Tag Archives: comfort food recipes

Sweet & Savory Mini Tarts

Sweet & Savory Mini Tarts

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to start thinking about fun food to make for all the parties and get togethers with family and friends. I love making appetizers, mini tarts, and small bites for potlucks and parties because it’s fun to experiment with different flavor combinations and they’re generally easy to transport.

One of my favorite things to make are  Sweet and Savory Mini Tarts, and I’ve used my KitchenAid® Professional-Grade Nonstick Mini Pie Pan to whip up two delicious tarts that you can bring to your next holiday soiree. I love this pie pan because its nonstick professional-grade construction and removable bottoms make it easy to work with. And the pre-engraved ridges for the crust ensure that all of your tarts and mini pies come out looking perfect!

Cranberry Almond Mini Tarts

My Mini Cranberry Apple Almond Tarts are super delicious – sweet and tangy with a little bit of crunch, made with fresh cranberries, orange juice, honey, apples, cinnamon and chopped almonds.

Mini Savory Tarts

I also made some savory Mini Bacon, Veggie and Cheese Tarts that are great for a holiday brunch or even a small evening get together with friends and family. They’ve got tons of good stuff inside too – eggs, cream, shredded cheese, crispy bacon and lots of fresh sautéed veggies like zucchini, mixed bell peppers, green onion and garlic with a touch of fresh thyme for garnish.

Mini Sweet & Savory Tarts

So easy to make and so delicious and fun for a holiday party!

I’d love to hear in the comments below what you would make in the mini pie pan for your holiday party – sweet or savory? Or both? What flavors and ingredients would you use? How would you change up the crust? Be sure to share your take on these sweet and savory tart recipes with us on Instagram using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured.

Happy holidays!

Check out how i made them with my KitchenAid mini pie pan Stainless Steel cookware and get the #recipes on the Kitchenthusiast blog HERE!

Disclaimer: As a Kitchenthusiast Contributor, I have been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents my own opinion.*

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Recipes Worth Sharing: A Collection of Favorite Regional Recipes

Recipes Worth Sharing Cookbook
Recipes Worth Sharing Cookbook

I recently picked up a cookbook at a conference called Recipes Worth Sharing by Favorite Recipes Press. It’s a collection of the most prized, tried-and-true tested home cook recipes from some of the most popular regional community cookbooks and charitable organizations in America. I remember my Mom and Grandmother would occasionally cook from these spiral-bound community cookbooks and they usually made some type of yummy salad or casserole dish for a Sunday family brunch or neighborhood potluck supper. Usually these cookbooks go unappreciated or overlooked, but this one deserves to be noticed.

The reason I picked up this book was mainly because of the recipes themselves, not the beautiful photos which normally are what grab my attention when I pick up or buy a cookbook. The recipes are a collection of delicious comfort food, down-home favorites and are not particularly complicated to make but delicious all the same. A lot of these recipes remind of the Southern cooking I experienced and learned to make when I lived in Atlanta and made trips to Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans – lots of seafood, fresh veggies and salads, grilled and roasted meats, pasta dishes, homemade breads, pies and desserts, and of course the delicious creamy casseroles made out of basically EVERYTHING under the sun. The foods and recipes in this book are the ones that your Grandmother and Mother probably made too, and passed along to their friends at church, bridge club or the local junior league. Fussy and stuffy recipes they are not, but simple, delicious and comforting – they are indeed.

The recipes in the book are organized in typical categories: Appetizers and Beverages, Breads and Brunch, Soups, Salads and Sandwiches, Entrees, Fish and Seafood, Vegetables and Sides, Cakes, Pies and Cookies, Desserts, and Kid’s Recipes. I’ve gone through the book and picked out a sampling of my favorite recipes below (a few from each category) to share with you. I hope you enjoy them and maybe even try a few for your next potluck party or family picnic. If you want to check out the cookbook for yourself – you can preview and purchase the cookbook online. Enjoy!

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Beach Bites

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked crab meat, drained
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup cooked shrimp, cut into small pieces
40 frozen phyllo cups, thawed
Grated parmesan cheese
Sliced almonds

Blend the cream cheese, milk, horseradish, butter, wine, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Fold in the crab meat, scallions and shrimp. Fill the phyllo cups with the seafood mixture. Place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cheese and almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 40.

Recipe from Toast of the Coast, The Junior League of Jacksonville, Florida

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Savannah Sin

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped green chilies
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (1-pound) round loaf French or Sourdough bread

Combine the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ham, green onions, green chilies and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and mix well. Cut a thin slice from the top of the bread loaf; reserve. Remove the center carefully, leaving a shell. Cut the bread from the center into 1-inch cubes. Fill the bread shell with the dip; top with the reserved top. Wrap in foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with the bread cubes, crackers or chips.

