Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Month: March 2019

Melba Sauce – Celebrate the Beauty of Raspberries!

Melba Sauce – Celebrate the Beauty of Raspberries!

Brilliant scarlet in color – this sauce is lightly sweet and uncomplicated!  The stars in this classic sauce are the raspberries. And they show that in a very beautiful way some of the best desserts are really quite simple.

Sauces can take a simple treat and elevate it to an elegant confection. This is a tasty example! Melba sauce – a vintage dessert sauce – is said to have been created to honor an Australian soprano, Nellie Melba in the late 1800s. It was served alongside peaches in a dish known as Peach Melba. But this gorgeous raspberry sauce is really wonderful flying solo!

It’s made with a short list of ingredients – raspberries, a touch of sugar, a little cornstarch to thicken and currant jelly for a vibrant shine.

It’s the perfect time for fresh ripe raspberries – they are in abundance in the markets. But you can also use frozen – or buy a large batch and flash freeze some for later!

The sauce comes together quickly. A quick cook until the cornstarch is clear and no longer cloudy in appearance.

The currant jelly melts into the berries producing a sauce that showcases the delectable red raspberry, almost glistening in appearance.

It’s splendid for topping a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream nestled in a delightful crispy phyllo shell. Simply marvelous!

Melba Sauce

3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

3 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons cornstarch

¼ cup currant jelly

Toss the raspberries into a saucepan.

Add the sugar, cornstarch and the currant jelly.

Cook and stir over low heat until the juices of the raspberries release and the sugar and the cornstarch have dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sauce is no longer cloudy in appearance and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

The sauce will have a slightly cloudy appearance until the cornstarch has cooked sufficiently and begins to thicken.

If you are not a fan of seeds in raspberries you can strain the sauce through a sieve.

Melba sauce can be served over pound cake, angel food cake or vanilla ice cream. For an elegant but easy dessert place a scoop of ice cream inside a phyllo shell and top with Melba sauce. (Athens Foods make wonderful phyllo shells and can be found in the freezer section of most food markets.)

Makes about 3 cups of sauce.

Melba Sauce, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 29, 2019
: Makes about 3 cups.

A brilliant scarlet sauce - sweet and uncomplicated! The star in this classic sauce is the raspberry. They show in a very beautiful way that some of the best desserts can really quite simple.

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup currant jelly
Directions
  • Step 1 Toss the raspberries into a saucepan. Add the sugar, cornstarch and the currant jelly.
  • Step 2 Cook and stir over low heat until the juices of the raspberries release and the sugar and the cornstarch have dissolved, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sauce is no longer cloudy in appearance and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce will have a slightly cloudy appearance until the cornstarch has cooked sufficiently and begins to thicken.
  • Step 4 If you are not a fan of the seeds in raspberries you can strain the sauce through a sieve.
  • Step 5 Melba sauce can be served over pound cake, angel food cake or vanilla ice cream. For an elegant but easy dessert place a scoop of ice cream inside a phyllo shell and top with Melba sauce. (Athens Foods make wonderful phyllo shells and can be found in the freezer section of most food markets.)

 

 

Fennel, Arugula and Orange Salad with Orange Pecan Vinaigrette

Fennel, Arugula and Orange Salad with Orange Pecan Vinaigrette

Take the brightness of fennel mingle it with peppery arugula and toss with sweet orange, creamy avocados, toasted pecans and fresh Parmesan and Fontina. Then dress it with orange pecan vinaigrette – absolutely wonderful for a midweek meal!

It’s a simple salad with a gorgeous array of ingredients. Fennel and arugula get things started with a balance of flavors from the subtle sweetness of oranges and richness of ripe avocados. Toss in a nutty crunch from toasted pecans and luscious Parmesan and Fontina cheese.

Fennel is an often-overlooked bulb vegetable and it’s loaded with vitamin C along with iron and potassium. If you’ve avoided fennel because its flavor profile is most commonly compared to licorice, set that notion aside and give it a try. I’ve never been a fan of licorice but there’s something vibrant and fresh about fennel.

Arugula is often a minor player in recipes though it shouldn’t be. Known to boost the immune system, this sturdy green brings a nice spice to any plate. And unlike traditional salad greens arugula holds up even after it’s coated with vinaigrette.

Now drizzle everything in a rich orange and pecan vinaigrette.

