Friday, July 30, 2010

Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie

I had this fantastic concoction at a wine tasting party a few years ago. My friend, Kara, brought it. I was a bit perplexed about the sugary, nutty, caramel mixture on the top of a wheel of cheese...and then...I tasted it. Hellllooooo dahling! Fantastical. It will be sure to impress if you are having a little shindig and need a fancy schmancy appetizer.

Kara, thank you for getting me this insane recipe...even if it IS 3 years later. I wish I had pictures, but I didn't want to withold the recipe until I made it.

Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans

1 tablespoon brandy

1 (14-ounce) round brie

Apple wedges, for serving

Pear wedges, for serving

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Crackers, for serving


In a small bowl stir together the sugar, nuts and brandy. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours or up to 1 week.

Preheat over to 500°F.

Place the brie on an overproof platter or pie plate. Bake for 4 or 5 minutes or until the brie is slightly softened. Spread the sugar mixture in an ever layer on top of the warm brie and bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the sugar melts. Brush the fruit wedges with lemon juice and arrange them around 1 side of the brie. Place crackers around the other side.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Penne with Spicy Italian Sausage & Tomato Garlic Cream Sauce

I came up with this beauty last night out of a necessity to use up some cream cheese & sausage I had in the fridge. It turned out quite yummy. It would've been easier if I had a food mill, but I just pushed the mixture through a strainer with a spoon to get a really luxurious and velvety sauce.

3-5 links of Italian Sausage
1 lb penne (or other short pasta)
1 sweet onion
3 tomatoes (mine were plum tomatoes from my garden!)
1 can tomato paste
1 can of diced tomatoes
4 large cloves of garlic
about 1/2 cup (or a big spoonful) of cream cheese (mine was whipped, but regular or lowfat would work)
a handful of fresh basil
a handful of fresh parsley

Get a deep skillet going on medium high heat and toss the sausages in. Cut the onion into thin slices and nestle them in around the sausages. 
In the mean time, get your handy dandy food processor out and start loading the tomatoes & tomato paste in.

Turn the sausages over and stir up the onions a bit. See that yummy brown color? Yes!

Keep those a sizzlin' while we continue the sauce.  Really give those 'maters a good whirl in there. We want them really pureed.  Add the puree to the browned sausage & onions and keep that pan simmering.

Add in your whole cloves of garlic and the handful of fresh basil. Also about 2 tsp salt.

Cover and let that simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

When the timer goes off....remove the sausages and set aside.  Put a pot of water on to boil and salt it liberally.

Take your hot sauce and put back into the food processor. Puree it - but be careful! Fast-moving hot sauce is not something you want to get hit in the face with.

Now, if you have a food mill...use it. I only have a very old strainer. So I worked the pureed, hot sauce through the strainer with a metal spoon. What comes out is the most velvety, fragrant, smooth and delicious tomato sauce ever. It would make a great soup!

Use the "pulp" that's left on some crusty bread and make a little bruschetta. It's really delicious, but I really wanted the smooth consistency for this sauce.

Now slice your sausage thinly on a bias (to match the shape of the penne) - I only used 3 sausages and saved the other 2 for another meal in the freezer.

Add the sausage slices back into the silken tomato sauce. Put it on a low simmer.

Add your penne to the boiling water now.

Get your big spoonful o' cream cheese and gently stir it into the sausage & tomato sauce skillet.  I love cream cheese.

Mmmmmm. Silky and creamy. This would also be great if you used heavy cream, too. I just NEVER have it in my house. That's dangerous.

Add your cooked pasta into the sauce and combine well.

Add a big handful of minced parsley (or basil...or both) to the pasta and combine - serve!

My husband and son were both really into this dish. Very velvety consistency and full of flavor.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Apple Pie Shots (who's ready to PARTAY?)

