Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am Back and Here to Stay. . .with Recipes =D

I work in construction as a commercial electrician and I hurt my right elbow so typing, writing, cooking, yepper. . .Thanksgiving was a challenge. . .everything is painful. . .but I am back and sooo happy. I am hoping that everyone has been able to enjoy great food, family, fun stories, new fun stories to talk about now and LOTS of leftovers to worry about getting eaten! I decided that I wanted to blog about my timeline for Thanksgiving. I always go all out. I do. . . and I am exhausted for several days after.
I have decided that I am going to post all my pictures and recipes as I go but they will have to be done over several days since I am back in college too and do not have the time to do this whole project at once. My Thanksgiving Day started like this:

Ham and Cheese Quiche
Crepes with whipped cream
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Cold Beer
Iced Tea
White Lightening Sangria
Chilled White Wine
Chilled Champagne

Deviled Eggs
Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Chilled Crab Dip
Garlic Feta Cheese Spread
Frito Munch Candy
Veggie Platter
Cheese Platter
Cracker Assortment

1st Course: Strawberry Salad in Puff Pastry Shells

Brown Sugar Brined Turkey with Apricot Glaze
and Roasted Onion and Shallot Gravy
Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese, Chives, Butter and Cream (Seasonings)
Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus clusters
Garlic and Butter Pull-a-Part Rolls
Pineapple and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Cranberry Sauce with Raspberry Vinegar
Steamed Corn

Dessert Tray:

Pumpkin Fudge with White Chocolate
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two Different Pumpkin Pie Recipes
Rich Chocolate Pecan Pie with Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake
Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling
Apricot-glazed Turkey With Roasted Onion And Shallot Gravy Recipe
Apricot Glaze:
1 c. apricot nectar
1 c. apricot preserves
2 T. minced, peeled, fresh ginger
1 T. honey
Herb Butter:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 T. chopped fresh Thyme or 1 T. dried
3 T. fresh chopped Sage or 1 T. dried
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Onion Mixture:
2 T. unsalted butter
3 Large onions, thinly sliced, about 2 pounds
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 21- to 22-pound Turkey
1 14 1/2 ounce can (or more) low-salt chicken broth. . .I use organic chicken broth
1 t. chopped fresh Thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1/2 t. chopped fresh sage or 1/4 t. dried
1 14 1/2 ounce can (about) low-salt chicken broth. . .again, I use organic chicken broth

For Glaze:
Combine all ingredients in heavy small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.
For Herb Butter:
Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
For Onion Mixture:
Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and saute until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes. ***(Glaze, herb butter and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.)***
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Pat turkey dry with paper towls. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread half of herb butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Place remaining herb butter over outside of turkey. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey.
Roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings. . .***I now add some organic chicken stock to bottom of pan***
Tent turkey with heavy-duty foil; roast 45 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, 1 can chicken broth, thyme and sage to pan. Roast 15 minutes.
***Note: I add about 3 cups of organic chicken stock at this time and I have been baking turkey for 3 HOURS.***
Bring glaze to simmer. Brush 1/2 cup of glaze over turkey. Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer, brushing occasionally with glaze and adding more broth to pan if liquid evaporates, about 40 MINUTES longer for unstuffed turkey (and about 1 hour and 10 minutes longer for stuffed turkey). Place turkey on platter; tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

For Gravy:
Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices or use a grease seperater cup. Transfer onion mixture in strainer to blender. Add 1 cup pan juices to blender and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken stock if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Transfer sauce to heavy, large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy. =D

Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Recipe

1 3/4 Cups (about 14 to 16) shortbread cookies, crushed
1 T. butter or margarine, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 Cups packed brown sugar
1 can (15 ounces) 100% Pure Pumpkin. . .(Libby's =D)
2/3 Cup (5 fluid ounces) Evaporated Milk
2 large eggs
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 Cup (about 25 to 30) crushed toffee candies or use a bag of toffee bits
1 container (8 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature
2 T. granulated sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Caramel Ice Cream Topping (optional but Delicious)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For Crust:
Combine cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow to brown). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
For Cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch and cinnamon; beat well. Pour into crust.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Remove from oven; top with toffee candy pieces.
For Topping:
Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well. Spread over warm cheesecake.
Bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of springform pan. Drizzle with caramel topping before serving.
Very good. . .and a note to myself. . .since my refrigerator will be packed along with an ice chest full of ice and groceries, put foil over top of cheesecake and a rubber band around this and set inside a box on front deck along with other chilled dishes like your cranberry sauce. . .It worked great this year. Of course the weather was at 32 degrees. . .deciding factor. =D