This orange pecan vinaigrette has subtle notes of orange – compliments of fresh juice and zest – with a splash of champagne vinegar to add a bit of acid. Use a high quality olive oil – Olio Santo is one of my favorites. It’s known for it’s fruity flavor – it’s a key component so don’t skimp! The toasted pecans lend a depth that ties into the vinaigrette in an unsuspecting way.

First course, second course, lunch or dinner!

Fennel, Arugula and Orange Salad with Orange Pecan Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

Zest from 1 navel orange, about 2 teaspoons

Juice from 1 large navel orange, about ½ cup

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

½ teaspoon chopped garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons toasted pecans

For the salad:

4 cups arugula

1-1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel, about 1 small bulb – white portion only

1 large navel orange, chopped

1 avocado, cubed

½ cup shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese blend

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

To make the vinaigrette:

Combine the orange zest and orange juice with the champagne vinegar, garlic, kosher salt, pepper and sugar in a food processor. Process for about 20 to 30 seconds to blend together.

Add the olive oil and process for about 30 seconds. Toss in the toasted pecans and process until the vinaigrette is blended and the pecans are finely chopped, about 1 to 2 minutes.

To assemble the salad:

Mix the arugula with the sliced fennel and orange pieces in a large bowl.

Add the shaved cheese, the avocado along with the toasted pecans.

Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat.

Fennel, Arugula and Orange Salad with Orange Pecan Vinaigrette, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 27, 2019
: Makes 4 servings for entrees, 6 for first course servings.

Take the brightness of fennel mingle it with peppery arugula and toss with orange, avocado, toasted pecans and some fresh Parmesan and Fontina. Then dress it with orange pecan vinaigrette – absolutely wonderful for a midweek or weekend meal!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the vinaigrette:
  • Zest from 1 navel orange, about 2 teaspoons
  • Juice from 1 large navel orange, about ½ cup
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons toasted pecans
  • For the salad:
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel, about 1 small bulb – white portion only
  • 1 large navel orange, chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese blend
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the vinaigrette:
  • Step 2 Combine the orange zest and orange juice with the champagne vinegar, garlic, kosher salt, pepper and sugar in a food processor. Process for about 20 to 30 seconds to blend together.
  • Step 3 Add the olive oil and process for about 30 seconds.
  • Step 4 Toss in the toasted pecans and process until the vinaigrette is blended and the pecans are finely chopped, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Step 5 To assemble the salad:
  • Step 6 Mix the arugula with the sliced fennel and orange pieces in a large bowl. Add the shaved cheese, the avocado along with the toasted pecans.
  • Step 7 Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat.
Chicken Caesar Sandwich with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes

Chicken Caesar Sandwich with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes

Take a blend of ricotta swirl in a touch of tangy Caesar dressing and smear it on a toasted ciabatta roll. Then layer it with slices of savory chicken. Top with cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic, rich olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add crisp romaine, shaved Parmesan and Asiago cheese and you have one extraordinary chicken sandwich!

Sandwiches need not be a mere slice of cheese with cold cuts on sliced white bread. Years ago on a trip through Oklahoma we stopped at a restaurant claiming to be “all things meat”. That intrigued the Engineer and assumed we were in for a mouthwatering treat. As we stood in line to order we found our options were limited. Sliced white bread, American cheese and a choice of ham or roast beef. That was it. Not a leaf of lettuce or a slice of tomato in sight. There should be a multitude of taste and color and texture!

A chicken Caesar sandwich is nothing new but Emily and I wondered how we could elevate it, creating additional layers of flavor. Cherry tomatoes, always wonderful seemed to be a good addition. Roasting them with cloves of garlic tossed in extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar brought a beautiful dimension.

Then to tackle the sandwich spread. Sometimes a Caesar dressing straight up on a sandwich is overwhelming. Folding it into a creamy ricotta cheese hit the right note.

For the bread, a lightly toasted ciabatta roll is a fabulous vessel for these ingredients – but feel free to use your favorite.

An easy meal and a mini feast for your taste buds!

Chicken Caesar Sandwich with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes

For the roasted tomatoes:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

One large carton of cherry tomatoes, about 30 tomatoes

8 to 10 cloves of garlic, halved

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to season the sandwich

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra to season the sandwich

For the sandwich spread:

1/3 cup Caesar salad dressing

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

For the sandwich:

½ pound roasted sliced chicken, such as EverRoast Oven Roasted from Boar’s Head

¼ cup shaved Parmesan and Asiago cheese blend

Romaine lettuce

4 ciabatta rolls

To make the roasted tomatoes:

Pour the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar into a small baking dish. Toss the cherry tomatoes into the dish then add the garlic cloves. Season with the kosher salt and pepper.

Roast in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes, until the tomatoes and garlic are very soft. Stir after the first 15 minutes of roasting.

For the sandwich spread:

Stir the Caesar salad dressing together with the ricotta cheese.

For the sandwiches:

Warm the ciabatta rolls in a 375-degree oven for about 6 minutes or until the bread is warm and soft. Using a serrated knife slice the rolls in half. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the roasted tomatoes onto the thicker top portion of the roll. Spread the ricotta-Caesar dressing on the bottom half of the roll.

Divide the sliced chicken and place it on the bottom of each roll. Top with some of the roasted tomatoes including pieces of the roasted garlic.

Place about 1 tablespoon of the shaved cheese on top of the tomatoes and add a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly black pepper.

Add a small piece of romaine lettuce, top and serve!

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes. courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 25, 2019
: Makes 4 sandwiches.

Take a blend of ricotta with a tangy Caesar dressing and smear it on a toasted ciabatta roll. Then layer it with slices of savory chicken. Top with cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic, rich olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add crisp romaine, shaved Parmesan and Asiago cheese and you have one extraordinary chicken sandwich!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the roasted tomatoes:
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • One large carton of cherry tomatoes, about 30 tomatoes
  • 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to season the sandwich
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra to season the sandwich
  • For the sandwich spread:
  • 1/3 cup Caesar salad dressing
  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • For the sandwich:
  • ½ pound roasted sliced chicken, such as EverRoast Oven Roasted from Boar's Head
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan and Asiago cheese blend
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the roasted tomatoes:
  • Step 2 Pour the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar into a small baking dish. Toss the cherry tomatoes into the dish then add the garlic cloves. Season with the kosher salt and pepper.
  • Step 3 Roast in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes, until the tomatoes and garlic are very soft. Stir after the first 15 minutes of roasting.
  • Step 4 To make the sandwich spread:
  • Step 5 Stir the Caesar salad dressing together with the ricotta cheese.
  • Step 6 Assemble the sandwiches:
  • Step 7 Warm the ciabatta rolls in a 375-degree oven for about 6 minutes or until the bread is warm and soft.
  • Step 8 Using a serrated knife slice the rolls in half. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the roasted tomatoes onto the thicker top portion of the roll. Spread the ricotta-Caesar dressing on the bottom half of the roll.
  • Step 9 Divide the sliced chicken and place it on the bottom of each roll. Top with some of the roasted tomatoes including pieces of the roasted garlic. Place about 1 tablespoon of the shaved cheese on top of the tomatoes and add a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly black pepper.
  • Step 10 Add a small piece of romaine lettuce, top and serve!
Lemon Blueberry Smoothie with Fresh Rosemary

Lemon Blueberry Smoothie with Fresh Rosemary

The combination of lemons and blueberries offers something quite wonderful. Throw in a hint of fresh rosemary with a drizzle of golden honey and you’ve got one uniquely delicious and frosty beverage!

Lemons and blueberries seem perfect for a little refresh on this first weekend of spring.

Meyer lemons are still in season and bring a milder, slightly sweet lemon tang. Believed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange they are not as tart as their bright yellow counterpart. If you can’t find Meyer lemons or you like that intense lemon flavor you can certainly use the more commonly found variety, just add a touch more honey if needed to satisfy your taste buds.

And the blueberries have been so wonderful this year – even as early as late January they were plump and sweet. I loaded up and luckily had a batch sitting in the freezer just waiting to add the right chill to this smoothie. Substituting frozen fruit for some of the ice cubes gives this or any frozen drink a more intense flavor.

Then there’s the herbal twist – rosemary. A member of the mint family, rosemary is always on my patio. This evergreen scented herb is a well-known ingredient in savory dishes but it can also add a beautiful floral note to recipes with fruit. If your palate is sensitive, start with half the amount. Rosemary is a lot like lavender, it can quickly take over.

Beautiful flavors ranging from subtly sweet to lightly tangy with notes of honey and rosemary to highlight the lemon and blueberries. A little zesting, a bit of juicing, and a quick chop or two. Pull up a chair, have a sip and welcome the new season!