Serves 20.

Recipe from Downtown Savannah Style, The Junior League of Savannah, Georgia.

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Pirate’s Milk Punch

1 cup sugar
1 cup bourbon (not sour mash)
1 cup French brandy (Cognac)
1 cup vodka
2 ounces pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Whole milk

Combine the sugar, bourbon, brandy and vodka in a gallon container with a lid. An empty gallon milk jug will work. Secure the lid and shake vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla and nutmeg; shake well. Add the milk, 2 cups at a time, until the jug is full; shaking well after each addition. Chill for 8 to 24 hours before serving. Serve very cold or over ice in old-fashioned glasses. Sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg over the top before serving.

Makes 1 gallon (16 servings).

Recipe from The Life of the Party, The Junior League of Tampa, Florida.

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Eggs “Bama”-dict

Eggs:
6 English muffins, split into halves
Butter to taste
12 slices Canadian bacon
15 eggs
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Hollandaise sauce:
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

To prepare the eggs, toast the English muffin halves and spread with butter. Brown the Canadian bacon in a skillet; drain. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until light and frothy. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Arrange the muffin halves in the bottom of a baking dish, split side up. Top each muffin half with a slice of Canadian bacon. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the Canadian bacon. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until eggs are set. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Slice into squares around the muffin halves.

To prepare the sauce, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and Tabasco sauce in a blender and process until smooth. Bring the butter to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and immediately add to the egg yolk mixture in a find stream, processing constantly at high speed until combined.

To serve, top each serving with a spoonful of Hollandaise sauce. Note: The sauce can be kept warm in a baking dish placed in a pan of hot water.

Serves 12.

Recipe from Shall We Gather, Trinity Episcopal Church, Wetumpka, Alabama.

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White Spanish Gazpacho

3 cucumbers, peeled and cubed
1 small garlic clove
3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
3 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and salted
Croutons

Puree the cucumbers and garlic in a blender. Pour into a bowl. Whisk in a small amount of chicken broth until smooth. Whisk in remaining chicken broth gradually. Whisk the cucumber mixture gradually inot the sour cream in a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and salt. Chill, covered, until cold. Ladle into 6 chilled soup bowls. Top each with equal portions of the tomatoes, parsley, green onions, almonds and croutons.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Recipes of Note, Greensboro Symphony Guild, Greensboro, NC

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Sweet Tart Salad

Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salad:
10 ounces salad greens or 16 cups torn lettuce
4 cups chopped Granny Smith apples
2 cups garlic bagel chips, crushed
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon pepper

For the dressing, combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, paprika and Worcestershire sauce in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal tightly. Shake to mix. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until serving time. The flavor is enhanced if made in advance and chilled.

For the salad, mix the salad greens, apples, bagel chips, cheese, pecans, and pepper in a salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Recipe from Tables of Content, Junior League of Birmingham, Alabama.

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Toasted Brie Chicken Tea Sandwiches

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup red grapes, sliced
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Italian herbs
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
6 to 12 croissants
2 (8 ounce) wheels Brie cheese, rind removed and cheese sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the chicken and broth in a roasting pan. Roast for 12 to 18 minutes or until cooked through. Do not allow the chicken to brown. Drain and discard the broth. Place the chicken in a large bowl and let stand until cool. Mix the mayonnaise, grapes, celery, Italian herbs, pepper and onion powder in a bowl. Stir in the chicken. Cut each croissant into halves crosswise and cut each half into halves horizontally. Toast the croissants. Place a slice of Brie on half of the croissant pieces. Top with the chicken mixture and the remaining croissant pieces.

Makes 12 to 14 sandwiches.

Recipe from Savor the Seasons, The Junior League of Tampa, Florida.

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Seurat Salad

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons salad oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Juice of 2 garlic cloves
4 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Romaine leaves
2 large tomatoes, cut into 12 slices
1/4 cup crumbled crisp-cooked bacon

Combine the artichokes, hearts of palm, green onions and parsley in a bowl and mix gently. Add a mixture of the salad oil, lemon juice and garlic juice and bleu cheese; toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until serving time. The salad may be prepared to this point one day in advance. Line 6 chilled salad plates with romaine. Arrange 2 tomato slices on each salad plate. Top with the artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with the bacon just before serving.

Serves 8.

Recipe from Art Fare, Toledo Museum of Art Aides, Toledo, Ohio.

