Fondue



     The last post of 2010. Everyone is getting ready to ring out the old and bring in the new. It is a time for togetherness and celebration. With all the celebration there must be food. Food is part of the fun. Do you ever go to parties or functions and dread the drab selection of food? I will admit it, I do. Well this recipe will be a hit of the party. It is fun, easy, and colorful. Not to mention the variety or theme that can be brought together with this dish. Sweet, savory, crunchy, soft, etc... Adults and kids love fondue, it is different and unique.  I made a classic swiss fondue with an arrangement of fruits, vegetables and different kinds of breads all in perfect dipping sizes.
     
     
I started by blanching the carrots and broccoli, just to take some of the raw taste out of them. I dunked them in a big pot of salted boiling water for a minute or two, pulled them out, drained them, and then left them to cool. I had some fresh mushrooms sitting in the refrigerator begging to be used so I sauted them in a little olive oil for a few minutes on a high heat to give them a little color. I went to the grocery and purchased a loaf of  regular french bread and a loaf of multi-grain bread (sorry no homemade this time), cubed it and set on the serving platter. I cut up a granny smith apple and a red pear for color and sweetness and spritzed with lemon juice, to keep their flesh white and prevent them from turning brown. I added items that we like and what was readily available. Feel free to arrange your platter any way you wish. Add some protein of meat, fish, or seafood. Add potatoes. Or cauliflower. The options are endless.    



    The star of the show is the fondue. What wouldn't want to bath in a bubbly pot of cheese? Who wouldn't want to consume something that was bathed in a bubbly pot of cheese? Mmmm, Cheese! I love cheese. Ok, enough with the drooling. I used two different cheeses in this fondue an imported Swiss and a Gruyere, but feel free to use what you like. Normally fondue calls for Kirsch, which is a cherry flavored brandy. I could not find this anywhere, so I substituted apricot brandy. Hey I had it on hand, and it worked. That is what matters.


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Stuffed Apricot French Toast


The holiday season is here and dishes that can be made in advance are a great time saver. Imagine Christmas morning your family waking to the smell of sweet goodness of french toast and all you had to do that morning was to top it with a nutty strudel and toss it in the oven. Bake it while they sleep or bake it while opening the gifts that Santa had left. Either way it is so convenient because the majority of the work was done the night before.



This is a great brunch idea. Take this simple dish and you will be the star of the party. The presentation looks like you slaved away for hours, but in actuality the hardest part was slicing the bread. You may make this dish the same day, just make sure that you let it set at least an hour so the bread has a chance to soak up all that eggy goodness.



This dish is very versatile. If apricot doesn't appeal to you, use your favorite fruit and jam. Mix up the flavor combinations, maybe use orange marmalade and some fresh cranberries or peanut butter and jelly. Add cream cheese to your favorite flavors. For more simplicity use canned pie filling. Any way you serve it up I am sure it will be good. Another idea....use eggnog as your egg base. Now that would be a rich and tasty addition. Any way you prepare it, it will be good. And as always, make it your own.






STUFFED APRICOT FRENCH TOAST

1 loaf french bread, sliced 1 1/2" thick
2 jars of apricot jam
10 apricots, halved, pitts removed
10 eggs
2 c milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

TOPPING:
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, cubed
1 c chopped pecans
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Arrange 1/2 of the slices of bread in a greased 9x13 pan.  Arrange the fruit on top of the bread, spread with jam, and top with remaining bread slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour mix over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, combine the brown sugar and butter in a small bowl until it resembles crumbs, add nuts and syrup. Sprinkle over the french toast. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes until egg mixture is set and knife comes out clean when inserted near the center. 

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Turkey & the Leftovers


A quick entry for post Thanksgiving turkey leftovers...

Thanksgiving has been over for a week now, it is time to use up that turkey or throw it away. I would hope that you use it (remember that there are hungry children in Africa). First off save that carcass and scraps. It is very easy to make stock which will freeze until next Thanksgiving, if it lasts that long. It is great to have homemade stock to use in soups, sauces, and as an everyday cooking liquid. It is very easy to make and the aroma of your house is magnificent.
The following is a list of all the wonderful ideas to help use up your celebratory bird.

