Category Archives: Recipes

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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Ten Best Pie Crust Secrets

Handmade Pie Crust

My mother and grandmother were excellent pie bakers from eastern Kansas.   Every fall once the leaves started floating off the trees, they would spend long afternoons making multiples of pie crusts.  The crusts were placed in the freezer so they would be ever ready for pie baking when unexpected visitors came to call.  Our weekly routine on Sundays was to always have pie after a big fried chicken dinner (really lunch, we called it dinner).  And of course, on holidays, we would be treated to a buffet of scrumptious pies. 

They were not afraid of pie dough, or using lard in the pie crust.  Every flavor you could imagine came from their kitchens.  Pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, coconut cream pie, lemon pie, chocolate pie, rhubarb pie, raisin pie, and my all-time favorite, pineapple pie.

I missed the chance to personally quiz my family members about the secrets to making the best pie crust in the county.  But in my quest to learn the formula of creating fabulous pie crusts I found two other Pie Making Masters (Bob Waldo and Susie Hale) who helped me perfect my skills in pie baking.  Here’s the best pie making tips they shared: 

1.  You must use lard, also known as “shortening”.  Real lard from a pig farmer is best.  If you don’t have access to a farmer or butcher shop, use Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening.  Some bakers prefer to combine lard with a little butter.  Experiment and see what you like the best.

2.  Use a good brand of All-Purpose Flour.  King Arthur brand is my favorite. 

3.  Make certain ALL ingredients are cold when mixing.  Yes, put the flour, as well as the lard, in the refrigerator first to chill it down.

4.  Use ice cold water when mixing into the flour and lard.  For super flaky crust, mix until the dough is the size of small peas.  And, don’t  over mix or the pie crust will not be flaky.

5.  Handle the dough as little as possible.  Using a fork instead of your fingers keeps the dough cooler. 

6.  A clean, label-free wine bottle works in a pinch if you don’t have a rolling-pin. 

7.  Consider using a pie crust bag when rolling out the dough.  This is a reusable round plastic pouch with a zipper.  It offers a tidy way to roll out a ball of dough into a perfectly round pie crust.  I found mine at this quaint country village of cooking stores Cockrell Mercantile Company near Lee’s Summit, Missouri, for less than $5.00. 

8.   After the dough is mixed well, chill for at least four hours or even overnight.  This ensures that the gluten strands have time to settle down and relax.  This actually makes your pastry dough easier to roll out and cuts down on any shrinkage during the baking process.  Chilling also allows the available moisture to find its way back into all parts of the dough.  It’s worth the wait to have soft easy to roll out dough, so plan ahead. 

9.  Use a great pie dish.  I prefer Biltmore Inspiration’s Pisgah Baking Dishes.  Pies turn out beautifully in these dishes and the ruffled edge not only gives you more crust, it helps to prevent the crust from burning.  Oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.  The Single Baking Dish 11.25″Dia x 2.7″H $35.98, and Set of Two:  8.5″Dia x 2″H and 20″Dia x. 2.25″ $45.98. 

10.  Top the crust with a dab of cream.  Add a sprinkling of sugar before placing in the oven.  Bake and enjoy!

King Arthur Flour offers several great recipes for pie crust on its website. 

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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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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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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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Cranberries: What to do with all of that leftover sauce!

Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow is the day we add dollops of cranberry sauce to our plates of turkey.  Whether the turkey is roasted, deep fat fried, smoked or baked in a bag, this traditional condiment adds a flavorful acidic touch to the fat laden Thanksgiving meal.

The cranberry’s botanical name, vaccinium oxycoccos, literally means “cow.”  Food historian Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food 1999, says that cows (vacco) enjoy eating cranberries and that is how cranberries got their name!  Cranberries historical significance in America dates back to the 1864, when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered that it be served to the troops during the siege of Petersburg.  Although it was the Native Americans who first noticed the natural preservative powers of these berries, it was when they began socializing with the Pilgrims in 1672, that cranberry pies and tarts started showing up on the Thanksgiving table.