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Father Art’s Pozole

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (2-pound) pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
10 tomatillos, husked, cored and cut into quarters
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 (15-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
2 whole dried red chiles, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the pork and saute until brown on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Combine the pork mixture with 3 cups of chicken broth in a large saucepan. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the pork is very tender. Combine the remaining 2 cups chicken broth with the tomatillos and cilantro in a blender and process until pureed. Add the puree, hominy and red chiles to the pork mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the chiles and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with chopped onion, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, cheese, cilantro and lime wedges.

Note: Pozole can be prepared a day or two in advance and chilled, covered, until needed. Reheat over low heat to serve.

Recipe from The Bells are Ringing: A Call to Table, Mission San Juan Capistrano Women’s Guild, San Juan Capistrano, California.

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Oven-Fried Chicken

6 whole chicken breasts, split and skinned
3 1/2 cups ice water
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne to taste

Spray a baking sheet 3 times with a nonstick cooking spray. Rinse the chicken. Place the chicken in the ice water in a bowl. Spoon the yogurt into a medium bowl. Combine the bread crumbs, flour, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, Creole seasoning, thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper and cayenne in a sealable plastic bag, shaking to mix. Remove 2 pieces of chicken from the water; coat with yogurt. Place the chicken in the plastic bag with seasonings, shaking to coat. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken. Spray the chicken lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place the baking sheet on the bottom oven rack. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, turning every 20 minutes to assure even browning.

Recipe from A Taste of the Good Life: From the Heart of Tennessee, St. Thomas Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee.

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Crabmeat Mornay

1 stick butter
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons flour
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 pound grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon sherry wine
Red pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 pound white crabmeat

Melt butter in heavy pot and saute onions and parsley. Blend in flour, cream and cheese, until cheese is melted. Add other ingredients and gently fold in crab meat. This may be served in a chafing dish with Melba toast or in puff pastry shells.

Recipe from River Roads Recipes: The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine, Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Baked Heirloom Beets with Balsamic Vinegar

1 pound of beets various colors, leaves and stems trimmed (golf ball size)
10 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup fresh marjoram or oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the beets, garlic, and marjoram on a sheet of foil large enough to enclose. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring the sides of the foil up. Pour a mixture of the vinegar and olive oil over the beet mixture and seal the foil.

Bake for 1 hour or until the beets are tender. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel and slice or chop the beets, reserving the juices. Serve the beets with the reserved juices over watercress or mixed salad greens or as a side to grilled meats. Serve at room temperature if desired.

Serves 4.

Recipe from California Mosaic, The Junior League of Pasadena, California.

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Church Street Squash

2 pounds yellow or zucchini squash (or medley of both)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, plain
1 tablespoon paprika

Cook squash until tender. Mash with fork after draining. Let stand until cool. Saute onion in 2 tablespoons butter until yellow, not brown. Mix squash, onion, cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper and egg. Gently pour into greased casserole. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle paprika on top. Cook, uncovered 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly. It does freeze well after cooking and covered.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Charleston Receipts Repeats, Junior League of Charleston, South Carolina.

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Fresh Peach Crisp

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine or butter
4 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon; cut in margarine or butter with 2 knives or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Combine peaches, lemon juice and water; spoon into a greased 9x9x1 3/4 inch baking dish. Sprinkle flour mixture over peaches. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake 35 to 45 minutes longer.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Savannah Style, Junior League of Savannah, Georgia.

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Lochness Bars

1/2 cup margarine
1 (6 ounce) package chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 (10 1/2 ounce) package mini marshmallows
4 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup peanuts, optional

Frosting:
1 (6 ounce) package chocolate chips
1 (6 ounce) package butterscotch chips

Combine margarine, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until melted, stirring until smooth. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Blend in cereal and peanuts. Spread in 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Chill until firm. Prepare frosting by melting chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together, blending until smooth. Spread on chilled bars. Cut into 2×1-inch bars.

Makes 60 bars.

Recipe from Children’s Party Book, The Junior League of Hampton Roads, Virginia

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An Intimate Gathering: Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Since the holidays are rapidly approaching, I’m planning an intimate dinner party with friends featuring some of my favorite recipes to make a delicious, warming and elegant meal. Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce for the entree, Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese as a side, Pear, Arugula and Pancetta as an accompanying winter salad, and rich, decadent Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce

Filet Mignon has always been one of my favorites, and it is one of the most elegant cuts of steak, and served medium rare is juicy, tender, and succulent. Top it off with a Mushroom wine sauce, serve it with a Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut salad with Vinaigrette and a Cheesy Pasta side dish with a kick, and you’ve got an elegant dinner party menu for a small group of friends. I saw this recipe on Giada DeLaurentis’ show Giada at Home, and it caught my eye as the perfect dish for an intimate dinner party with friends around the holidays.

steak with mushroom sauce

Ingredients

Steaks:

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 (8-ounce) filet mignon steaks

Kosher or Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

Gravy:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large or 4 small shallots, minced

2 cups (about 5 ounces) assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake and button, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry Marsala wine

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preparation:

Steak: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a small baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, to taste. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes for medium-rare doneness. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board.

