Baked Stuffed Pasta Shells

8.5 oz. Large Pasta Shells or Conchiglioni
7    oz. Mascarpone
9    oz. Mozzarella Balls (drained, finely chopped)
Large Bunch Basil (roughly chopped plus keep a few whole for serving)
3    Cloves Garlic (crushed)
Black Pepper
Parmesan Cheese (for serving)

Bolognese Sauce:
1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1    Onion (finely diced)
1    Rib Celery (finely diced)
1    Carrot (finely diced)
14  oz. Ground Beef
2    Cloves Garlic (crushed)
8.5 oz. Red Wine
1    Tbsp. Tomato Puree
3    Bay Leaves
2    (14 oz. each) Cans Chopped Tomatoes
1    Can Water (use one of the tomato cans)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Pinch of Sugar
1    to 2 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar

To make the bolognese, heat the oil in a wide, ovenproof pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, celery and carrot with a bit of salt and pepper for about 20 minutes, until soft and lightly golden. add in the ground beef, turn up the heat and fry, stirring regularly for another 10 minutes, until the beef browns. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and cook for a few minutes more, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Stir in the tomato puree, bay leaves and chopped tomatoes. Use one of the tomato cans and fill it with water and add that as well. Simmer for 1 hour, then remove the lid and cook until the tomatoes have broken down. Season with salt and pepper, the sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Place the uncooked pasta shells into a large heatproof bowl, add a pinch of salt and then pour a kettle of boiling water over them. Cover bowl and leave the shells sit to soften for 15 to 20 minutes. They need to retain some firmness so they can be filled.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain the shells. Use a fork to mash the mascarpone with the mozzarella, chopped basil, garlic and a bit of black pepper in a bowl.

The bolognese sauce should be a bit wetter than you like because the pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it bakes. Remove it from the heat. Use a teaspoon, fill the shells with some of the mascarpone mixture, pressing the mix in with your index finger. Nestle the shells into the sauce, filled side up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until top is golden and bubbling and pasta is tender. Grate some Parmesan cheese over the top and finish with a few basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.

Oreo Cookie Dessert

1       Pkg. (15.35 oz.) Double-Stuffed Oreo Cookies
1/2    Cup Butter (melted)
2       Pkgs. (3.9 oz. each) Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
3 1/4 Cups Cold Milk
2       (8 oz.) Containers Cool Whip
1       (8 oz.) Block Cream Cheese (softened)
1       Cup Powdered Sugar

Take a large zip-lock bag and place all the oreo cookies inside. Seal the bag shut and place on the counter. Using a rolling pin, crush the cookies until they are small chunks/crumbs. You want them to still be chunky and small, but not fine crumbs. Set aside 1/3 cup of the cookie crumbs for the topping. Pour the remaining cookie crumbs into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and mix well to combine. Once combined, press the mixture into the pan to form a crust.

In a bowl, whisk together the 2 pudding packs and the milk. Cover and place in the fridge to set.

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Fold in one container of cool whip. Spread the mixture over the cookies crust. Next take the chocolate pudding and spread it over the cream cheese layer. Spread the second container of cool whip over the chocolate pudding layer.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining cookie crumbs. Cover and chill in fridge at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 1 9x13 pan of dessert.

Hazelnut Yule Logs

1       Cup Butter (softened)
3/4    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1       Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1       tsp. Lemon Zest (grated)
2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/4    tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Cups Hazelnuts (finely chopped)
2       Tbsp. Water

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice and zest. In another bowl, mix flour and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.

Place the hazelnuts in a small bowl. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 cupfuls of dough into 1/2 inch thick ropes, about 22 inches long. Cut ropes into 2 inch logs. Lightly brush each log with water; roll in hazelnuts to coat. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yields 4 1/2 dozen cookie logs.

Sausage Stuffing Balls

1  lb. Jimmy Dean Refrigerated Sausage Roll
8  Slices Hickory Smoked Bacon (cooked, diced)
6  oz. Dry Stuffing Mix
3  Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)

Cook and dice the bacon. Prepare the stuffing mix according to the package instructions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the sausage, cooked bacon, prepared stuffing and cheese in a large bowl. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Roll into balls  using approximately 1 heaping tablespoon for each one. Make sure to pack the balls tightly so they hold together as they bake. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Makes about 48 balls.

Alabama Fire Crackers

1       (16 oz.) Box Saltine Crackers
1 2/3 Cups Canola Oil
2       pkgs Ranch Dressing Mix
2       Tbsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1       tsp. Garlic Powder
1       tsp. Onion Powder
1/2    tsp. Pepper

Add the oil, ranch dressing mix, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper to a gallon size ziplock bag. Seal the bag. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until they are evenly combined. Add crackers to the bag and seal tight. Turn the bag carefully over and over until the crackers are all coated with the mixture. Lay the bag flat and let it sit for about an hour.

Turn the bag over, repeating several times until the crackers are thoroughly coated with the spice mix. Allow the bag to sit overnight. Carefully remove the crackers from the bag and serve. Serves 12

Peanut Butter Fudge

Non-stick Cooking Spray
1       (14 oz.) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 1/2 Cups Peanut Butter Chips (from 2 10 oz. bags)
4       Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1/4    tsp. Salt
3       Tbsp. Crunchy Peanut Butter
3       Tbsp. White Chocolate Chips
2       Tbsp. Roasted, Salted Peanuts (chopped)

Line an 8 inch square baking dish with foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter chips, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and stir frequently with a spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom, until the peanut butter chips are completely melted, about 5 minutes. When the peanut butter chip mixture is mostly melted, combine the crunchy peanut butter and the white chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring, until melted, about 1 minute.