  • Turkey Tortellini/Noodle Soup (great use for that yummy stock you have simmering on your stove) (freezable)
  • Turkey Rubens
  • Turkey Omelet
  • Turkey Pot Pie (freezable)
  • Turkey Salad
  • Turkey Lasagna (freezable)
  • Turkey and Dumplings (freezable)
  • Turkey Taco Salad
  • Turkey Noodle Casserole (replaces Tuna) (freezable)
  • Turkey Gravy over Mashed Potatoes
  • Chipotle Glazed Turkey Tacos
  • BBQ Turkey Sandwiches (freezable)
  • Turkey Joes (sloppy joes) (freezable)
  • Turkey Tettrazini
Hopefully this will help in your left over bird consumption and gives you plenty of ideas for the present and future Thanksgiving leftovers.

TURKEY STOCK

Turkey carcass, bones, skin and all
3 carrots or more, no need to peel
3 ribs of celery, leaves attached, or more
2 onions, peeled
1/2 head of garlic
1 Tbsp peppercorns
3 Tbs salt
fresh or dried herbs to taste, I used sage, rosemary, dill, and thyme (just because I have them in my garden)
Water to cover

Throw everything in a big stock pot and cover with water. Simmer on medium low heat for 5 hours or so, until stock becomes brown and rich in color. You will see squash seeds because I had butternut squash that day too, so I threw in the peelings and some seeds happened to find their way into the pot too. Use whatever scraps you may have, that is the beauty of stock. 
Strain and pour into containers, freeze until ready to use.



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Tailgating for two

                                                                                   


      Unconventional tailgating at its very best. You have to understand that I don't have a television, so therefore watching the game at my house is virtually impossible. I just really wanted to have a reason to have some "football" food. I came up with the idea to have a "tailgate party", I sent out the invite (yes, just one, remember tailgating for two; plus no one wants to come tailgate without at t.v.) and thought that I could figure out the rest when game day came.
         Game day is here! Mr. Crumbs and I are tailgating together. We are listening to the game on the radio. It is cheesy, I know, but it is fun. I made a big spread of food and we are sitting back relaxing, having a few brew-skies all in the comfort of our home. It is different and I get to have "football" food. In a few years we will look back and say to each other "Remember that tailgate party we had?"


     

     The menu for tonights big game includes: Layered Taco Dip, Homemade Guacamole, Southwest BBQ Chicken Taquitos, Salted Kale Chips, Buffalo Garlic Chicken Chunks, Fifteen Bean Soup, Cornbread, and Brownies. All paired with a couple of longnecks, who can/could resist?






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Portabella Caps with Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese



     It's Meatless Monday! For those of you who haven't heard about Meatless Mondays I encourage you to try it. It is a big rage right now in the food world, including in restaurants and with chefs. Foodies are encouraging others to replace one "meaty" meal a week, to a vegetarian meal. It doesn't mean that you are turning into a tree hugging neurotic psycho, who will chain yourself to a tree or die, type of person. It is just creating a more healthy awareness for your body and for the environment. It is one meal a week. I am not asking you to forgo your carnivoristic behavior all together, but one meal will not kill you. Plus think of the money that you will save by substituting ONE meal to be meat free. Your worried about not getting enough protein? Don't. For one thing it is one meal. Add beans, grains, nuts, the world is your oyster err, I mean umm... pecan, (insert which ever unmeat protein here).

     For this "Meatless Monday" I made large portabella caps, grilled, and stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and blue cheese. These were quick and easy. Feel free stuff your mushrooms with whatever items sound delightful to you or, ingredients that you have on hand. Make it yours. These were Dee-licious! Resembling steak with creamed spinach and Gorgonzola. Try it. I promise it won't kill you!

Stuffed Portabella Caps with Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese

4 large Portabella mushroom caps, wiped clean
10oz bag Spinach
1 Shallot, sliced (or small onion)
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
4oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 c. Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Place portabella caps on a hot grill, gill side down for 4 minutes. While caps are grilling, add olive oil to a large saute pan and heat. Add shallot, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic, saute until garlic and shallots are soft. Toss in spinach and wilt. Drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar and toss to coat. Turn mushrooms over, gill side up and divide hot spinach mix to all four mushroom caps. Top with blue cheese and heat until melted. Serve.
Serves 2.

