Appetizers, Brunch, Side Dishes

Recipe—Crab Stuffed Mushrooms


Are you looking for a classy appetizer to serve at your New Year’s Eve party tomorrow or any other night of the year? Search no further! These crab stuffed baby portobello mushrooms are easy, can be made ahead of time, are really elegant, and of course delicious. These will be a hit with all your guests. The crab filling is creamy with a nice little kick to it thanks to the Tabasco and the breadcrumbs give them the perfect little crunch. If you are serving a steak for a main course these can also be the perfect complementary side dish. Either way enjoy this fabulous recipe as you ring in 2013! Happy New Year everyone!

Note: You can completely make and assemble the stuffed mushrooms a half day in advance and store in the fridge until ready to bake.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp shallot, chopped
10–12 baby portobello mushrooms, washed and destemmed
salt and pepper
3 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
8 oz lump crabmeat
1 tsp hot sauce (I like Tabasco)
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 c breadcrumbs

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium sauté pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add the mushroom caps and season with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté the mushroom caps for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the mushroom caps from the skillet and place them upside down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Add the chopped bell pepper to the skillet and sauté for 1 minute.
  • In a medium bowl mix together the crabmeat, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, old bay seasoning, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the sautéed veggies and mix well.
  • Stuff each mushroom cap with the crab mixture and top with breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 12–14 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to brown.
  • Allow mushrooms to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
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Side Dishes, Soups

Recipe—Chili (The Classic Kind)

It’s finally cooling off here in California and that means I am cooking up lots of soups and one of my favorite winter comfort foods, chili, the classic kind. This is the good stuff, heavy on meat and beans, light on veggies. That’s how I like my chili. What better way to warm up at the end of a cold day then a big bowl of chili? This recipe really is perfect, it’s not too spicy, not too mild, it’s just right. Something Goldilocks would love, probably Momma, Daddy, and baby bear too. This recipe does take a couple of hours to cook but that’s what makes it so good. All those flavors get cooked into the meat giving you a really hearty and flavorful chili you are sure to enjoy.

Note: If you are someone that likes chili with a little more kick, just add in a couple dashes of cayenne pepper.

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c chili powder
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can tomato sauce
1–2 c beef broth

GARNISHES
shredded cheddar
sour cream
green onions, chopped
fritos
diced avocadoes

STEPS

  • In a large pot cook the beef, onions, and garlic over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  • Drain off most of the fat leaving about 2 tbsp in the bottom.
  • Stir into the pot the chili powder, flour, oregano, cumin, sugar, and salt.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, sauce, and 1 cup of the broth to the pot.
  • Cook for an additional 45–60 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Add more broth if you want a soupier chili.
  • Ladle the chili into a bowl and have fun garnishing it with your favorite toppings.
Sandwiches

Recipe—Hot Ham & Swiss Sammies

I think I have mentioned before that ham and mayo on a croissant was my favorite sandwich as a kid. And by favorite I mean that was one of the only sandwiches I would eat. I have grown up haven’t I? Well this is my favorite childhood sandwich on steroids, and it is AWESOME! I know you may look at the poppy seed sauce and wonder what that’s all about. Well the sauce bakes to the top of the croissant making an ordinary croissant extraordinary. It does not leave the croissants soggy. It actually gives them a nice caramelization and lots of added flavor. Since these make a good size batch and they can be assembled ahead of time they are perfect for a luncheon or shower. These may be my ultimate in comfort food sandwiches this winter, just throw in a bowl of soup and call it dinner.

Note: These can be assembled and kept in the fridge up to 24 hours before baking. How handy is that?!?

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS
9 medium sized croissants cut in half
1 lb thin sliced deli ham
9 square slices of Swiss, cut in half horizontally
mayonnaise

POPPY SEED SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp yellow onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Spread each half of the croissant with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
  • Place a piece of Swiss on the bottom half of the croissant.
  • Evenly distribute the ham among the nine sandwiches.
  • Top the ham with a second piece of Swiss cheese and then the croissant top.
  • Place the finished sandwiches edge to edge in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet. It’s okay if they are snug.
  • In a small bowl whisk together all the poppy seed sauce ingredients.
  • Spoon the sauce over the top of each sandwich and allow the sandwiches to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 15–18 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Remove the foil and allow the sandwiches to cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Homemade Marshmallows

I was trying to come up with a cute idea for a Christmas gift for my son’s teachers and came up with the idea of making hot cocoa gift baskets. You know, a mug, some hot cocoa, some homemade cookies, and marshmallows. Well I am never the person to take the easy way out by just buying an actual bag of jet puffed marshmallows at the store, I wanted these gift baskets to be special, made from the heart. So I decided to attempt to make my very own marshmallows. Gourmet marshmallows seem to be all the rage this season but unfortunately they can cost a fortune. With this recipe you can make your own at home. They are a little bit of work, and one might by intimidated, but they are actually easy. I think the hardest part was waiting for them to set! These homemade marshmallows put store bought marshmallows to shame and are so totally worth making on your own. If making your own marshmallows isn’t on your bucket list it should be. Give these a shot. They will take your hot cocoa on a cold winter night over the top!

