Give Peas a Chance: Bean-Based Salsa
The black-eyed variety, that is. Food editor Melissa Knific's family makes this chunky bean-based salsa every New Year's Eve, honoring the belief that the peas guarantee good fortune. Here's to a prosperous 2014!
Fresh Start: Leafy Greens and Pine Nut Salad
Brighten your plate—and your palate—with this hearty salad that makes the most of the season's best ingredients.
- In a large serving bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon snipped chives and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon.
- Add 2 cups each frisée, watercress, sliced endive and sliced radicchio.
- Toss to evenly coat with dressing and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts.
Originally published in the January 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.
Get the Party Started: Quick Holiday Appetizers
A great gathering takes only a few ingredients—a fun-loving crowd, a happy host and delicious appetizers you can whip up in minutes.
- Shrimp with Hot and Spicy Orange Sauce: Heat a stovetop grill pan; grill 12 jumbo shrimp for 2 minutes per side. Heat 1/2 cup orange marmalade until melted; stir in 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce.
- Potato Bites with Crisped Prosciutto: Boil 12 small red-skinned potatoes for 15 minutes. Cut 1/4 inch off tops and spoon half the flesh into a bowl; mash with 1/3 cup chive-and-onion cream cheese. Fill potatoes with mixture. Saute 4 slices prosciutto in a skillet until crisp; crumble over potatoes.
- Caprese Skewer: On each of 12 wooden skewers, thread one grape tomato, a basil leaf and a small marinated bocconcino. Drizzle some of the bocconcini oil over the top, if desired.
The Fig Idea: Fig, Salami and Provolone Flatbread
Looking for some party food that will wow your guests? Golden figs transform flatbread into a sweet and salty app that's truly sublime.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a prepared 10.5-ounce flatbread (such as Stonefire) on a baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Cut 2 ounces sliced provolone, 1 ounce sliced salami and 1 ounce sliced mortadella into ribbons and scatter on the bread. Slice 8 dried golden figs and arrange over the top.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes, until crisp. To serve, cut into 6 squares and garnish with arugula.
Delicious Duo: Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes
Combine bacon—everyone's favorite breakfast food—with a sweet little cupcake, and what do you get? A taste treat that's simply irresistible.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees; line two cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat 2 sticks softened unsalted butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a large bowl; beat in 3 eggs and 1 teaspoon maple extract. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with 3/4 cup milk. Fold in 2/3 cup (10 slices) chopped, cooked crispy thick-cut bacon. Divide batter among liners and bake at 350 degrees for 21 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
- Melt 1 cup milk chocolate chips in microwave and cool slightly. Beat 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar, 2 sticks softened unsalted butter and 1/4 cup milk until smooth; beat in 1 teaspoon maple extract and chocolate.
- Spread frosting over cupcakes. Garnish with additional chopped bacon.
Jam Session: Gingered Peach Jam
With peaches at their peak, try making old-fashioned preserves. This delicious recipe couldn't be easier.
- Place 6 large peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute; rinse in cold water and peel. Remove pits and cut into wedges (about 6 cups).
- Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. In a medium stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, 3 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Ladle into Mason jars and cool. Refrigerate overnight. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Makes 4 cups.
Bliss on a Bun: Lobster Rolls
It's a seafood shack classic that captures summer at its best: the lobster roll. And you don't have to be a master chef to make it. With just a few quality ingredients and minimal fuss, you can create something sublime.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons each olive oil and lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon each Old Bay seasoning, salt and black pepper.
- Gently fold in 2 cups coarsely chopped lobster (from 2 steamed tails) and 2 tablespoons snipped chives.
- Spoon mixture into 4 top-loading rolls. Garnish with additional chives.
Makes 4 servings.
Refresher Course: Honeydew Melon Soup
Chilled fruit soups are perfect for hot days when you want something light. This pretty puree of melon, mint and yogurt is a great summer appetizer—and a breeze to make.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add 8 cups cubed honeydew melon (medium ripe), 1/4 cup mint leaves, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Pulse a few times to combine; process until smooth.
- Refrigerate for a few hours. To serve, divide equally among 4 bowls and stir 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt into each. Garnish with small melon balls, mint and chopped pistachios, if desired.
Makes 5 cups.
Refresh Yourself: Watermelon Granita
Only one thing beats watermelon on a hot day: a nice, icy watermelon granita. It's hard to believe that such a simple dessert delivers so much sweet summer flavor.
- Put 1/3 cup each water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 sliced lime; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain syrup and reserve.
- Put syrup and 8 cups diced seedless watermelon in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish and freeze for 4 hours, stirring thoroughly every hour. When mixture is frozen, place in food processor in batches and pulse a few times. Spoon into serving dishes and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.
Berry Patriotic Kabobs
For a sweet twist on a Fourth of July barbecue favorite—kabobs—try these fruit skewers.
- Thread 4 blueberries, 2 mini-marshmallows and 2 raspberries on each of five 10-inch wooden sticks.