Pumpkin Ice Cream With Caramel Sauce

Ice Cream:
2 Cups whole milk
1 Cup half-and-half
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground ginger
6 egg yolks
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar (Light)
16 ounces (I use a 15 ounce can instead) pumpkin puree (Libby's)
1/2 Cup whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce:
I Cheated and Bought 3/4 Cup caramel Sauce
1/3 Cup whipping cream. . .you still need this =D


To prepare the ice cream:
Place the milk, half-and-half, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar and pumpkin. Strain the warm milk into the sugar mixture, whisking well. Pour back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the whipping cream and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cool slightly and refrigerate about 3 hours, until completely chilled.

Pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to package directions. Then transfer to a chilled bowl, cover and freeze. Place in refrigerator about 1/2 to 1 hour before serving because this becomes rock hard. . .experience has lead me to add this last step.

To prepare the caramel sauce: Yes, we have cheated but we also have come to be able to happily accept this now open secret. We are going to heat the caramel sauce and cream together gently on top of the stove or in a microwave just to warm. Stir well until smooth and blended. Serve warm over the ice cream. . .I don't know why I am adding this because it seems to be a no-brainer =D

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cornish Hens

Cornish Hens With Pecan Stuffing And Port Wine Sauce
I always have thought that cornish hens are a wonderful backdrop for trying so many different flavor combinations along with being a pretty presentation opportunity, especially when the challenge arises for last minute entertaining. This recipe is one of my favorites for just such occurances! Starving friends that I haven't seen in a decade just showed up out of the blue and I had 3 hours to come up with something. Now, if they could have waited just a couple more days. . .like let's say, for Thanksgiving, there would have been enough food to feed half the country side and I would have completely been ready to impress! Instead, I am left thinking that I should have meals already assembled in the freezer like I used to, including pies that I would put together, freeze, then pop the pie out of the pie pan (since it was now frozen) and put into freezer ziploc bags. I would have a dozen different kinds of pies in the freezer . . .but this was when I was organized. I think I forgot how to be that person. I'm lucky I can get one fruit pie made when it crosses my mind! Okay, I am focused again and here is my last minute something:

Cornish Hen:
4 Cornish Hens
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Pecan Stuffing:
4 T. butter
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. cooked white rice
1/2 c. pecan halves
Port Wine Sauce:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. minced onion
3 T. flour
1 T. chicken bouillon granules or 3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 T. currant jelly
1 c. dark sweet cherries, drained and pitted
3/4 c. port wine
1 c. water

Cornish Hens:
Brush the hens with butter and dredge with flour. Stuff the cavities with Pecan Stuffing (see below) but do not pack. Place uncovered in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a heated serving platter. Serve with Port Wine Sauce (see below).
Pecan Stuffing:
Saute the onion in butter. Add the other ingredients. Toss lightly.
Port Wine Sauce:
Cook the onion in butter, stirring until tender; remove from the heat. Stir in the flour, chicken bouillon, currant jelly and water. Cook, stirring over medium heat until thickened. Add the wine and cherries and heat just to boiling, stirring gently so as not to hurt the cherries.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Holiday Shrimp Salad