Thank you sooo much to Scott & Melanie Lyons for the killer recipe. These were one of the highlights of this years rafting trip. Cheers to all! You would NEVER guess this contains alcohol. Dangerous and delicious.
1/2-3/4 gal apple juice

1 gal apple cider

2 cups white sugar

2 cups brown sugar

1 container cinnamon sticks -- about 10

1 bottle 750ml. bottle of everclear

Boil apple cider, juice, cinnamon sticks and sugar until cinnamon sticks start to open...we did about 3 hours

Add everclear....chill for 24 hours

Drink and share with friends...a good time will surely follow!!!"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ziti with Italian Sausage & Sweet Red Pepper Sauce

My mom had a Mexican themed party last weekend and bought a bunch of Ancient Sweet peppers and Poblano peppers for decorations on the tables....I ended up with them. So I concocted this recipe to use them up before they got wrinkley.  I love the Ancient Sweets because they are SOOOO sweet and barely have any ribs or seeds, so you are paying for all pepper, not a big heavy stem and seeds like in a normal bell pepper.

1 lb of ziti (or other short pasta) - I got mine for $.99/lb at Joseph's the other day

1 package of Italian sausage - I used sweet, but spicy would also be fantastic. Turkey Italian Sausage also works well.

3 Ancient Sweet Peppers (or red bell peppers)
1 Vidalia Onion (or other sweet onion)
1 head of garlic (yes...not just a clove, a whole head)
1 carrot
1 tomato (mine was from the garden...tasty and free!)

a couple tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
grated parmasan cheese
a small bunch of fresh herbs - I used parsley, basil & oregano from my herb garden

Get a deep skillet on medium high heat and start to brown the sausages. Also get a large pot of water on to boil....salt it liberally (a few tbsp of salt).
Get your food processor out (I totally love my new large one...makes my life so much easier) - roughly chop your onion, peppers, tomato and carrot. Toss 'em in. Smack your garlic and peel the cloves. Toss them ALL in. Process all the veggies until they are the consistency of soup.

See? Barely any seeds or ribs. So they may cost more per pound, but they are all pepper! No waste.

You may need to turn your sausages now. Keep moving them around until they are brown on all sides.   They will be about 3/4 of the way cooked through. Remove them and set aside.

Continue with your veggies. 

Use the same pan you cooked the sausage in and drizzle a tbsp of oil in. Add the veggies and get them simmering. Season with salt & pepper.

In the mean time while those are bubbling away, slice your sausage into about 1" pieces.  See? Just slightly pink on the inside.

Add them back into the pan with the veggie sauce.

Keep it simmering. The water should be boiling by now, so toss the pasta in!

Now de-stem your herbs and mince them up.  It's easiest if you bunch them all up and kind of roll them into a ball. Then just slide the knife through them quickly.

The sauce and sausages will simmer for about 10 minutes...about the time it takes to cook the pasta.

Keep simmering...

When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it into the sauce skillet. Toss it well. Add a small handful of grated cheese, the minced herbs and season with some salt & pepper.

Helllllooooo gorgeous!

Sprinkle with a little cheese on top...voila! Loaded with LOTS of hidden veggies. You kids will NEVER know that there are red peppers, carrots, tomatoes and onions in there.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Herby Garlic Linguini

This is my go-to summer frugal meal. It's delicious, fresh, easy & oh so cheap to make. I got the pasta for $.79 and the herbs were grown at home. It'll feed 5 easily!

1 lb of linguini
5 cloves fresh garlic - minced
about 1/3 cup of good quality olive oil
assorted fresh herbs (about 1 cup minced) - I used parsley, chives, basil & oregano
salt & pepper to taste (about 3 tbsp salt & 1 tsp pepper)

Get the water a boilin' -  salt it well - about 2 tbsp in a large pot of water.  Add the pasta and cook to your preference (my hubby likes his noodles COOKED...not al dente. Bah!)

 Mince your herbs while the noodles cook.

When the pasta is done, drain it well. Add about 1/2 of the olive oil to the pan and toss in the garlic, cook it for about 30 seconds. Add the pasta and herbs and the rest of the oil.

Toss well. Season with salt & pepper - make sure you season it well. It needs it.

Top with some grated cheese if you like it.