Monday, December 13, 2010

Hawaiian Haystacks - Reinvented

So I've never made Hawaiian Haystacks, but I've had them before and really liked them.
However, when I was searching for recipes, I really was turned off by the gravy... I mean, call me a snob, but I really try to steer clear of Cream of "x" Soup, if it's from a can...and that, to my dismay, was what most of the recipes were calling for.
However, I was diligent, I really wanted to try my hand at these! That was when I came across Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I had a "where have I been" moment as I stopped by her website. It's so easy to navigate and seems to have some fun recipes! If I were to get serious about this blog...I'd make it like hers.
Anyway, she had the same gravy/sauce problem I did, only she seized the moment and made THE most delicious sauce to put on the Hawaiian Haystacks from scratch. So, SO much better than anything from a can. My family devoured it. I ate it happily for leftovers over the next 3 days... we'll definitely have these again. Even if I was chopping my way through the 5th topping thinking "why is it that people think these things are SO easy and fast?" They were worth it. So worth it.

Oh, and I also used her baked brown rice idea, simply because we had company coming for dinner and I wanted to make a lot all at once. I just used water and a little salt, and I must say, it was perfectly delicious! We love brown rice in our house, so it wasn't anything earth- shattering, but it was fluffy, soft, and easy.

Oh, and I used plenty o' salt in the gravy. And I reduced the amount of milk and chicken broth and then added it in as necessary. I just wanted my sauce to be a little bit thicker.

Mmmm. Yummy. So, so very yummy! 5 stars.

Recipe here and below.

Hawaiian Haystacks: Chicken Sauce Reinvented

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks (or leftover cooked chicken, cubed)
3 tablespoons butter
½ onion (about ½ cup), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic; finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and raw chicken (if using leftover cooked chicken, don’t add it to the skillet now, you’ll add it later). Saute the onion and chicken, if using, until the onions are soft and translucent and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and chicken and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute - this helps get rid of the starchy, flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now. Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Menu

I thought I'd share what my menu was this year for Thanksgiving. Mostly so that next year I won't have to re-find a number of them, and because I've had a couple of people ask for them. There are a few that really deserve their own posts, but better to get them up in a big group than not at all since a lot of these recipes could easily be used for a Christmas feast as well!

Every year I get intimidated of making stuffing, but I think I'll try it out from scratch next year. If you ever get in a pinch, I always just use Stove Top Turkey Stuffing, add some chopped dried cranberries and celery to it at the last minute and it gives it a homemade flavor and tastes like you slaved over it. =) It's worked for me every year, especially since so many people don't really like stuffing, it's not fun to work hard on something few people enjoy. However, I am excited to try a "real" stuffing recipe next year, so if you have one you love or tips on how to make it taste great, please share!


WATCH THE MOVIE that goes along with the recipe. It's like 3 minutes long or something and it's totally different: he doesn't steam the artichokes, he adds a ton more parmesan cheese and lemon juice, etc. It changed everything for me. Also, I used fresh artichokes, which totally intimidated me, but I just did it like he does on the movie and they turned out perfectly. I think they brought the dip up a big notch for me, but if you were in a pinch, or want a cheaper option, I'm sure canned is fine. My favorite crab artichoke dip I have ever had. I even ate it for days after the feast. And I don't eat seafood leftovers. Also, I made it the night before and then just cooked it the day of, worked great. 5 Stars, easily.
Notes: Don't let the fancy name fool you, it's just a sliced baguette with a few toppings. You can make the goat cheese mixture the day before and then just toast the bread and assemble it the day of. I love this appetizer because it has so many flavors going on - cinnamon, salt, pepper, cranberries. Really, it looks and tastes fancy, and tastes different than your average appetizer. I love this. 4.5 Stars.

The Turkey
When something has over 3000 reviews on the and it's 5 stars, well, you aren't joking around. I had never actually brined a turkey and put in "aromatics" before, but let me tell you: I just experienced turkey for the first time in my life this Thanksgiving. It was moist. It was flavorful. It wasn't like turkey at all. And it was easy. I did cringe a little as I was pouring in that much chicken stock, so I poured in 12 cups instead of 16, and then added a quart of water to bring it up. I also totally forgot the ice water, but my bag was full enough to almost cover a 14 pound turkey, so I figured it was fine, which it was. I was able to buy my candied ginger in bulk, luckily, and allspice berries were cheap, so it all worked out. Plus, now I know I'll never make another kind of turkey, so I can just keep using what's left over in spices for next year.
A word about cooking time: My turkey was seriously done in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let's say that again: My 14 pound turkey that normally takes 3 hours to cook was done in 75 minutes. I tested it in 3 different places with two different thermometers because I couldn't believe it. Yours might take longer, but I finally just pulled mine out at an hour and a half and let it sit for an hour while I hurriedly got all my side dishes together. I'm glad that I did pull it, since it truly was done, and it was so tender. I think it's because you kind of sear it in the beginning on such a high heat, which, by the way, I stopped after 20 minutes and dropped the temp to the 350 because my turkey was a beautiful dark golden color. Anyway, everyone's oven is different, but just a word to the wise. 6 stars. Oh yes, I just gave something 6 stars.