I feel absolutely terrible! I look forward to being able to continue learning how to blog! I have only just started and I have met some amazingly talented people along the way! I have just finished my finals for another hard class in my on-going online college and with getting up at 4 a.m. to do an hour commute to work, well, I guess it has all caught up with me and I feel exhausted! What is worse? My Thanksgiving dinner is only 3/4 of the way planned out. I have the absolutes that I am ready to get underway each year but I have just fallen in love with brining turkeys and chosing glazes that go with the brines. . .and I absolutely must do two turkeys this year! One deep fried (because it is soooo fast, good and moist) and my old faithful that is made with an herb butter put under the skin and an apricot glaze after soaking 24 hours in an icy brown sugar and citrus brine. Soooo good! This shrimp salad is another must! Every year I add at least two new dishes to my dinner! I just finished watching the food network do a dish with sweet potatoes where they were baked then scooped out of their skin and 2 full bananas were added along with honey and butter. This was spread into a baking dish and struesels was added to the top. I absolutely must look this up for the recipe! This dish is going to be one of my new dishes with the meal. I soooo love doing Thanksgiving because I have at least 5 appetizers, a soup or salad for my first entree (this year it will be a wonton soup) and then a *huge* dinner and THEN a huge dessert cart! I will post every recipe that I absolutely love and have honed to where I like it so that I have a reference this year. I just learned how to do snowflakes on pull apart dinner rolls so this is a must for this year too! Here's to the Holidays =D
Party Shrimp Salad

1 extra-large lemon
Celery leaves
1 T. pickling spices
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground white pepper
3 pounds medium-size shrimp in their shells uncooked(5 c. cooked)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 c. celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 to 2 t. snipped fresh dill or 1 t. dried dill herb **NOT dill seed**
2/3 c. Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise (not the light variety)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground white pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder


TO COOK THE SHRIMP: Half-fill a large saucepan with water. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the water and toss in the rind. Add a few celery leaves, the pickling spices, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Drop in the shrimp in their shells and boil them just until they turn pinkish-white and opaque, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a colander and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel and devein the shrimp, discarding all of the pickling spices. Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. (You need 5 cup of shrimp).
Place the cooked shrimp in a medium-size bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and toss well. Add the celery and dill and toss again.
MIX ALL of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Spoon the dressing over the shrimp mixture and stir until all of the shrimp and celery are well coated. Great for putting on an open sandwich using white or Challah bread, or simply as a salad on curly lettuce leaves. Refrigerate any leftovers and use within 2 days.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Christmas and Rum Cake

What are the holidays without a little rumcake? I started thinking that I have always made rum balls and bourbon balls, mixed drink beverages for the holidays, pies with layers of alcohol, such as Grand Marnier between two layers of orange sherbet in a coconut and butter toasted pie crust but I have never attempted a rum cake! Well, I attempted and may I say WoW?! While I am drizzling this rum glaze over my cake, I am seeing that there is glaze being wasted because not all of it is seeping in. Puddles of rum glaze on the plate is NOT acceptable! Rectifying this is easy. . .grab pastry brush and reapply! First, please poke holes in your rum cake. This is a must. You want seepage deep into the cake itself! I want to say that the cake gets moister as it sits but it only lasted 2 1/2 days. Yeppers, I shared and people came back for thirds and fourths. Granted, they were saying things like oh, just a little sliver. . . that's a sliver???!! I can't even see it and then they would be taking a *huge* portion, which is a compliment to this recipe! I really enjoyed making this cake *but* I will warn you ahead of time that is recipe will take a WHOLE cup of rum! I believe that if you wanted to substitute bourbon for rum or experiment with a flavor of rum. . . well, I want to hear about it! Really. . .you need to spill and tell me what flavor and how it turned out! I want to try pineapple rum next time! I was wondering if they have a cherry rum? I see a trip to the liquor store in my near future =D
Also, I want to try this as a French toast for breakfast. . .can you just imagine?

Holiday Rum Cake
1 c. chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, whichever you prefer
1 18 1/2-ounce yellow cake mix
1 1 3/4-ounce (4-serving) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. Bacardi dark rum. . .I believe I used Appleyard (sp?) Jamaican Rum this last time
1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark rum


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Use pastry brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.

Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
**Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Breakfast is Served


Breakfast Trifle
Knife-and-Fork Breakfast Burritos
Overnight Coffee Cake
Chocolate Chai Tea

I wanted to make a great breakfast and one that was easy so I did a menu, with the help of the Holiday's issue of Better Homes and Gardens of 07. I just love when the holidays come around because the fun ideas really come out. Sometimes it feels like people aren't getting inspired until Thanksgiving and Christmas are here since that is when most of the entertaining is suppose to be happening. . .according to the magazine world, anyways! Well, I also stayed up till 1 a.m. baking because I really got into a cookie thing too. I can't post everything in one blog because I don't want to be responsible for blogger overload! =D

Breakfast Burritos
These burritos can be made the night before and assembled the next morning. The egg burritos take about 30 minutes for prep and 5 minutes to cook per batch.
6 eggs, slightly beaten
3 T. milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray or cooking oil
1 15-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. bottled or homemade chunky salsa
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3/4 c. crumbled Monterey Jack cheese- or however much you prefer
1/3 c. sour cream
2 T. snipped fresh mint for garnish
Extra chunky salsa to serve with the burritos if you like =D
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Coat a 10-inch nonstick omelet pan (or skillet with flared sides) with nonstick cooking spray or brush lightly with a little cooking oil. Preheat pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles.
  • For each of the egg "tortillas", pour about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into the pan. Lift and tilt pan to spread egg mixture over bottom. Return to hear. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom (do not turn). Loosen edges of the egg tortilla with a spatula. Carefully slide out onto a plate. Place a piece of waxed paper over egg tortilla. Continue as above with the remaining egg mixture to make a total of six egg tortillas, stacking egg tortillas separated by waxed paper on the plate. Cover and chill egg tortillas for 4 to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium saucepan, mash the beans slightly. Stir in 1/2 c. salsa. Heat over low heat until heated through. Cover and keep warm while heating egg tortillas.
  • Place three egg tortillas on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5 minutes or until heated through. Carefully slide each egg tortilla onto a serving plate. On half of each egg tortilla, spread 1/4 cup of the bean-salsa mixture. Top with some of the tomatoes and cheese. Folds egg tortilla in half and then in half again to form burrito. Keep warm while preparing remaining burritos. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream; sprinkle with mint. If you like, serve with additional salsa. Makes 6 servings.
Breakfast Trifle
1 1/2 c. of 1-inch chunks fresh pineapple or one 20-ounce can pineapple chunks (juice pack)
1 c. halved fresh strawberries
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. seedless green grapes
1 4-serving-size instant banana cream pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. slided almonds, toasted
  • Drain canned pineapple well (if using) and pat dry with paper towels. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart trifle bowl or individual clear glasses, layer pineapple chunks, strawberries, blueberries and grapes; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine dry pudding mix, milk and sour cream. Whisk for 2 minutes or until thickened; let stand 5 minutes. Pour over fruit. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with almonds before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Overnight Coffee Cake
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 T. toasted wheat germ
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground nutmeg
  • Grease bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in ricotta cheese. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can. Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  • In a bowl, combine nuts, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter in pan. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover coffee cake and bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Chocolate Chai
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. water
8 chai-flavor tea bags
4 c. milk
Kahlua (optional)
  • In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in 1/2 cup of the water until smooth. Add remaining water, whisking until combined. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Add tea bags. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags, squeezing liquid from tea bags.
  • Stir milk and Kahlua, if using, into chocolate mixture and heat just to simmering. Whisk to make frothy. Pour into cups. Makes about 8 servings =D

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bread Season

Deborah from Taste and Tell has definitely inspired me! She has a challenge of her own started that reviews a cookbook of her choice every month. From what I understand, Deborah has decided to try three recipes out of the cookbook of choice to deliver a fair try and then at the end of the month, she gives a review. I think trying several recipes out of a chosen cookbook is an awesome idea because there is always a chance that the first recipe just may not be up my alley, even though the ingredient's list and the title of a recipe may sound wonderful. The second and third recipe could end up being creations that I will no longer be able to live without. . .you know, it could happen. Well, My Cookbook of choice for this month is Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery
This bread book is all about starters from sour dough starters to rye starters. I have been wanting to try my own sour dough bread and have a tradition to keep for years to come! My Mom used to make all of our family bread every week. Never store bought bread, never ever! I completely miss the aroma emitting from the kitchen of fresh baked bread. Now I will just start making my own. =D

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fall Pear Craze

I have looked at some wonderful blog sites over the past several days and what I have found is that I am missing out on a whole world (literally) of talented people who have the same passion for great food that surpasses in flavor! What I really enjoy is how many different ways there are to look at food. I feel inspired and ready to jump into new flavors. By the way, for anyone reading this. . .I can not believe the pictures and recipes that combine technology and passion with the concept of food to the point where I feel I could reach into the monitor to touch and smell the wonderous array emitted from the beautiful pictures! Great people and great food! The two things that really bring happiness and warmth into a home.

