Saturday, February 21, 2015

Frangelico Squares

A person can only go without sweets so long and, since I haven't made anything sweet since the middle of December, and since my neighbor gave me a new cookbook and since Mr. T has been craving something sweet, I decided it was time!

Today's sweet treat is brought to you by Desserts First, a nice little cookbook written by Patti Blystone and Rose Daniells and first published in 1990.  I have made quite a few of the recipes in the book but today I was focused on the Frangelico Squares.

What can I say about these rich and wonderful little squares....they are very rich so a little  goes a long way.  They were the perfect treat to accompany my cup of tea this afternoon.  The bottom layer is a shortbread, the middle layer has the texture of pecan pie filling only it uses walnuts, yep, walnuts, but it is flavored with Frangelico, a hazelnut flavored liqueur.  The top layer is like a buttercream frosting and flavored with Frangelico.

We thought they were delicious and as is my routine, I passed a few on to the neighbors.  Everybody enjoyed this sweet treat!

Frangelico Squares
adapted from Desserts First

Yield:  24-36 squares (depends on size)
Preheat oven:  350° F.

2 sticks plus 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Frangelico or any hazelnut flavored liqueur
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp sifted powdered sugar

In the mixer bowl, cream 2 sticks less 1 Tbsp butter, add granulated sugar and cream.  Add 3 cups flour and mix on low, stirring unil crumbly.  Spread the mixture in a buttered jellyroll pan (15 1/2" X 10 1/2" X 3/4").  Press it down with wax paper.  Remove the wax paper and bake until it just starts to turn golden, about 20 minutes.

In the mixer bowl beat the eggs until frothy.  Add the brown sugar and beat until thick.  Sift together the remaining 1/3 cup flour and the baking powder.  Stir the dry mixture into the egg mixture gently but thoroughly.  Add 2 tsp. Frangelico, walnuts and coconut and mix.  Spread the mixture over the baked crust.  Bake until the tester or toothpick comes out clean.  Let the dessert cool in the pan on a rack.

Cream together the remaining 4 Tbsp butter, powdered sugar and the last 2 Tbsp. Frangelico.  Beat until it is a consistency for spreading.  Spread the icing over the dessert and chill for 30 minutes.  Cut into 2 inch  squares.  Serve.

Tips:  Since Frangelico is strong, I suggest adding 1 Tbsp of the liqueur to the icing, mix and taste to determine if you need the second tablespoon.


And that is enough sweets in the house for another month or two....ha, never happen!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

There were chicken sausages in the freezer, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in the pantry and I had been thumbing through The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley.  Guess what I am doing for dinner? Right, something in the slow cooker with sausage and sun-dried tomatoes.

I found a recipe that was a close match to what I had available.  I was determined that I was not going to make the drive to the store.  You know those kinds of days.  I did adapt the recipe a bit I used a jar of sun-dried tomatoes instead of the dry-packed and I didn't have two cans of crushed tomatoes so I used crushed and diced.  It all came together nicely!

There was plenty for the two of us as well as a "special delivery" to the neighbors...and leftovers for tonight!  I have the hardest time cooking for two.  The meal got thumbs up from everybody.  I would definitely make this again....easy...and tasty!

Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce 
over Pasta
adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker, by Lynn Alley

6 oz sun dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup hearty red wine
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 allspice berries
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 pound chicken sausage, sliced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sprig of thyme or 1/2-1 tsp dried thyme, to taste
Shredded Parmesan for serving

Combine the fennel and the allspice seeds in a mortar and grind finely.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, about 7-8 minutes, until starting to brown.  Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage slices and the spice mixture, stir for 2-3 minutes, until mixed in well.  Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and wine.  Stir to mix.

Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and add the thyme.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Check the mixture for taste and to see that it is at the thickness you desire.  Adjust seasonings.  Remove the thyme before serving.

Serve over creamy polenta or pasta.


The meal was accompanied by an Adelaida Pinot Noir that was a perfect match!  I must admit that I was originally going to serve this over polenta but I didn't have enough corn meal....good thing there is always pasta in the pantry!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto with Shrimp

What?  Laryngitis again?  How can this be?  The last five months have been challenging for me.  I have come down with laryngitis and the accompanying crud five times.  Yep, once a month for five months.  I must say being sick is getting old.  In between times, I have been in Seattle to visit and play with my granddaughter, Sabine.  Maybe I am catching it from flying.  Maybe I am just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Whatever it is, it is time for it to end!

Being sick is playing havoc with cooking and posting....  However, on my most recent trip to Seattle, I made a delicious Sun-dried Tomato Risotto with Shrimp.  I had taken the most recent issue of Cuisine at Home to read while on the plane and I spied the made me plain hungry!

It was really an easy dish to put together and if a two-year-old likes it, then it must be okay!