Lemon Blueberry Smoothie with Fresh Rosemary

¼ cup honey, or enough to suit your taste

2 teaspoons lemon zest, about 2 large lemons

½ cup Meyer lemon juice, about 2 to 3 large lemons*

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 cups frozen blueberries

¾ cup sparkling lemonade, such as Lorina French Soda

1 cup of ice

*Note: If Meyer lemons aren’t available, you can use any lemons in the market.

Pour the honey into a blender. Add the lemon zest along with the lemon juice.

Toss in 1/2 teaspoon of the chopped rosemary.

Toss in the frozen blueberries and pour in the sparkling lemonade.

Add the ice.

Process on low speed for about 20 to 30 seconds, then on high for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the drink is smooth and well blended. If you’re using a Vitamix, use the smoothie setting. You can add more lemonade if you like a smoothie that’s not as thick. Give it a taste and add more honey and rosemary if needed.

Makes 2 large drinks.

Lemon Blueberry Smoothie with Fresh Rosemary, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 22, 2019
: Makes 2 large drinks.

The blend of lemons and blueberries offers something quite wonderful. Throw in a hint of fresh rosemary with a drizzle of honey and you’ve got one uniquely delicious and frosty beverage!

By:

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup honey, or enough to suit your taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, about 2 large lemons
  • ½ cup Meyer lemon juice, about 2 to 3 large lemons*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup sparkling lemonade, such as Lorina
  • 1 cup of ice
  • *Note: If Meyer lemons aren’t available, you can use any lemons in the market.
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the honey into a blender.
  • Step 2 Add the lemon zest along with the lemon juice and the chopped rosemary.
  • Step 3 Toss in the frozen blueberries and pour in the sparkling lemonade .
  • Step 4 Add the ice.
  • Step 5 Process on low speed for about 20 to 30 seconds, then on high for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the drink is smooth and well blended. If you’re using a Vitamix, use the smoothie setting. You can add more lemonade if you like a smoothie that’s not as thick. Give it a taste and add more honey and rosemary if needed.
  • Step 6
Hummingbird Cupcakes

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Layers of creamy bananas, sweet pineapple and toasted pecans with a wisp of cinnamon topped with a buttery cream cheese frosting – whipped with more toasted pecans. Hello spring!

Celebrating a birthday is always a great reason for cake! I’ve celebrated birthdays with two very dear friends for literally decades. This week marked another year of birthday celebrations. With a noted interest in hummingbirds by the guest of honor, baking the cake that shares its name seemed perfect!

Hummingbird Cake has become a classic Southern cake with a fairly modern yet tangled history. According to Southern Living – one of my favorite sources for all things Southern – they first ran the original recipe in the late 70s. It was submitted by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins from North Carolina and is still one of their most requested recipes. But the credit for the first Hummingbird Cake takes many different twists and turns, from a classic tube cake minus that dreamy cream cheese frosting to a version whipped up in Jamaica. Regardless, it is a wonderful way to welcome the first blooms of spring!

It’s a quick and easy cake to pull together. The eggs add richness and the lovely fruity notes come from crushed pineapple and ripe bananas. Cinnamon and vanilla extract provide a nice highlight to the fruit with toasted pecans adding just the right nutty bite.

The cake is wonderful on it’s own but topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting – full of vanilla and more toasted pecans – it’s luscious!

You can bake this cake in three 8” cake pans, two 9” cake pans or a 9”x13” baking dish. But if you have a birthday celebration, cupcakes are a fun way to share this treat!

No matter the form you bake, Hummingbird Cake is sure to attract fans!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

For the cake:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 extra-large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup vegetable or canola oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 small can crushed pineapple, with juice, 8-ounces

2 cups ripe mashed bananas, about 4 medium bananas

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

For the cream cheese frosting:

1 package cream cheese, 8-ounces, room temperature

¼ cup butter, room temperature

3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar, measured after sifting

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¾ cup toasted chopped pecans

To make the cake:

Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, kosher salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed until the dry ingredients are mixed together, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Lightly beat the eggs then add to the dry ingredients along with the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, crushed pineapple and any juice, the bananas and toasted pecans.

Mix on low speed just until the wet and dry ingredients are blended together, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Line 30 cups in muffins tins with paper liners. Fill the cups about 3/4 full. Using a large ice-cream scoop is an easy way to tackle this task.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting:

Add the cream cheese and the butter together in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until blended and very creamy, about 2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time starting on low speed, then blending in on medium speed.

Add the vanilla with the last cup of powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl as needed. Use the last ½ cup of powdered sugar if needed for a stiffer frosting.

Toss in the toasted pecans blending into the frosting on medium speed.

