium saucepan.

2. Sauté onion and garlic in melted butter over medium heat.

3. Add flour and cook 1 minute.

4. Add half-and-half and stir until somewhat thickened.

5. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.

6. Stir in green chiles.

7. Serve hot in chafing dish or in 2-quart Crockpot with bowl of tortilla chips.

NOTE: Easy, quick, and delicious! I didn’t bother to drain the canned green chiles when using them.
             Reheats well.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Crab Rangoon

This month, my assignment for Secret Recipe Club was:

Somehow, I ran across her recipe for Baked Crab Rangoon.  I have been in love with Crab Rangoon since I first learned how to make them in college.  I have always deep fried them, and they are fabulous.  I was intrigued by this baked version so there was no question about my recipe choice.

I did do a few things differently.  First, I sprayed the muffin tin with olive oil spray, put the wonton wrappers in, then sprayed the wrappers and crossed my fingers.  It worked just fine.  I did pull them out after just 5 minutes in the oven.  They were browning quickly on the corners and I was concerned about warming them up again with the cream cheese mixture.

I don't have access to much crab meat in the small desert town where I live, so I picked up some canned.  I used more cream cheese, because I couldn't see how 1/4 cup could possibly stretch to fill 20 wonton skins, (wonder if it's a typo?) and stirred in the green onion because that's how I make mine.  I was interested to see what the lemon juice and Worcestershire brought to the rangoon, because I don't add them to mine.  I chose to omit the sour cream, no real reason other than it was optional.

The first batch turned out okay, but I lowered the oven temperature for the second baking as I was concerned about burning and 3 minutes wasn't really enough to warm the cream cheese very much.  I guess we just prefer the deep-fried version with the melty cheese!  Don't get me wrong, we still ate them all!!

For the second batch, we decided to put the cream cheese mixture in before baking the wontons at all.  I baked those for 7 minutes, and the result was good.  The cream cheese mixture was hot and creamy, but the wontons were a bit less crispy on the bottom. 

I'd say you could do it either way, really.  These would be a good appetizer to make ahead for a party if you didn't want to be standing around deep-frying, just have them made up and pop them in the oven (or not) right before the party starts, but just know they're not exactly what you'd expect from a crab rangoon.

Please follow the link if you'd like to see the original recipe.  My version is listed below. 

P.S. Next time I will omit the Worcestershire as well. 

They are pretty little things!

Crab Rangoon
Adapted from Morsels of Life

24 wonton skins
1 can of crab meat, about 6 ounces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (omit)
4-5 green onions, sliced (3 stirred in, 1-2 reserved for garnish)

Spray muffin tin with olive oil, press wonton skins gently into tins, then lightly spray skins.

Bake at 375 degrees F about 5 minutes, and wonton skins should be crispy.  *(see above for alternate baking option)

Meanwhile, combine remaining materials (except crab) and mix well. Gently mix in crab. Spoon filling into wonton shell, about 1 tablespoon per wonton.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 3-5 minutes to warm up entire Crab Rangoon, if desired, keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn. Garnish with reserved green onions.

Secret Recipe Club

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Brown Sugar Brownies (Chocolate)

The last thing I need is another tried-and-true brownie recipe, but I tried this one on Sunday, and the recipe qualified as true and is especially easy to make.

Brown  Sugar  Brownies
Serves 9

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
½ cup butter at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional
Powdered sugar, optional

1. Melt chocolate in a custard cup in the microwave at less than full power.

2. In medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter.

3. Add dark brown sugar and beat well.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Beat in melted but cooled chocolate as well as salt.

6. Remove beaters. Stir in flour and, if desired, walnuts.

7. Spread into greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.

8. Bake in 325°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

9. Let cool. Dust with sifted powdered sugar if desired. Cut into ninths.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin