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Blueberry Bars Photo

Dessert Time!  If you know me personally, you know how much I love coconut so I was thrilled  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon. One of the selecting ingredients/flavors for paring was coconut so I knew right were I was headed.  Although blueberries are amazing to eat by themselves for dessert, their deliciousness is only heightened by coconut!

Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas and if you make these for a holiday gathering or really any time of year, please let me know what you think!  

Polka Dot Coconut Blueberry Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup salted butter, cut in to cubes
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups toasted unsweetened coconut, divided
2-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1-13.5 oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups frozen high bush blueberries, tossed with one tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish with foil and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour, confectioners sugar, cubed butter, salt and 1 cup toasted coconut until small crumbs form.  Remove I cup flour/crust mixture from processor and set aside.  Press remaining mixture evenly in to prepared pan and bake 18 – 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned on the edges.  Mix remaining coconut with reserved flour/crust mixture.

Meanwhile, to the processor add cream cheese, coconut milk, cornstarch, egg yolks and extracts and salt and process until smooth.  When crust is ready, pour filling over crust.  Sprinkle blueberries over the filling and sprinkle coconut/crust mixture over the blueberries to cover.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set.  Remove to cooling rack to cool completely in the pan.  When cool, remove bars by lifting foil out of pan and cut to desired portions.  Enjoy!

blueberry coconut bars

Quick Brined Pork with Blueberry Rosemary Pans SauceHello friends!  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon.  I was “berry” excited to take up this challenge because I love blueberries all year round!  Not only are they delicious, but the nutritional content of blueberries is reason enough to eat them by themselves.  Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas!  This is an easy to make but pretty enough for your holiday table recipe and you will be asked for this recipe…trust me!  This sauce would also be amazing on chicken.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 

Quick Brined Pork Tenderloins With Blueberry Rosemary Pan Sauce

pork blueberry rosemary brine photo

First, make the brine:

2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large sprig rosemary
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Pour hot mixture in to a non-reactive bowl.   Fill a large measuring cup or bowl with four cups of ice and top ice with cold water to total five cups.  Pour ice and water in to hot brine mixture and stir.  When ice is melted, add pork, cover and refrigerate for two-three hours.

pork rosemary blueberry brine pan seared

2-1 pound pork tenderloins, cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tawny port
1 cup apple cider
1 large rosemary sprig
2 cups frozen highbush blueberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil in the oven on the middle shelf.

Remove pork tenderloins from brine and pat dry.

Preheat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat with two tablespoons olive oil until oil is nearly smoking. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides and place in oven to cook fully, about 15-20 minutes.

When pork is cooked to at least 145 degrees (for medium) allow pork to rest for at least five to ten minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium low and deglaze hot pan with port and cider, holding the rosemary sprig with tongs and scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan while stirring.

blueberry pork sauce 11
Reduce heat to med low and add blueberries, stirring occasionally, and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

blueberry pork sauce 1

Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons butter to pan and stir until mixture is thickened and syrupy and butter is melted, stirring again with the rosemary sprig and allowing it to cook in the pan with the blueberries.  Some rosemary leaves will fall off of the sprig and in to the sauce–that’s ok.

blueberry pork sauce 1111Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

blueberry pork sauce dinner

Slice pork on the diagonal for a lovely presentation and drizzle sauce over sliced pork. Serve immediately.  I served roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic with the pork and it made for a wonderful meal.  This pork and blueberry sauce combo is also excellent over a spinach salad, topped with crumbled goat cheese…YUM!

 

 

I was recently contacted to participate in the “Legends of Europe” blogger Market Basket Challenge. The contest highlights Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Montasio cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele, which are five PDO (protected designation of origin) products from Europe. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the products and  celebrates the legendary quality, tradition and taste of these five world–renowned PDO products.