Spread a dollop of the cream cheese frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. Store the cupcakes in a sealed container.

Makes 30 cupcakes. You can also bake the cake using three 8″ pans, two 9″ pans or a 9″x13″ baking dish.

Hummingbird Cupcakes, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 20, 2019
: Makes 30 cupcakes.

Layers of creamy bananas, sweet pineapple and toasted pecans with a wisp of cinnamon topped with a buttery cream cheese frosting - whipped with more toasted pecans!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple, with juice, 8-ounces
  • 2 cups ripe mashed bananas, about 4 medium bananas
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 1 package cream cheese, 8-ounces, room temperature
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar, measured after sifting
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the cake:
  • Step 2 Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, kosher salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed until the dry ingredients are mixed together, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Step 3 Lightly beat the eggs then add to the dry ingredients along with the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, crushed pineapple and any juice, the bananas and toasted pecans.
  • Step 4 Mix on low speed just until the wet and dry ingredients are blended together, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Step 5 Line 30 cups in muffins tins with paper liners. Fill the cups about 3/4 full. Using a large ice-cream scoop is an easy way to tackle this task.
  • Step 6 Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Step 7 Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Step 8 While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting:
  • Step 9 Add the cream cheese and the butter together in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until blended and very creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Step 10 Add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time starting on low speed, then blending in on medium speed.
  • Step 11 Add the vanilla with the last cup of powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl as needed. Use the last ½ cup of powdered sugar if needed for a stiffer frosting.
  • Step 12 Toss in the toasted pecans blending into the frosting on medium speed.
  • Step 13 Spread a dollop of the cream cheese frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. Store the cupcakes in a sealed container.
  • Step 14 Makes 30 cupcakes. You can also bake the cake using three 8″ pans, two 9″ pans or a 9″x13″ baking dish.
Cheese Tortellini with Chicken and Creamy Walnut Pesto

Cheese Tortellini with Chicken and Creamy Walnut Pesto

A slightly nutty crunch blends into a rich, green pesto sauce wrapping tender tortellini – those delicate little bundles of pasta filled with cheese. Toss everything together with chunks of roasted chicken. It’s rich, easy and quick!

Our lives get so busy and even though I spend hours in the kitchen there are weeks I look for a great meal with a few shortcuts. This is one of those recipes on that list. I frequently take advantage of roasted chicken found in the food markets and the beautiful fresh pasta readily available in the refrigerated cases.

Using both makes quick work of this delicious dish.

Making fresh pesto takes minutes to whip up and the combination of flavors is quite wonderful. It’s a simple but classic sauce made from toasted walnuts, bright Italian parsley, garlic and nutty Parmesan cheese.

A fruity extra-virgin olive oil brings these fresh gorgeous notes together blending them into a savory sauce.

Then add a touch of richness with a splash of heavy cream. Toss in the cheese-filled tortellini – cooked al dente – along with the roasted chicken and you have an easy and elegant meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Rushed for time, no worries. They’ll think you’ve spent hours in the kitchen!

Cheese Tortellini with Chicken and Creamy Walnut Pesto

2 cups toasted walnuts

1 packed cup flat leaf parsley, lower stems removed

1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic

½ cup shredded Parmesan

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus salt for cooking the tortellini

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

1 large package cheese tortellini, 20-ounces

½ cup heavy cream

3 to 4 cups chopped or shredded roasted chicken

Extra walnuts, parsley and Parmesan for garnishing

Toss the walnuts into the bowl of a food processor along with the parsley, chopped garlic, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and pepper.

Pulse about 8 to 10 times to combine.

Pour the olive oil through the feeding tube and process until the pesto sauce is mixed well.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil over medium heat. Add the tortellini and cook until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes if fresh or about 10 minutes for dried.

Transfer the cooked tortellini to a large pan placed over medium low heat. Add the cream along with the pesto and chicken. Stir to combine and heat until warmed through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve topped with chopped walnuts, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 generous servings.

Cheese Tortellini with Chicken and Creamy Walnut Pesto, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 18, 2019
: Makes 4 generous servings.

