Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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The Ultimate Country-Style Macaroni and Cheese

by Danica Waters

There’s just some days when you need a good old dish of piping hot, creamy macaroni and cheese.  Not the day-glo-orange kind.  I’m talkin’ REAL homestyle mac and cheese with rich chunks of cheddar and a creamy, dreamy, tangy-deelish sauce.

Here it is, folks.  The perfect cure to the Tuesday Blues.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Country-Style Macaroni and Cheese

7 oz uncooked elbow macaroni

1/4 C butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 C milk

8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. country-style dijon mustard

2 C cubed 1/2″ Cheddar Cheese

2 C steamed fresh broccoli florets, chopped

Potato chips, crumbled fine or 1 C fresh bread crumbs mixed with 2 Tbsp melted butter and 2 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley, for topping

 

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.  Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, melt 1/4 C butter, stir in flour.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and bubbly (about a minute).

Stir in milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard.    Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened (3-4 minutes).

Stir in cooked macaroni and Cheddar cheese cubes,  fold in cooked broccoli.;  pour into 2-quart casserole or individual oven-safe ramekins.

In small bowl, crush potato chips, or stir together ingredients for bread crumb topping; sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Serves 6

 

Posted November 29th, 2011.

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Chicken With Tarragon Cream Sauce

by Danica Waters (image courtesy of www.organicsoul.com)


If you are a stranger to cooking with Tarragon, here’s a fantastically foolproof way to get acquainted.   (Trust me:  you’ll be ever so happy you did.)

Called the “King of Herbs” in France, Tarragon is the primary flavoring of many of the sauces that form the foundation of fantastic French cuisine, such as béarnaise, rigavote and tartare.  It contains highly aromatic volatile oils which are unfortunately lost when the herb is dried; therefore, it is best to use Tarragon immediately after cutting from the stem, and after the cooking process to ensure the purity of its flavor.  While some heat will help to release its essence, be sure it is only exposed to heat for a brief period of time.

 

Because it’s best used fresh, Tarragon makes a spectacular addition to any kitchen herb garden; however, it does not perform well when started from seed.  Cultivated by cuttings and root divisions, it makes a spectacular living heirloom gift for family and friends. Got a Harry Potter fanatic on your gift list?  Here’s a tip:  Tarragon used to be referred to as little Dragon Mugwort.  Legend has it that, because of its dragon-like root structure, Tarragon was supposed to cure bites and stings of venomous beasts.  As a matter of fact, in France, Tarragon is called Herbe au Dragon.  Just think:  with a small pot, a Tarragon plant, and a fancy label, you’ll be giving a gift that will excite the imagination as well as the palate!  Score!  Be sure to give your Tarragon full sun and well-drained soil and it will happily enhance your finest potions… uh…recipes for years to come.

F.Y.I, of the two most common varieties (Russian and French), French Tarragon is the most widely used in culinary endeavors, primarily because it is a bit richer in flavor than its cousin, whose inferior flavor tends to the bitter side.  French Tarragon, on the other hand, has a sweet, oh-so-slightly tangy flavor with licorice (anise) overtones; it pairs beautifully with chicken, fish, vegetables, and eggs.  Happily, it happens to be the star of this incredibly easy to make, elegant, and over-the-top delicious recipe.

 

Enjoy!

 

Chicken With Tarragon Cream Sauce

(Serves 4)

 

5 Chicken breast fillets, cut into ½ inch slices and lightly seasoned with white pepper

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh chopped fresh French tarragon

1 C cream or half-and-half

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Prepare chicken breast fillets and lightly season with white pepper.  Heat a large, shallow frying pan over high heat, add the oil, and stir to coat the pan.  Add the chicken, in batches, and cook each batch over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until chicken slices are golden brown.

 

When all the chicken is cooked, return all of it to the pan and stir in the chopped tarragon.

 

Add the cream and bring to the boil; boil for three minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.  Add the lemon juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Serve with buttered egg noodles and a crisp salad.

Posted October 19th, 2011.