Note: The original recipe I followed called for using a stand up mixer but I used a hand mixer. You can use either. The marshmallows can be very sticky and difficult to handle so the trick to cutting them is to constantly coat them in powdered sugar after every slice of the knife.

INGREDIENTS
3 c sugar
1 1/4 c light corn syrup
water
4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • While sugar water is heating up add 3/4 cup water to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the 4 packs of gelatin over the top. Set aside.
  • Bring the sugar water mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 235º.
  • Carefully pour the hot sugar water into your mixing bowl with the water and gelatin and mix on low.
  • Add the salt and increase mixer speed to high.
  • Beat the sugar mixture on high for 5 minutes and than add vanilla.
  • Continue beating the mixture for another 5 minutes.
  • When you are done, pour the marshmallow cream into a greased 9” x 13” pan.
  • Smooth the top and gently tap to release air.
  • Leave the dish on the counter for at least 10 hours.
  • After the waiting is up sprinkle the entire top of your marshmallows with powdered sugar making sure it’s coated and place a cutting board over the top of your dish.
  • While holding the cutting board and dish together carefully flip the dish and cutting board upside down simultaneously releasing the marshmallows onto the cutting board. (Your set marshmallows will now be upside down on the cutting board.)
  • Lift the baking dish and sprinkle all of the exposed marshmallow with powdered sugar making sure there are no exposed areas.
  • Using a large sharp knife cut into 1” strips and coat each exposed side with powdered sugar.
  • Cut those strips into 1” cubes making sure you coat each cut side with powdered sugar.
  • Once done, sprinkle all of the marshmallows with the remaining powdered sugar making sure there are no exposed sticky areas.
  • Enjoy in a big mug of hot cocoa!
Side Dishes

Recipe—Savory Herb Bread Pudding

A couple months back my family and I went to Disneyland for a few days. During our stay at the Hilton we ended up ordering room service for dinner because we were just too pooped from all the fun to actually go out. One of those nights I ordered roasted chicken, which came with a savory bread pudding. The bread pudding was phenomenal! So phenomenal, that I ordered the same dish a second time during our visit. Yes, it was that good! The bread pudding was flavor packed and went perfectly with the chicken. This last weekend I tried to replicate the recipe to go with my roasted turkey because I didn’t want to do the same old stuffing I had just had a couple of weeks prior at Thanksgiving. I think it turned out fantastic! One thing I love about this recipe is that it is super easy, can be made in advance, and goes with any type of meat! This Christmas I will be making this bread pudding along with my prime rib. Whether you are cooking a ham, turkey, or a fine cut of beef at Christmas this will be the perfect side dish that will have everyone talking. It is a perfect substitute for those plain dinner rolls or even mashed potatoes.

Note: The bread pudding can be assembled up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove baking dish from fridge at least one hour before baking and bring to room temperature. If you have a smaller group of people this recipe is easy to halve. Just use an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

INGREDIENTS
2 large sourdough rounds, cut into 1” cubes
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 c chives, chopped
8 eggs
2 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a large bowl combine the bread, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • In a small skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the garlic cooking until tender. Do not burn the garlic!
  • Add the chives to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and toss to coat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, broth, and heavy cream.
  • Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and stir until evenly coated.
  • Transfer the bread mixture to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Gently press the soaked bread into the pan.
  • Bake for 50–60 minutes or until center is set.
  • Tent dish with foil until ready to serve.
  • Slice into squares and enjoy!
Uncategorized

I’m a Guest Blogger!

Good morning Diva di Cucina fans! For the first time ever I had the opportunity to be a guest blogger on a wonderful site, Rantings of an Amateur Chef. Rantings of an Amateur Chef is made up of the creative bloggings of Pat Geyer, and amateur chef from the Cleveland, Ohio area. I shared a fabulous recipe for Garlic Shrimp and White Beans with him and his followers. I would love it if you would stop by Pat’s site and check out my recipe along with some of the great ones he has shared. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s a little visual tease of my recipe for Garlic Shrimp and White Beans. Get the recipe here.

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

Awhile back I posted a recipe for lemon crackle cookies. It was a cookie recipe that is primarily made from a box of cake mix. I love the concept of taking cake batter and sprucing it up with a few extra ingredients to make one heck of a fabulous cookie These types of cookies always come out really light and super moist and best of all they are quick and easy to make. Well ‘tis the season for complete chaos and busy schedules so what better time to share a recipe for super quick and scrumptious confetti cake batter cookies. I used red and green sprinkles to make them festive for Christmas but keep this recipe in mind throughout the year. Just change the sprinkle color for the appropriate holiday. Perhaps pink and red for Valentine’s Day?

INGREDIENTS
1-18.25 oz box of white cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2–3/4 c sprinkles

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large bowl mix together the dry cake mix and baking powder.
  • Whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  • Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  • Fold in the sprinkles but be sure not to over mix or the dye will stain the batter.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it.
  • Drop 1” balls of dough onto the baking sheet leaving approximately 2” apart.
  • Bakes cookies for 9–10 minutes making sure they don’t brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for about 3 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a cutting board or cooling rack.