Spread the melted peanut butter chip mixture into the prepared baking dish. Immediately drizzle the white chocolate mixture on top. Drag a butter knife through the white chocolate to make a marbled pattern on top. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Using the foil, lift the fudge out of the baking dish and cut into 16 small squares. Best served chilled. Yields 16 pieces.

Easy Peppermint Fudge

Cooking Spray
3 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Red peppermint Candies (crushed)

Line a 8 inch by 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk and stir until melted and smooth. Pour into the prepared baking pan and spread to even out the surface. Sprinkle on the crushed candies. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Life the foil out of the pan and peel off the fudge. Cut into small squares. Yields 20 to 25 pieces depending on size.

Cheesy Baked Broccoli

1    Tbsp. Butter
1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1    Large Head Broccoli (cut into florets) 
2    Garlic Cloves (minced)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Mozzarella (shredded)
1/2 Cup Gruyere (shredded)
1/4 Cup Parmesan (grated)
Red Pepper Flakes (to your taste)
Fresh Parsley (chopped, as garnish)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour the heavy cream over the broccoli then top with mozzarella, Gruyère, Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. If desired and the cheese won’t brown, heat it under the broiler for about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins

4 1/2 lbs. Pork Tenderloins (2 packs with 2 loins in each pack)
4       Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
4       Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
8       Cloves Garlic (cracked*)
Steak Seasoning Blend (or Coarse Salt and  Black Pepper
4       Sprigs Fresh Rosemary Leaves (stripped and finely chopped)
4       Sprigs Fresh Thyme (leaves stripped and finely chopped)

* Crack peeled garlic cloves by pressing down on them with the flat side of a knife blade until they are somewhat crushed.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Trim the silver skin or connective tissue off the tenderloins with a very sharp, thin knife. Place the tenderloins on a non-stick cookie sheet that has a small rim. Coat tenderloins in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Rub the vinegar into the meat. Drizzle tenderloins with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat. Cut small slits into the meat and  push chunks of garlic cloves into the meat.
Combine the steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub meat with the blend. Roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes. Let the meat rest, transfer to a carving board, slice it and serve. Serves 10.

Cashew Cookies

1/2    Cup Butter (softened)
1       Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1       Large Egg (room temperature)
1/2    tsp. Vanilla Extract
2       Cups All-purpose Flour
3/4    tsp. Baking Powder
3/4    tsp. Baking Soda
1/4    tsp. Salt
1/3    Cup Sour Cream
1 3/4 Cups Cashews (chopped)

1/2    Cup Butter
3       Tbsp. Half-and-half Cream
1/4    tsp. Vanilla Extract

2       Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
Cashew Halves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients; add alternately with the sour cream to creamed mixture. Stir in the chopped cashews. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For Frosting, lightly brown the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the cream and  vanilla. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and thick. Frost cookies; top each cookie with a cashew half. Yields: 5 dozen cookies.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

3/4    Cup Butter (softened)
3/4    Cup Sugar
3/4    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2       Large Eggs (room temperature)
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 1/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2    Cup Instant Hot Cocoa Mix (about 3 packets)
3       Tbsp. Baking Cocoa
1       tsp. Salt
1       tsp. Baking Soda
1/2    tsp. Baking Powder
1/2    Cup Vanilla Marshmallow Bits (not mini marshmallows)
1       Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa mix, baking cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder; gradually beat into the creamed mixture. Gently stir in the marshmallow bits and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonful 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yields 5 dozen cookies.

Homemade Pumpki Pie Spice Mix

4    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2    tsp. Ground Ginger
1    tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Mix all spices together until completely combined. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Keeps up to 6 months.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice may be used as a substitute for store-bought pumpkin pie spice in recipes.

Chicken Bruschetta

3    lbs. Fresh Chicken Tenders
2    lbs. Plum Tomatoes (cut in 1/4’s then in half)
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley (chopped)
2    Tbsp. Fresh Garlic (chopped)
1    Cup Olive Oil
Seasoned Flour* (for dusting chicken tenders)
1    Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or more)
2    Tbsp. Fresh Basil (chopped, or 1 Tbsp. dried)

*To season flour add to it salt, pepper, granulated garlic and dried oregano. Don’t be stingy with the seasonings.

Heat the olive oil in a fry pan, do not burn it. Lightly dust the chicken tenders with the seasoned flour. Place chicken in the hot oil and cook to internal temperature of 150 degrees F. Add the garlic and tomatoes, half the parsley and cook until chicken is done at 165 degrees F.  When the chicken is done sprinkle the remaining parsley and shredded cheese on top of chicken. Serve over garlic buttered, cooked angel hair pasta. Serves 4 to 6 people.
                                                                                                                 Recipe From: Douglas Stark

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 oz. Package Yeast
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Scalded Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter (melted)
1    tsp. Salt
1    Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1    Egg
4    to 5 Cups All-purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Butter (softened, plus more for the pan)
3/4 Cup Sugar (plus more for the pan)
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2    Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
1    tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4    Cup Butter (softened)
1 1/2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2    tsp. Vanilla
1/2    tsp. Mapleine (maple extract)
1/4    tsp. Salt

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water and set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the milk, sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, spices, salt and egg with a wooden spoon. Attach the bowl to the mixer with the dough hook attached. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add the yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until the dough is easy to handle. Knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a well greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on floured surface into a 15 by 9 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter all over the dough. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Then sprinkle over buttered dough.

