Saturday, March 30, 2013

Savory Beef & Cheese Roll-Ups

Okay, all the world has had those nifty little appetizers made from beef and cheese rolled up in a tortilla and then sliced, right?  But I betcha you didn't have 'em before 1995, because that's when I won 3rd place in the National Beef Cookoff with this original creation.  They can be cut in half and served as sandwiches, or just keep on slicing and make them hors d'oeuvres-- but this is how it all started:

1 lb. well-trimmed deli roast beef, thinly sliced (shoulder is good)
2 (6 oz.) pkgs. garden vegetable flavored soft spreadable cream cheese
4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 Cup shredded carrots
1 Cup Monterey Jack cheese
8 leaves green leaf lettuce

Spread cheese evenly over one side of each tortilla; top each with 1/4 Cup shredded carrots and 1/4 Cup Jack cheese.  Layer lettuce and deli roast beef over carrots, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge.  Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 30 minutes-- or up to 8 hours-- before serving.  To serve as sandwiches, cut each roll diagonally in half.  Serves 4 (serving size: 2 roll-up halves).

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pesto Pepper Chicken Rolls

I love pinwheels.  Roll-ups, roulades, spirals-- I guess I love to play with my food. And a number of my pinwheel-themed dishes have won prizes in recipe contests, such as the tortilla roll-up that uses deli-sliced beef that won 3rd place in the National Beef Cookoff years ago, and which you see in every deli in the land now, and at every potluck. 
This one was the Grand Prize Winner in a contest sponsored by Gold Kist Farms Chicken.  It's really colorful and showy (scroll down to see the picture!) but it's also really easy-- only five ingredients!  Perfect for guests but also a good go-to meal for weeknights with the fam'.  Enjoy!

6 Gold Kist Farms boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (15 oz.) jar mild pesto sauce
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (16 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into large pieces to fit chicken breasts
2 Tbps. black peppercorns, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to about a 1/4-inch thickness.  No, I will not mention the similarity here, to getting a mammogram.  Spread a generous layer of pesto sauce ove
r each breast, then sprinkle with jack cheese.  Top with pieces of roasted red peppers.  Roll each breast jelly-roll style, secure with wooden picks.  Press crushed peppercorns evenly into chicken rolls.  Place rolls in a shallow baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake 45 minutes.  Slice to reveal pinwheel pattern.  Serves 6.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mini Turkey Cornucopias

Okay, it is not Thanksgiving time, but I want to post this anyway in hopes that you'll save this recipe and use it when autumn rolls around.  It's my original creation (and won the Grand Prize in a cooking contest) and is guaranteed to wow your guests. 
For years I've been wrapping bread dough around a giant foil cone, and baking it for Thanksgiving.  Then I fill it with apples, persimmons, sugared grapes and other goodies that make a gorgeous centerpiece.  So why not make tiny ones that bake faster, and instead of using bread dough, how about strips of turkey?  Now you have a wonderful kick-off to that marvelous season when we celebrate the bounties of life and all our blessings.  This could be for Thanksgiving itself, for a November dinner, brunch or luncheon.  OR... for a gathering of little girls who want a Fairy Thanksgiving filled with tiny treasures?  Clip and save, folks!

1 Cup cranberries
1 Cup dried apricots, chopped
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 Cup onion, chopped
1 Cup celery, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. ground rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1 Cup seasoned stuffing mix or bread crumbs
1 Cup chicken stock
2 beaten eggs
2-3 lbs. turkey breast meat
½ Cup flour
1 tsp. each: rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, to make spice mixture (add any other spices you like, even cayenne if you like things spicy)
1 cooked yam
8-10 red  or green grapes
 cooked purple potatoes)
chopped parsley for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil cranberries and apricots to soften.  In a large sauce pan, heat half the oil and sauté onion and celery with ground rosemary and salt.  Drain cranberries and apricots; add to onion mixture.  When onions are transparent, pour into a large bowl.  Stir in bread crumbs, chicken stock, and 2 beaten eggs.  Transfer to a sprayed baking dish.
  2. Make 6 small cornucopia forms from aluminum foil (the size of ice cream cones).  Wrap each with parchment.  Slice ½-inch thick turkey strips and fasten around forms with toothpicks.   Coat with flour, sear in a hot skillet containing remaining half of oil, sprinkle with spice mixture, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until turkey strips are no longer pink.  Bake stuffing at the same time, for just as long.
  3. While turkey bakes, use a melon baller to scoop balls of yam and purple potato.  When cornucopies are done, remove toothpicks and forms, then fill with baked stuffing and tuck in yams, grapes, and purple potatoes as desired. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serves 6.




