Browse Author by Elaine
Dawn Butler, Salads

Sweet & Savory Balsamic Salad Dressing

1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water, divided
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 3 tablespoons of the water. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and turns to a light golden color. Immediately remove from the heat and add the vinegar (stand back – it might spatter!!)

Whisk well. Add the mustard and garlic.

Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly.

Add 1 tablespoon water and season with salt and pepper. Add the honey. Whisk again.

The dressing will keep for several months if stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature or warm slightly in the microwave before serving.

Breads and Muffins, Elaine Walker

Flax and Sunflower Seed Bread

1 1/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flax seeds*, ground (you can grind them in a coffee grinder)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
2 tablespoons butter, softened

In a small bowl, combine the warm water with honey and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together together the flour, salt and ground flax seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the sunflower seeds, butter and the yeast mixture.

Combine well and then knead the dough for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth.

Set to rise in greased bowl for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size. Punch it down, then transfer the dough to a greased bread pan. Cover and let rise again for 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly brown.

* Note: The flax seed flavor is strong in this bread. Might want to try a substitute – chia seeds, oatmeal and/or potato?

Breakfast

Maple Cranberry Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cup raw, unsalted nuts (I used 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashews and one-half cup of roasted, salted macadamias)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
½ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment* paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, salt and spices. Stir to blend.

Pour in the oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 50 minutes. (If you like clumpy granola, stir when half way through baking.) The granola will further crisp up as it cools.

Using a spatula, move the granola from the hot baking sheet and put it onto another baking sheet (with no parchment or wax paper) to cool. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the dried fruit. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

*Note: If you substitute wax paper for parchment paper, the wax tends to melt and the granola sticks to it.

Beverages, Elaine Walker

Iced Tea Lemonade

10 cups of water
8 packets of Sweet & Low
4 tea bags of mint tea
1 lemon

Instructions:
1) Add 4 packets Sweet & Low to 2 cups of water. Heat in microwave for 3.5 minutes or just until it boils. (Note: if making iced tea without the lemon, only use two packets of Sweet & Low per 2 cups of water.)

2) Remove from heat. Add to water 2 tea bags of mint tea. Steep for 5 minutes.

3) Transfer tea to pitcher.

4) Repeat steps 1 through 3.

5) To pitcher, add the juice of one lemon.

6) Add 6 cups of tap water.

7) Chill.

Dawn Butler, Sandwiches

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

4 tablespoons butter
8 slices white Hawaiian sweet bread
8 slices sharp cheddar
4 slices provolone
8 pineapple rings (from canned pineapple, drained)
1/4 to 3/4 cups teriyaki sauce

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. In a large skillet over medium heat, place half the bread slices butter-side down. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices cheddar, 1 slice provolone, 2 pineapple rings, and some teriyaki sauce. Top with a second slice of bread, butter side up.

Cook until bottom bread slices are golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Debbie Allen, Desserts, Pie

Classic French Berry Tart with Chocolate Shortbread Crust

2 pints fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, or an assortment of berries
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for glazing
1-1/2 cups Pastry Cream (see below)
1-9 inch pie shell made from Chocolate Shortbread Crust (see below)

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan (without turning on the heat), whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk — this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk.

Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.

Scrape the cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold.

Chocolate Shortbread Crust
1-1/4 cups flour
1 stick plus l tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, cocoa, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms dumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and press the foil, buttered side down, onto the crust. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust is puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

Assembling the Tart

Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough of the pastry cream into the tart crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surface with a rubber spatula.

Carefully lay the fruit on the cream, arranging them in any pattern that pleases you. If you are using strawberries, either halve them from top to bottom or slice them.

Bring the jelly and the water to a boil in a microwave oven or on the stovetop. Working with a pastry brush or pastry feather, dab each berry with a spot of jelly.

Or, if you like, you can glaze the entire surface of the tart, including the bit of pastry cream that peeks through the berries.

Cookies and Brownies, Dawn Butler, Desserts

Apple Dessert Bars

CRUST
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

FILLING
1-1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
1-1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375°.

For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined.

Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides (use a metal measuring cup to make the corners). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 350°.

For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Note: Be sure to use Granny Smith and Golden Delicious – don’t substitute other varieties. This is not a very sweet dessert – it could be eaten at breakfast like a coffee cake.

Dawn Butler, Eggs and Pasta and Legumes

Creamy Baked Ziti with Side Sauce

4 cups ziti pasta, uncooked
2 jars (12 ounces each) marinara sauce, divided
2 jars (12 ounces each) tomato puree, divided
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
3/4 cup sour cream
1 package (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. Remove pasta from pan; drain.

Mix together 1 jar or can of the marina sauce, tomato puree, diced tomatoes.

Stir in the cream cheese to same pan; cook on medium heat 5 min. or until cream cheese is completely melted and mixture is blended, stirring frequently.

Return pasta to pan; mix well.

Layer half the pasta mixture in 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover with layers of sour cream, 1 cup mozzarella and remaining pasta mixture. Top with remaining mozzarella; sprinkle with Parmesan.

Cover and bake 25 minutes; uncover and bake approximately 15 minutes more or until heated through.

Mix together the second jar or can of the marina sauce, tomato puree, diced tomatoes. Warm on the stove. Serve with the baked ziti but in a separate dish for those who like extra sauce.

Dad, Dorothy Lamalie, Liked by, Mom, Poultry

Mom’s Chicken and Herb Dumplings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (about 2 pounds)
6 cups chicken broth (low fat, reduced sodium)
Bouquet garni (3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh, 6 black peppercorns, tied together in cheesecloth)
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/2 ounce), plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 cup peas
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

To poach the chicken, in a large saucepan, add the breasts and the chicken broth to cover. Add the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer, skimming off the foam occasionally, until the chicken is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (If the stock is cloudy, don’t worry; it’s simply protein clarified from the stock. Just ignore it or strain it out.) Transfer the poached chicken to a warm plate; reserve the broth. Cover with a lid and set aside.

To prepare the dumplings, in a bowl, combine the flour, cheese, baking powder, parsley, and ¾ teaspoon of the salt. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a simmer over low heat; season with black pepper. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

In a second large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and peas. Cook until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the reserved broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low. Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop the dough, about 1 tablespoon at a time, into the simmering stock. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

To assemble, add the reserved chicken and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with additional cheese; serve immediately.

Elaine Walker, Vegetables

Baked Sweet Potato

Wash sweet potato.
Rub skin with olive oil (makes it easy to peel off when baked).
Pierce potato with fork in several places (ensures even cooking).
Bake at 425 F for 45 to 60 minutes.

Note: baked sweet potatoes taste better than boiled or microwaved potatoes.