Side Dishes
Roasted Green Beans with Pumpkin Seeds.
I just broiled pumpkin seeds with some kosher salt and olive oil the day before. Then the day of I threw the green beans in the oven with some kosher salt, pepper, and oil as the rolls were cooking. Then I threw the pumpkin seeds on them as I plated them. Yummy and a great change of pace from all the creamy dishes.
This was another one of those moments where I went "Have I ever really tasted mashed potatoes before?" As I was throwing in what was WAY more than I ever put in my mashed potatoes (which I typically prefer with just a little milk, salt, and pepper), I kept remembering how amazingly delicious they looked on tv when I saw her do her Thanksgiving Throwdown with Bobby Flay. So I trusted in the Ree, and you know what? I'll never make potatoes on Thanksgiving any other way. I do have to say that I think the last part about putting even MORE butter on the top and baking them is completely unnecessary, unless you need to reheat them because you made them the day before (which you could, because these are good enough that I bet no one would even notice), next time I'll skip that part. Other than that, well, let's just say I made enough that we are still eating them a week later and they are just the perfect creaminess and blend of flavor. 5 stars.
Heidi's Amazing Sweet Potato Casserole
My friend, Heidi, gave me this recipe years ago. I fell in love with it. My brother-in-law always calls them "stupid good", and I have to agree, since I never liked any sweet potato dish before this, and I can eat these for days on end. Actually, I have been eating them for days on end. It's more like a dessert, the sweet potatoes are really more like a custard and then you put the topping... mmmmm. You can make and bake them completely up to about 3 days beforehand and then just warm it/toast it just before serving the day of to save time, they're just as good if not better. I always spray a little cooking spray on during the last 10 minutes to really brown it and crisp it up. Oh, and I like the sweet potatoes a little on the creamy side and a lot of topping, so I alter it to my liking every time, feel free to be liberal with your portions, this time I added so much vanilla and milk to the sweet potatoes that I had to add an extra egg to thicken them up!
Heidi's Sweet Potato Casserole
6 to 8 Cs cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 C milk
½ C butter
1 C finely chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1/3 C butter

Beat together all the first stuff, then put in casserole and put topping and bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees
Yet another recipe that had me unexpectedly raving. When I made it (days in advance, of course, there's no way I can do that much cooking in one day!) I was lamenting that it was entirely too sweet - the the point that I would have halved the sugar the next time. However, when paired with the turkey, it was truly perfect. I found myself making excuses to eat the turkey so I could have more of the sauce! I'd probably put in 1/3 less sugar, not because the taste was off, but I thought the flavors and cinnamon carried the dish well, so why not reduce the sugar? I also loved that it didn't require anything special like fruit pectin or multiple steps. It's just straightforward and yummy. I will make it every Thanksgiving from now on. 5 Stars.
Auntie Pam's Rolls:
Everyone loves their roll recipe, there are a million out there. Truthfully, a good roll is a good roll, so I'm not going to sell you on these ones if you already have one you love, but I find myself coming back to this recipe every time. I make them a few days in advance and then freeze them about half-way through the second proof. Then, I let them rise as they thaw (it takes about 3-4 hours, I believe, for them to thaw - and I only let them thaw for 2 hours before finally popping them in this time because my turkey was done so early, so apparently that's fine). Then I cook them as directed. They are a little dense, which I like, but moist and soft. So yummy. I also use about 1/3 wheat flour, just to make me feel a little better about all my binging on Thanksgiving! 5 stars.

Auntie Pam's Rolls:

Makes: 30 Rolls


½ C sugar

½ C oil

2 eggs

2 Tbsp yeast

1 Tbsp salt

2 ½ C water

6-7 C flour


Proof the yeast by adding 1/2 C warm water to the yeast. While it proofs, beat sugar and oil together. Add eggs and beat again. Add 2 C flour and beat until smooth. Add yeast, salt, and water and gently mix until unified. Add flour until it pulls away easily from bowl. Knead for 10 minutes by hand/6-7 minutes with a mixer using a kneading hook. Let rise 35-45 minutes. Form into 30 small balls/rolls and let rise again 30 minutes (if you are freezing them, let rise 20 minutes, then place in the freezer on a plate or cookie sheet until mostly frozen, and then transfer to ziploc bags or other freezer container and store in freezer until ready for use); preheat oven to 375°F. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Brush with a little oil or butter and sprinkle with salt, if desired.


Junior's White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake with a Blackberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce


This is one of my favorite cheesecakes! I just make a graham cracker crust for the bottom. This year I decided to to a Blackberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce which I thought paired fabulously with it (although a little went a long way). I made the cheesecake days in advance and then froze it. Then, I popped it in the fridge 24 hours before serving it. I just removed it and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours before serving and it was perfect. Just play with it until it's the right temperature. The sauce paired SO nicely with it - my husband doesn't like cheesecake (I know, he should be arrested), but he actually ate a whole piece and attributed it to the pairing of the sauce with it. I was pretty liberal, I added balsamic to taste (more than the recipe called for) and sugar to taste (less than the recipe called for). I also added raspberries. But I followed all the steps perfectly, and made it days in advance and it was great. Cheesecake and sauce: 5 stars.