A slightly nutty crunch blends into a rich, green pesto sauce wrapping tender tortellini – those delicate little bundles of pasta filled with cheese. Toss everything together with chunks of roasted chicken. It’s rich, easy and quick!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 cups toasted walnuts
  • 1 packed cup flat leaf parsley, lower stems removed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus salt for cooking the tortellini
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large package cheese tortellini, 20-ounces
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 cups chopped or shredded roasted chicken
  • Extra walnuts, parsley and Parmesan for garnishing
Directions
  • Step 1 Toss the walnuts into the bowl of a food processor along with the parsley, chopped garlic, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and pepper.
  • Step 2 Pulse about 8 to 10 times to combine.
  • Step 3 Pour the olive oil through the feeding tube and process until the pesto sauce is mixed well.
  • Step 4 Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil over medium heat. Add the tortellini and cook until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes if fresh or about 10 minutes for dried.
  • Step 5 Transfer the cooked tortellini to a large pan placed over medium low heat.
  • Step 6 Add the cream along with the pesto and chicken. Stir to combine and heat until warmed through, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 7 Serve topped with chopped walnuts, parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Irish Whiskey Affogato

Irish Whiskey Affogato

Looking for something a wee bit decadent to celebrate St. Patty’s Day? Look no further than this luscious cocktail – boasting both Irish whiskey and Irish cream! Throw in a splash of dark roast coffee, a scoop of ice cream and you’re sure to please even the fussiest leprechaun!

I’m not really sure if I would classify this as a cocktail or dessert but it really doesn’t matter because it checks a lot of boxes!  This Italian inspired dessert is traditionally served with a simple scoop of ice cream swimming in espresso of dark roast coffee.

Glorious on its own but this version is so good it will make you want to pinch someone!

Start with a great Irish whiskey. I’ve been reading articles on Irish whiskeys and one jumped out – Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey. This beautiful, smooth whiskey received rave reviews and it doesn’t’ disappoint. It’s partially aged in rum casks creating a smooth slightly earthy, fruity profile.

And you can’t leave out Bailey’s Irish Cream – a beautiful blend of Irish whiskey and cream – it’s a classic liqueur. Just adding it to a cup of coffee makes something quite special. So imagine it swirled with Irish whiskey plus a decadent coffee ice cream slowly melting in a cup of rich, dark roast coffee.

Top with fluffy whipped cream, chopped bittersweet chocolate and indulgence is a sip away! There might not be a better way to say cheers to St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Whiskey Affogato

3 tablespoons good Irish whiskey, such as Teeling Small Batch

2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 large scoop coffee ice cream

6 tablespoons dark roast coffee, cooled slightly

Whipped cream and chopped bittersweet chocolate for garnish

Pour the Irish whiskey and the Irish cream into a tall glass or mug.

Add the scoop of ice cream, taking care not to splash the spirits out of the glass!

Pour the coffee over the ice cream. Top with a dollop or two of whipped cream and a sprinkling of the chopped chocolate.

If you prefer a colder drink, chill the coffee before adding it to your cocktail. This makes 1 large drink. For 2 smaller drinks you can split the portions of Irish whiskey, Irish cream and coffee into two smaller glasses and add a scoop of ice cream to each.

Irish Whiskey Affogato, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 15, 2019
: Makes 1 large drink.

A luscious cocktail – boasting both Irish whiskey and Irish cream! Throw in a splash of dark roast coffee, a scoop of coffee ice cream and it’s sure to please!

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons good Irish whiskey, such as Teeling Small Batch
  • 2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 large scoop coffee ice cream
  • 6 tablespoons dark roast coffee, cooled slightly
  • Whipped cream and chopped bittersweet chocolate for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the Irish whiskey and the Irish cream into a tall glass or mug.
  • Step 2 Add the scoop of ice cream, taking care not to splash it in the spirits!
  • Step 3 Pour the coffee over the ice cream.
  • Step 4 Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of the chopped chocolate.
  • Step 5 If you prefer a cold drink, chill the coffee before adding it to your cocktail.
  • Step 6 For 2 smaller drinks you can split the portions of Irish whiskey, Irish cream and coffee into two smaller glasses and add a scoop of ice cream to each.
Irish Freckle Bread

Irish Freckle Bread

Though I’m not prone to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate to give a nod to this charming old holiday. No green beer here but instead a fruit and nut studded loaf that creates a celebration fit for a Saint!

In flipping through dozens of recipes for the traditional Irish Soda Bread, I ran across this gem in one of my favorite “go to” cookbooks for baking guidance – “The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion”. It’s a fabulous book loaded with history and tips on all things baking. With a few tweaks for personal flavor preference, the outcome is almost addictive! This loaf is full of luscious dried fruit – golden raisins, currants, plump dried apricots and dates – all steeped in rich, black tea.

