Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Italian Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Tartlets

My sister-in-law always has the best hors d'oeuvres at her Christmas parties and there are hardly ever any leftovers.  I used this recipe that she had for a party that we had and we didn't have any leftovers.

Italian Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Tartlets

Yield: 12 tartlets

  • 1 sheet of frozen puffed pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farm with good results)
  • 1 large or 2 small Italian Sweet Sausage  (I bought bulk sausage at the market district instead)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan or to taste, plus extra for topping
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, softened and minced
  • 12 pieces of jack or mozzarella cheese cut to fit the tops of the tartlets

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Cut the pastry into 2 1/2 inch circles using wineglass or biscuit cutter.  Press each circle into mini muffin tin.
3.  Prick the sausages with a fork, wrap in a paper towel, place on a plate and microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Or heat in a 350F oven for 20 minutes.  Slice the sausage in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. (If you do it this way you still have the casing on each slice.  I didn't like that, so that's why I crumbled bulk sausage onto each tartlet instead.)
4.Combine the ricotta cheese with the parmesan and tomatoes.  Place some in each pastry cup, top with a little more parmesan, sausage and top with the jack cheese.
5. Bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes.

Can assemble up to 1 day in advance and refrigerate.  (They don't freeze well - they get soggy.)

Other Notes:
To make 48 only need to triple ( not 4X) the filling.  48 takes 2 boxes of puff pastry and an 8 ounce log of monteray jack cheese and 1 lb bulk sausage. 

Corn Dip

My cousin gave me this recipe and I love it!  It is definitely not something that you can eat all the time, but is great!

Corn Dip

Ingredients:2 cans Mexican Corn - drained (I have used regular corn and frozen corn)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican or 4 cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Mix together and bake in a shallow baking dish @ 350 for 1/2 hour uncovered.   Serve with chips or crackers

If it seems to runny - just sprinkle with more parm. cheese.

Seasoned Pretzels

I got this recipe from a former co-worker.  Every time she made these and brought them in, the container was emptied in a very short period of time.

  • 1 package dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix.
  • 1 cup oil.
  • 1 box of hard pretzels.
Mix both ingredients. Dip pretzels. Place dipped pretzels on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350.


I picked up this easy hors d'oeuvre recipe at this weekend's class.   There are a couple of variations for this.  I'm going to write the directions for the ones that we had in class and then include the variations at the end.


  • Soft tortillas
  • Thin sliced roast beef
  • mayonnaise
  • Wich'craft Balsamic Onion Marmalade (Williams-Sonoma product)

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet.  Place a thin layer of roast beef on the tortilla.  Warm the tortillas.  Once they are warm, add a very thin layer of mayonnaise and a thin layer of the balsamic onion marmalade.  Roll the tortilla and then cut the tortilla into thin slices.  Serve these on a nice serving platter or plate.

  • Roast Beef and Cheddar cheese
  • Turkey and Swiss cheese
  • Ham and Swiss

  • If you make pinwheels and are going to serve them warm, make sure that you serve them on a warming plate so that the cheese does not get rubbery.
  • Spicy mustard can be substituted for the mayonnaise or the cheese in any of the variations listed here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Buffalo sauce for chicken

As I said in an earlier post, I am trying to find the perfect buffalo sauce for our buffalo chicken.  Here is my recipe for the sauce that I make. 

Be forwarned, aside from the butter that is in this recipe, there are no exact measurements!

Buffalo Sauce

  • 1 T. butter
  • Hot sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Ground pepper (can be black or white, or a mixture of both)
  • Salt
  • Ground mustard
  • Wasabi, (dry)
  • Cumin
Place the butter in a small sauce pan.  Cover the bottom of the sauce pan with the hot sauce.  There should not be a ton of hot sauce in the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.  Add a splash of vinegar (about 1 tsp.) and the rest of the ingredients to the pan.  Cook on low until the butter is melted and everything is mixed together.  Serve over baked or broiled chicken breasts.

There is enough here for 2 people.

Dijon Chicken

My sorority sisters are the best!  I made this recipe that I found in our Surfing Sisters cookbook, Turtle Soup 2, on Tuesday and John, who I didn't think would be that thrilled about it, loved it!  The sauce reminds him of the mustard sauce that his mother makes whenever she cooks ham for dinner.

Dijon Chicken (p.118 for those of you who have Turtle Soup 2)

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup light cream (I used coffee cream)
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil in a large sauce pan.  Remove from the pan and place in a bowl.  Add the cream and Dijon mustard, mix well.  Brown the chicken breasts in the pan, season with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a casserole dish and cover with the sauce.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serve over linguini.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fizzy Lemonade

Here's a fun twist on a classic.  Over the summer during one of the technique classes at Williams-Sonoma, they made lemonade for us, but this lemonade had a twist.  They used carbonated water instead of regular tap water. I've been making a lot of lemonade and limeade since I am not drinking caffiene while we are trying to have Baby #2.

If you make the Minute Maid Lemonade that is found in the freezer section of the grocery store, a large bottle of seltzer water and a bottle of water equals the 4 1/3 cups of water needed to make the lemonade.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baking a flaky pie crust

In an effort to learn more about cooking and to get some ideas for meals, I have been taking the technique classes that Williams-Sonoma offers.  I am going to try to post some of the hints that I pick up at these classes here.

Today's class was on Fall Baking and one of the things that they talked about was how to make the perfect flaky pie crust.  Here are some of the tips that they passed along.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are ice cold, i.e., the butter, the water (add ice cubes to the waters).
  • Cube the butter into small pieces and put them into a stainless steel measuring cup and put it back into the refrigerator to make it ice cold.
  • Keep the water in a stainless steel bowl until you add it to the mixture.
  • Once the dough is mixed, shape it into a disc, wrap the disc in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • Avoid handling the dough too much.  This will toughen the dough and will not make for a flaky crust.
  • If you have one, use a marble cutting board or counter top to roll the dough.  This will help keep the dough cold.
  • When you are rolling the dough out, try to keep it in the shape of a circle.  
  • Don't be afraid to cut the edge of the dough to help to get a circular shape.

Opening my kitchen

Well, after thinking about this, I've decided to start blogging about what I am doing in the kitchen.  Not that I do any fancy cooking, but I do like to try new things and am always looking for ways to improve existing recipes. Hopefully, by blogging about what I am doing, I'll get some ideas.

First though, I have to say that while I am married, if it is a meat or chicken dish that I am cooking, I am generally cooking for one at this time.  My husband decided to go vegetarian almost 3 years ago for a number of reasons.  So when I cook, I end up cooking two meals, one for him and one for me.  Although he will make exceptions every now and then and will eat meat or chicken.  If I make homemade buffalo sauce, I can guarantee that he will eat my buffalo chicken that night.  So I am constantly looking to improve my buffalo sauce recipe.  I'll have to post it later.  I don't have any measurements for it.  I came up with it on my own.  Right now, I am trying to figure out how I can modify the recipe so that it is a honey bbq sauce instead of a regular buffalo sauce.