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Fall Strata



Fall is in full swing. That means the flavors of fall are here too. Pumpkin, Apple, Pear, Squash, etc... are amongst us. Sunday I wanted something different for breakfast that did not involve omelets or oatmeal. Don't get me wrong they are both good, but can get tiresome (I wanted waffles, but was out-voted, as usual). Plus we have  been on a health kick lately at the Crumbs... household (again), so I wanted to continue with this theme.



I started rummaging through cupboards, the refrigerator, the freezer, the pantry, looking for items. I didn't know what I was looking for; I was just looking. I pulled out a butternut squash, that sounded good. I was just at a class where they made a squash bread pudding, it was mighty tasty. I built on that idea, but instead of sweet, I was going to make it a savory, eggy, bread dish.
I continued my hunt for ingredients. I came across some mushrooms, left over chicken breast breasts, asiago cheese from the previous nights dinner party. I cut up an onion, threw in some fresh thyme from my garden, I was pretty much set.


I diced up my pretty little butternut squash, lightly toasted some 35 calorie bread, separated my eggs (remember this is healthy so I just used the egg whites), chopped my onions, chicken, and mushrooms, and thawed some chicken stock (no need to use homemade, if you have it great, if not use broth or even bouillon). This kind of reminds me of an eggy stuffing or dressing. Leave some of the eggs out, add some celery and garlic, saute in butter with some onion, and that is pretty much what you got.
This recipe weighs in at 180 calories. The following is the break down (thanks to the calorie calculator at sparkrecipes.com.)

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 serving

Calories 179.7
Total Fat 5.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Cholesterol 33.2 mg
Sodium 493.3 mg
Potassium 413.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.3 g
Dietary Fiber 4.8 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 23.0 g



FALL STRATA


2 c. Chicken Stock, Base, or Bouillon, heated
10 Egg whites, well beaten
8 oz. Fresh Mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 c. Butternut Squash, cubed
1 1/2 Chicken Breasts, cooked
1 Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, minced
8 slices 35 calorie bread, slightly toasted. I used Aunt Millie's Light Potato Bread
3 oz Asiago Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss together all ingredients, EXCEPT egg whites, in a large casserole dish sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Then pour the well beaten, foamy egg whites over the top, do not mix the eggs will seep down into the crevices. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, remove foil and bake another 30 minuted until set and golden brown.

Serves: 8




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Dark Chocolate Cranberry & Orange Cookies

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White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling





     Last weekend was my Mom's birthday. My philosophy is that everyone needs cake on their birthday. So I made her a cake, a special cake. Just for my MOM! If you read my last post about Raspberry Jam, if not you can read it here, I explained that I had a recipe in the works to use with this Jam. This is the recipe! I wanted it to be a surprise for my mom. The thought process on what kind and how was weeks in the making. The tries were tedious, but well worth it, even getting up at 5am on Saturday morning to remake the cake that I made the night before because I didn't think that it had the right texture; but worth it. She is a special lady and deserves the best, so if getting up at 5am to remake cakes then by golly I was going to do it. I did it, and it was SPECTACULAR!


     The cake was a layer cake flavored with decadent white chocolate, filled with semi tart raspberry jam, and frosted with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. The flavors all complemented each other nicely. And was it delicious. Think white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. The frosting for the cake is not overly sweet it balances with the cake and does not overpower the other flavors. It is very complementary. The filling is a nice surprise. You have a sweet cake and then the fruity tart filling that floods your flavor senses. My mouth is watering, even though I have eaten this cake all week and should be sick of it by now. I am not, it is that good. Remind you that I had cakes one and two to eat too, PLUS the pieces that my mother MADE ME take home of her cake, so I should be full of cake and thinking or typing about it should make me cringe. I say: BRING ON MORE CAKE!




WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE

3 c. all-purpose flour 
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature 
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c heavy cream
11 oz. white chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter at low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. At low speed, alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the milk in 2 additions. Add the melted white chocolate and beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the surfaces.
Bake the cakes in the center of the oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Chill.
Slice each cake in half and spread the raspberry jam on three of the cake halves, stacking one on top of the other as you go. Chill cake again. Once the cake is fully assembled, you will want to keep refrigerated. Let cake slices warm up to room temperature for best taste. Store cake in the refrigerator after slicing.


WHITE CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 c. confectioner sugar
11 oz white chocolate, melted

Mix butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Slowly add confectioner sugar, one cup at a time. Add the melted chocolate and stir until incorporated. Chill slightly and then frost the entire cake.