There are many recipes for cranberry sauce.  I created this recipe because it uses a delicious bottle of one of my favorite wines, Zinfandel.

Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce Recipe

1 (12 ounce) package cranberries, fresh

2+ cups of red Zinfandel wine (choose one with lots of spiciness)

½ c. balsamic vinegar

1 T. Vietnamese cinnamon

1 c. white sugar

1 T. black peppercorns

1 t. whole cloves

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, wine, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon.  If you’re unsure about how sweet the sauce will be, begin with one-half c. sugar, add more to taste.

Place the peppercorns and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie shut.  Add to the pot.  Bring the berries to a boil, then reduce to medium-low.

The cranberries will cook completely in 20-30 minutes, bursting and turning deep red.  In the last few minutes of cooking, taste for sweetness and stir sugar in more as desired.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Remove the spices.  Store in a clean jar.  Can be kept for several weeks in the refrigerator.

What to do with the leftover sauce

This sauce is great on Thanksgiving Day, but usually there is an abundance of leftovers.  Here are 15 ideas on ways to use up the sauce:

  • Add 1/2 cup to pancake batter to make cranberry pancakes.
  • Mix with cream cheese and smear on a fresh bagel for breakfast.
  • Place a block of cream cheese on a plate, top with Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce, and serve with crackers for a quick and tasty appetizer.  Or, alternatively, warm a block of Brie cheese in the oven, and top with the sauce.
  • Mix with a tablespoon of cream cheese, and use as a spread for your favorite chicken or turkey sandwich.
  • Using freshly ground turkey, chicken, or pork, make Cranberry Meatballs substituting cranberry sauce for tomato sauce.
  • Mix with a tablespoon or two of orange juice and use as a glaze for a pork roast, or grilled pork chops.
  • Add to a homemade muffin mix, along with a 1/2 cup of walnuts.
  • Add to your favorite BBQ sauce to baste over baked or grilled chicken.
  • Cube baked sweet potatoes and mix with toasted walnuts and minced parsley.  Add cranberry sauce to a few tablespoons of olive oil and drizzle in mixture to make a healthy salad.
  • Mix a few tablespoons with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and red wine vinegar to create a tangy salad dressing.
  • Puree with cream cheese to make a cranberry dip.
  • Using your favorite type of milk (whole, 2%, rice, soy or almond), add 1/4 cup with a sliced banana, 1 T. honey or agave juice, and ice to turn into a cranberry smoothie.
  • Make a quesadilla using cooked shredded turkey or chicken, chopped kale, your favorite cheese, cumin, and chili powder placed in corn tortillas.  Sauté on both sides until warm.  
  • Warm sauce in microwave and drizzle over vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.
  • Add to homemade apple pie, or pear crisp, recipes for a festive twist on dessert.

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Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn is the best time to make a big pot of soup.  A favorite of mine is dairy-free, Coconut Butternut Squash Soup.  I made it for my Halloween party and it was a hit with all of the guests.  It’s very simple to make, and uses only a few ingredients:

Serves 8-10

1 T. olive oil, plus extra for coating Butternut Squash

2 whole medium-sized Butternut Squash

1 onion, diced

2 cans Coconut Milk (Thai Kitchen’s Organic)

1 1/2 cups So Coconut Milk (90 calories)

Grated Nutmeg to taste

Salt & Pepper

Cut off the ends of the butternut squash and discard.  Place a piece of aluminum foil on a sheet pan.  Slice the squash into 2″ thick slices. Rub the squash pieces with a light coating of olive oil on all sides, and place on foil.  Bake at 350 degrees until done (about 30-40 minutes.)  Allow to cool.

In a skillet, sauté the diced onion in 1 T olive oil until cooked thoroughly.  Cool.

Remove skin from squash, cut into chunks and place in food processor.  Add onions to food processor and puree in batches until smooth and silky.

Place squash and onion mixture in large stockpot.  Add all coconut milks and turn heat on low to warm.  If the soup is too thick, continue to add more coconut milk.  Be careful to not allow the soup to get too hot, as it will stick to bottom of pan.

Add freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon or so), salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

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