Beginning at the 15 inch side, roll up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 slices.

Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Meanwhile mix the cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt, Mapleine and vanilla until smooth. Spread over slightly cooled rolls. Makes 12 rolls.

Italian Pot Roast

3    lb. Chuck Roast (trimmed, cut into 3 to 5 inch chunks)
2    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Pancetta (or good quality bacon)
6    Cloves Garlic
2    Small Onions (finely chopped)
2    Ribs Celery (finely chopped)
1    Cup Carrots (finely diced)
2    Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2    Bay Leaves
2    Tbsp. Tomato Paste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2    Cups Red Wine
Italian Parsley (for serving)
Mashed Potatoes or Egg Noodles (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously salt and pepper the meat. In a large Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is smoking, brown the beef in batches until brown on all sides. Remove from pot and continue until all meat is browned. Set the meat aside.

Still over medium-high heat, cook pancetta until crispy. Add the onions,  carrots and celery, stirring constantly to scrape up browned bits from the bottom. If your vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add another tablespoon of oil. Cook the onions, carrots and celery until softened. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Using tongs, nestle the meat into the vegetable mixture. Pour the wine over the meat. The meat should not be completely covered. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Bring the liquid to a boil. Once it is boiling, cover with the lid and place in the oven. Bake for 2 hours.

Once the roast is done, the meat should be very tender. Move the meat to a serving dish and tent with foil. Without the lid, bring the liquid and vegetables to a boil over medium-high heat. After about 8 to 10 minutes the liquid should be reduced by about 1/3. This will be your gravy. Pour the gravy over the roast. Garnish with Italian parsley if desired and serve warm over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Serves 6.

Turkey Burger Soup

2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 lbs. Ground Turkey
1       Small Onion (diced)  
2       Cloves Garlic (minced)
1       (14.5 oz. ) Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
         (crushed by hand)
2       Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth (plus
         more as needed)
1       Tbsp. (heaping) Tomato Paste
1       tsp. Dried Parsley
1/4    tsp. Ground Oregano
1/2    tsp. Salt (or to taste)
1/4    tsp. Ground Black Pepper (or to taste)
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
2       Carrots (peeled, chopped)
2       Large Red Potatoes (cut into 1” chunks)
1       Large Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
8       oz. Green Beans (cut into pieces)

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add the turkey, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the turkey is browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the chicken broth, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir to combine. Add the carrots, potatoes and bell pepper. Stir everything together, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the green beans and cook until the beans are crisp-tender* and the potatoes are tender but not mushy, another 4 or 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit more chicken broth until it is your desired consistency. Season to your taste, Serves 6.

*If you like your green beans tender, add them along with the potatoes and carrots.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider

4     Whole Cinnamon Sticks
1/8  tsp. Ground Cloves
8     Whole Allspice Berries
Orange Peel (from 1 orange)
Lemon Peel (from 1 lemon)
1/2  Cup Maple Syrup
6     Cups Apple Cider
Apple Slices (for garnish)
Orange Slices (for garnish)

Place the cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, allspice berries, orange and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Pour in the maple syrup and apple cider, then bring to almost* a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve in mugs with apple and orange slices for garnish. Serves 12.
*Be sure not to boil this, or the apple pulp will separate from the liquid.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1     Frozen Banana
1/2  Cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/4  tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4  tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2  Cup Milk
2     Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
2/3  Cup Pumpkin Puree
1     Cup Ice Cubes

Make sure you have a good, strong blender. Add all the ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend on high for at least 3 minutes or until smooth. Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Add more milk to thin out if it is too thick or add a couple more ice cubes for a thicker texture if desired. Taste, then add more spice if needed, to your tastes. Serves 2 small smoothies or 1 large smoothie.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins

1 3/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1       Tbsp. Pumpkin Spice
1       tsp. Baking Soda
1/2    tsp. Salt
1       (15 oz.) Can Pumpkin Puree
1       Cup Sugar
1/2    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2       Large Eggs
1/2    Cup Vegetable Oil
1       Tbsp. Vanilla Extract

Cream Cheese Swirl:
8    oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Sugar
1    Large Egg Yolk
2    tsp. Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until there are no lumps. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. This will not look smooth, but it will bake up much prettier.

Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until  a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. These must be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes 18 muffins.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

3/4    Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
3       Cups Old Fashioned Oats
3/4    Cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
1       tsp. Baking Powder
3/4    tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4    tsp. Ginger
1/4    tsp. Cloves
1/4    Allspice
1 1/4 Cups Milk
2       Eggs
4       Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (melted, cooled)
1       tsp. Vanilla

At least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day) ahead of making oatmeal, line a mesh sieve with cheese cloth. Place the pumpkin puree in and let it drain. Press the pumpkin occasionally with a spoon as it drains.