- On the remaining seven sticks, thread 4 raspberries and 3 marshmallows to create this all-American treat.
Fresh Blend: Spring Pesto
Spring has sprung! Celebrate by making this light, bright pesto that uses seasonal greens instead of basil. Tossed with pasta, spread on a sandwich or drizzled over fish, chicken or
grilled veggies, it's a quick way to add big flavor.
- In bowl of a food processor, add 1/3 cup of toasted shelled pistachio nuts, 1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach, 2 cups each arugula and flat-leaf parsley, 4 coarsely chopped scallions and 2 cloves garlic. Blend 1 minute.
- With processor running, gradually add 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil until fully incorporated. Place in a bowl and stir in 3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Makes 2 1/2 cups (enough for 2 pounds of pasta).
Sweet Reward: Breakfast Crepes
These delicate crepes are perfect for Mother's Day breakfast and so simple to make that even Dad or the kids could whip them up (hint, hint). In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1 cup skim milk, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 teaspoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch ground allspice. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Stir.
- Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. With a ladle or 1/4-cup measure, add 2 tablespoons batter to skillet. Tilt and rotate pan to coat. Cook 30 seconds or until crepe is browned on bottom and edges are dry. Lift with a silicone spatula and flip over. Cook 5 seconds, then transfer to a sheet of wax paper.
- Repeat with remaining batter, stacking crepes with wax paper in between. Spread with Nutella and scatter sliced strawberries on top. Fold, then dust with confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder.
Makes 16 crepes.
Green Day: St. Patrick's Green-and-White Cookies
Parades, step dancing and shamrocks are great, but there's another way to get into the spirit on March 17th. Charm your family with these cake-like cookies, an Irish take on the classic black-and-white treat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, beat 10 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1/2 cup each light brown sugar and granulated sugar for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 egg and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and beat until smooth; gradually beat in dry ingredients until combined. Chill batter for 15 minutes.
- Drop batter in 2 tablespoons mounds onto ungreased baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 13 minutes, until just set.
- Remove from sheet onto a wire rack and cool. Beat together 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth and a good spreading consistency, adding an extra 1 or 2 teaspoons milk if needed. Into half the icing, beat 1/8 teaspoon mint extract and a few drops green food coloring. Spread half of the flat side of each cookie with white icing; let dry. Spread other half with green icing and allow to dry.
Makes 24 cookies.
Little Cuties: Mini Apple Pies
We'd never say no to a pie—in fact, we often want to gobble up the whole thing. Wish granted. Mini pies baked in Mason jars are the ideal indulgence. "There's no need to cut and serve," says Shaina Olmanson, author of Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats That Shine. "They're great for parties." And okay for your waistline—as long as you eat just one.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and set out eight wide-mouth 8-ounce jars. Cut out eight 6-inch circles and eight small circles (using jar lid as guide) from two boxes refrigerated piecrusts. Press into bottom, up side and over the lip of jars.
- In saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and cook, whisking continuously, until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over 6 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples and, if desired, 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Toss to coat. Spoon into jars.
- Cut small dough circles into strips; weave into lattice and crimp edges. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place jars 2 inches apart on large baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
Pumpkin It Up: Whoopie Pies
It's not just for holiday pies! Canned pumpkin is surprisingly versatile, adding fall flavor to a wide range of dishes—think pancakes and waffles, savory dips and spreads, even chili, tacos and bruschetta—as well as desserts. Packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron and potassium, it's also an excellent source of fiber. So whether you're cooking soup, simmering a stew or making whoopie (pies, that is), think outside the can and bring some pumpkin to the party.
Pumpkin-ricotta filling, cookies flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, and a white chocolate glaze—it all adds up to one wicked whoopie pie.
Confectionately Yours: Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Stix
Try thinking outside the box this Valentine's Day. Get personal by whipping up something sweet for your family. They'll taste the love in every bite.
- Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving a few extra inches on each end. Line bottom with about 25 rectangular buttery crackers (such as Keebler Club).
- In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer and gradually stir in 2 cups finely crushed honey graham crackers. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
- Pour 1 cup of the mixture over crackers and spread evenly. Place another layer of crackers in pan and spread remaining cup of sugar mixture over crackers; top with another layer of crackers.
- Place 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips in a medium bowl over a small amount of simmering water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly over top layer of crackers. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until set. Carefully lift out of pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into 1 x 4-inch bars with a serrated knife.
Warming Trend: White Peppermint Hot Chocolate
There's nothing like a steamy mug of hot chocolate to chase the winter chill. But don't settle for the same old thing. Try kicking it up with peppermint for the kids, chili powder or spiced rum for grown-ups. Add whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa for a decadent treat.
In a small pot, combine 1 cup whole milk and 1 peppermint tea bag.
Bring to a low simmer.
Cover and steep for 3 minutes, then remove tea bag.
Whisk in 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped, until melted.
Pour into mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and crushed peppermint candies. For an impressive presentation, moisten rim of empty mug with water, then roll in finely crushed peppermint candies.