Gravy: In the same skillet used for the steak, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and rosemary. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until half of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cutting across the grain, slice the steak into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on a platter. Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and serve alongside the meat.

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Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is a classic comfort food and every year I go on a search for a new recipe and this one caught my eye. (Bon Appetit magazine Dec 2010 issue). This recipe originates from the popular Seattle restaurant, Roaring Fork by Chef Robert McGrath. It’s made with roasted poblano chile peppers which gives it a nice kick and extra texture and flavor to the cheesy goodness. The recipe calls for macaroni and red onion but I decided to substitute penne for the macaroni and shallots for the onion, and added a teaspoon of smoked paprika, extra cheddar cheese and a few slices of crumbled pancetta on top to dress it up a bit. You can also toss the pasta in a cast iron pan and top it off with some buttery panko bread crumbs and throw it in the oven for 30-40 minutes on 350 degrees for a crunchy delicious topping. It makes 6 appetizer or side-dish servings.

green chile mac and cheese

Ingredients:

1 whole fresh poblano chile plus 1/4 c. chopped fresh poblano chiles

1 tbsp corn oil

1/4 c. chopped red bell pepper

1/4 c. chopped red onion (or shallots)

1 garlic clove, minced

4-5 slices of pancetta, diced and cooked

1/2 c. fresh or frozen thawed corn kernels

3/4 c. whipping cream

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 c. fresh cooked macaroni (2/3 c. dried) or penne (or any tubular shaped pasta)

1/2 c. grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Topping: Melted butter and Panko bread crumbs, put entire dish in a cast iron pan, top

with buttered crumbs and bake in oven until topping is crunchy and golden

Preparation:

Char whole chile directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to paper bag, seal. Let stand 15 mins. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile. Transfer to processor, puree until smooth.

Chop the pancetta and cook until crisp in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove bacon and drain on a small plate with paper towels and reserve some of the bacon drippings and add the oil back in to the pan.

Add 1/4 c. chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute until soft, about 4 mins. Add corn; stir 1 minute. Add cream and chile puree; bring to boil. Add macaroni and cheese; stir until cheese melts and mixture is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with pancetta crumbles.

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Pear, Arugula and Pancetta Salad

This is one of my favorite winter salads made with peppery arugula, fresh sliced pears, pancetta and a crisp Champagne Vinaigrette. It goes perfect with the steak and pasta and gives a fresh flavor to the meal.

pear and arugula salad

For vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon mild honey

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

For salad:

2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (4 to 5 slices)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 firm-ripe pears

4 cups baby arugula or torn larger arugula (1 1/4 lb)

3 oz ricotta salata, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

Toasted Walnuts for topping

Make vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Make salad:
 Cook pancetta in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning frequently, until just crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain (pancetta will crisp as it cools). Tear into bite-size pieces.

Halve pears lengthwise, core, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add pears to dressing along with arugula, cheese, and pancetta, tossing to coat. Top with a handful of toasted walnuts for some crunchy texture.

Read More: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pear-Arugula-and-Pancetta-Salad-235734#ixzz16appSya9

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Chocolate Mousse

I can’t think anything else on the planet that I love more than chocolate. Whip up this delicious ingredient with brandy and cream and you’ve got the perfect French dessert – chocolate mousse. Dark and rich, creamy and decadent – it’s the perfect ending for a special dinner party with friends during the holidays. I found this recipe on Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette (she’s one of my favorite Bon Appetit food writers, ever!). This recipe is adapted from the original recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, 2006.

chocolate mousse

Ingredients:

8 oz. Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, 60% cacao, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tsp. instant espresso powder

5 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. brandy

2 large eggs, separated

1 Tbsp. sugar, divided

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cold heavy cream

For serving:

Very lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water, and whiskey in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of gently simmering water, and stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

In another medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, and salt. Whisk until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and whisk until combined. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until just warmer than room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Detach the whisk and bowl from the mixer, and whisk the last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape up any unbeaten whites from the bottom of the bowl. Using the whisk, stir about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, to lighten it. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites until only a few white streaks remain.

In the now-empty mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken. Increase the speed to high, and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon into 6 to 8 individual serving dishes – I like to use teacups – or, if you’re feeling casual, mound it up in a single serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For best texture, let the mousse sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with very lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

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