Grease a 11x7 inch pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Squeeze the cheese cloth to remove excess pumpkin juice and place 3/4 cup strained pumpkin in a bowl. Add milk, eggs, butter and vanilla to the pumpkin and whisk until smooth. Stir both mixtures together until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until oatmeal is firm and resembles a snack cake. Cut into pieces and serve warm.  Makes 8 servings.

Pumpkin Spice Mousse

1   15 oz. Can Pure Pumpkin Puree (1 3/4 cups)
1    tsp. Fresh Ginger (peeled, grated)
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg (freshly ground)
3    oz. Cream Cheese (cubed)
1    tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1    Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
2    Cups Heavy Cream (cold)
Sour Cream (for serving)
Ginger Cookies (crushed, for serving)

In a medium sauce pan, combine pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium, stirring frequently until steaming heavily, darker in color and slightly thicker, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to bowl, then stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Let cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat cream until medium peaks form. Fold in the cream cheese mixture, then spoon into 4 ounce jars or clear cups. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with dollops of sour cream and crushed ginger cookies on top, if desired. Makes 8 cups.

Pressure Cooker Savory Pork Roast

1    Boneless Pork Shoulder Butt Roast (3 to 4 lbs.)
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1    Tbsp. Canola Oil
1    Can (14.5 oz.) Diced Tomatoes (drained)
1    Medium Onion (chopped)
1    Can (14.5 oz.) Beef Broth
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
3/4 Cup Stone-ground Mustard
6    Cloves Garlic (minced)
2    Tbsp. Honey
2    Tbsp. Molasses
1    tsp. Dried Thyme
2    Tbsp. Cornstarch
2    Tbsp. Cold Water

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. Select saute and adjust it for high heat in a 6 quart electric pressure cooker; heat the oil. Brown roast on all sides. Add the tomatoes and onion; pour broth and wine around the meat. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, garlic, honey, molasses and thyme; pour over the pork.  Lock the lid; make sure the vent is closed. Select manual; adjust pressure to high and set the time for 90 minutes.

When finished cooking, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove the roast from pot and cover, let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the cooking juices. Select saute and adjust for high heat; bring juices to a boil. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until smooth; gradually stir this into the cooking juices. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not over cook the gravy or it will breakdown the thickness of the cornstarch. Slice or shred the pork and serve it with the gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice. Serves 8.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
2       tsp. Baking Powder
1/2    tsp. Baking Soda 
3/4    Cup Granulated Sugar
1       Large Red Apple (1 cup, peeled, chopped)
2       Large Eggs
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2    Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2    Cup Greek yogurt

Cinnamon Topping:
1/4  Cup Granulated Sugar
1     tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1     Tbsp. Butter (melted)

Sugar Glaze:
1/4   Cup Powdered Sugar (10x)
1      to 2 Tbsp. Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Add the chopped apple and stir briefly to combine.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs, vanilla, oil and yogurt. Whisk briefly just to break up the egg yolk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix with a wooden spoon until combined, be careful not to over mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

To make the cinnamon topping, combine cinnamon, sugar and butter. Mix together until lumpy and wet. Sprinkle over top of batter. Bake cake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix together the sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Stir until smooth. If the glaze is too thick add an extra tablespoon of milk. Drizzle glaze over top of cooled cake.  Serves 8.

Chewy Oatmeal Apple Cookies

1/2    Cup Butter (softened)
1/2    Cup Brown Sugar
1/4    Cup Sugar
1       Egg
1/2    tsp. Vanilla Extract
3/4    Cup All-purpose Flour
1       tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2    tsp. Baking Soda
1/8    tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Cups Old-fashioned Oats
1/2    Cup Dried Apples (chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Combine together: flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in the oats and chopped apples.

Drop onto parchment lined baking sheets with a small cookie scoop, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown in color. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container after completely cooled. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Jambalaya Pasta

1    Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1    Onion (chopped)
2    Bell Peppers (chopped)
2    Links Andouille Sausage (sliced crosswise)
2    Cloves Garlic (minced)
2    Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut into 1” pieces)
1    tsp. Cajun Seasoning
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
10  oz. Penne Pasta
1    (15 oz.) Can Diced Tomatoes
4    Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1    Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Freshly Grated Parmesan (for serving)
Fresh Parsley (for serving)

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and peppers and cook until soft, then add sausages and cook until browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then add chicken. Season with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until chicken is golden and cooked through. Add penne and stir, then pour in diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Simmer until pasta is al dente and almost all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and cheddar cheese until melted. Serve with Parmesan and parsley sprinkled over top. Serves 4.

Apple French Toast

2    Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
4    Large Crisp-sweet Apples (Jonamac or Empire are good choices)
3/4 tsp. Nutmeg (divided)
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1    Loaf Challah Bread
3    Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
Confectioners’ Sugar

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add apples and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and cook until apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and sugar; stir to coat apples. Cook until fruit is tender, about 5 more minutes, then set aside.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Fit a baking pan with a wire rack; set aside.

Slice the loaf of bread into 2 inch thick slices. Make a 2 inch slit into each bread slice to create a pocket. Stuff about 3 tablespoons of apple mixture into each bread pocket; press to close. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Brush the griddle with butter. Dip bread slices into egg mixture; cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking pan; bake batch until heated through, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 6.