Junior's White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake


Graham Crackers, sugar, a pinch of salt, butter. You know the drill, just make whatever crust you like, bake it, let cook until golden and then let it cool while you make the cheesecake.



10 oz dry-pack frozen whole raspberries (unsweetened/not in syrup), thawed and drained well

5 T cornstarch

8 oz white chocolate

3 8 oz packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature

1 1/3 C sugar

1 T pure vanilla extract

2 extra-large eggs

2/3 C heavy or whipping cream

1 half-pint fresh raspberries (about 6 oz)

White chocolate curls (for garnish, not necessary)



Pulse the thawed raspberries in food processor until pureed (you need ¾ C puree). Stir in 1 T of the cornstarch and set aside. It will thicken slightly as it stands. Melt white chocolate and set aside if doing white curls for garnish.

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 C sugar, and remaining 4 T cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Beat in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 C sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the melted white chocolate, then the cream, just until completely blended. Do not overmix!! (Overbeaten eggs cause cracking!)

Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust. Drop the raspberry puree in teaspoonfuls on top of the batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a ‘figure 8’ design, just until red swirls appear (don’t overmix and turn the cake pink!).

Place cake in a large shallow pan with hot water that comes 1 inch up the sides. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan with raspberry swirls, about 1 ¼ hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away – don’t move it!). Leave the cake in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

Remove from pan and put on cake plate if desired. Decorate with raspberries, white chocolate curls, and puree. Can wrap and freeze leftover cheesecake for 1 month (without fresh raspberries on top of course).

Magnolia's Banana Cream Pudding Pie

I love this recipe and make it every year. And every year that I make it I forget that it's better the next day, so next year, I'll make it 1 day in advance. I will also remember that it makes an EXORBITANT amount of pudding, so I will make 1/3 of the recipe and serve it in a smaller bowl (hopefully a clear one, because it's so pretty in a clear bowl, it looks like trifle). The bananas on top are the only part that need to be pretty, so put those on just before serving. The longer it sits, the more the flavor because amazing! Oh, and don't be fooled, I know this looks like your cheating with these ingredients, but really, who cares, if it's good, it must be Thanksgiving worthy (and if people line up for blocks in NYC for it, it must be good as well). I'm not a big fan of banana cream, but this is good. My husband loves it and has to have it every Thanksgiving! 4 stars.

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding
From 'More From Magnolia' Cookbook
Serves 12

1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup vanilla pudding mix
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups cold heavy cream
1 (12 ounce) box vanilla wafers
4 ripe bananas, sliced

Whisk together the water, pudding mix and sweetened condensed milk until will mixed. If not using instant, refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. If using instant, it will be ready to go within 15 min.

When pudding is ready, whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well incorporated.

In a deep glass bowl (or pie pans or whatever you want to use to layer...but honestly the deeper the bowl the more it will all 'mish mash' together), layer the pudding, wafers, bananas and pudding again. Continue until all the mixture is used up, ending with either wafers or pudding. Don't end with bananas because they will just turn brown and end up looking unappealing. I sprinkled crushed wafers on top of mine.

Now, I can't take credit for all this cooking, my good friends came into town and helped make a lot of these dishes! Plus, my friend made amazing Collard Greens (seriously, they were really good!) and Pumpkin Cake with whipped Cream Cheese Frosting that were both so good. I need to get those recipes. I just had to share these recipes, and also document them so next year I can make them again!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Slow Cooker Minestrone *with update*

Note: Pictures were taken a day or two after making this meal, when a lot of the liquid was soaked up by the vegetables. Still delicious, but not as soupy-looking for a blog picture.

Oh my goodness. You know, I love a good slow cooker meal. I really love a slow cooker meal that isn't mushy. I L.O.V.E. a slow cooker meal that has lots of vegetables, is easy to prepare, and isn't mushy.

Enter my new favorite slow cooker meal: Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup.

Seriously, try it. My general rule for slow cooker meals is th
at it can't include a ton of steps and prep-work. I usually need a slow cooker meal on a day that I'm really busy and so I need to throw and go. I was shocked (and thrilled) that because of the way this recipe is layed out, I could have everything done early in the day, but still have it taste like I had sat there babysitting it to make sure the carrots weren't overly done, etc. This is such a great meal for a cold day, or when you have company and don't have much time to cook. Or are trying to cut back on meat. Or you just need a delicious meal. Ah, let me count the reasons I will be making this recipe again and again and again.

Oh, and I didn't have dry sage, I skipped it and added some other seasonings that I had. I also skipped the spinach, but I'm sure it would be yummy anyway.

I did add some extra vegetables, I don't remember what, but whatever was in my fridge. Mine needed more liquid than the recipe called for, but yours may not. I also just made sure that I seasoned it to taste. I also doubled the recipe as I was making it for a group and it was wonderful!

Oh, and fresh mozzarella is a must. It just sang with the flavors.
Lastly, I chopped all the vegetables and cooked the pasta in the morning as I was throwing everything else in the slow cooker so that when I got home that afternoon, I could just literally throw them in the slow cooker and there was nothing else to do. It would be a great idea to make something like this the day after you have a short-cut pasta (like penne, rigatoni, or farfalle). Brilliant!