RASPBERRY JAM FILLING


5 c. fresh or frozen red raspberries
4 c. white sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 box pectin

In a large saucepan add sugar, berries, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar and berries have dissolved, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add pectin. Boil for 15 minutes and remove from heat. You may add to hot sterilized jars and seal at this point, or cool slightly and transfer to containers to freeze or store in the refrigerator.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMA CRUMBS...!!!

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Raspberry Jam


  Homemade Jam. Mmmm! There are so many uses for jam. Not only is it made for slathering on morning toast, it provides a great filling base. Check out the Summer Blueberry Pie post and you will see what I mean. There are many things to do with jam. Monte Crisco sandwich anyone? I recently have been eating it with cheeses. Cheese and jam or honey is a big thing right now. I tried it at a cooking confrence that I attended and have been addicted ever since. I love it. My cheese plate is not complete without jam.

This jam recipe is simple and easy. It is a little on the tart side, but there was a method for this madness. I have a recipe in the works and this jam is going to be used in it. I will be posting this at a later date. Until that time I am going to keep you in suspense. Trust me it won't be long and even though it is agonizing it will be worth the wait. 

Red Raspberry Jam

5 c. fresh or frozen red raspberries
5 c. white sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 box pectin

In a large saucepan add sugar, berries, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar and berries have dissolved, stirring occassionally to prevent scorching. Add pectin. Boil for 15 minutes and remove from heat. You may add to hot sterilized jars and seal at this point, or cool slightly and transfer to containers to freeze or store in the refrigerator.

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Cheaters Chili


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Chicken Breast Roll-ups


I am home from vacation and ready to get back into my kitchen. How I have missed it. I am tired of processed junk food. I am ready for a home cooked meal. I think that Mr. Crumbs is ready too. He purchased a Cooking Light magazine for me at the airport. He stated that there are a lot of recipes in here that look really good. I think that he is tired of eating out EVERY DAY as well. This week we are dedicating our menu to Cooking Light.  Our dinners each night this week are recipes or variations of a recipe from Cooking Light September 2010. Sunday we both sat down at the table, looked through the magazine, together (believe it or not Mr. Crumbs helps out quite a bit in the decision and prepartion of our meals), and decided that the Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts on page 96 was the meal we were going to start out our week with.

The recipe looked easy and stated that it would be ready in 40 minutes. That is not too bad. Well the night we were going to prepare this meal turned out too hectic and our schedules did not allow it. Since the chicken was thawed I figured why not go ahead and stuff them and prepare it for the following night. The filling was easy enough, even though I was out of Feta (oh the drama, no feta in the house). I found a bar of high quality (kidding) store brand Monterey Jack cheese and shredded to substitute for the Feta. The recipe also recommends to cut a slit in the chicken breasts to form a pouch and insert the stuffing. I had a little extra time on my hands.  I decided to butterfly the chicken, pound it out, add the stuffing, and roll them up securing with kitchen string. It worked well. I then set them on a plate and refrigerated until the next evening. The recipe does not call for this, but it added another layer of flavor to the dish.


Mr. Crumbs says that this dish is a keeper. The chicken was moist, juicy, and tender. The side of couscous was flavorful as well, the dried cranberries and raisins I added were a nice touch. The mushrooms were an added extra that the recipe did not call for, but I had a plethora in the fridge and decided to throw them in to the final baking step.  Omit or add whatever flavor combinations that will suite your tastes. And as always, make this recipe yours.

STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS (adapted from Cooking Light)

8 oz. chopped spinach
1/2 c. feta cheese (or whatever cheese may tickle your fancy at the moment)
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c. chicken broth
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large nonstick oven proof skillet over a med-high heat. Add spinich until it starts to wilt. Remove and squeeze out excess moisture. Wipe pan clean. Combine spinach, cheese, nuts, thyme, lemon, and garlic.  Cut a horizontal slipt through the thickest portion of the each breast to form a pocket. (This is the part I butterflied and rolled up). Stuff with 3Tbs of filling into each pocket. Secure with picks (as in toothpicks) or kitchen string. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper (at this point I covered and refrigerated my rollups until the following day).  
Heat oil in pan over med-high heat. Add chicken, cook for 3 mins on each side, until brown. Add broth and mushrooms cover pan, and place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes until done.