Vegetable and Three Cheese Stuffed Shells

16  Jumbo Shells (from a 12 oz. box)
2    Cups Marinara Sauce
1    Pkg. Frozen Leaf Spinach  
1/2 Pkg. Frozen Broccoli Florets
1    Container Part-skim Ricotta
2    oz. Parmesan Cheese
4    oz. Part-skim Mozzarella
Salt and Pepper
2    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1    Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1    Small Head Romaine Lettuce
1    Seedless Cucumber
1/2 Small Red Onion

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Spread the sauce onto the bottom of a large broiler-proof baking dish. Squeeze the spinach of excess moisture, roughly chop and place in a large bowl. Chop the broccoli and add it to the bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells (about 1/4 cup each) and place on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Toss with the lettuce, cucumber and onion. Serve with the shells. Serves 4.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

1   Tbsp. Olive Oil
4   oz. Shiitake Mushroom Caps (sliced, save  stems for other use)
1   Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
6   oz. Kale Leaves (thinly sliced, save for other use or toss the stems)
2   Cloves Garlic (pressed)
4   Cups Cooked Long-grain Rice
2   Large Eggs (beaten)
2   Tbsp. Low-sodium Soy Sauce
1   tsp. Sriracha

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add sesame oil to the same skillet, then add kale and cook, tossing, for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, tossing occasionally until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Push the rice to the sides of the pan, pour eggs into the open space and cook, stirring often, until eggs are almost set, then fold in the rice and cook 1 minute more. Toss with soy sauce, sriracha and mushrooms. Serves 4.

Granny Smith Apple Crisp

1 Cup All-purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
4 Cups Granny Smith Apples (peeled, chopped)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 Cup Water
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Ice Cream (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish or a 9 inch square baking pan. Cover with the apples.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thick and clear. Pour over apples. Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

Chili with Lentils

2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
2 Cans (14.5 oz. each) Stewed Tomatoes (chopped)
1 Can (15 oz. ) Tomato Sauce
3 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 oz. Semisweet Chocolate*
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Dried Lentils (rinsed)
2 Cups Water

In a Dutch oven, cook the ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, 6 to 8   minutes. Stir and crumble the meat as it cooks, breaking it down into small pieces. Add the garlic; cook 1 minutes longer. Drain. Add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, chocolate and salt; bring to a boil. Add the lentils and water. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until lentils are soft, about 1 hour, stirring often. Add more water if mixture seems too dry. Yields 2 1/2 quarts of chili.

*A small amount of chocolate adds richness and deepens the flavor. It also perks up chili and other spices, making them taste more like themselves. You do not want to actually taste the chocolate. So less is best.

Zucchini Banana Bread

2      Cups All-purpose Flour
3/4   Cup Sugar
3/4   tsp. Baking Soda
1/2   tsp. Salt
3      Very Ripe Bananas (mashed, about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4   Cup Buttermilk
2      Large Eggs (beaten lightly)
6      Tbsp. Butter (melted, cooled)
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2       Medium Zucchini (shredded, 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients.

Shred the zucchini on a box grater and measure out 1 1/2 cups of zucchini and then squeeze it with your hands over the sink to remove excess liquid. (Do not remeasure it) Fold the zucchini into the batter then scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake bread for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to cooling rack to cool. When cool lift loaf out of pan, slice and serve. Serves 8.

Pizza Taquitos

Cooking Spray
10    (8 inch) Flour Tortillas
3/4   Cup Marinara
2      Cups Mozzarella (shredded)
1/4   Cup Pepperoni (chopped)
1/2   tsp. Oregano
1/2   tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (crushed)
3      Tbsp. Butter (melted)
2      Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2   Cup Parmesan (freshly grated)
1      Tbsp. Fresh Basil (chopped)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Working with one tortilla at a time, spread about 1 tablespoon of sauce on tortilla, slightly offset from the center. Top that with mozzarella, pepperoni and a pinch each of oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. From the edge closest to your filling, roll the tortilla as tightly as you can and place it seam side down. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter and minced garlic. Brush garlic butter onto tops of the taquitos, making sure to coat evenly. Then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops of taquitos are golden. Garnish with basil before serving. Serves 10.

Hearty Tomato Soup with Melted Cheese Croutons

3    Garlic Cloves (unpeeled)
4    Medium Fresh Tomatoes
1    Small Yellow Onion (sliced into quarters)
1    (14 oz.) Can Diced Tomatoes
1/3 Cup Chickpeas (cooked)
1    Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup
2    tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1    Tbsp. Extra-virgin
Olive Oil
1/4  tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (or more to taste)
1/2  tsp. Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For Croutons:
8    Slices 7 Grain Bread
1/2 Cup (heaping) Mozzarella Cheesem (shredded)
Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wrap the garlic cloves in a piece of foil and place it on the baking sheet along with the whole tomatoes and the onion wedges. Drizzle them with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Roast them for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes and onions are well browned. Peel the garlic and transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender. Reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees F.
and line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper.
To the blender, add the canned tomatoes, chickpeas, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and blend until creamy smooth. Taste it and adjust the seasonings if needed. The soup should still be hot. If not then pour it into a pot and reheat it.

To make croutons: Spread 4 pieces of the bread with a layer of cheese. Top with the remaining 4 slices to make sandwiches and drizzle the outsides of the bread with some olive oil. Bake the sandwiches until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into crouton size pieces. So the cheese does not ooze out.