I was randomly assigned Montasio cheese which I had absolutely no familiarity with at all, but I was intrigued….how I could, a lover of all things cheese, not have heard of this legendary cow’s milk creation?   I got on the phone immediately to see if I could purchase it locally (we have some pretty great specialty markets and cheese shops around here) but that was not to be. I found an online source (www.igourmet.com) and they had it to me within 36 hours, all ice packed and protected from the elements.

The cheese is a nutty, rich, sharp and very tasty hard cheese that is perfect alone, over pasta (I have tried it) and in my delicious little wine crackers, the recipe I will share with you.  I also created a fall chutney to bring a little bit of Autumn in New England to my cocktail snack and added to Prosciutto di Parma to add a rich, porky saltiness to the mix….the combination is so wonderful!  Because these crackers are so easy to make, you can prepare the dough up to a month in advance and freeze it and you can make the chutney up to five days in advance, wouldn’t this be the perfect appetizer to make ahead share for Thanksgiving or impress your friends and family at a holiday party?  I think so! 

Legends of Europe Montasio Cheese Crackers

Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers with Prosciutto di Parma
and Autumn Chutney

6 oz Montasio cheese, shredded
½ cup butter salted, softened
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine combine Montasio cheese, butter, flour, cornmeal, pepper and thyme.  Process until a ball of dough forms.  Turn dough out onto floured surface, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and knead in with hands.  Divide dough in half, roll into a 12” log and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Slice dough on the bias into ¼” crackers, yielding approximately 96 crackers in total. Place crackers on parchment and bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes, turning sheets at 5 minutes.

Slide parchment off cooling rack on to a flat surface and allow to cool completely.

For the Autumn Chutney:

1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup tart apples (such as Macintosh) peeled and diced
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium low heat until mixture is thick and syrupy and fresh cranberries have popped, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve with Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers

To assemble:

Place 1/2 teaspoon of Autumn Chutney atop Montasio crackers.  Add a thin slice of  Prosciutto di Parma and a curl of Montasio cheese and enjoy!

Crackers are also wonderful with fresh apples, pears, crispy bacon or all by themselves!

What a great da…

Food DemoWhat a great day at the Rockport Harvest Festival!

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Dates….love them…..sweet, chewy, nature’s candy really.  So when asked to come up with a recipe from Made In Nature Sun Dried Deglet Noor Dates I was so happy to take up the challenge!  Sweet…I was thinking sweet….date bread, date cookies, date candy…been there, done that but on the savory side, I had always wanted to create a no sugar added barbeque sauce so I though I would try my hand at it…..it was so delicious! 

The dates are so sweet that no additional sweetener was needed and the end result, after slathering on chicken thighs—amazing!  Here’s the recipe and some photos to go along with it, starting with the delicious end result, of course–Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce Chicken Thighs: 

Image

Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced sweet onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup AppleJack (or bourbon, if unavailable)
2 cups water, divided
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
24 Made in Nature Dates, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine olive oil, onions, granulated garlic and salt and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Applejack, 3/4 water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes until dates are soft.  Remove from heat and add remaining water, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste and puree until smooth.  Bring sauce to a simmer again and enjoy!

 

 

Italy Meets the Southwest White Bean Chili

Here’s my entry in to the Del Monte Chili Cook off—a bit non-traditional but it really is delicious and healthy! If you like it, how about a nice vote please….recipe is at the link location: http://delmontechili.com/?p=recipe&id=678

…..click it and love it! Thanks

Power Up Grape and Pistachio Quinoa Snack Wraps

Check this out friends. Trying to eat better (in spite of the sweets I post) and this is a great snack or meal. Kids love the sweetness of the grapes and let’s face it, lettuce wraps are fun..it’s fun to play with your food!

This recipe is an entry in to the weekly Better Recipes contest and I would love an easy quick vote today or every day through Sunday–no registration–and my fellow competitors/recipe creators have some amazing ideas to share too–check them out.

http://healthy.betterrecipes.com/power-up-grape-and-pistachio-quinoa-snack-wraps.html

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