I just made this again the other day and realized that I did not mention or emphasize the changes in spices that I made. The recipe below is the original, but here are the spice changes that I made, which I think make ALL the difference:
1) I about tripled the sage, maybe more. Do it to taste.
2) I added dried oregano, which I thought was a nice compliment to the sage in a serious kind of way
3) I probably doubled the thyme in it as well.
4) Both times I added more liquid than it called for
Basically, I put in a ton more seasoning than the recipe calls for! Just do it to taste, but don't be afraid to add more, once I added more seasoning I realized it made all the difference.

5 stars. Love.

Recipe here and below.

Minestrone Soup with Pasta, Beans, and Vegetables

  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted (I skipped this step)
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Basil sprigs, garnish, optional (I skipped this as well)


In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Garnish with basil, if desired.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peach Cobbler

The other day I came home with a ton of peaches and was seriously craving some peach cobbler. I know we're moving past peach season, but for any of you with a few peaches hanging around - don't miss this recipe! I am not going to record here how fast I ate it (by myself) - no, not even as an anonymous blogger, it was that embarrassing (and delicious). Trust me, though, it was good.
I typically use my great-grandma's recipe for cobblers (it's unbelievable, I'll post it one day). But I always make it with berries and since I had a new fruit on my hands I felt adventurous and wanted to try a new recipe. I was not disappointed. This is irresistible! I chose it from among many because, well, first of all it said it was "easy", but second because in the ingredients section it mentioned that it tasted like cobbler that the author's grandmother made - perfect! Lastly, I liked that it was basic. Not basic as in "easy", since that was my first reason for making this cobbler, but basic as in it didn't have a bunch of extra mumbo jumbo in there to jazz it up. I was looking for something that stood on its own without extra creams or spices or seasoning, just a delicious buttery, custardy breading that showcased the already perfect fruit: the peach. Just what I was looking for.

Please, enjoy.
5 stars.
Recipe found here and below.

Easy Peach Cobbler


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups fresh peach slices
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)


Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

Southern Living, JUNE 1997

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Summer Squash Soup

(My camera was having issues yesterday, this is sadly the only picture I have of this extraordinary dish...use your imagination...)
I had planned to write about another meal today, but I made this last night and it just seems cruel to withhold this delicious concoction that I am now privy to while all my friends aren't. So, I'm just going to cut right to the chase here: I loved this soup. Please, put whatever you had planned to make for dinner next on hold and run to the grocery store for this list of ingredients. Don't forget the pistou - it will make it unforgettable. This soup is genius and is officially my new favorite soup! I had my reservations - I mean, a soup made out of summer squash? But, I trust in Smitten Kitchen (don't we all), and I wanted something to do with summer squash other than sautee it up or put it in my favorite casserole, which is, well, amazing, but let's face it, you can only eat so much of your favorite casserole.
Plus, it has a ton of vegetables.
And my 18 month old ate a whole bowl of it!
And my fair-weather-eater toddler ate 5 bites without coaxing.

So, I don't have a fancy schmancy immersion blender, just a normal Hamilton Beach one, so it wasn't as velvety smooth as Smitten talked about, but that didn't bother me one bit (obviously). You could also carefully just blend it in a normal blender as well.

Oh, this soup was so good - can I say it enough? The soup and pistou had such complimentary was just perfection. If you need a larger, heavier dinner for your family, you can add salad, bread, etc. to the meal. We had it with rosemary toast and basically had like 4 bowls each until it was gone, but that was just us. I'll be making it a few times this winter...and if you know anything about my usual rotation you know that is one extraordinary soup.

Ok, I hope I haven't gushed your expectations into the realm of unrealistic here, but please, try this and tell me if I'm the only one still longing for more of its goodness even though it has long since been eaten into nothingness.

Oh, and I doubled the scallions. I like scallions a lot. I also put a lot of salt into the pistou. I liked the balance with the soup's sweetness and the pistou's strong fresh flavor. Putting water into the pistou was also brilliant. I always have to add way to much oil, so that really lightened things up.

5 stars (6 anyone??). Recipe here and below:

Summer-Squash Soup with Parsley-Mint Pistou
Adapted from
Gourmet, September 2006

For squash soup
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)

For pistou**
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 large scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make soup: Melt butter in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree; soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return purée to cleaned pot and thin with water if desired; simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Make pistou while vegetables simmer: Pulse mint, parsley, and scallion in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream, then add water and salt, blending until incorporated.