Serve the soup with the croutons (some in the soup and some on the side) additional fresh thyme, red pepper flakes and chickpeas if desired. Serves 4.

Teriyaki Beef Roast

4       Medium Potatoes (peeled, quartered)
1 1/2 Cups Baby Carrots
1       Medium Green Pepper (seeded, cut into 1/2” strips)
1       Medium Onion (quartered)
1/4    Cup Flour
1       (2 lb.) Boneless Beef Chuck Roast
2       Tbsp. Canola Oil
8       oz. Fresh Mushrooms (cut into thick slices)
1/4    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/2    Cup Teriyaki Sauce
2       tsp. Ground Ginger
1       tsp. Beef Base
1       tsp. Dried Oregano
1       tsp. Black Pepper
2       to 3 Green Onions (green part, thinly sliced)

Place the potatoes, carrots, green pepper and onion in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Rub the flour all over the beef roast. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat; brown the beef roast on all sides. Transfer the roast to the slow cooker; arrange the mushrooms around the roast and sprinkle the roast with brown sugar.

Combine the teriyaki sauce, ginger, beef base, oregano and pepper in a small bowl. Stir together until mixed. Drizzle sauce slowly over mushrooms and roast.
Cook, covered, on low until roast is tender, 7 to 8 hours. Remove roast and vegetables to a serving dish; top with green onions. If desired, skim fat and thicken the cooking juice for gravy; serve with the roast. Serves 6.

Interesting Facts About Potatoes:
August 19th is National Potato Day
*There are currently over 100 different varieties of potatoes that are edible.
*All 50 states grow potatoes, with Oregon and Washington being the largest producers.
* We have Thomas Jefferson to thank for introducing “french fries” to the United States. He served them at the White House for dinner.

Adding More Flavor to Mashed Potatoes:
Add horseradish to creamy mashed potatoes.
Add cream cheese for a rich and creamy texture.
Substitute buttermilk for milk.
Add garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.
Boil potatoes in chicken stock instead of water.
Add a packet of dry ranch dressing to potatoes.
Add sour cream to mashed potatoes.
Add herbs such as parsley, oregano, sage, thyme.

Grandma’s 1-2-3-4 Butter Cake

1    Cup Butter (softened)
2    Cups Sugar
3    Cups All-purpose Flour
4    Large Eggs
2    tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2    tsp. Vanilla Extract
1    Cup Milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a  mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the side down, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 2 at a time and beat after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, begin and end with the flour. Beat at low speed after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost. Serves 15.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
3    (1 oz.) Squares Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (melted, cooled)
4    Cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
2    tsp. Vanilla
Decorator Sprinkles (because why not!)

Place the butter and cooled chocolate in a bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, alternately with the milk and vanilla. Scraping the side of bowl occasionally, until well mixed and sugar is dissolved completely (not gritty) Frost the cooled cake. Sprinkle with decorator sprinkles, if desired.

One-Pot Pasta Bolognese

4       Slices Bacon (chopped)
1       Medium Onion (finely chopped)
1       Rib Celery (finely chopped)
4       Cloves Garlic (minced)
Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)
1/4    tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 lb. Ground Chuck
1/4    Cup Tomato Paste
1       Can (28 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
3       Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth (or 2 cups broth and 1 cup wine)
4       Sprigs Thyme
1       lb. Tagliatelle or Spaghetti
1/4    Cup Milk
1/2    Cup Parmesan Cheese (shredded)
1/4    Cup Fresh Basil (chiffonade or thinly sliced)

In a Dutch Oven or large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until lightly crisped. Mix in the onion, celery and garlic and season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix in the red chili flakes, adding more if you like it hot. Cook together until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in the ground chuck. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Once browned, stir in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and thyme.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, remove the thyme sprigs, stir the pasta in and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the milk, Parmesan cheese and the sliced basil. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with additional basil to garnish. Serves 6.

Strawberry Limeade

1/2 Cup Lime Juice
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1/2 lb. Strawberries (sliced)
20  to 30 Mint Leaves
2    Cups Cold Water

To make the simple syrup, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.
In a large mason jar or a pitcher, combine the lime juice, simple syrup, strawberries, mint and 2 cups cold water. Let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. Serve and enjoy. Serves 2

Cucumber Salad

2    Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. Honey
1    Cucumber (sliced thinly into rounds)
1/3 Cup Red Onion (sliced thinly)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
1    Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)
1    Tbsp. Fresh Mint Leaves
Pickled Mustard Seeds (recipe below)
Extra-virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling, optional)

Pickled Mustard Seeds:
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
3    Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/3 Cup Yellow Mustard Seeds

Make Pickled Mustard Seeds: Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stir in the seeds, reduce the heat and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until the mustard seeds are plump. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Note: These pickled mustard seeds seem like they would be tasty added to deviled eggs, chicken salad, egg salad... any salad really! Just an idea!

Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, cucumber, onion, salt, sesame oil and dill. Toss to coat and chill for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, leaving some of the excess water behind. Top with fresh mint, dollops of pickled mustard seeds and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Season to taste and serve. Serves 4.

