Category Archives: Food

Biltmore Inspirations 40% Off Sale

With the recent announcement that Biltmore Inspirations will be closing on December 15, 2012, this is your chance to purchase  our fabulous home decor, gourmet food and wine accessories from the full product line at a deep discount.  All merchandise (with a couple of exceptions) is on sale NOW at 40% off.  Download the online catalog on my website.   View all of the current specials highlighted here.

I am still conducting parties and can assist you directly with placing any orders.  There is no longer a minimum amount required for hosting a party to receive the great hostess benefits! Enjoy  great rewards with free party food, your selection of hostess gifts and discounted items by scheduling a party before the end of November.

Thanks so much for your past support and happy shopping!

Fall Bundles through OCTOBER

Holiday Gifts 2012

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Filed under Decorating, Food, Holiday, Hostess Gifts, Party

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Red Sauce

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Red Sauce

Substituting ground turkey for beef or pork is an easy and delicious healthy option when making meatballs.   The taste is a little lighter, but equally delicious and healthier.  Here’s my favorite recipe for Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Red Sauce.

Meatballs:
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 t. Kosher salt
2 T. basil, minced
1 t. thyme, minced
1 t. fennel seeds
2 t. rosemary, minced
1 t oregano, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes

Sauce:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, minced
3 T. chicken stock
1/4 c. red table wine
1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (or 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes)
1/4 c. basil, thinly sliced
1/8 c. parsley, minced

Make the meatballs by mixing the ground turkey, sour cream, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, rosemary, oregano, and red pepper flakes together.  Mix well and roll into small balls (about 1 1/2 inches) with wet hands.  Set aside on a baking sheet.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil and when hot but not smoking, add the meatballs and brown them on all sides, shaking the pan regularly, so they brown evenly.  When browned, set aside.

In a large skillet, pour in the olive oil and onions and garlic and cook on low until limp (about 4-5 minutes) but not browned.  Add the chicken stock, red wine, tomatoes and basil and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.  Add meatballs and simmer for 20 more minutes (or longer) until hot. Garnish with minced parsley.

May be served with your favorite pasta.

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Filed under Food, Main Course, Recipes, Sauces

Italian Fig Syrup

Look what I found on my fig tree this week?  The house we moved into last Christmas has a wonderful fig tree with big, broad pretty green leaves in our side yard.   The leaves are gorgeous.   I now realize how seductive Eve must have looked while wearing these as her only daily attire.  The tree is bursting with so many figs I can barely get to them before the birds take a bite out of each one and move on to the next.

Today I harvested as many as I could find and created this delectable Italian Fig Syrup.  It’s fabulous straight out of the jar, or top some on Brie, Marscapone or Goat Cheese for a quick appetizer.  It makes a lovely dessert drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream (homemade or store-bought) too.

RECIPE:

30 Figs

White Sugar (About 2 cups)

2 T. Lemon Juice

Brandy

Wash the figs well and trim off stems.  Cut  figs in half if large.  Place figs and lemon juice in a saucepan and add enough sugar to almost cover the figs.   Cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes.  The sugar will turn to a lemon infused syrup.

Once cooked and cooled, place in a jar and add enough brandy to come to the top of the jar covering all of the figs and syrup.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Holiday, Sauces

Red Hot Lettuce Wraps

Biltmore Inspirations Red Hot Lettuce Wraps is a new recipe created by Food columnist, cookbook author and Biltmore Inspirations featured chef, Debby Maugans.  The dish features our ever popular Red Hot Pepper Spread.  You can purchase it in sets of two jars, and you’ll find it in Meal Kit #4 along with seven other items from our gourmet food pantry selections. Meal Kit #4 comes with a set of easy to follow recipes for five entrée’s, plus a grocery list.  What a great idea for a quick to prepare (cooks within 30 minutes) and easy recipe for weeknight meals. 