Swirl 1 tablespoon pistou into each bowl of soup.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rigatoni with Squash (and prawns)

I know, I know, can you believe I'm posting?? Did you think I was gone forever? That I had gone the way of all mamas who move (frozen pizzas, Taco Bell, even the dreaded...Chicken Nuggets!!)? Well, we may have lived off of freezer meals for awhile, and then been on vacation for awhile, and then I may have had morning sickness for awhile (yep, I'm pregnant)...but we've recovered and I've been cooking for a solid 3 weeks now! I didn't have the energy to look up new recipes fo
r awhile, so I took a walk down memory lane, I made Blue Cheese Scallion Biscuits, Escarole Calzones (with Kale, again), and Shakshuka (something I just craved those first coup
le of months, such a comfort food), and of course, Emerill's Salmon! I have
to say, they were all better than I remembered! Especially the calzones.
Anyway, so yesterday I kicked off winter cookin' with some butternut squash. Now, if you know me, you know that I could live off of butternut squash. In fact, I turned my oldest son so orange one year because I fed him so much of it that after having a number of people tell me I should have him checked for jaundice or liver malfunction, I took him to the doctor. Nope, no jaundice. No liver problems. Just lay off the butternut.

Anyway, so I've made a lot of butternut-purees-over-pasta before, but this was hands down my favorite one yet (not to be confused with my butternut squash curry recipe, that's different in my mind, and still to this day, cannot be topped).
I ended up throwing out my prawns, I'm not overly picky, but something went horribly wrong with them, they were so gross. Maybe I'm just used to fresh, I dunno, it was probably my fault. But it was still a delicious, round meal with pasta, bread, and a green salad. I
f you wanted, you could easily substitute chicken, nuts, or just skip the protein portion of the meal altogether.
Would you believe that my 1 year old loved the butternut squash puree so much that he took to yanking on the pockets of my pants while wailing "biiiiiiiite!!" until I would walk back over to the blender, scoop him out a bite, and shovel it in his mouth? He l.o.v.e.d. it! Always a plus. I actually thought it was good enough just to be a butternut squash bisque, I may do that in the future as well.
Oh, and fresh basil made a huge difference in this meal, I don't think it would have been the same without it.
Oh, and and you must meet my new love (obviously my new cast iron pan)!! I'm kind of obsessed with it right now. My old pan was rusting and I decided to take the plunge. Let's just say that food at our house just got a whole lot better, I don't know how I ever cooked without it before! I just might build a house out of cast iron someday. Not really. But I LOVE my pan.

5 stars. And without further ado, recipe is here and below.

Rigatoni with Squash and Prawns

This is from the kitchen of Giada DeLaurentis. I LOOVE her Italian foods. She does awesome work and is usually pretty reasonable with her time and ingredients list.

Anyway, this is a great one for fall with the squash and garlic! mmmm..


* 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
* 1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
* 1 cup vegetable stock
* 1 pound rigatoni
* 1 pound prawns, peeled and deveined
* 3/4 to 1 cup whole milk
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very soft, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the prawns with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add the prawns to the pan and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes.

In a large pot over low heat combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash mixture, and 3/4 cup milk. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk if the sauce needs to be moistened. Add the cooked prawns, basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Um, hi, I'm still here

Hi everyone - thanks for the e-mails and comments! I am still here and I do still plan on keeping up this blog, I've just been caught in the throws of graduation (for the hubby) and moving (for the whole family) and vacationing (yesss!). I'm ashamed to say that most of our culinary experiences have come straight out of a window on the side of a building lately...or out of our freezer. But we're moving in and I will have some delicious recipes coming this way in the near future! Don't give up on me! Oh, and in the meantime, you should go pick up some Brookside brand chocolate covered Acai berries at your friendly neighborhood Costco. I don't like chocolate covered raisins or anything like you can imagine my shock when I stumbled upon a couple of those nuggets of deliciousness and almost fell over, they were that good!!
Hope your summer is fantastic! I'll be back soon!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Let me just start by saying that I've never made a homemade biscuit that I really love. Really, I haven't. Until now, anyway. I made these the other day for some friends and I thought they were just amazing. Scallions and blue cheese? Yum. In a perfectly constructed biscuit? Amazing. Easy, too! I served them with White Chili...mmmmm.
There are a lot of pictures in this post. It turns out when the weather finally starts to come around and you have a lot of natural light in your house again little things like chopped green onions can look all profound:
The recipe says to mix in the butter with your fingers until it's crumbly. That technique is to ensure that the butter doesn't get completely incorporated into the mixture, but stays in clumps which will create pockets of flaky deliciousness. You can get the same end product with a pastry blender, which I happen to have, and seeing as I already wash my hands about 100 times a day chasing after my two little ones, I figured it was a good idea to spare one hand washing and just go straight to the pastry blender.
Awaiting their turn in the oven, just moments away from reaching their fullest potential of deliciousness:I was really pleasantly surprised by the splurges of cheese that I felt in my mouth. The recipe has you blend it just enough that the cheese flavor is infused throughout the biscuit, yet also in concentrated pockets. These will be my go-to biscuits for a long time to come.Oh, and I used gorgonzola, because that's my favorite. But you can use whatever kind you like. She actually adapted this recipe from a cheddar drop-biscuit, so you could potentially use that as well. She also mentions freezing them at the dough stage after dropping them onto the cookie sheet and then placing them in a plastic freezer bag for another day. Next time I make these I will definitely be doubling the recipe and freezing half of them.

5 stars!

Recipe here and below.

Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Adapted from Gourmet

These are everything a good drop biscuit should be; super speedy to make (one bowl!), with a golden craggy crust and soft interior. I (only) made a couple changes to this. Based on responses on the original recipe, I added an additional scallion and because I completely missed the ingredient when I read the recipe, I didn’t add the baking soda. And they were still fluffy and delicious. But I bet they’d even be more so with it.

If you’re blue cheese-averse, you can make this with an equal volume of coarsely grated cheddar.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or, you can make your own)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in blue cheese and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Drop dough in 12 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet, or one lined with parchment paper. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 16 to 20 minutes.

Do ahead: Biscuits are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, drop them onto your baking sheet, freeze them until they are firm, and place them in a freezer bag or container until you’re ready to bake them. They can be baked while still frozen (straight from the freezer), you’ll just want to add a few minutes to the baking time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Salad with Chocolate Balsamic Dressing and Chocolate Covered Bacon!!

Wowza. Did you check that title? This one's a little crazy, but very fun...and delicious, I would add. I had a dinner party to go to the other night in which we all had to bring food that had one of two 'secret' ingredients: Chocolate or Citrus. Naturally, I had to bring something with chocolate in it.

I thought this dressing was delicious, especially when paired with a yummy salad. Really, just delicious. It's such a great flavor, perfectly tangy, yet just sweet enough. And we all know you can't go wrong with strawberries and balsamic. Plus, when you serve something like salad with chocolate dressing and chocolate covered bacon, you've already got 10 minutes worth of conversation right there, so, that adds to its luster.

I need to emphasize here that in the case of this dressing, I think a salad with some sort of goat cheese and fresh mint is crucial to really making this dressing pop and having people say, "wow, what is this??" Just fyi.

Moving along. The idea of chocolate covered bacon is not an Alicia original. I was introduced to it in this recipe, which I thought was desperately lacking altogether. Since I had a bunch of chocolate covered bacon left over from it, I started searching for ideas to use up the scores of chocolate covered bacon I had leftover. As it turns out, chocolate covered bacon has a serious following on the internet! Some people even go so far as to drizzle it with white chocolate, dress it with a bow and give it as gifts! While it's not my cup of tea, I still found it interested. So, since the idea of chocolate covered bacon seemed intriguing, and I had some left over from the above recipe, I figured I'd try it out on this salad.

Now, you should know that I am not a fan of bacon. In fact, my husband had to show me where it was located in the store and has since coached me in how to cook it over the years (because when I cook it I rarely, if ever, eat it, so I never really know what is "good" bacon). However, I thought that, covered in chocolate, it was pretty good on the salad. If you want a vegetarian alternative, I think you could maybe do chocolate covered salted nuts or seeds of some sort (cashews or pumpkin seeds come to mind, but I'm sure others would be good, too).

All in all, I'd give the dressing 5 stars. Don't put too much on or it's too strong. But in the right amount, it just sings. The chocolate covered bacon is more of a fun touch, but since I don't really love bacon, I don't think I'm a really good rater for that. I will say, it ranks as 5 stars in the conversation piece category!

Enjoy! Recipe for the dressing found here and below. I've converted the metric portions to cups and ounces here, so please note that they are approximate. For instructions on how to make chocolate dipped bacon, see this recipe and just follow the portion of directions for the chocolate dipped bacon.

Chocolate Balsamic Dressing


1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup white sugar
3-4 oz Dark chocolate (70% Cacao or higher)


To make the dressing: Place balsamic vinegar in a saucepan, add sugar and dissolve over a gentle heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Leave to cool at room temperature. Do not refrigerate or dressing will solidify.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks

This recipe rocked. Really, that's all there is to it. =) I know, I know, the pictures kind of...well...are horrible. It must have been bad lighting that day.

Ok, I guess I'll explain. I liked this recipe for a lot of reasons:
1) It has tarragon and chicken - yum.
2) It can be made in the crockpot.
3) I can cook a chicken in the slow cooker first and then use that meat - making my meal extremely budget-friendly.
4) It reminded me of what I always hope a chicken pot pie will taste like, but it never does. It was thick, rich, delicious, comforting, easy...
5) It has leeks - always a good thing.
Do I really need to go on?

I mean, it's not like it's something you'd serve at a wedding, it's a home-cookin' comfort it's-been-a-busy-day kind of meal. Still, with that said, I loved it. My husband loved it. My kids loved it. I'd make it again any day!

Fresh tarragon really made a difference with this one - really, a big difference. It took it from a goulash of flavors to a "Oooo - what is that flavor??" meal.
By the way, leeks are very easy to work with - they're in the onion family, and there's nothing scary about an onion. Here's a great tutorial (although I cut them a little larger than she does here for this recipe): How to cut a leek.

I changed the meal into a little more of a stew rather than separate ingredients. I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker and then shredded it and followed the recipe as directed (only I just threw in the chicken until it looked like a good amount, I didn't use 8 chicken thighs like the recipe calls for). I also threw in a bunch of sliced mushrooms that I had on hand for the last hour or so. Thought it was a nice touch.

5 stars.

Recipe here and below.

Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks
Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 15m Total Time: 4hr 30m


1 1/2 pounds baby new potatoes (about 16)
8 small skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)
3 leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon


Place the potatoes on the bottom of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken, leeks, wine, and 1 teaspoon salt.
Cook, covered, until the chicken and potatoes are tender, on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Transfer the chicken and all but 4 of the potatoes to plates. Using a fork, smash the remaining potatoes into the cooking liquid to thicken.
Add the peas and cream and cook just until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon over the chicken and sprinkle with the tarragon.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Ok, the name of this food alone is going to make it seem very intimidating. However, I want you to stop for just a moment and look at the actual food and recipe itself - it doesn't get easier...or tastier, I might add! And let me tell you: it's even better than it sounds!! I saw this on Smitten (of course) and knew instantly that I needed to make it. I love eggs, they're a comfort food to me - and tomatoes+eggs=a delicious thing. I thought the combination of ingredients was genius. This recipe was especially exciting to me because it was very budget-friendly as well! I will say - it surpassed my expectations. I found myself going back for more and more...and more the next day. I think it might be my new ultimate comfort food - Frosted Mini Wheats at 11:00pm just took a back seat. No really, I liked it that much.
I served it with Naan bread and thought it was brilliant. I made one recipe and it fed our family of 4 with just a few left-overs, so if you are cooking for 4 adults you may want to increase the amount you make.

I do have to admit that everything was going great until I dropped all the eggs in, as the recipe indicates and my pot looked like this:
A little unnerving to see that many eggs swimming in a pot of tomatoes, I have to admit. But I have faith in Smitten, so I proceeded. In just a few minutes my pot was perfection and I had a delicious meal waiting for me. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen, for bringing me food I didn't even know I loved.

For a hilarious review about why you should make Shakshuka - and for the recipe, click here. You can also scroll down for the recipe.

5 stars.

Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]

Adapted from Saveur

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas or naan bread, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas or naan bread, for dipping.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Escarole Calzone

Deborah Madison has done it again. I was first introduced to Deborah Madison when I purchased her cook book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. You don't have to be a vegetarian to by her book, it's just a great way to incorporate vegetables and whole-foods-cooking into your normal meal rotation.
I quickly fell in love with her recipes that showcase a large assortment of foods and flavors. Her recipes are well-thought out; as you bite into each dish each flavor compliments another. Her recipes are intelligent recipes, if you know what I mean. The kind where you think 'Hmmmm, I never would have thought to put this-or-that in here, but it makes all the difference...brilliant!" the whole time you're eating it. Eating her food is truly an experience and I keep going back for more.
With that preface, I introduce to you her Escarole Calzone which, quite literally, blew me out of the water. It was unbelievable! Walnuts! Escaraole! Olives! Capers! Fontina cheese! Balsamic Vinegar! What an amazing assortment of flavors.
Now, it was a bit of work to make your own dough and do all the chopping, so you could potentially take shortcuts like buying pre-made dough, OR you can plan ahead and make the dough a few days in advance and then freeze it after it proofs the first time and it works just fine (which is what I did). I really liked her dough recipe. I even brought some over to friends already cooked and they froze them and then ate them a month later and said they were delicious! So many options...
As far as actually eating it, the blending of flavors was amazing, so much to munch on, so to speak. I thought the olives made the dish (I used Kalamata), and I also loved the kick of the red pepper. I loved feeling like my pizza wasn't just about sauce and cheese, it was about flavors blended together and spices sizzling on my tongue. The recipe was so well thought-out and just so yummy. Mmmm. I savored every bite of this deliciousness!
Not all of mine turned out beautifully, some of them were just so-so looking, but once I got the technique of putting my thumb down and then pulling over the dough right next to it and pinching it, they all turned out nice and pretty!Oh yeah, my grocery store was out of escarole, so I used kale, but you could also use endives or other types of leafy greens.
5 stars.

Deborah Madison's Escarole Calzone

For the pizza dough:
1 1/2 C warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 cup whole-wheat flour, to taste
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

For the filling:
1/2 cup walnuts
salt and freshly milled pepper
2 bunches escarole, separated at the base
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or Nicoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3/4 cup grated mozzarella
3/4 cup grated fontina
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, and set aside until the foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining water, olive oil, and salt, then beat in the whole wheat flour followed by enough white flour to form a shaggy dough. Turn it out onto the counter and knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. For a crisp, light crust, pizza dough should be on the moist side, which means it will be slightly tacky.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it once to coat, then cover with a towel and set aside to rise until doubled in size, 40-60 minutes. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into 6 equal parts. Shape each piece into a ball, set on a lightly floured counter, cover with a towel, and let rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a baking stone, heat it at the same time.
Discard any escarole leaves that are yellowed. Wash, then coarsely chop them. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat with the garlic and pepper flakes. When the garlic is fragrant, add the escarole and saute, turning it frequently with tongs until tender, about 7 minutes. (You may need to do this in two batches.) Remove to a colander and press out as much liquid as possible. Combine with the remaining ingredients except the oil, seasoning to taste with vinegar and plenty of pepper.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Use two to make into rolls or breadsticks. Roll the rest into four thin 6 1/2 inch circles and set them on a floured pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan. Let them rest for 15 minutes. Place the filling over half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the edge with water, fold the top down, then crimp the edges. Slide the calzone onto the baking stone and bake until browned on top, 15 to 2o minutes. Brush with olive oil to make them shine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

