Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegetable Frittata

This is a fabulous recipe to make on a lazy weekend morning, hop back into bed another hour while it cooks. This one is just as good hot as it is cold. Experiment with the veggies. I would recommend using a variety of your favorites: Broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, peppers, etc. This is sort of a crustless quiche but the cream cheese takes this dish to a whole new level.

3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups rough chop zucchini
1 1/2 cups rough chop white mushrooms
1/2 onion diced fine
1/2 cup of each: Diced red, green and yellow bell peppers
1 seeded and diced jalapeno
3 cloves garlic

6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fat free half-and-half cream
2 - 8oz packages fat free cream cheese, cubed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese or a combination of your favorite cheese
5 slices Whole Grain bread, cubed
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 TBSP. fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 dish with non-stick spray. Saute vegetables just until tender. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat together eggs and cream. Stir in the cream cheese, grated cheese, bread cubes, salt, herbs, bread and season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable mixture in. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for one hour or until set firm in the middle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Neiman Marcus Cookies....or whatever

It's not true that Neiman Marcus charged a customer $250 for this recipe. Check out the story on Snopes. But it is true that these are the best cookies EVER. These cookies are expensive, time consuming to make, and the recipe makes enough for a small army. Don't even consider making these unless you are planning to share with a large crowd or plan to eat them over the course of a few months (kidding). The recipe will yield about 115 2-3" cookies.

This is what you will need:

1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups *blended oatmeal (measure and blend to a fine powder)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
24 oz. chocolate chips (I use 1 pkg. semi-sweet and 1 package milk chocolate)
1 Lindt 3.5 oz. dark chocolate bar with sea salt, grated
3 cups chopped nuts

You will need a VERY large bowl. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla mix well. Add flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Mix well. Add chocolate chips, grated chocolate bar and nuts. Roll into 1" balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chilled Creamy Lemon-Dill Shrimp Appetizer

Make this wonderful appetizer the day before. Serve chilled with cocktail toothpicks.

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 red onion, sliced thin then diced
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups medium or large cooked, peeled deveined shrimp

Mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, onion, dill and salt together until well blended. Stir in shrimp to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grain-ola Bars

One of my favorite walks through Fairbanks is the annual Walk for Charity sponsored by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. I love this walk for four reasons. #1-my $25 registration fee is 100% given to a local charity....I usually donate to the homeless shelter or Joel's Place (a safe haven for children who need a place to go). #2-I get to walk, laugh and talk with good friends. #3-I get walk and graze and sample appetizers and yummy things from local restaurants and, finally, #4-this is a great jump-start to my summer break.

Three years ago the BEST taste-teaser by far was provided by Chef Jamison from the Chena's Alaskan Grill. My comrades and I could not place what exactly the ingredients were and I usually pride myself in being able to take apart flavors and reconstruct it at a later time. This however was a conundrum. Jayne N., Sue B. and I could not figure out what that taste was.

A month later, I found myself with some time and stopped in at the restaurant and said I wanted to buy those granola bars/cookies or whatever you wanted to call them. The restaurant was not open yet and the chef himself came out to talk to me. I told him that his treat was the best by far on the walk and I wanted to buy them. Chef Jamison grinned an amicable grin and said that they were the best because they are created by God and that everything in them was natural and healthy and that he didn't take credit for any of it because every ingredient was whole, natural and had no preservatives. He also told me that he only made these special treats for his family and only once a year for the Walk for Charity and that he did not sell them, but would give me the recipe. **As a side note, these bars wrap nicely in plastic wrap and make a fabulous backpacking or hiking snack.

Wow! I was floored at his generosity in sharing his recipe for his treasured treat with a complete stranger. I had to laugh when I told him that my friends Jayne N., Sue B., and I could not pinpoint that ingredient that was so cleverly disguised. What was that taste????? Ginger! Crystalized Ginger! I was further impressed when he told me that everything in those bars was natural, no flour or gluten products, no eggs, whole grain, natural sugars and dried fruit. They are made from all natural ingredients, so plan on shopping in the natural foods section of your grocery store to get what you need. The coconut oil is a lovely light touch that is also a pleasant ghostly obscured taste.

Thank you Chef Jamison. Call and make your reservations today to eat at the Chena's Alaskan Grill located on the Chena River. But don't bother asking for his natural grain-ola bars...you need to join me for the Walk for Charity to get your taste or print out this recipe and make them yourself.

The Best Ever Grain-Ola Bars

1 TBSP Coconut Oil (to coat a baking sheet) You'll want to lightly coat your hands to work with the hot syrup and dry ingredients.

In a bowl combine the following:

1 1/2 C. Crispy Rice Cereal (Gluten free)
1/2 cup Oat Bran
1 C. walnuts, lightly chopped and toasted in a dry skillet only until the oil releases it's smell
1 1/4 C. Regular Oatmeal (NOT instant)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or a mix of cranberries and blueberries
2 TBSP. crystallized ginger, minced

The syrup:
1 C. Brown Rice Syrup
1/4 C. Natural cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.

2. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet for about 3-4 minutes. Toss all dry ingredients, nuts and fruit together in a large bowl.

2. Boil the brown rice syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt over medium heat for 4 minutes (stirring constantly).

3. Quickly add syrup to dry ingredients and mix together. It is very sticky. Pour onto the cookie sheet and press using lightly-oiled hands. Keep in mind you don't want them to thick or too thin 1/2" thickness is just about right. When cool, cut into bars and wrap in individual plastic wrap servings.