4 Servings

1 pound lean ground turkey or beef

1/2 cup Red Hot Pepper Spread from Biltmore Inspirations

3 T. soy sauce

1 T. rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

2 t. Asian (dark) sesame oil, optional

16 lettuce leaves, such as Boston, Bibb, butter, or iceberg

Cook turkey or beef in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble.  Pour off any fat from skillet.  Add Red Hot Pepper Spread, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water chestnuts, green onion, and sesame oil, if desired, cook, stirring frequently until mixture is hot and onions just begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves around outer edge of a large serving platter, and spoon meat mixture into the center.

Guests can spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf and wrap like a burrito.

(The spread is made of red peppers and jalapenos mixed with vinegar and sugar to make a spicy spread.  Purchase price $16.98 for two 7.6-oz. jars.  For details about Meal Kit #4, refer to Page 61 of our Fall Catalog.)

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Filed under Food, Holiday, Main Course, Recipes

James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

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James Beard, former culinary educator and cookbook author, is considered to be America’s “Father of Gastronomy.”  His mother’s recipe for Strawberry Shortcake is one that never appeared in any of his cookbooks.  He did share the recipe with a close friend who to this day has it on his restaurant menu in St. Louis (Chef Larry Forgione at An American Place.)  The uniqueness of the recipe is that it calls for finely crumbled yolks of hard-boiled eggs verses fresh uncooked egg yolks.

I tried this recipe last weekend and it was a great success with my guests.  The recipe calls for two hard-boiled eggs.  After cooking up the entire 12-pack of eggs, I made deviled eggs with the remainder.

This is a clever way to create a delicate and moist shortcake without it tasting doughy or soggy.  Many baking professionals have known this secret and incorporate this technique into their pastries.  Now you can too!

(Recipe reprinted from the James Beard Foundation)

Serves 6

2 cups white all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a zester or fine sieve

3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Sprigs of mint for garnish

Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until it the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead to make a smooth dough (about two or three turns). Pat down the dough to make a 1-inch-thick round. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream: place the strawberries in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream just begins to thicken.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of lightly whipped sweetened cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.

Add a mint leaf to each serving for garnish.

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Filed under Dessert, Food

Cooking Demo Today at Encanterra’s Good Life Festival

Today, Encanterra Country Club located in the Southeast Valley of Greater Phoenix, is hosting its second concert of the season featuring Bachman Turner. I’ll be there conducting three cooking demonstrations in the beautiful Napoli Model Home  in Encanterra’s gallery of new homes. These are the recipes I’ll be showcasing, all featuring Biltmore Inspirations gourmet foods. Beautiful decorating products, wine accessories and tabletop items from Biltmore will be showcased as well.  

SCHEDULE:

12:30 PM – Basil Chicken Salad Crostini with Red Pepper Romano Topping

1:30 PM – Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola & Brie

2:30 PM – Warm Cinnamon Spiced Bananas over Vanilla Ice Cream

RECIPES

Basil Chicken Salad Crostini with Red Pepper Romano Topping

Serves 4

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked

¼ c. fresh basil leaves, packed

1 baguette

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

½ c. Biltmore Inspirations Roasted Red Pepper Romano Specialty Topping

Slice baguette into 24 pieces. Place on sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake 7 minutes or until crisp.

When chicken has cooled, dice small and add to bowl.  Combine with Biltmore Inspirations Roasted Red Pepper Romano Specialty Topping.  Cut basil into very thin strips and add to chicken.

Top crostini with chicken mixture, and serve immediately.

 

Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Brie Recipe

Makes 24 appetizers

1 jar Biltmore Inspirations Caramelized Onion Balsamic Spread

8 oz. frozen puff pastry (defrosted a couple hours in the fridge)

2 oz. chilled Brie cheese, rind removed and diced

2 oz. Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, diced

2 T. chopped fresh tarragon

Roll pastry into a 10-to-14-inch rectangle (or whatever shape you want). Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Prick with a fork at a couple inch increments to prevent the pastry from forming big bubbles while baking.

Spread Biltmore Inspirations Caramelized Onion Spread over pastry, all the way to the edges of the pastry. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon. Refrigerate if not baking immediately.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 18-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crispy. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares and serve.