This medley of flavor is nestled into a beautiful whole wheat batter balanced with the crunch of toasted walnuts and deep but subtle sweetness from brown sugar.

Before baking, this quick bread is dusted with a sprinkling of sugar crystals creating a delicate finish to the top crust of this golden loaf.

A nutty, fruity bread – perfect for breakfast or brunch.

Or maybe whip up a batch of whipped cream or whiskey sauce for a tantalizing dessert! An absolutely delicious bite but no need to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy this delectable Irish Freckle Bread!

Irish Freckle Bread

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup currants

1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces – about 30 apricots

1 cup dates, chopped into small pieces – about 22 dates

1 cup hot strong black tea, brewed with two tea bags

1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg

1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the raisins, currants, chopped apricots and chopped dates in a mixing bowl.

Pour the hot tea over the fruit and stir to mix together. Allow the fruit to steep in the tea until completely cool, about 15 minutes stirring frequently.

In a large mixing bowl add the brown sugar along with white whole-wheat flour, the pastry flour, baking powder and kosher salt. Mix on medium speed until the dry ingredients are blended together, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the fruit and tea along with the butter, blending on low speed until the fruit is mixed into the batter, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the egg, mixing on low for about 2 minutes.

Scoop the batter into an 8” round cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top of the bread.

Bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the bread tests done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes one 8-inch round loaf.

Irish Freckle Bread, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 13, 2019
: Make one 8-inch round loaf.

This loaf is full of luscious dried fruit - golden raisins, currants, plump dried apricots and dates – all steeped in rich, black tea. This medley of flavor is nestled into a beautiful whole wheat batter balanced with the crunch of toasted walnuts and a deep but subtle sweetness from brown sugar.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup currants
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces – about 30 apricots
  • 1 cup dates, chopped into small pieces – about 22 dates
  • 1 cup hot strong black tea, brewed with two tea bags
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine the raisins, currants, chopped apricots and chopped dates in a mixing bowl.
  • Step 2 Pour the hot tea over the fruit and stir to mix together. Allow the fruit to steep in the tea until completely cool, about 15 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Step 3 In a large mixing bowl add the brown sugar along with white whole-wheat flour, the pastry flour, baking powder and kosher salt. Mix on medium speed until the dry ingredients are blended together, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Step 4 Add the fruit and tea along with the butter, blending on low speed until the fruit is mixed into the batter, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Step 5 Stir in the egg, mixing on low for about 2 minutes.
  • Step 6 Scoop the batter into an 8” round cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Step 7 Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top of the bread.
  • Step 8 Bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 10 or until the bread tests done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Step 9 Let the bread cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool completely.
Orange Braised Carrots

Orange Braised Carrots

This is a perfect dish to brighten up your day – tender carrots braised in a divine orange sauce with the right touch of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg!

Carrots are one of our favorite vegetables and the addition of orange is a great way to highlight their gorgeous flavor. Swirl a bit of dark brown sugar along with cinnamon and nutmeg into butter, fresh orange zest and the juice of sweet, plump oranges.

We’re no longer limited to the basic orange variety of carrots stuffed into a plastic bag. Colorful carrots with their spectacular foliage still intact are widely available in food markets. They are commonly mixed and bundled together with each offering a subtle difference in their flavor profile. So don’t be afraid to serve a rainbow of color and taste!

If you are lucky enough to find these lovely gems look for foliage that’s full of color and carrots that are firm, with no signs of shriveling. If the green leafy tops are still attached to the carrots you’ll want to trim them off once you get them home, or shortly after. The tops will continue to pull moisture and nutrients from the carrots, not a good thing.

These carrots are often smaller than their packaged counterparts so cooking time is a bit quicker. And no need to use a vegetable peeler, a quick scrub with a vegetable brush is really all that is needed to prep this colorful root vegetable.

If you want to get a jump on meal prep you can cook the carrots for about 20 minutes and leave them in the braising liquid, cool and pop them in the refrigerator. Then when you’re ready just heat until the carrots are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

A delicious side dish to start the week and bounce back from that lost hour of sleep!

Orange Braised Carrots

3 large navel oranges

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

12 to 16 small carrots, scrubbed and ends trimmed

Zest 1 of the oranges and then juice it along with one of the other oranges. You should have about 1 teaspoon orange zest and about 1 cup orange juice. Slice the remaining orange.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the orange juice into the pan and cook until the brown sugar has melted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange zest.