Mmmm mmmmm mmm! Is there anything you could make that could sound more delicious? How about if I mentioned that the dip is plain yogurt mixed with maple syrup and cinnamon? Yes, it really just got that much better!
What I love about these is that they're notchyer average side dish. They mix things up a little. Play with the amount of salt on the fries and the and the syrup/cinnamon mixture until you get it just how you want it.I find that broiling them for the first 4 or 5 minutes and then shifting it to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes creates a good combination between crispy/moist fries. They're really just so easy.
I served this with the Caribbean Halibut with Mango Salsa. Talk about a dinner with some flavor! It was a lot of chopping, so maybe I'd only serve them together again on a special occasion, but it was delicious. Worth it, even.

These really are so fun. I've made them 2 or 3 times now, which is sayin' something! 4 stars.

My friend, Heidi, from Made by Heidi gave me this fabulous recipe. Thanks, girl!

Sweet Potato Fries with Sweet Cream Sauce
3-4 Sweet Potatoes, sliced long-ways
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for basting
Kosher Salt to taste

1/2 Cup Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
Maple Syrup to taste (1-3 Tablespoons)
Cinnamon to taste

Slice sweet potatoes long ways, into about 1/2 inch spears. Toss or coat with olive oil. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a cooling rack or metal rack on top of it. Place the sweet potatoes on the rack and sprinkle kosher salt to taste on top. Broil for 4-5 minutes, and then turn the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Let roast for 20 minutes, checking often as cooking times will vary depending on oven and thickness of fries.

While fries cook in the oven, mix together the sour cream/yogurt with the maple syrup and cinnamon to taste. Place in refrigerator.

Serve the fries with the dip. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Caribbean Halibut with Mango Salsa

Just that title is enough to make my mouth water. I'm a big believer that seafood can be delicious (delicious), but it needs to be done right. You need to pick a good fish. You need to cook it well. You need to have a fantastic recipe. This recipe is right up there with Emeril's Salmon for me. Just so much flavor, and so perfectly paired, it just can't be beat.When you first read the recipe you may think it's not worth all that chopping plus you have to blacken it and then put the fish in the oven. However, I usually do the chopping for the salsa in the morning, so all you have left is to marinade and preheat your oven in the evening. It's fast and really, just delicious. The blackening process sears in all the flavor without actually having to fry it, which I think is brilliant. Then, the oven gets it nice and moist. Mmmm, my mouth is watering right now!If you don't like heat, then just reduce the jalapeno amount. I think they give it a great flavor, so I wouldn't throw them out all together. And the salsa, the SALSA. You just can't forgo that on this dish, the flavors pair together beautifully. They just can't be separated.
I've made this dish with Haddock and Tilapia and both turned out just fine. Haddock is a very 'un-fishy' tasting fish, if you are skiddish about cooking fish.

Here's that perfect texture when it's just ready to come out. Still moist and plush looking, but cooked through and just getting a little flaky.I find that as long as the fish is pretty close to room temperature when you begin cooking it, the timing is pretty spot on, let me know if anyone finds anything differently!

I'm not sure where this recipe came from as I got it years ago from a friend and we altered the recipe until it was perfect.

5 Stars. For sure.

Caribbean Halibut with Mango Salsa:

4 Halibut or Swordfish steaks (about 6 oz)

3 limes
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, divided in half

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tsp olive oil

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Caribbean jerk seasoning (or a combination of seasonings to your liking)

1 recipe mango salsa (below)


For halibut and marinade, rinse halibut and pat dry with paper towels. Zest limes to measure 1 teaspoon (set zest aside for salsa). Juice limes to measure 4 tablespoons juice. Finely chop jalapeno pepper in a food processor, combine 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, half of the jalapeno pepper, garlic, oil, salt and black pepper: whisk until blended. Place halibut and marinade in a resealable plastic food storage bag; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

For halibut: Preheat oven to 400F. Remove halibut from bag being sure some jalapeno remains on the top of the fish. According to taste, season the tops with Caribbean Jerk seasoning. Add a little olive oil to a skillet and heat over high heat on stove. When the oil and pan are hot, place halibut top side down on the skillet and blacken for 1 minute. Remove from skillet and place halibut in a greased pan with right side up again. Cook for 8 minutes or until halibut flakes easily with a fork. Serve topped with mango salsa.


Prep: 20 minutes Chill: 2 hours

1-1/2 C chopped, peeled mango (papaya, peaches, plums, and/or pineapple will also work)
1/2 C chopped red or green sweet pepper
1/4 C thinly sliced green onions (2)
1/4 C snipped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice or lemon juice
1 to 2 fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Anaheim pepper

In a medium mixing bowl stir together fruit, sweet pepper, green onions, cilantro or parsley, lime juice or lemon juice, and jalapeno, serrano, or Anaheim pepper. Cover; chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Serve as a dip for chips or fresh vegetables or as a condiment for tacos, quesadillas, burgers, steaks, chicken, or fish. Makes about 2 cups.