 

Warm Cinnamon Spiced Bananas with Ice Cream

4 servings

1/4 c. Biltmore Inspirations Cinnamon Spice Flavoring Syrup

3 T. brown sugar

2 T. butter

2 large bananas

2-3 c. vanilla ice cream

Combine Biltmore Inspirations Cinnamon Spice Flavoring Syrup, brown sugar and butter in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts (2-3 minutes.)  Boil, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bananas diagonally; add to skillet and turn to coat with sauce.  Cook until hot and softened, about 1 ½ minutes.  Spoon over ice cream and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Holiday, Recipes

Countdown to Christmas – Tips for Hosting & Cooking for a Large Crowd

With Christmas only a few days away, many of you will be hosting a large number of family and friends this weekend.  I’m sharing some last minutes tips on how best to prepare for the large crowd that you’ll be entertaining.

The first step is to plan your menu(s) ahead.  It’s not to late to consider each and every meal that you’ll be hosting. Write the menus  down on paper, allowing you to see at-a-glance how well each item goes together, if it is a balanced and colorful menu, and giving you an overview of how much time you’ll need for the preparation.  Start with the arrival date of your first guests. Consider the type of meal or snack you’ll serve when you guests first arrive.  Then, plan your holiday feast, and any breakfasts or lunches for those guests who are staying longer than the main meal.  Think seasonal items when creating your menu, which you’ll find most readily available and less expensive at this time of year.  Consider items that can be cooked ahead, stored or reheated easily to make your hosting job go smoothly.

Next, gather together all of the recipes and make a detailed shopping list.  Be certain to check your pantry and refrigerator for items you already have on hand.  When I am shopping for a large quantity of groceries, I take the time to put my grocery list in order separating out the produce, meats,  canned goods,  dairy, bakery, etc.  This makes the grocery shopping process go much quicker once I enter the store.

If you have guests bringing dishes,  suggest a specific recipe or two (or at the very least, be specific about the item such as a “green bean side dish”) in order to ensure that your entire menu will complement well with the potluck items.

Consider the seating arrangements and whether or not you have enough tables, chairs, tablecloths, napkins, candles, china, glassware and cutlery.  If not, consider borrowing items from a friend or relative?  Make arrangements for a family member to help out by picking up and finding a storage space in your garage for these items a few days in advance until you need them.

Decide where to stack the dirty dishes before the party starts.  Try to keep the mess in one area of your kitchen. If the party is formal, you may wish to hire extra help for serving and/or washing the dishes.  For less formal parties, ask students and older children, or even your guests, to pitch in with specific instructions on what they need to do.  Make certain you have plenty of trash bags and dish towels for cleaning up after the meals.

Arrange to have your home cleaned in advance of the celebration.  This eases your mind and allows you to focus on the meal preparation and your hosting duties.

Purchase your alcoholic beverages in advance, getting advice from the retail store liquor expert or sommelier on what best suits the type of menu you are serving.  Ensure that you have plenty of extra ice and refrigerator space, or coolers for chilling beverages in advance.

Cooking in quantity does not necessarily mean quadrupling your recipes.  Review the recipes carefully, and if necessary, cook in smaller batches and freeze or set aside in advance.  A general rule is keep your recipe quantities for preparation of servings at no more than 12, and repeat the cooking process if you need larger quantities.  Most casserole dishes or saucepans will work best at these amounts.

Ensure that you have enough oven space, or stove top burners.  If not, consider using your neighbor’s kitchen, or borrowing a portable convection oven, electric oven, or incorporate your grill for a portion of the meal.

Set up a specific area for the bar, keeping glassware and bottles well out of reach of scampering children and pets.  Incorporate wine and beer openers, straws or stirrers, ice containers, and garnishes (lemons, limes, etc.) if using.

Consider parking and if your street has enough space for the guests you are expecting. As a courtesy to your neighbors, you may want to give them notice that there will be extra traffic on your street during your festivities.

Allow plenty of extra time for reheating and cooking the meals.  Have a written plan in advance of what serving dishes and serving utensils you will use.  Set these aside so that when the food is ready, your dishes and utensils will be close at hand.

Most importantly, give yourself permission to relax an hour  before the party so that you will enjoy the celebration as much as your guests will!

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Filed under Food, Holiday, Party, Tablescapes