Beef Enchiladas

Red Enchilada Sauce:
2      Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1      Tbsp. Cornstarch
4      Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2    tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2    tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp. Ground Cumin
1/4    tsp. Dried Oregano
2       Cups Vegetable Broth

Ground Beef Filling:
1 1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1       White Onion (diced)
1/2    tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp. Black Pepper
8       oz. Green Chiles (diced)

12     Corn Tortillas
2       Tbsp. Vegetable Oil (for frying)
3       Cups Monterey Jack Cheese (shredded)
1/4    Cup Fresh Cilantro (chopped)

Red Enchilada Sauce: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cornstarch, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin and oregano. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Ground Beef Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned and cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Stir in the green chilies. Set aside.

Assemble Enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of the red enchilada sauce in the bottom of baking pan.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Working with one tortilla at a time, fry tortilla in oil until it is soft. Do not fry it crisp!

Dip each tortilla into the red enchilada sauce to coat it and set it on a plate. Fill it with a scoop of ground beef filling and top with a generous pinch of cheese. Roll it and place it into the prepared baking pan. Repeat for all tortillas. Drizzle remaining sauce over the enchiladas in the pan and top with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese melts and is bubbly. Top with chopped cilantro and serve hot. Serves 6.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

3       Cups *Fusilli Pasta (uncooked)
2       Heaping Cups Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
1 1/2 Cups Chickpeas (cooked, drained, rinsed)
2       Cups Arugula
1       Cup Cucumber (sliced into thin half moons)
1       Cup Feta Cheese (crumbled)
1       Cup Fresh Basil Leaves (torn)
1/2    Cup Parsley (minced)
1/2    Cup Fresh Mint (chopped)
1/4    Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
* Spiral or corkscrew shaped pasta

1/4 Cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil (plus extra for drizzling)
3    Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1    tsp. Dijon Mustard 
3    Garlic Cloves (minced)
1    tsp. Herbs de Provence (or Dried Italian Seasoning)
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
3/4 tsp. Sea Salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions for slightly past the al dente stage.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes and salt. The dressing will have a strong flavor at this point but will mellow out once it is on the pasta and other salad ingredients.

Drain the pasta and toss it with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Let it cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, parsley, mint and pine nuts. Pour the dressing over it and toss to coat. Season to taste with more lemon, salt and or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and serve. Serves 6.

Chicken Teriyaki Pineapple Bowls for Two

1    Small Pineapple
1/3 Cup Low-sodium Soy Sauce
3    Tbsp. Brown Sugar (packed)
1    Tbsp. Pineapple Juice
3    Cloves Garlic (minced)
2    tsp. Fresh Ginger (minced)
1    tsp. Sesame Oil
1    Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
3/4 lb. Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless, chopped)
2    tsp. Cornstarch
2    tsp. Water
2    Cups Cooked Rice (for serving)
Sesame Seeds (for garnish, optional)
Green Onion (thinly sliced, for garnish, optional)

Make bowls: Slice the pineapple in half, leaving the stem intact. Slice the fruit around the perimeters, angling your knife towards the middle, then make a few cuts across. Scoop out pineapple with a spoon and reserve about 1 tablespoon of the juice for sauce. Chop pineapple into smaller pieces to garnish (or snack on) later.

Make sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, garlic, ginger and sesame oil.

Season the chicken all over with salt. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bring mixture to a simmer.

Make slurry: Whisk together cornstarch and water, then stir into sauce. Simmer until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Divide the rice and chicken between bowls and garnish with chopped pineapple, sesame seeds and green onion, if using.  Serves 2.

Tasty Crab Cakes

1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
1    Large Egg (beaten)
2    Tbsp. Dijon Mustard 
2    tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp. Hot Sauce
Black Pepper
1    lb. Jumbo Lump Crab meat (picked over)
3/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2    Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
Canola Oil (for frying)
Lemon Wedges (for serving)
Tartar Sauce (for serving)

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, egg, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, stir together crab meat, panko crumbs and parsley. Fold in mayonnaise mixture, then form into 8 patties. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, coat pan with oil and heat until shimmering. Add crab cakes and cook in batches, until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with lemon and tartar sauce. Serves 8.

Fruity Shrimp & Crab Salad

1   Medium Orange
1    Medium Lemon
1    Medium Lime
1/2 lb. Shrimp (peeled, deveined, cooked)
1/2 lb. Crab meat (fresh or imitation)
2    Tbsp. Sweet Onion (finely chopped)
2    Tbsp. Sweet Red Pepper (finely chopped)
Lettuce (shredded)
Assorted Crackers

Finely grate zest from the orange. Cut the orange crosswise in half; squeeze juice from orange. Transfer the zest and juice to a large bowl. Repeat the zesting and juicing with the lemon and the lime.

When shrimp (about 20) are peeled, deveined and cooked, chop them coarsely and add them to the bowl. Coarsely chop the crab meat and add it to the bowl. Add the red pepper and onion and toss it all together to coat with the juice and zest. Serve on a bed of lettuce with your choice of crackers. Serves 4.

Bacon and Corn Pasta Salad

1    Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard
1    Tbsp. Honey
2    Tbsp. Sherry Vinegar
2    Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
8    oz. Orzo Pasta (or any short pasta)
4    Slices Bacon
1    Large Red Onion (diced)
1    (15 oz.) Can Corn (drained or 2 Cups Fresh or Frozen Kernels)
1    tsp. Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Cilantro (chopped)

Mix the honey, mustard, vinegar and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl; reserve.

