Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese and Bacon Mini Tarts

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I am always creating new recipes.  This mini tart has been a big hit with my friends.

Ingredients:
pie crust (either store-bought or homemade)
1 package bacon
2 to 3 garlic cloves minced
1 block of Cambazola cheese
1 block of blue cheese
1 red onion cut into long thin slices
olive oil
butter
sugar

Note:  You need a mini tart pan for this recipe!

Instructions:
Caramelize onions:  Put approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter into a pan and wait for butter to melt at medium high heat.  Then put onions in pan and stir.  After about a minute or so add a small sprinkle of sugar and cook for approximately 20 minutes at a lower heat (medium to medium low).  The sugar will help the caramelization process.  When done set aside.

Cook the bacon in a frying pan and when almost done sprinkle sugar and minced garlic on top.  Cook until crispy, but not burnt.  Let cool, then chop into small pieces.

Roll pie crust out.  Cut small circles using a small round cookie cutter or a small glass.  You want the circle of pie crust to fit perfectly in the mini tart pan, so you may want to test with a piece of paper first.

Grease mini tart pan with cooking spray and place the pie crust circles using a tart press or your fingers.

Fill the mini tarts:  Add Cambazola cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and blue cheese crumbles on top.

Cook at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.  Let the mini tarts cool before trying to take them out of the pan.

Endive Delights

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If you are looking for an easy appetizer that is also really yummy, try this!

Ingredients:
20 endive leaves (about 3 heads)
20 pecans
2 oz. of your favorite blue cheese
10 fresh figs cut in half (use dried figs if you cannot find fresh ones)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sugar (approximately 1/4 cup or less)

1) Put pecans in a skillet at medium high heat and sprinkle sugar on top; stir until sugar caramelizes and coats pecans; pour onto parchment paper and let cool.

2) Cut figs in half and grill face down until tender (approximately 2 to 5 minutes). If you are using dried figs, do not grill.

3) Separate endive leaves; clean and pat dry with a paper towel.

4) place fig in endive; then add one pecan and a chunk of blue cheese; drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar on top.

5) Place on platter and serve!

This appetizer goes great with full-bodied red wines that can stand up to the taste of the bold flavors of blue cheese and balsamic vinegar.

 

Gourmet Beef Stroganoff

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I recently made this recipe for a special event, and everyone loved it.

Ingredients:
1 tri-tip (You can use filet mignon too)
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic; roasted and chopped
200g of sliced mushrooms
5-6 shallots; chopped
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup white wine
zest of one lemon
lemon juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons flour
fresh thyme to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. egg noodles

Roast tri-tip in oven for approximately 35-40 minutes.  Cook until rare/medium rare.  Let meat sit approximately 10-15 minutes and then cut into cubes.  Set tri-tip aside.

In a small sauce pan mix flour and 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat to make roux.  Cook for 1 minute and set aside.

Put olive oil and 3 tablespoons butter into skillet with chopped shallots and mushrooms.  Cook until tender, and then add garlic, white wine, Dijon mustard, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and spices.  Add flour mixture (roux).  Roux will thicken the sauce.  Add tri-tip cubes and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cook egg noodles separately and mix when ready to serve.  Top with fresh chopped Italian parsley as a garnish.

Tortilla Soup

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I hope you enjoy my tortilla soup recipe!

Ingredients:
1 yellow onion; chopped
1-2 jalapeno (optional)
8-10 Roma tomatoes; diced (you can also use large can of stewed tomatoes)
2 cups low sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 cups enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chilis in adobe sauce (optional)
1 small roasted chicken; pulled apart into small pieces
1 package frozen corn
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
1 can black beans; drained and cleaned
olive oil as needed (see instructions below)

Possible Toppings:
Your favorite tortilla chips
Fresh cilantro
Shredded cheddar cheese
Diced avocados
Chopped scallions
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

If you have a large stock or sauce pan, that would be best.  I have a Le Creuset 9qt. pan that I use for all my soups that works great!

Roast a small chicken at 375 for approximately 50-60 minutes in roasting pan, or buy a rotisserie chicken from store.  Pull chicken apart into small pieces and set aside.

Chop one full yellow onion and place into the pan with a splash of olive oil—just enough to sweat the onions.  If you like spice, you can also chop up 1 to 2 large jalapeno and cook at them at the same time you are sweating your onions.  Once onions are translucent, add the diced tomoatoes and cook for a few more minutes before adding the other ingredients.  Then add chicken broth, enchilada sauce, minced garlic, chicken pieces, corn, black beans and salt & pepper to taste.  If needed, add more chicken or veggie broth.

Simmer for 20 to 30 and stir occasionally.  When done, serve with your favorite toppings!

 

Lemon & Herb Chicken Pasta

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If you are wondering what to do with leftover roasted chicken, put it in pasta!

Ingredients:

1 small whole chicken
1 lb. penne pasta or pasta of your choice (whole grain or regular)
2 lemons
2 bundles of fresh thyme
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil as needed (see directions below)
parmesan cheese as needed to top over pasta

Roast Chicken

Preheat oven to 400; take the neck and liver out of the chicken and clean; pat dry; sprinkle small amount of coarse salt on the inside of the chicken; get lemon zest of lemons and place into small bowl; then cut lemons into wedges and place in bowl with fresh thyme; drizzle olive oil over the lemon wedges and thyme and mix; place lemons and thyme mixture into the chicken; tie chicken appropriately to stabilize and close opening; place chicken in roasting pan (use rack if you have one); sprinkle some coarse salt and a small drizzle of olive oil on top; turn down temperature to 375 once oven is preheated; cook in oven for 55-65 minutes or until done; let chicken sit for approximately 15 minutes to rest; pull chicken off into small pieces and place in a bowl.