Pears! Pears! Pears! I love pears but whenever I want a Bosc or Anjou Pear, which is what I have available in the close vicinity, the fruit is rock hard. Looks beautiful but I want to sink my teeth into the creamy flesh of a perfectly ripe fruit. . .*not* chip my way in. Hhmph! I learned to can my own pears this last summer, and boy am I proud of those pretty white jars, but sometimes I want the whole fruit to eat and I do not want to wait the day or two by putting the pear in a paper bag to rush ripen it! How many people do you know that crave something and say "oh, I'll just wait till the day after tomorrow to eat it? No biggie." Well, it is a biggie and by the time the day after tomorrow comes, the craving has past and I have forgotten about my pear. 4 days later, the pear is a hurting puppy! Well, I have decided on how to get around this little adventure. I now have ideas put into words and on a blog to refer back to when just this incident happens in the future. I absolutely love these three recipes that were just now made. The flavors and colors made me feel good about myself because the food was fresh, healthy and delicious. . . .uhmmm, most of it anyways =D

Dinner Menu:

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Pear, Bell Pepper and Cilantro Salsa

Pear Crustade with Lemon Pastry and Almonds

Pear, Bell Pepper and Cilantro Salsa

2 firm but ripe Anjou or Bosc pears (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 c. finely diced seeded red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
1/4 c. finely chopped seeded jalapeno chiles (about 2 medium chiles)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Mix all ingredients exept cilantro in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir in cilantro.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Pear Sauce

3 Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds total), halved horizontally
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. (1/4 stick) butter, divided
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 c. low-salt chicken broth
2/3 c. pear nectar
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. fresh lemon juice

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in wide, shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Place on a baking sheet.

Melt 1 Tablespoon butter with 1 Tablespoon oil in a heavy, large skillet over high heat. Add 3 chicken breast pieces to skillet and cook until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add remaining 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon oil to skillet and cook remaining chicken. Transfer to plate; tent chicken with foil to keep warm. Add broth to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Stir in pear nectar, mustard and lemon juice. Boil until thick enough to coat spoon, about 4 minutes. I will add about a teaspoon of flour to a little water to make a liquidy paste and add this as a thickener but only if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place 1 chicken breast piece on each plate. Spoon sauce over the breast. Divide salsa among the plates. Enjoy! =D

Pear Crostade with Lemon Pastry and Almonds


1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar

1 t. finely grated lemon peel

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 c. (or more) whipping cream


1 lbs firm but ripe Barlett pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 lbs firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

5 T. sugar

1 T. plus 2 t. all-purpose flour

2 t. fresh lemon juice

1 t. finely grated lemon peel

1/4 t. (generous) ground nutmeg

Whipping cream for brushing

2 T. sliced almonds

Vanilla Ice cream (optional)


For Pastry:

Whisk flour, sugar, lemon peel and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; using fingertips or pastry cutter, rub or cut in butter until coarse meal forms. Drizzle 1/4 c. cream over all; toss with fork until moist clumps form, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls as needed if dry. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. This dough can also be chilled over night.

For filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all pears, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon peel and nutmeg in large bowl to coat. Roll out pastry on sheet of floured parchment paper to 14-inch round. Transfer crust on parchment paper to baking sheet. Mound pears in center of pastry, leaving 2-inch plain border. Fold pastry border over pears, crimping slightly. Brush pastry edges with cream; sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake croustade until filling bubbles and almonds are lightly toasted, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Serve croustade warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if you like. . .which I do! =D