Friday, March 22, 2013

Lemon Bundt Cake

This cake is both sinfully delicious and sinfully easy.  Its photo is on the "Cooking with Joni" banner; I snapped a picture of it during Springtime when I could stuff daffodils into the center.  But lemon is killer any time of year, so pull up a fork and enjoy!

1 pkg. lemon cake mix
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed if possible, and Meyer Lemon if possible)
3 eggs
¼ Cup vegetable/canola oil  

Beat all together and pour into a greased 10-inch bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Let set 5 minutes, then invert from pan and cool on rack.  (If center is not quite done, it's okay-- it's better when slightly undercooked). 


8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 Cup orange blossom water (or just water, if you can't find this.  But find it!)
2 tsp. vanilla
Powdered sugar-- add until you get the consistency you want
Beat all together then drizzle over cooled cake.


Molten Chocolate Pecan Praline Lava Cakes with Caramel Sauce

Short of falling into a vat of chocolate, this is one of the most decadent ways to die.  You’ve already tried baby lava cakes, but this one takes you to a whole new level.

We’ve all read recipes that say, “butter or margarine” and known that a true foodie wouldn’t even consider using margarine.  Phht!  We spit on your fake butter.  It’s the real thing or nothing, right?  But we also know that if someone only has margarine, at least the recipe will work for them.  And it’s like that with everything.  The finest chocolate is going to give you superior results.  But will it work with chocolate chips?  Sure—and it will still be phenomenal.  Just not quite AS phenomenal as if you use the best chocolate money can buy.  So here we go:

Make the sauce first (because some of it goes inside!):

½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. corn syrup, dark or light

½ Cup heavy cream

½  Cup pecan pieces, toasted (stir in a dry pan over medium heat until golden)

Stir all but the pecans in a sauce pan over medium-high heat until boiling.  Reduce heat and cook for another 10 minutes.  Set aside.  Save pecans for stirring in later.

Now make the cakes:

¾ Cup butter

1 Cup semisweet or milk chocolate pieces (or extra dark chocolate chips)

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1/3 Cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 Cup flour

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease and flour 6 ramekin cups (or use the Pam spray for baking).  Place on a baking sheet and set aside.  In a sauce pan over low heat, stir butter and chocolate together until smooth.  Remove from heat and cool.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla until thick. Slowly beat in cooled chocolate mixture.  Sift flour and cocoa into batter, beating just until combined.  Pour into ramekins.  Bake 10 minutes.

3. Remove cakes from oven and pour 1 Tbsp. caramel sauce into center of each, pushing cake aside with a spoon to make a small well.  Bake 5 more minutes; edges should feel firm.  Cool on a rack for three minutes, then loosen with a knife and invert onto serving plates.  Stir pecans into remaining sauce and drizzle over cakes.  Serve hot.  (These chill and reheat well.)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spicy Jamaican Benedict with Lime Hollandaise

This original creation won a $25,000.00 trip to France, back in 1997.  I'm serious.  Bays English Muffins sponsored it and spared no expense.  Still can't thank them enough for the trip of a lifetime.  I competed at a cook-off in Chicago with two professional chefs and a bunch of other "regular" cooks like myself.  I love to enter recipe contests because my brain works so far outside the box that I can't even SEE the box.  I think, "What if we rolled this up?" or "What if we went vertical?" or "What if we colored this with beet juice?" and away I go.   
I confess that my favorite eggs are scrambled.  When this contest came along, it had to be for an Eggs Benedict recipe.  I thought of a refreshing island twist, with a spicy zing, but there was just one problem: this was a cook-off and I didn't know how to poach an egg.  Bob, who likes every kind of egg known to man or chicken, came to the rescue and taught me.  Off I went, ready to do battle.  And then when we got to the test kitchens, they had all the eggs poached for us ahead of time.  Whew!
I was really intimidated by the professional chefs being there-- the people who can chop so fast their knife is a blur, and who can toss a skillet's ingredients high into the air and then catch them in the same skillet.  But... creativity won the day and voile!  Bob and I went to France!
This recipe will knock your socks off-- all the way to Provence, Lyon, and Paris.

6 Bays English Muffins
12 poached eggs
1 Cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 mango, chopped
2 tsp. prepared Jerk Seasoning spice
12 slices thinly sliced ham
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro (snip it in a cup)

1. Toast muffins and keep warm.  Poach eggs and drain.  In a small sauce pan over low heat, combine pineapple, mango and Jerk seasoning spice.
2. Make Lime Hollandaise Sauce (see below).  Place a slice of ham on each muffin, followed by a spoonful of the pineapple mixture.  Nestle a poached egg into the pineapple mixture.  Top with Lime Hollandaise Sauce.  Sprinkle with cilantro.

4 egg yolks
1 Cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. water
2 drops red pepper sauce

In a blender, mix all ingredients except butter.  Pour butter in slowly while blender runs on low speed.  Serves 6