Pasta Instructions:
Place the 2 cups heavy cream into skillet with some fresh thyme and cook on medium to low heat on stove for approximately 20 minutes to let thicken (cream should reduce by half); add 1/3 to 1/2 the pieces of chicken, lemon juice from the some lemon wedges that were cooked in the chicken, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and salt/pepper to taste; let simmer for 15-20 minutes and then add cooked pasta to skillet; mix well and serve.  Top with parmesan cheese!

Low-Carb Mojitos

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I love mojitos and wanted to share my low-carb version!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) lime juice or lime wedges from about a third of a lime
  • 8 mint leaves
  • Stevia extract to taste (you don’t need that much to make it sweet)
  • 1 jigger (1½ oz.) white rum (80 proof) (you can substitute vodka if you are not a rum fan)
  • Splash of club soda

Preparation:

Put mint, lime or lime juice, and sweetener into the bottom of a highball glass.  “Muddle” by mashing ingredients together.  Traditionally, a “muddler”, which looks like a miniature wooden baseball bat, is used to accomplish this.  However, the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula can work as well.

Enjoy!

Thai Turkey Sliders

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Check out my Thai sliders recipe!  A different spin on sliders.

Slider Ingredients:

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 4 scallions finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • 1 small red chili pepper finely chopped; take out seeds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon veggie or canola oil
  • 8 slider rolls

Thai Slaw Ingredients:

  • 1/4 head of cabbage sliced thinly (you can also use iceburg lettuce)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s amino liquids or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup julienne style carrots
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil cut thinly or cilantro

Instructions:

1. Combine meat, scallions, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, coriander, egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl and form 8 small patties, each about three inches in diameter.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with oil over medium-high heat and cook patties 4 minutes on each side. You can also BBQ.

3. While the patties cook, lightly toast the rolls and make the slaw: In a small mixing bowl, loosen the peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds then whisk other ingredients. Toss the red bell pepper, carrots, cabbage and basil with the dressing. Serve over sliders!

Herb Crusted Lamb

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Lamb is one of my favorite things to eat.  I was craving it this week and tried a new rub.  Hope you like it!

Ingredients:
2.5 lbs. rack of lamb (French style)
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked coarse black pepper
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (minced)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:
To prepare the rub, place all ingredients except lamb in a bowl and mix to a paste.  Rub mixture on the lamb, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  In a shallow roasting pan, set lamb racks flat (meat side up), and roast at 450 for 20 minutes or until your preferred doneness.  Remove from over, and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Side Suggestions:

  • New potatoes sliced in half; sautéed in butter, olive oil and fresh minced rosemary
  • Potatoes gratin
  • Mashed potatoes
  • sautéed chard or spinach
  • Cooked carrots with fresh thyme

Low-Carb Thai Salad

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Okay so I am obviously on a low-carb kick!  I took my Thai Noodle Salad recipe and modified it to make it low-carb.  Hope you enjoy!

Salad ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash
1 to 2 red bell peppers; chopped or sliced to any size you want
4 spears of asparagus or 1 large head of broccoli (you can use both)
1/2 red onion; chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (you can substitute cilantro for Italian parsley)
4 oz. to 8 oz. of your favorite protein (chicken, shrimp, tofu, tri-tip) (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup peanuts as garnish or to mix in salad (optional)

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 cup organic peanut butter (I like Full Circle found at Whole Foods and Raley’s)
1/4 to 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 to 3 table spoons garlic chili sauce depending on how spicy you like it
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons Bragg’s amino liquids or soy sauce (you can find Bragg’s amino liquids at almost any store in the health food section)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400; cut spaghetti squash in half and clean out seeds; place squash on baking sheet; add salt, pepper and a small amount of drizzled olive oil over squash; bake for approximately 35-40 minutes; let cool for 10-15 minutes; use a fork to scrap out the spaghetti squash and place into a bowl.

Place sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until everything is mixed together.  Taste the sauce to see if you need to add more of some of the ingredients.  I never measure, so that’s why I always give ranges when listing the ingredients.

Pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash, and then add all the other ingredients.  Mix well and garnish with peanuts and cilantro if you wish.

 

Low-Carb Lasagna

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Enjoy lasagna without the carbs!  I just tested this recipe, and it turned out great.  I did not even miss the pasta.

Ingredients:

1 package lean ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
2 medium eggplants
1 medium size red bell pepper
15 oz. low-fat ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce or tomato puree

Instructions:

1) Clean eggplant and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; pat slices with a paper towel to remove moisture; brush a small amount of olive oil on both sides of the eggplant slices; grill both sides until tender (use BBQ or grill pan on stove); remove and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

2) Fry meat and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender; drain fat.

3) Add tomato sauce or puree to meat mixture along with all the spices and garlic; simmer for 10-15 minutes.

4) Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with the meat sauce mixture; layer the eggplant, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and meat sauce (approximately 2 layers); top with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and red bell pepper slices for garnish.

5) Heat oven to 375 and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Variations:

You can use zucchini in lieu of eggplant, or incorporate both.  Add other veggies to the meat sauce as you wish (i.e., mushrooms).

To make this a vegetarian dish, try cooking tofu in the tomato sauce mixture with or without chopped veggies.