Monday, December 28, 2009

Twice Baked Potatoes With Ham

We had ham for Christmas and I've been using the leftovers all over the place. Last night I came up with a twice baked potato dish that was tasty and easy. If you don't have ham, you can replace it with either bacon or even sausage.

I made more than we could eat in a meal - froze the rest for snacks for the kids. I do this with pancakes and waffles, too. It's very easy. Lay each piece on a cookie sheet so that nothing is overlapping. When frozen, move to a freezer container. See - it's simple.

Twice Baked Potatoes With Ham

6 potatoes, baked, then cut in half

2 cups ham, diced into bite-size pizzas

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 cup montery jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup Ranch salad dressing

3 TB dijon mustard

1 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp kosher saltground pepper to taste

Smoked Paprika

Preheat oven to 350 F

*Mix all ingredients except for potatoes.

*Scoop the flesh out of the potato halves, leaving 1/2 inch intact for potato shell stability.

*Add potato flesh, then mash with a potato masher.

*Refill the potato skins with the mixture, then dust lightly with paprika.

*Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Makes 6 servings
Image credit: Michelle Smith

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brocoli & Bacon Quiche

My biggest challenge in the kitchen is a pie crust. I think I've made maybe 2 decent crusts in my life. Sometimes they look okay, but the texture sucks. Other times they taste fine, but the crust is ugly. This year, for Thanksgiving, I decided to skip the hassle and pick up some frozen crusts. They were okay, but I think what I really need to do is perfect my own crust. Prepared crusts taste like prepared crusts. Okay, not great.

In the meantime, I had one crust left over in the freezer. I've been craving a quiche, so tonight I took stock of what I already had in the fridge and whipped one up.
Brocoli & Bacon Quiche

1 pie crust2 cups brocoli flowerettes, steamed and drained

5 slices bacon, browned and chopped

3/4 cup grated Swiss Cheese

3/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack Cheese

1/4 cup onions, diced

4 eggs

1/2 cup half and half (I used fat free)

1 TB flour

1 tsp granulated garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F

Place pie crust in pan, crimp edges. Place brocoli into pie crust, layer onions, bacon, then cheeses over the top. Crack eggs into a bowl, add half and half, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with a whisk until a just bit frothy. Pour over pie crust contents. Place in oven. Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top (keeps crust from over browning). Set timer for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Set timer for 15 additional minutes. Remove for oven. Let set for 5 minutes, then serve.

Image credit: Michelle Smith

Vosges Chocolate Truffles

Vosges Haut Chocolat sent me a box of their wonderful truffles to try for review. Have you ever tried Vosges chocolates? They are wonderful, fancy-pants chocolates made with flowers, marscarpone, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and peppemint candies. Beautiful!

The sampler that I got contained Peppermint Candy Cane, Holiday Plum Pudding, Mascarpone and Ceylon Cinnamon Snap, and an Eggnog and Jamaican Rum truffle. My favorite was the Eggnog and Rum with white chocolate, but they were all lovely.

You can find Vosges chocolates online or in Chicago, Las Vegas, or New York City.

When faced with a truffle, your impulse will be to scarf it down. Resist that impulse. Instead take the time to savor it. Vosges suggests...
*Read the story of the chocolates, then do some yoga breathing. Meditate on the upcoming chocolate experience.
*See the chocolate. Make a note of the glossy surface.
*Lick the top of the chocolate - it's a "teaser."
*Does the chocolate "snap" when you bite into it? This is the mark of a chocolate at it's peak.
*Savor the taste of the truffle. Yum......
Image credit: Michelle Smith

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toffee Chocolate Bars

Our local Raleys Supermarket puts out a great recipe magazine, called Something Extra. I picked up the latest copy yesterday and found this Toffee Chocolate Bars recipe this morning. The recipe comes from a store called Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates. The store is located in Sacramento, California, which is about 90 minutes south of where I live.

Click on the candy store link - you will not be disappointed. There's a revolving montage of gorgeous chocolates, like chocolate porn.