Toss in the carrots stirring to coat them in the orange braising liquid.

Place the slices of orange over the top of the carrots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook the carrots for about 30 to 35 minutes, spooning the braising liquid over the carrots about every 10 to 15 minutes. Continue cooking until the carrots are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Orange Braised Carrots, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 11, 2019
: Serves 4 to 6.

Tender carrots braised in a divine orange sauce with the right touch of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg!

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 large navel oranges
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12 to 16 small carrots, scrubbed and ends trimmed
Directions
  • Step 1 Zest 1 of the oranges and then juice it along with one of the other oranges. You should have about 1 teaspoon orange zest and about 1 cup orange juice. Slice the remaining orange.
  • Step 2 Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the orange juice into the pan and cook until the brown sugar has melted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange zest.
  • Step 3 Toss in the carrots stirring to coat them in the orange braising liquid.
  • Step 4 Place the slices of orange over the top of the carrots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook the carrots for about 30 to 35 minutes, spooning the braising liquid over the carrots about every 10 to 15 minutes. Continue cooking until the carrots are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Spring is a little less than three weeks away but you couldn’t tell it if you stepped outside. The temperature has dropped and we’re looking at some chilly weather for the next few days. So dust off this centuries old recipe, with a bit of an update. Hot buttered rum – a classic hot cocktail – one that boasts beautiful spices whipped in butter and vanilla ice cream then swirled into dark rum. Warming up tastes really good!

With yet another blast of cold air it seemed like the perfect weekend for a hot cocktail. One that I could whip up and sip on in front of the fire. I ran across so many versions of hot buttered rum before settling on this one from my favorite cocktail and beverage site, Liquor.com. With a bit of tweaking – the original recipe made a huge batch of buttered rum batter – hot buttered rums were within reach.

The buttered rum batter is what caught my eye. Butter blended with three heavenly spices – ground cinnamon, ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg. Sweetened with both granulated and dark brown sugar then melded into softened vanilla ice cream – or in my case, creamy gelato!

Stir a small scoop or two of this decadent batter into dark rum….

…add a splash of boiling water to warm things up and get ready to indulge!

You can blend up a batch of this amazing buttered rum batter and just keep it in the freezer. Then it’s ready anytime you want to stir up a hot buttered rum for your friends or maybe just one for you.

So put the kettle on and get ready for a wonderful warm up – It might just make you want winter to stay a little longer!

Hot Buttered Rum

For the buttered rum batter:

1 stick unsalted butter, ½ cup, at room temperature

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup vanilla ice cream or gelato, softened

In a large bowl mix together the softened butter along with both sugars, the cinnamon, cloves and the nutmeg.

Stir until the sugars, butter and spices are creamed together.

Add the softened ice cream and stir until fairly smooth. At this point you can store the batter in a freezer-safe container and freeze until you’re ready to mix up your drinks.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups buttered batter.

For each hot buttered rum:

2 ounces dark rum

1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons buttered rum batter, to suit your taste preference

4 ounces boiling water

Cinnamon stick for serving, optional

Pour the rum into a 7 to 8-ounce mug.

Add the buttered rum batter.

Top with the boiling water.Stir to blend. Serve hot – and for fun drop in a cinnamon stick for swirling!

Makes 1 drink.

Hot Buttered Rum, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 1, 2019
: About 2-1/2 cups buttered rum batter; one hot buttered rum drink.

Dust off this centuries old recipe for a classic hot cocktail with a bit of an update – one that boasts beautiful spices whipped in butter and vanilla ice cream then swirled into dark rum.

By:

Ingredients
  • For each drink you'll need 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of the buttered rum batter.
  • For the buttered rum batter:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, ½ cup, at room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream or gelato, softened
  • For each hot buttered rum:
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons buttered rum batter, to suit your taste preference
  • 4 ounces boiling water
  • Cinnamon stick for serving, optional
Directions
  • Step 1 For the buttered rum batter:
  • Step 2 In a large bowl mix together the softened butter along with both sugars, the cinnamon, cloves and the nutmeg.
  • Step 3 Add the softened ice cream and stir until fairly smooth. At this point you can store the batter in a freezer-safe container and freeze until you’re ready to mix up your drinks.
  • Step 4 For the hot buttered rum:
  • Step 5 Pour the rum into a 7 to 8-ounce mug.
  • Step 6 Add the buttered rum batter.
  • Step 7 Top with the boiling water. Serve hot – and for fun drop in a cinnamon stick for swirling!