Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vegetable Bruschetta


 I LOVE bruschetta, and could absolutely make a meal of it. Bruschetta is definitely one of those recipes that you can change up and make it different every time!   Use different vegetables....add a little more of one vegi and a bit less of another.  Try a variety of bread as well.
     Bruschetta is the perfect appetizer for any party~ in fact, you can set up a "Bruschetta Bar" & put out all the various toppings so your guests can tailor theirs to their taste. Here's a recipe for one which I consider a bit more "healthy", if you will. 

Vegetable Bruschetta

1 12 lbs. plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small sweet red and/or yellow peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 or 1 whole medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher sale or sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme
1/4 C snipped fresh basil
1 whole-grain baguette (1 lb.)
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion wedges and garlic.  Add oil, salt and black pepper; toss to coat.  Transfer mixture to a foil-lined shallow roasting pan. 

Roast at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and slightly charred on the edges; stirring twice.  Cool slightly on a wire rack.  Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor (or blender, if you don't have a food processor).  Cover and pulse with several on-off turns until  mixture is chopped but still slightly chunky.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and thyme.

Slice baguette crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 36 slices).  Lightly coat bread slices with olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 4-6 minutes or until golden and crisp, turning once.  Cool on a wire rack.

Stir basil into tomato mixture.  Top each bread slice with 1 Tbsp. of the mixture and some of the parmesan.

Makes 36 pieces

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles & Cinnamon Maple Syrup

     In honor of Fall and all things pumpkin, here's a sweet recipe for those lazy weekend mornings that I hope are in your schedule~

Pumpkin Waffles & Cinnamon Maple Syrup

1 C pure maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour (such as King Arthur)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C buttermilk
1 C canned packed pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted
*whipped cream, optional for garnish
*cinnamon, optional for garnish
*whole or chopped pecans, for garnish

Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.  In a small lidded pot over medium heat, combine maple syrup and cinnamon stick.  Cook, uncovered, until it steams (do not boil).  Turn off heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes.  If not immediately serving, transfer to an airtight container with cinnamon stick still inside.  Cool; refrigerate until ready to use. *Personally, I would make a double batch of the syrup and keep on hand so in the future, you only have to make the waffles.  I'm organized that way ;-)

Whisk together both flours, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, blend buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar and butter.  Stir dry mixture into wet mixture until smooth.

Coat waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray.  Cook waffles according to manufacturer's directions.

If not immediately serving, cool and freeze in resealable bags in a single layer or stack with parchment paper in between waffles.  To serve:  Toast frozen waffles and reheat syrup.  *Optional---top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle some cinnamon on top of the whipped cream and add a few whole or chopped pecans, walnuts, or nuts of your choice.

Makes 12 waffles

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sweet & Salty Pecan Sandy Cookies

Here's a great cookie recipe that combines the wonderful taste sensation of sweet AND salty!

Sweet & Salty Pecan Sandy Cookies

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 C sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  On low speed, beat in 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour until just incorporated.  Stir in 1/2 C pecans (chopped) and 3/4 C crushed potato chips (2 C whole).  In a small bowl, place 1/4 C sugar.  Roll level Tbsp. of dough into balls and roll around in the sugar to coat.  Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.  With a flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass, press each ball into a 1/4 inch thick round.  Bake until lightly golden brown, 16-18 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
*Optional:  dip cookies into melted chocolate and allow to set before serving.

Makes 30 cookies

Monday, September 2, 2013

Caramel-Banana Muffins

     I stumbled across this recipe while looking at back issues of magazines; I will definitely be trying it.  Sugar-topped banana slices caramelize as they bake on top of these sweet muffins.

Caramel-Banana Muffins

1/2 C chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C butter, softened
2/3 C sugar
1 egg
1 medium banana, peeled and mashed (1/2 C)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. caramel-flavored ice cream topping
1 medium banana, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Caramel-flavored ice cream topping (optional)

Line twelve 2 1/2-inch OR 6 jumbo (3 1/4-inch) muffin cups with paper baking liners.  In a small bowl, mix pecans, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, softened butter and 2/3 cup sugar with electric mixer until well combined.  Add egg and beat well.  Beat in the mashed banana and vanilla until combined.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the banana mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the pecan mixture.  Spoon half the batter into prepared muffin cups (1 rounded tablespoon for each 2 1/2-inch muffin cup OR 2 rounded tablespoons for jumbo cups).   Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon caramel topping over batter in each cup.  Top with remaining batter.  If you like, top each with 2 thin slices additional banana.  Drizzle with a little melted butter and sprinkle with remaining pecan mixture.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Serve warm, drizzled with more caramel topping, if you like. 

Makes 12 standard OR 6 jumbo muffins

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Scones

     Here's a great portable treat for those mornings when you and/or your family needs to dash out the door.  Sweet raisins contrast with salty peanuts in these great, on-the-go scones.

Peanut Butter Scones

1 C quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C creamy (or crunchy---your choice!) peanut butter
1/4 C butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C peanuts, chopped
1/4 C toasted wheat germ
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. packed brown sugar

Lightly grease a large baking sheet; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine oats, flours, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using pastry blender, cut in peanut butter and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in center.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, 3/4 cup milk and vanilla.  Add all at once to dry ingredients with raisins, peanuts and wheat germ.  Stir until moistened.

Turn dough out onto well-floured surface.  Knead gently for 10 to 12 strokes of until nearly smooth.  Divide dough in half.  Pat or lightly roll each portion into a 6-inch circle.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Place wedges 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.  Brush wedges with 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons brown sugar.

Bake in 400 degree oven 12 to 14 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm. 

Makes 12 scones