Sun-dried Tomato Risotto with Shrimp
adapted from Cuisine At Home, Issue 109, January/February 2015

Yield:  4 Servings

3 1/2 cups each chicken stock and water
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1/2 cup minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp chopped lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste

12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/4 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
Chopped parsley

Combine the chicken stock and the water in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Maintain a simmer.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic and tomato paste.  Cook until the onions soften, about 5-6 minutes.

Stir in the rice to coat it with the butter and tomato paste mixture, about 1 minutes.  Add the wine. Simmer, stirring frequently until the wine is absorbed, 2 minutes.

Ladle one cup increments of the stock mixture into the rice.  Simmer and stir frequently until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next.

After five cups of stock has been added, taste the risotto for doneness.  Continue adding 1/2 cup increments until the risotto reaches al dente.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter until melted.  Stir in the cheese, tomatoes and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep the risotto warm until serving time.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  In a saute pan over high heat, sear the shrimp in oil, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Top each serving of risotto with 3-4 shrimp and garnish with parsley.


This was a great dish to have on a cold and rainy day. The leftovers were great even without the shrimp!

I many not have much of a voice today nor much of an appetite but I don't think Mr. T is going to want soup again.  I must come up with something different for dinner....

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup

The weather has been dictating soup and comfort food for dinner so when I got my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment for February, I headed directly for the recipe index to find something that said warmth and coziness!

While, Susan, at Flavors by Four, says that she doesn't usually make soup, I am happy that she decided to go for it and make the Italian Wedding Soup that she had been wanting to prepare.  I had made Italian Wedding Soup quite a few years ago but made beef meatballs so I was eager to try this more healthy approach using ground chicken and chicken sausage for the meatballs.  This certainly didn't disappoint!

At the market, I realized that ground chicken was not going to happen but the chicken sausage was available so I paired the sausage with ground turkey.  Knowing that Mr. T. needed a hearty soup at dinner, I used a larger pasta and added a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans.  Beans?  Why beans?  Beans because the previous recipe I had made called for beans instead of why not use both!?  It was a good good....

The recipe made about 48 meatballs.  If you are going to try it, I would recommend using a small cookie scoop.  That makes the process painless!

Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from Susan at Flavors by Four and Barefoot Contessa

3/4 pound ground turkey (or chicken)
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup bread crumbs, Italian seasoned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to top when serving
3 Tbsp milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 3/4 cup)
10 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup small pasta, tubes such as a small rigatoni
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
12 oz. baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Meatball Preparation
Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl place the ground turkey, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, the two cheeses, milk, egg, salt and pepper, gently combine with a fork.  Form meatballs that are about 1 to 1 1/4 inch in diameter using two teaspoons or with a scoop.  Place the meatballs on a prepared baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  The meatballs do not need to be perfectly round.  Bake the meatballs for until cooked through and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

Soup Preparation
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.  Add the chicken stock and the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the broth and continue simmering until the pasta is tender. Add the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, the basil and the meatballs.  Simmer for another few minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Add salt and/or pepper as desired.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or two, until the spinach is wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the remaining shredded parmesan cheese.


Served with a crusty bread or a cheesy garlic bread.  Either is perfect with this soup!

Now let me share a little bit about Susan and Nicole, the mother-daughter team, that blogs at Flavors by Four.  The ladies love to eat, cook, bake and in 2010, started to share!  They take turns posting and have accumulated quite a variety of dishes.  I had marked a few recipes to prepare such as Nicole's Sausage, Spinach and Bean Soup and Susan's Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Baily's Irish Cream Frosting.  You have know idea how many times I thought about making the cupcakes....  Ladies, thank you for sharing your blog with me!  It was fun.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Split Pea Soup

There was some leftover ham in the refrigerator when I started thinking about making a bean soup....but when I looked in the pantry a bag of split peas was looking back at, Split Pea Soup was in the making!

I have used the same recipe for years and decided that branching out would be a good idea.   As I paged through cookbooks, I came across a recipe called Parker's Split Pea Soup in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  Sometimes I think that I do not spend enough time reading through some of the many cookbooks on the shelf.  I say that because this recipe has been hiding from me for a very long time.  And, who is Parker?  Parker was a chef who worked in Ina's gourmet food store, Barefoot Contessa.  I think I would have stood in line to get a bowl of this soup!  It is that delicious.

I know that the original recipe does not call for ham....but that is what started the whole thing so yes, I add ham to the mix.

Parker's Split Pea Soup
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1//2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3-4 carrots, peeled, diced (about 2 cups)
3 unpeeled medium red potatoes (about 1 cup)  (I peeled mine.)
1 pound dried split green peas, divided
1 ham slice, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 cups chicken stock

In a 6 quart dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic.  Add the oregano, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 12 minutes.  Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of the split peas and the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.  Skim off any foam while cooking.  Add the remaining half pound of split peas and the ham.  Simmer for another 40 minutes or until all of the peas are soft.  Stir frequently to prevent the solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with crusty garlic bread or baguette rounds that have been brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted under the broiler, then sprinkled with a shredded cheese of your choice.  Garnish the soup with croutons or one of the baguette slices.  (I have used both Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese.)