Cranberry and Raisin Couscous

1c. couscous
2 tsp. olive oil
1c. water
1/4c. dried cranberries and raisins (mixed)
1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat oil over a med-high heat in a saucepan, add the couscous and toast for 2 minutes. Add water and fruit, cover, and reduce heat to med-low. Cook 5 minutes until water is absorbed and grains are heated through. Add the parsley, salt and pepper, and fluff with a fork. Serve.

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Banana Fro Yo

It has been amazingly hot this summer. Cool treats are the "IN" thing right now. I had stumbled across this post from Gena at Choosing Raw and thought that it sounded interesting. It was easy, cool, and refreshing; not to mention healthy. Yes, I said healthy (it is a good thing). She stated in her post that this is not really a recipe and she is right. It is more of a process than anything. Anyway, I wanted to share it with you, because of the simplicity of this.

Last night I decided to try it out. I handed a dish to Mr. Crumbs and at first he said "This isn't popcorn." I replied "Popcorn?" He said "Yes, I thought that you were making me popcorn." Let me explained that popcorn was never a conversation topic last night. My response to him was "Sorry, no popcorn. Instead we are having Banana Frozen Yogurt." His response "Oh, that sounds good too." He ate it and was amazed. He asked where I got banana frozen yogurt. I told him that I made it and explained the process. The process is taking frozen banans and putting them in a food processor, pulsing to break up the bananas, scraping down the sides and then giving the bananas a whirl until they become a frozen soft serve icecream consistancy. He was like "Really? I could do that." I replied "Yes, you can!" There you have it, if Mr. Crumbs thinks that he can do it, then you can.




Here is Gena's post from Choosing Raw, http://www.choosingraw.com/this-post-will-change-your-life/. I encourage everyone to check out her site, she has interesting recipes and lots of words of wisdom. She lives a semi-raw and vegan lifestyle, but please do not be discouraged by this. She has a lot of information to share and presents it in a sublte but effective way.

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Summer Chocolaty Birthday Cake




You have read the title "Summer Chocolaty Birthday Cake" and are thinking what does summer have to do with chocolate cake? Chocolate Cake can be served at any time, but this cake has a "secret" ingredient. Not really a "secret" ingredient, but a summer ingredient. The ingredient is....(drum roll, please)........ZUCHHINI! Another way to use zucchini and it is tasty. Very tasty. A coworker compared it to a famous restaurant's cake. I will give you a hint; is no longer in existence. Make this recipe and leave a comment and let me know the what you think the name of this restaurant is.





I created this recipe because like everyone else right now, I have zucchini in my refrigerator that needs to be used. It is that time of year and it is in abundance. Anyway, I saw this recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake and thought, Hmmm, I have all those ingredients I will make it. I made it. It had cinnamon and nutmeg in it. I am sorry cinnamon and nutmeg do not go in cakes. Not in my cakes anyway. When I think cinnamon, nutmeg, and zucchini, I think bread. When I think of cake, I think sweet and birthday-ish. No where in my mind does spice come into play, but I made it anyway. It had the texture of cake, but the spices came through and therefore it is not cake. It is bread. The difference between cake and bread is the moistness, texture and crumb. Growing up I never had a birthday cake that cinnamon and nutmeg were added to the batter, they were always in the sweet breads that we ate; but NEVER in my birthday cake. Therefore I was disappointed in the recipe and I needed to fulfill my expectations of what a Chocolate Zucchini CAKE was supposed to taste like.

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Garlicky Guacamole




Fall is in the air, and so is football season. It is time to start making those game day snacks. What better to go along with your chips and salsa than guacamole? Rich and buttery avocados make the most creamy accompaniment to any game day fare. This quick and easy dip will be a crowd pleaser.




I like a little spice in my guac, so I add jalapenos. Pickled jalapenos to be exact. I have tried the pepper right off the vine and it just does not give the dip that special pizazz that your looking for in a game day spread. I also add garlic, lots of garlic, to give your breathe that amazing odor that everyone loves. As an added bonus, the spicier and garlickier the food, the more beverage consumption. I am into the beverage consumption. Food and beverages on a Sunday afternoon, how much more fun is that? Oh, and the game too; right and the game.

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops with a Spicy Mayo Sauce

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