Friday, December 31, 2010

Turkey Pesto Panini

Happy New Year's Eve, here's a fun party food!  My awesome hubby came up with this delicious panini sandwich recipe, which we have served up several times this Christmas season.  It's stuffed with turkey breast, piquillo peppers, spinach, pesto and jack cheese all melted together.  Anything with pesto is great in my opinion.  We used a natural "Oil Browned" turkey breast, which is nitrate/nitrite free, right from our local deli!  Be sure to buy a high quality pesto for this or here's my recipe to make your own pesto!  If you don't have a panini press, you can always use a grill pan and compress your sandwich with something heavy like a brick wrapped in aluminum foil.

Recipe (makes 4 sandwiches)
1 medium loaf European Style Bread such as Pugliese or Filone
1/2 pound deli sliced natural turkey breast
piquillo peppers, blotted dry with a paper towel
~1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
sliced jack cheese
1/4 cup pesto

1. Slice loaf into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Spread about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of pesto on each of the eight slices.  Assemble sandwiches with sliced turkey, piquillo peppers, spinach leaves and a slice of jack cheese, top with other slice of bread. *tip* for a large group or party you can prepare the sandwiches up to this point ahead and cover them in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
2. Place sandwiches on Panini press and grill until golden and cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes.  You can also use a grill pan or frying pan and press your sandwich with a heavy object such as the bottom of a clean pot or a brick wrapped in foil, flip halfway through. Serve hot with your favorite soup or a simple green salad. here for the recipe!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Portobello Panini

Meaty Portobello mushrooms are the "bread" of this grilled sandwich. This is more of a knife and fork sandwich but it's packed with flavor and oozing with tasty Gorgonzola cheese. Enjoy!
Sandwiches made and on the Panini Press
just about ready to come off the grill

Piquillo Peppers

Recipe: (serves 4)
6 piquillo peppers sliced in half, blotted dry with a paper towel
8 portobello mushroom caps (~2 ounces each)
1/4 cup Gorgonzola Cheese
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Clean mushrooms with damp paper towel and remove stems so they lay completely flat. Top four of the mushrooms with 1 1/2 slices of piquillo pepper (that have been blotted dry with a paper towel), ~ 1-2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese and several spinach leaves. Drizzle inside lightly with olive oil and top with remaining mushroom cap to make a sandwich.

2. Preheat large non-stick skillet or Panini Press over medium-high heat until hot. Place mushroom sandwiches in the hot pan carefully, they may have a tendency to slide out of the press at first so carefully hold them in place for ~ 30 seconds until they begin to soften on the grill, continue to cook for two minutes.

3. Flip carefully and cook until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown and the cheese is melted, about another 2 minutes, no need to flip in a Panini press.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and serve. We served ours up with some roasted rosemary potatoes, yum. here for the recipe!

Friday, December 17, 2010

White Bean and Chicken Stew

This is a new recipe I modified from my Better Homes Cookbook. It's a slow cooker recipe, which I love, especially on cold rainy days like today.  It's wonderful to fill the house with the aromas of stew.  It has a great depth of flavor and richness without being too heavy.  Next time I want to try adding a can of hominy to this and topping it with some fresh chopped cilantro. Let me know what variation you try and what you think! We served ours up with some warm, toasty cornbread. Yum.

Recipe: (serves 6)
2 (15 ounce) cans white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
6-7 chicken breast tenders or 2 breasts (okay to add frozen chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound small dutch yellow potatoes
2 ounces (1/2 of small 4oz can) diced green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
4 cups low sodium chicken Broth
Jack cheese, shredded, for garnish
Avocado, sliced, for garnish


1. In a 4 quart Slow Cooker combine the drained beans, chicken, onion, bell pepper, potatoes, green chilies, garlic, cumin, salt and Italian Seasoning. Stir in the chicken broth.

2. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours or on high heat setting for 4-5 hours until chicken is cooked completely. Pull out chicken tenders and shred them, return to stew.

3. I "hit" this soup with my immersion blender for 2 seconds, literally two seconds, no longer.  This thickens it up while maintaining the great texture and leaving some whole beans and pieces of chicken and vegetables.  If you don't have an immersion blender, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the stew and pulse it lightly in a blender or food processor then return to the stew.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and top with cheese and avocado if desired. Serve with cornbread on the side. here for the recipe!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bread

This is a quick bread my hubby made that tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. It's even better when served the next day.

Back in October I took my boys to the Pumpkin Patch for the Preschool fieldtrip,
we came home with a beautiful blue pumpkin.  

We never carved it so in early November we chunked it up, baked it {scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a large glass baking dish, bake @ 350'F for 20-40min until tender} 

and pureed it in the food processor into beautiful orange puree.  
Would you believe it made nearly 12 cups of puree?

We used up some more of that homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe.  The mini muffins were a hit at my son's Preschool snack time this week. This recipe makes either two 9x5 loafs or one loaf and 48 mini muffins. Another fun use for our trusty mini muffin tin. Enjoy and try getting the kids in the kitchen to help.

Recipe: makes 2 (9x5) loafs OR one (9x5) loaf and 48 mini muffins

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 4 cups)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Plain yogurt
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or ~2 cups homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350' F. Spray two 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray (or prepare mini muffin tin if using), not necessary to spray Stoneware pans. Sift dry ingredients together; 3 1/2 cups of flour, the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs, and pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, add the water. If your pumpkin puree is thin you may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour here until you get a cake batter type consistency. Stir in walnuts if using. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans, use a tablespoon to fill the mini muffins about 3/4 full.

3. Bake for 1 hour-1 hour, 10 minutes for a loaf size, 10-14 minutes for mini muffins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Store wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. here for the recipe!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup

This is that soup that you have as a starter in the Chinese restaurant, or at least my take on that. Spicy, sour and tasty! The combo of steamy broth infused with fresh ginger is especially great when you aren't feeling well, the spice really clears the sinuses too. You can substitute out the chicken broth with vegetable broth to make this vegetarian if you prefer. We enjoyed ours alongside some tasty vegetable spring rolls. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or substitute Vegetable broth)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Low Sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
8-10 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, diced for garnish

1) In a large soup pot, combine broth, soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add mushrooms; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons vinegar with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Add mixture to the soup pot, simmer, stirring until the soup is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

3) Add lightly beaten egg SLOWLY alittle at a time through a slotted spoon, stirring to form ribbons. Stir in tofu and grated ginger. Remove from the heat and let stand covered about 5 minutes. Serve in small soup bowls garnished with scallions. This goes great with spring rolls. here for the recipe!

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