This was a tasty soup...quick and easy, too!
I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Beans and Rice - Quick Comfort Food

There are quite a few different versions of Red Beans and Rice and it would be difficult to say which one is the best.  One thing for certain, though, is that they all start with the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cooking - onion, bell pepper and celery.

This version of the dish includes sausage as opposed to a smoked pork chop and bacon instead of a ham hock.   It is a very good thing that there really isn't a recipe per is a basic combination of red beans, the holy trinity, sausage and rice...along with tomatoes and some spices tossed in.  Quick and easy as I only had canned beans in the pantry, no dry beans.

Red Beans and Rice - Quick Comfort Food
adapted from The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine

Yield:  6 servings

3 strips thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal (I used Louisiana Hot Sausage)
4 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock, plus additional, if needed
2 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
6 ribs celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups) (I used a combination of red and green bell peppers.)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (omit or adjust as desired)
2 cups uncooked rice
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the chopped bacon.  Add the olive oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, sausage, paprika, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and cayenne (if desired).  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture gets too dry, add additional chicken stock.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the rice using your preferred method.  (I make mine in the microwave.)

Spoon the rice into the bowl, top with a ladle of beans.  Garnish with the chopped green onions and parsley.


We really enjoyed the beans but they were a bit spicy!  I am certain that using the Louisiana Hot Sausage contributed to the "heat"....I definitely should have tasted before adding the cayenne! We love hot and spicy dishes....I just hadn't expected it!

I would definitely make this again....quick and easy comfort food for a chilly day!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

For years Mr. T. has been wanting me to try Lumpia.  So when the opportunity came to make this appetizer it was easy to say, "Yes!"  But, what is Lumpia?  Simply put, it is a Filipino Eggroll.

I was a little nervous about wrapping them as I had a few coaches who kept telling me that it was difficult....but I didn't find that to be the case.  I did a little research and it was suggested that the filling be cool to cold before wrapping.  I think that was the trick.  It was easy to mold the filling and wrap it tightly in the Lumpia Wrappers.

We were please with the way that they turned out and Mr. T. loved the Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 Tbsp soy sauce
30 Lumpia Wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Add the ground pork.  Cook, stirring frequently until the pork is done.  Use a fork to break the pork up as fine as possible.

Remove the pork from the pan, draining off all but a tablespoon of the fat.  Let the pork cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In the same pan, cook the onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the carrots and cabbage.  Stir for about a minute.

Add the green onions, soy sauce and cooked ground pork.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is cool enough to handle.  (I allowed the mixture to become cold before wrapping.)

Lightly mix an egg in a small bowl to use as a wash which will seal the rolled lumpia.

Lay one lumpia wrapper in front of you in a diamond shape, (with a point toward you.)  Take two tablespoons of the mixture and place it across the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper. (I formed the 2 tablespoons of mixture into a cylinder.)

Fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the mixture.  Roll it once away from you.  Fold each side in to make an envelope shape.  Roll it up, keeping it as tight as possible.

Brush a small amount of the egg wash on the edge of the wrapper and seal the lumpia closed.  Place your lumpia rolls on a plate covered with a very lightly dampened towel until all of the lumpia are rolled.

Put two cups of vegetable oil in a heavy duty skillet.  It should be 1/2" deep.  Heat to approximately 375° F.  This will take about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Place 3-4 lumpia in the pan and cook them about 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.  If too many lumpia are in the pan at the same time, they will not fry properly.  Turn the lumpia to assure that they brown evenly.

Dipping Sauce

1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp ketchup

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring regularly until softened.  Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and ketchup and cook, whisking regularly, until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and the mixture is well-blended.  Bring to a boil.  While whisking continuously, add the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

Tips:  If you are unable to find Lumpia Wrappers get the thinnest Spring Roll Wrapper you can find. Lumpia Wrappers are very thin.  The regular Spring Roll Wrappers with not work well.

Lumpia freeze well so it is very easy to make a batch and have some tucked away in the freezer for company!

A Vinegar-Garlic Dipping Sauce is nice, also.  It is made with 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed together.  This may be kept in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before serving.  (I think this sauce is my preferred sauce....Mr. T. liked the sweet and sour....)


I wish I had more pictures of wrapping the lumpia but when I noticed the time, I had to move along or we would be late....and the person bringing the appetizer cannot be late!!

I intend to make another batch and freeze some for unexpected company....or for those evenings when we are having an appetizer dinner!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.