Thursday, November 24, 2011

Horseradish Jello Salad

Horseradish Jello
Horseradish Jello Salad is a tradition in my family. It's a recipe that has been handed down, and now I pass it on to you. This is a beautiful salad in presentation. I used to get mad at myself because every year I'd think, "Maybe this year it will taste better"... it never did. Ah, but I was drawn to it's inviting color and festive look. And, thus began my love/hate relationship with Horseradish Jello Salad. I loved the way it looked, hated the taste...

I believe that something happens to us as we develop appreciation for flavors, though. At one time, bleu  cheese crumbles were thoroughly obnoxious to me and now they are a delicacy I don't want to be without. It's this same phenomena that has occurred with my love/hate relationship with Horseradish Jello Salad. I find the punch that comes from the horseradish, blended with the mello flavor of the lime jello is - well, amazingly refreshing! The cucumber provides a cooling and satisfying crunch!

It is critical to select a good quality of Horseradish. Look for PREPARED Horseradish and NOT Horseradish Sauce. The better the quality, the hotter it will be. Use your own taste when adding the horseradish. Start with 1/4 cup and go from there!
Prepared Horseradish and NOT Horseradish Sauce

Follow the directions on the lime jello package. Allow the jello and hot water to slightly cool before adding the vinegar, salt and lemon juice to the mix. Place jello in the refrigerator until partially congealed. (about 35-40 minutes).
Allow Jello to rest in the refrigerator until slightly congeal

While waiting for the jello to partially set, chop cucumber, green olives and black olives. As an option, you can add a bit of green onion and/or celery to the mix
Chop your ingredients while waiting

Remove the partially congealed jello from the refrigerator, and beat it until it is frothy (about 2 minutes).
Beat Partially Congealed Jello Until Frothy

FOLD in 1 cup of Cool Whip, or slightly more, to create a light foamy texture. I use a wire whisk to remove lumps and get it smooth, but not a mixer. A mixer will make it too runny.
Fold in Cool Whip

When the mix is smooth and fluffy, fold in your chopped vegetables, blending slightly. You do not want to stir, just blend it. Last, add the horseradish to your preferred taste.
Fold in the chopped veggie

Pour the mix into a jello mold and cover with wax paper. You may want to put a dish on top of it to keep the wax paper in place. I like a mold that has a center cut out. Refrigerate overnight for best results. Unmold just before serving onto a plate and garnish with black olives and parsley. 
Pour the mix into a jello mold

Horseradish Jello Salad


  • 2 pkg. lime jello
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1+ cups cool whip 
  • Horseradish - start with 1/4 cup adding more to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber

Prepare jello according to package directions. Let the lime jello and hot water cool a bit before adding lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Set in the refrigerator to partially congeal (about 20-25 mins.) Remove from refrigerator and whip with a mixer until frothy. Fold in the cool whip until it is a light fluffy texture. Add the horseradish, green and black olives and chopped cucumber.  Pour into a mold and let it rest overnight.

Release the molded jello onto a plate. Garnish with black olives.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Turkey Sausage Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

Sausage Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce
First, I want to disclose that I've never actually made my own sausage before. A friend of mine bragged that she made her own turkey sausage thus, throwing down the gauntlet. I knew I had to make some, also! 

I was surprised by how easy the process was. 

Turkey Sausage
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

I added about 1/2 cup of finely diced apples. Mix all of this together, then roll it in wax paper. I froze it without cooking it for later use. Rummaging through my freezer, I re-discovered it and wanted to use it... but for what? The idea for Lasagna started tip-toeing around my head!

I love Lasagna. Tomato or Marinara Sauce doesn't love me so much. One of my favorite twitter people @onlinepastrychf (Jenni Field) suggested I use Bechamel Sauce. Well, THAT peaked my curiosity because it sounded oh, so Italian, and oh so exotic. Thank you SO much, Jenni! I now have a new FAVORITE recipe!

I found a recipe on by Mario Batali that was wonderful!

Bechamel Sauce
5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • Directions
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
  • Follow these directions to a *T* and it is wonderful! 

  • Next, preheat the oven to 325. YES, 325. 

  • For my Lasagna, I browned some onion and garlic in a little olive oil, and added my turkey sausage. I also added fresh sliced mushrooms, a bit of Italian Seasoning, a pinch of fresh Thyme, a tiny bit of fresh Rosemary, and a little white wine. I let this simmer while preparing the glass baking dish - starting with fresh spinach spread out, topped with grated Italian cheese blend cheese. Lay the Lasagna noodle across this and top with Ricotta Cheese. Make sure you mix an egg in with your Ricotta. 

  • Now the sausage is ready to be added to the mix. Sprinkle it generously over the Ricotta. Add more grated cheese, and drizzle some of the Bechamel sauce over this. Layer one more time with Lasagna noodles. And repeat the layer starting with fresh spinach, Ricotta cheese, and the sausage mix. Then, empty the remaining Bechamel sauce over all of it. I topped this with more shredded cheese, and then decorated it with black olives (optional)

  • Bake this for 45 minutes @325. Remove it from the oven and add more grated Italian blend cheese. Increase the oven temperature to 350, and bake it for 20 minutes longer. Remove and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

  • As always, be prepared to receive a myriad of fabulous compliments! Happy Eating!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Pumpkin Trilogy

Pumpkin. It's not just for Halloween. Conducting my own experiment, I wanted to see if I could combine three recipes using the same pumpkins. Well, by gollie, it CAN be done!

