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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Game Day Sausage Dip

With the onset of football season, we have been creating fall appetizers every Saturday afternoon. You can tell by the photo that this is not the world's prettiest snack. But it's one of the most delicious. Our friend Eric made this for a neighborhood party a couple of years ago. We've sort of claimed it as our own by now, and you will too once you try it.

Sausage Dip

1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage
1 15-ounce can Rotel tomatoes (we prefer mild, you can experiment if you like)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese

Brown sausage in a small sauce pan and drain. Add Rotel and cream cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Then serve it with tortilla chips.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sesame Chicken

Our family loves Chinese food of any kind. I don't remember how I came across this recipe for sesame chicken; I don't think I had ever eaten this dish at a restaurant, so I can't imagine that I was actively searching for it. I do know that I found it on some random website, and am sorry that I'm a poor record keeper and can't give appropriate attribution. But this is a relatively quick and inexpensive meal that looks great and tastes even better.

Sesame Chicken
(Serves 8, or in our case, 9)

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 pounds bloneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds*
1 bunch green onion stem, cut into 1-inch slices
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet. Combine flour, garlic powder and paprika. Dredge small chicken chunks in flour. Fry pieces in oil until juices run clear.

Meanwhile, in another pot, bring ingredients for the sauce to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the chicken in the skillet or wok and mix together. Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions. We like it served with hot rice.

*If you don't have pre-toasted sesame sauce, you can toast the regular kind by tossing them in a hot, oil-free pan for a few minutes over medium heat until they begin to turn golden brown.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

French Silk Pie

My husband Bob loves French silk pie. His particular favorite is the Village Inn version; waiting tables there was one of his college jobs. One night when I was in a particularly benevolent mood, I decided to try to re-create his all-time pie favorite.

The first couple of efforts weren't quite what he had in mind. One recipe was too rich (aren't all French silk pies a little on the rich side?); another was too much like a chocolate cream pie (in other words, not rich enough). But after an adjustment here and an addition there, we have finally reached French silk pie nirvana.

French Silk Pie

(Be aware that Betty Crocker, one of my original sources, warns that using raw eggs in this recipe carries the risk of the eater contracting salmonella. We are all healthy and well after partaking of this pie on multiple occasions, but if you want to eliminate that risk, use 3/4 cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg product).

Homemade or prepared pastry for one pie
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened (margarine won't work; it will curdle the crust)
1 1/2 teaspons vanilla
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
3 eggs

Bake the pie crust in a nine-inch pan. Cool completely.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and chocolate. Add eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute after adding each one. Pour mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate until set (about two hours, but don't leave it in the fridge for more than 24 hours).

Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles or curls. I make the curls by using a vegetable peeler on a Hershey bar. They are not the same as Village Inn.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tomato Tart

Quite a few years ago I mentioned to a client that I love home grown tomatoes. Love may be an understatement. She told me that she had a recipe I must try. She actually remembered to email it to me, and it's been a favorite ever since. So thanks, Janice! I hope all is well in Tennessee.

This snack is remarkably easy to make, but makes a good impression. Put a homemade or purchased pie crust in a 9-inch tart pan. Spread grated mozzarella cheese on the bottom of the crust until it is completely and evenly covered. Then layer as much chopped basil as you like; I usually use a little more than a quarter cup, but you can go as high as a full cup if you truly love basil.

The order of ingredients in this recipe is important. If the basil isn't mostly covered by sliced tomatoes, it will burn. The juice that emanates from the tomatoes during the baking process also helps protect the basil.

Thinly slice 3-4 Roma tomatoes. You can slice them any way you want, depending on the look you're going for. I chose to slice these the long way for a sort of flower petal effect; I've also sliced them cross-wise, which is lovely. Layer the tomato slices as close to each other as possible in order to cover the basil.

Drizzle the tart with a little bit of olive oil, and bake it at about 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden. Slice and serve. This is delicious, but it's best served in appetizer-sized portions; Bob and I tried splitting one for a meal once and it was just too much goodness.

Tomato Tart
1 single homemade or prepared pie crust
About 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 to 1 cup of chopped fresh basil, depending on how much you love basil
3-4 thinly sliced Roma tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil

Put pie crust in a 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Fill the crust with grated cheese. Layer chopped basil on top of the cheese. Top with sliced tomatoes, taking care to cover the basil, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.