Toffee Chocolate Bars


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1¼ cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes
Rest time: Several hours

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and egg yolk; mix in flour and salt. Spread mixture evenly onto a non-greased 16 X 12-inch baking pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turning sheet from front to back after 6 minutes. Remove from oven; let rest for 2 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top and let stand for 5 more minutes. Spread smooth with a spatula and top with almonds. Let sit for several hours before cutting into 2-inch squares. (Refrigerate to firm, if needed.)

Makes about 48 pieces. Nutrition Per Serving: Nutrition per piece (17 g): 90 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g total fat (3.5 g sat., 0 g trans), 9 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 35 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 2 points

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teriyaki Sauce

Have you ever tasted Soy Vey Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce?

Good stuff. I picked it up for the first time a couple of months ago, but it went fast. I decided to try to come up with my own version. I looked at online teriyaki recipes to try to get an idea, but other than a list of ingredients, I didn't find anything definitive. This is what I came up with on my own. You will definitely want to tweak it a bit, according to your taste. I wanted something with a good gingery-sesame flavor.

Teriyaki Sauce

1 cup soy sauce, I use Tamari soy sauce, I like the flavor better

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup sugar, I used a non-bleached, organic sugar, but you could also use honey or brown sugar

1/4 cup sesame oil, you could use another oil, but this gives a good strong sesame flavor

2 TB water

2 tsp crushed ginger

1/2 tsp granulated oil

salt and pepper to taste

Put the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, flip the seeds around so that they brown, but do not burn.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a two-cup measuring cup (helps with pouring when it's done). Use a fork to blend until smooth. When sesame seeds are browned, mix them in, as well. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

You can use the sauce for a marinade for meat, fish, or vegetables. Store in an air tight container, in the refridgerator.

Tonight, I'm using it for salmon, brocoli, and rice. I'm going to use it later in the week to make a dressing for a asian chicken salad.

Cream Of Brocoli Soup

I was hungry for something quick and warm for lunch. I took a peek in the fridge and found a huge bunch of brocoli that Leah and I picked up at the Farmer's Market, last Saturday. Cream of Brocoli Soup - quick and easy. We like a cheesy brocoli soup, but that adds a lot of fat and calories, so rather than making the whole pot that way, the kids and I grate cheese in the top and stir it through. Yum.

Cream Of Brocoli Soup

4-6 cups of clean, chopped brocoli
4 -5 cups of chicken broth
1 potato, clean, chopped into chunks
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1 tsp flour
* Optional cheese - we used Cheddar and Asiago cheese, grated.

Heat chicken broth, add brocoli and potato chunks when broth reaches a boil. Add garlic. Turn down broth and cook vegetables until tender. When tender, take a potato masher and mash the vegetables. The potato helps to make a thicker soup.

Taste broth/brocoli mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add flour to milk, stir until smooth, then add to soup. Heat until thickened a bit. Pour into individual bowls, then grate cheese over the top, stir through. That's it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

LaRocca Winery

While visiting theFarmer's Market yesterday, my friend, Leah, and I met a local wine maker from the LaRocca Vineyard.
The LaRocca Winery produces organic wine up off of Hwy 32, in Forest Ranch, California. I got this from the company's website:

"Phillip LaRocca, owner and vintner, the character of the wine is absolutely dependent upon the quality of the grape. Growing grapes organically includes using farming methods that nurture the soil, air and water. Through the process of totally excluding the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, all of LaRocca Vineyards receive organic certification by CCOF....The processing of LaRocca's wines, as certified by CCOF, excludes the use of these chemical additives including sulfites. Because the wines are chemical-free, from vine-to-bottle, adds to the drinking pleasure and supports the health of our environment."
The LaRocca Winery Tasting Room is open Saturday and Sunday, from 12-5. It's located in the town of Forest Ranch, 16 miles east of Chico, CA.
The wine is good and the fresh grapes aren't bad either.