Pumpkins ready for roasting
Start by gutting the pumpkins. Remove the seeds, and soak in a bowl of water for later use. Place pumpkins face down in a glass dish or a deep tray filled with 1 inch of water. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. I used the smaller pumpkins that are easier to clean out, and also with three of them, I can fit them on 2 trays.

When they come out of the oven, let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then, scrape the insides into a bowl. I used my Cuisinart to make the puree. Hold onto 4 cups of it for later use!

Pumpkin Puree
I transferred the puree to the crock pot, and begin adding the spices to make Pumpkin Butter.  The recipe follows:


6 cups mashed pumpkin
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Finished Jars of Pumpkin Butter
Mix all together and turn crock pot on high. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 hours. While it was cooking, I turned my attention to the next project: roasting the pumpkin seeds.

Remember, the seeds have been soaking in a bowl of water. Run them through a colander, removing what I call pumpkin shrapnel - this is all the loose fragments of pumpkin stuck to the seeds.  Once you have them all clean, drain and pat them dry. Now you're ready to make Pumpkin Seeds. My Savory recipe is as follows:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
In a sauce pan,  add 1/4 cup of water and
3 teaspoons of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crushed)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
DASH cayenne powder

Simmer the above for 10 minutes, then add the cleaned pumpkin seeds. Let them cook for another 5 minutes. Drain, and spread on a baking sheet. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Stir, and bake for about 10 more minutes. Seeds should be lightly browned and crunchy. As an extra *wow* factor, I added Sun Dried Tomato Salt for a finishing touch.

The last thing in my trilogy that I wanted to make was a traditional pumpkin pie. I retrieved the 4 cups of puree that I had reserved prior to making pumpkin butter. For the sake of time, I love using the Pillsbury ready made crust found in the dairy case. Yes, MY pie crust will always be the best, I find that this is a wonderful dough to work with. Ok, here is my pumpkin pie recipe:


4 cups of pumpkin puree
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Flour
3 eggs, separated
Milk, combined with 1 can of evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons Captain Morgan Rum

Separate eggs. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until slightly foamy. In a measuring cup, add 1 can of evaporated milk, and add regular milk until the level reaches 2 cups total.  In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except egg whites. Beat one minute. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into your pie shells. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. At this time, be sure to COVER THE EDGES of your crust. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking for 30-35 more minutes.

Meanwhile, back to the Pumpkin Butter. By now, it's all flavorful and looking really creamy. A final sweep of it with your emulsion blender ensures total smoothness.  Prepare your jars, and ladle the pumpkin butter into hot jars. Process them in a water bath for 15 minutes. Do not disturb them for 24 hours.

I know there are MANY uses for puree, once it's made. Yes, it is a bit time consuming; however, the taste is so much more dramatic than canned pumpkin. This Trilogy Experiment was a perfect cloudy/snowy Saturday activity for me. My house had a fantastic aroma ALL day, which made it feel warm and cozy. The oven temperature only varied off the 350 mark one time, and that was for the initial baking of the pie. I encourage you to put it on your "to do" list for your rainy day!

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shrimp & Crab Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Pepper served on a bed of crispy potato straws

I promise you, the seafood lovers you invite over will rave about this! I prepared these Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Peppers for my Halloween Dinner Party and it sure didn't disappoint anyone! You don't NEED to do this over two days, however; I found it easier on time to have most of it prepared ahead of time.

I prepared the shrimp a day ahead of time, but you can do it the same day if you prefer. My "no fail" boiled shrimp is by far the tastiest I've ever made. In a large pot of water, add Old Bay Seasoning and 1 bay leaf. Bring this to a boil. Add the shrimp, and let it cook for exactly 3 minutes. Immediately drain and run cold water over it. I also have a small container of ice that I put it on. If cooked shrimp is left standing, it continues to cook! Slice the shrimp into chunks and put in a bowl. 

Living in the high deserts, I purchased lump crab meat. I do not like the canned crab meat at all. While the lump crab is a bit more expensive, taste-wise, it's SO worth it! Rinse this well. And I mean well. If you think you've rinsed it long enough, do it again for a little while longer. Pat it dry, and add it to the shrimp. I sprinkled just a hint of Old Bay over it, covered the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, I got out the rest of the ingredients to complete the recipe:


Cut the tops off the peppers, rinse and remove seeds. Blanch them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Ingredients for Stuffing: 

  • 2 Shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 2 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I use Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth)
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs - divided
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (if desired)
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice (according to directions)
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Place the peppers in a glass baking dish in about an inch of water. 

In a skillet, brown the onion, shallots, and celery in the olive oil. Let it cook until the vegetables are slightly wilted. Add the shrimp and crab and stir in the white wine and tomato paste. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper.  Stir in 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, wild rice and transfer to a bowl. Melt the butter in the skillet, adding the remaining bread crumbs. Stir until they are lightly browned and remove from heat.

Fill the peppers with the stuffing, and top with the browned breadcrumbs. Bake for 35-45 minutes. 

Stand back and wait for the avalanche of compliments! Enjoy!

Happy Eating!