Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mom's Stuffed Eggplant


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 1 red pepper, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, divided
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 chopped tomatoes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Boil the scooped-out center part until very soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the seasoned ground beef to the pan and saute until all of its liquid is evaporated and the beef begins to brown slightly. Drain the beef, removing the extra, unnecessary fat. Let cool briefly and chop the cooked beef so that there are no large chunks of meat. In another medium saute pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onions, peppers and garlic together.

In a bowl mix together the cooked eggplant, vegetables, cooked beef, herbs, 1 cup of the cheese, bread crumbs, and the egg.

Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly among the 2 halves.

Top with chopped tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese, season with salt and pepper, place on an oiled oven tray or baking dish, and bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool briefly, slice widthwise and serve.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole

Hands-on Time: 20 min.; Total Time: 2 hr. 40 min. This mouthwatering casserole will satisfy lovers of crunchy pecans and cornflakes as well as marshmallows.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows


1. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake sweet potatoes at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Let stand until cool to touch (about 20 minutes); peel and mash sweet potatoes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

2. Beat mashed sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, and next 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

3. Combine cornflakes cereal and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole in diagonal rows 2 inches apart.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle marshmallows in alternate rows between cornflake mixture; bake 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Best Brownie EVER!!!!


  • 1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped nuts ( Optional )
  • 1 cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 35 (10-oz. pkg.) caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine cake mix and nuts in large bowl. Stir in 2/3 cup evaporated milk and butter (batter will be thick). Spread half of batter into ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat caramels and remaining evaporated milk in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Sprinkle morsels over brownie; drizzle with caramel mixture.
  5. Drop remaining batter by heaping teaspoon over caramel mixture.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.
  7. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  8. ENJOY!

Sausage & Leek Casserole


  • Oil
  • 2 cups leeks, cut in rings, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 loaf French baguette
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  • 6 each large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the leeks with a pinch of salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. When the leeks are translucent raise the heat to high and add the sausage and cook for 8 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together with the cream, milk, the remaining cayenne, a pinch of black pepper and salt.

Cut the baguette into cubes and put in the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch glass casserole dish. Sprinkle the bread with the Cheddar cheese. Pour the sausage and leek mixture and egg mixture on top. Top with pepper jack cheese. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

The next morning remove from refrigerator. Put in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife is removed cleanly from the middle. Remove from oven and allow the casserole to stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Fried Chicken


  • 1 quart buttermilk, plus 2 cups
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or 2 tablespoons hot sauce, plus 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or cayenne pepper
  • 2 chickens (3 to 4 pounds each), each cut up into 8 pieces
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • Peanut oil, for deep-frying


In a large bowl or baking dish, whisk together 1 quart of the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons of chile de arbol powder, or hot sauce, and a little bit of pepper, if desired. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Place the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk in a bowl. Stir together the flour, garlic and onion powders, paprika, and 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder (or cayenne) in a large bowl. Divide flour mixture among 2 shallow platters and season generously with salt and pepper. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off. Dredge in the second plate of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a piece of waxed paper or on a clean platter while you heat the oil.

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Cilantro Salsa


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large Scotch bonnet pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 4 drumsticks, skin on

To prepare the jerk chicken:


Puree all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a food processor until almost smooth. Piece the chicken with a fork to make tiny holes. Place the chicken in a large shallow baking dish and rub the marinade into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, depending on how intense you want the flavor to be. Preheat grill. Grill chicken on each side for 5 to 6 minutes or until cooked through.

  • (recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay)
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the mangoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and orange juice in a bowl and gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Jerk Rubbed Chicken Thighs with Home-Made Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce


Jerk Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Sliced fresh mango
  • Homemade Mango Habanero Sauce, recipe follows
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish


Combine all spices in a small bowl. Rub the skin side of the chicken with the rub and let rest for 30 minutes. Heat the grill to medium heat and grill the thighs, skin side down for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the chicken, close the cover of the grill and move the chicken to the side (or cooler part) of the grill. Continue cooking for 6 to 7 minutes or until completely cooked through. Remove to a platter and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve fresh mango slices and Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce. Sprinkle leaves of cilantro on top.

Homemade Mango-Habanero Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 habanero, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, mangoes, habanero and vinegar and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Place the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of warm water or vinegar. Season with salt.

Yield: 4 servings

Individual Orange and Chocolate Cheesecakes


  • 1/3 cup finely crushed chocolate wafers
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 egg
  • Butter, for greasing


Special equipment: mini muffin tin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the crushed chocolate wafers and the melted butter. Place a tightly packed teaspoon of the wafer mixture into each mini-muffin cup and press down firmly.

In a food processor combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the sugar, half of the orange zest, and the egg. Blend until smooth. Lightly grease the sides of the mini muffin tin with butter. Fill the cups with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cheesecake mixture. Place the mini muffin tin in a baking dish and pour enough hot water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the mini muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes. Transfer the mini muffin tin to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use a small knife to gently pop the cheesecakes out of the cups.

Just before serving, combine the remaining orange zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Top each individual cheesecake with about 1/4 teaspoon of the orange zest mixture and serve.

Broccoli & Roasted Garlic Soup

Total time: 1 hour, plus 45 minutes roasting time for the garlic Servings: 6 to 8 1 large, plump head of garlic Olive oil, for drizzling Salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large bunch broccoli, about 1 3/4 pounds 2 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, chopped 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. To roast the garlic, cut off the top one-half inch of the garlic head to make a "lid." Drizzle the cut surfaces with a little olive oil and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Replace the lid. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the garlic is tender and a rich golden color, about 45 minutes. Unwrap and cool. The garlic can now be used for the soup, or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated until ready to use, up to 1 week. 2. Meanwhile, cut the florets from the broccoli stalks. Coarsely chop the florets, then peel and coarsely chop the stalks. 3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped broccoli and potato. 4. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Simmer until the potato is very tender, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, squeeze the roasted garlic into the pot, discarding the hulls. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 5. Puree the soup in batches using a blender, or in the pot using an immersion blender. Serve hot. This makes about 2 1/2 quarts soup.

Pear Frangipane Tart

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Servings: 8

Pastry for 9-inch tart pan

1/2 pound blanched almonds

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 tablespoon Oloroso or other sweet Sherry

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces

3 ( 1/2-pound) Bartlett pears, firm but ripe

Apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Prepare the pastry and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 20 minutes. Prick the shell with a fork and bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and place a baking sheet on a low rack.

3. In a food processor, grind the almonds. Add 2/3 cup sugar, the eggs, vanilla, orange zest, Sherry and salt, and process to make a smooth, sticky paste. With the motor running, drop in the butter through the feed hole, piece by piece, and process until smooth.

4. Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise and with a spoon remove the vein for the stem and the seed pit. As you finish each pear half, slip it into a work bowl filled with a mixture of 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover all of the pears.

5. Spread the almond mixture in the base of the tart, using the back of a spoon to spread it as evenly as possible.

6. Pat each pear half dry and carefully cut it into thin crosswise slices, about 1/8 inch, keeping the pear in its original form. As you finish each pear half, lift it, using the flat of the knife as a spatula, and carefully place it in the tart pan, with the narrow stem end toward the center. Gently press down into the frangipane. Place each subsequent pear half next to the previous one in a spoke pattern until the tart is filled. Brush the pears with the melted butter and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon sugar.

7. Place the tart pan on the baking sheet and bake until the almond mixture is puffed and golden and the pears are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature.