Monday, October 28, 2013

Maple-Chile Glazed Shrimp

 Oh, my.  What flavor says autumn joy, more than maple syrup?   And what's more fun than a recipe with only 3 ingredients, made in one pot?  Holy Shrimpboat, right?
Pure maple syrup is an ideal sweetener, folks.  You don't have to sift it, you don't have to cook it until crystals dissolve, it's ready NOW.  It's also completely natural, and the depth of flavor cannot be equalled.  So, first of all, go to and check out all the wonderful ways you can use this staple ingredient.
Then, make this amazing dish. You will love the spicy-yet-sweet flavors. It can be served as an appetizer, as I've shown in the photo, or piled on a bed of fluffy rice for a main dish.  And then (as if there will be leftovers!) you can chill what's left, chop up the shrimp, mix it with a bit of mayo, and have an incredible sandwich filling!  It's also amazing in omelettes the next morning, or over salad greens for lunch. (Yes, this recipe is actually a killer salad dressing as well!)  Come to think of it, you'd better double the recipe so you can enjoy it the following day.  Here we go:

2 lbs. shrimp (fresh or frozen, medium or jumbo), peeled and deveined
1/2 Cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (from a 7-oz. can), chopped.  I snip them with shears.

In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, stir all ingredients until shrimp are pink and opaque, about five minutes.  Whaaaaat?  It's ready that fast?  You betcha. Dig in!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Caramelized Pear & Brie Tart with Cranberries and Candied Pecans

Time for another prize winner, perfect for autumn, great to pin and save for Thanksgiving. This savory tart is creamy and crunchy, sweet and flaky. The only problem is that it is so good that you’ll be asked to make it again and again. It won 3rd place in Imperial Sugar’s 2012 Homemade Holidays Recipe Contest.  Enjoy!

Prep time : 40 minutes
Baking time: :50 minutes
Serves 6
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1 tablespoon Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons chilled water
  • 3 pears
  • 1 tablespoon Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or substitute sour cream)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • 1 cup brie cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
*Spoon & Sweep method: Use a spoon to fill your measuring cup with flour until the required amount is obtained. Scooping your measuring cup directly into the flour bag will firmly pack the flour, resulting in too much flour required for this recipe.


  1. Process 1/2 cup of the butter, flour and sugar in a food processor or blender, until crumbly. Add egg yolk and water and process until dough begins to form. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, then wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out pastry on a floured surface and place in a tart dish. Trim excess by rolling over top with a rolling pin. Heat oven to 400°F. Peel and slice pears, sprinkle with brown sugar, then sauté in remaining butter, in a skillet over medium-high heat until foaming and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Place pastry weights (or dry beans or rice) on crust and bake, on a baking sheet, for 10 minutes to prevent puffing. Remove weights and bake another 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  4. Beat cream until just beginning to thicken. Beat in eggs, cinnamon and salt. Arrange pears in crust, tucking in pecans, brie cheese, and cranberries as well. Pour cream mixture over all. Bake 30 minutes or until just set. Cool for 5 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve. (Note from Joni: You can substitute apples for pears in any recipe calling for either one.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Your Mom's Tuna

If you're already a seafood lover, you know how delicious a tuna steak is.  If you've only had tuna sandwiches, or tuna casserole, allow me to introduce you to a truly delightful dish that will wow company and save you oodles of time.  Ahi tuna.

Ahi, also known as Yellow Fin Tuna, is almost fat free, and tastes a little like swordfish.  It's not "fishy" tasting, but mild and scrumptious.  And it cooks in 2 minutes.  Crazy, right?  But stay with me, here.  Fresh Ahi is expensive (sashimi grade), but look for sushi grade, which is often frozen, and thaw it.  It will still be wonderful.  You do not have to make sashimi or sushi; you can cook this in a skillet or on the grill. And it's basically a 3-ingredient dish!

You want to sear this rare.  Now, don't panic and think it will be bloody and blue like a rare beef steak would be. It's rosy red, but tender and perfect.  One thing that will surprise you, is that it will not taste like a tuna sandwich.  I happen to love tuna sandwiches, but it's another whole experience.

Next time you open a can of tuna, before you mix it with the mayonnaise, check out the texture. It's dry and crumbly, right?  Nobody eats a can of dry tuna (cats excluded).  It has been overcooked.  And this is what will happen if you try to cook your ahi "medium" or "well."  It will turn tan, dry out and crumble.  We compensate for canned tuna by mixing it with mayonnaise, to save the day (or other creamy ingredients in a casserole).  And it works.  But wait 'til you taste it as a steak.  Here's what you need:

2 (5 or 6 oz.) ahi steaks
4 Tbsp. cooking oil (I mix olive or coconut oil with butter, equal parts-- keeps the butter from burning)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oil in a skillet over high heat.  Add the steaks.  Salt and pepper them.  Cook them 1 minute per side (or 2 at the most, if they're thick).  Slice thinly and serve.  Ta-da!  It's that easy. Serves 2.  Dinner will be on the table in no time.  BUT... here are some variations you can try:

1. Once you slice the steaks, serve them over a salad tossed with a tangy Asian dressing.

2. Coat your steaks first, with your favorite rub-- it could be sesame seeds, soy sauce and brown sugar, honey and thyme, a purchased spice blend, cilantro and lime-- anything you like, even salad dressing.
3. Grill them instead, again just 1 to 2 minutes per side.  
4. Marinate them first, just to infuse them with more flavor-- try a wasabi ginger mix, teriyaki, soy, or any Asian flavored marinade.  But don't marinate them for more than 30 minutes; you don't want the acids to make the steaks mushy. 
5. Just serve them, as un-cut steaks, along with other sides (rice, veggies, etc.)-- what a fast, easy supper!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pumpkin Bars

I should really call these My Favorite Pumpkin Bars.  I've been making them for more years than I claim to be alive, and they come out perfectly every time.

They're moist and flavorful, deceptively easy to whip up, and this recipe makes 30 bars, perfect for a crowd.  You bake them in a rimmed cookie sheet, and they come out thick, like cake.  It's a shame we wait until fall to make pumpkin desserts-- these are good enough to enjoy all year!
Here's what you need:

4 eggs
1 & 2/3 Cup sugar
1 Cup cooking oil
1 (16 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until well mixed.  Sift flour and remaining dry ingredients into batter.  (It's worth it to sift, to prevent little white lumps in the batter.)  Mix thoroughly, then spread on an UNgreased (10x15-inch) baking sheet.  Bake 25 minutes, or until knife tests clean when inserted in center.  Cool, frost, then cut into bars.
To make frosting:
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Add sifted powdered sugar a little at a time, beating until smooth.  (Again, worth it to sift the sugar so you don't get lumps.)