Cook the orzo in salted water until al-dente, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain the orzo and add to the honey mustard vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, put the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the skillet. Add the onion, corn, thyme and some salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Crumble the bacon and toss with the corn. Add the corn mixture to the pasta along with the cilantro and mix it all together. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 6 to 8.

Best Ever Egg Salad

1   Cup Mayonnaise
4   tsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
8   tsp. Dijon Mustard
4   tsp. Capers
4   tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
4   Small Garlic Cloves (minced)
1   tsp. Turmeric
1   tsp. Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
24 Hard Boiled Eggs (diced)
3   Pinches Celery Seed
8   Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)
8   Tbsp. Fresh Chives (chopped)

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, olive oil, mustard, capers, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, salt and several grinds of pepper.

Mix in the eggs, then stir in the celery seed, dill and chives. If desired, lightly mash the mixture if it is too chunky. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 16.

Balsamic Baked Chicken Breasts

4       Skinless Chicken Breasts (around 9 oz. each)
2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2    tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2    tsp. Basil
1       tsp. Salt
Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic (5 to 6 Garlic Cloves)
2       Cups Grape or Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
1/4    Cup Red Onion (sliced)
1/4    Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1       Tbsp. Brown Sugar (packed)
3/4    Cup Mozzarella Cheese (fresh, shredded)
2       Tbsp. Fresh Parsley or Basil (chopped, to garnish)

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. Rub the seasoning all over each breast. Arrange the tomatoes and onion around the chicken in the dish. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, sugar and remaining garlic in a spouted container to combine. Pour over the chicken breasts, flip each breast in the sauce to coat evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your breasts), or until no longer pink in the middle. Sprinkle with the cheese and broil for 4 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden. Garnish with the parsley (or basil) and serve with rice or pasta drizzled with the pan juices. Serves 4.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Garlic

2    Pints Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
4    Cloves Garlic (smashed, peeled)
4    Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
1/2 tsp. Salt (divided)
1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1    Medium Head Cauliflower (about 2.25 lbs.)
1/8 tsp. Paprika
1/4 Cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with the rack in the middle position. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a large baking dish, then drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat.

Trim the large green leaves from the cauliflower and discard, then trim the stem so the cauliflower sits flat. Push the tomatoes aside and place the cauliflower in the middle of the dish. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of oil over top of the cauliflower and rub it to coat. Sprinkle with paprika and remaining salt. Roast for about 1 hour, or until the cauliflower is tender and can easily be pierced with a paring knife. Sprinkle parsley over the cauliflower. Slice the cauliflower into wedges and serve topped with tomatoes and garlic. Serves 4.

Eggplant Cutlets

1/2    Cup All-purpose Flour
3       Large Eggs
2       Cups Dried Bread Crumbs
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper
1       Large Eggplant (about 1.25 lbs.)
1/4    Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (per batch)
2       Beefsteak Tomatoes (sliced)
12     oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (sliced)
16     Fresh Basil Leaves
1/4    Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4    tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Bread the cutlets: Place the flour on a plate. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. On a second plate, combine the bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Using a serrated knife, slice off the stem from the eggplant and discard it. Trim the bottom. Slice the eggplant into about 3/8 inch thick slices (or somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch).

Using one hand, dredge each slice in flour, then egg. Let excess drip off before finally dipping into the bread crumb mixture, pressing down to adhere. Place on a clean plate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup oil. Using tongs, add as many cutlets as can fit in a single layer (they should sizzle) and cook for about 3 minutes or until the undersides are golden brown. Flip the cutlets and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and repeat with a fresh 1/4 cup of oil and remaining eggplant, repeat till done.

Preheat oven (with rack in middle position) to 400 degrees. Arrange the cutlets in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan. Top each one with a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Scatter the basil leaves over the tops and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Serves 4.

Baked Pasta with Bacon Bread Crumbs

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (for baking dish)
2 3/4 tsp. Salt (divided)
1       lb. Short Pasta (Ziti or Penne)
2       Slices Bacon
1/4    Cup Dried Bread Crumbs
1       Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1       Cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 Cup Aged Cheddar or Gouda (grated)
1/2    Cup Parmesan Cheese (fresh, grated)
1/2    tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4       Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
1       Beefsteak Tomato
Extra Parmesan Cheese for topping (grated)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the oven rack in middle position. Coat a large baking dish with olive oil. Fill a large pot with water 2 inches from the top, then place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt to the water. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the directions call for. It should be very al dente. Drain in a colander and run under very cold water to stop cooking.

Meanwhile, freeze the bacon strips for 10 minutes. This makes it easier to chop. Thinly slice bacon crosswise, then chop it into very small pieces. In a small bowl combine bacon, bread crumbs and thyme.

Return pasta to the pot and stir in the cream, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, pepper and remaining salt. Fold in the spinach.

Pour pasta into prepared baking dish. Using a serrated knife, thinly slice the tomato and layer slices over the pasta. Sprinkle with the bacon bread crumbs and more Parmesan cheese. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crispy. Serves 6.

Honey-Soy Grilled Pork Chops

1/4 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce (low-sodium)
2    Garlic Cloves (minced)
Red Pepper Flakes
Four Boneless Pork Chops

Mix together honey, soy sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the pork chops and cover, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat, grill until seared and cooked through, 8 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.