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Linguine Frittata With Clams

by Danica Waters

In the big wide world of recipes, the pasta frittata has to be one of the best make-ahead-and-freeze-for-later meals out there.  Like its cousins Vermicelli Frittata with Eggplant or Capellini Frittata with Asparagus, Linguine Frittata with Clams is an elegant entrée easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion.  Pair with a crisp white wine (try a California Albarino) and a simple salad for a quick and easy late summer meal.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Linguine Frittata With Clams

Gourmet Magazine, April 1994

6 garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp olive oil

¼ c minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)

¾ tsp dried hot red pepper flakes

24 small hard-shelled clams, shucked, reserving liquor, and chopped

½ pound linguine

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

 

In a small heavy skillet cook garlic in 3 Tbsp of oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned.  Add parsley and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.  Stir in clams and ¼ cup of reserved liquor and cook 1 minute.

 

In a kettle of salted boiling water, cook linguine until al dente and drain.  In a large bowl toss linguine with clam mixture and salt and pepper to taste and cool 2 minutes.  Add eggs and combine well.

 

In a 12-inch skillet heat remaining 3 Tbsp oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the pasta mixture and with 2 forks, spread across the pan evenly.  Reduce heat to moderate and cook frittata 3 minutes.  Shift skillet so that one fourth of frittata is directly over center of burner and cook1-1/2 minutes.  Shift skillet 3 more times, cooking remaining fourths in same manner.  Put a heatproof platter over skillet and invert frittata onto it.  Slide frittata, browned side up, back into skillet and cook other side in same manner.  Slide frittata onto platter and cool to room temperature.

 

Cut frittata into wedges.  Serves 6 – 8.

Posted August 24th, 2011.

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Southwestern Chicken and Pasta Salad

by Danica Waters


For all you pasta salad lovers out there, hold on tight, because this just might be the best pasta salad you’ve ever eaten.  My eldest daughter, who is a pasta salad fanatic, claims this as her very favorite.  She loves it so much she’s requested it for every single birthday dinner she’s had over the last ten years.  Today is no exception.  And in honor of her birthday, I am sharing this with all of you.

Enjoy!

 

 

Southwestern Chicken and Pasta Salad

(from Better Homes & Gardens Hot & Spicy Cooking)

 

In stockpot, cook per package directions:

 

4 oz rainbow rotini

 

Drain; rinse with cold water to stop cooking process and drain again.  Place cooked noodles into large bowl; set aside.

 

Mix dressing:

 

¼ C salad oil

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp lime juice

½ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp dry mustard

Several drops Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

 

Mix well and pour over pasta in bowl.  Add:

 

3 fresh or canned jalapeno or Serrano peppers, seeds and ribs removed, diced finely.

 

To pasta & pepper mixture, add the following:

 

1 C chopped cooked chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 ear fresh corn or 1 8-3/4 oz canned whole kernel corn, drained (fresh preferred!)

½ medium avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into bite sized chunks

2 oz Pepper Jack cheese, cubed

¼ C sliced pitted ripe black olives

2 Tbsp sliced green onion

1 – 2-oz jar diced pimiento, drained

 

Toss all ingredients together well.  Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

 

 

Posted August 15th, 2011.

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Vermicelli Frittata with Eggplant

by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of www.gardenguides.com

 

One of the biggest joys of the summer harvest is the eggplant.  They are beautiful in the garden, eye-catching on the produce stands, and sumptuous in nearly every type of world cuisine imaginable.  One of my favorite ways to prepare it is in this exquisite pasta frittata.

 

The flavors in this frittata are bold and hearty.  Top thick slices with a simple marinara and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese; serve with a salad of romaine, thinly sliced purple onion and a generous bunch of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Vermicelli Frittata with Eggplant

(Gourmet Magazine, April 1994)

A 1-lb eggplant, trimmed

1 Tbsp salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼” dice

½ c brine-cured pitted black olives, sliced

¼ C thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

½ lb vermicelli

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

 

Cut eggplant into ¼ inch dice and sprinkle with the salt.  Drain eggplant, weighted with a plate topped by several cans, in a colander 45 minutes.  Rinse eggplant well and squeeze dry by handfuls.  Drain eggplant on paper towels.

 

In a heavy skillet cook garlic in 3 Tbsp olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until golden.  Add bell pepper and cook, covered, until softened.   Add eggplant and cook 10 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.  Stir in olives and basil.

 

In a kettle of salted boiling water, cook vermicelli until al dente and drain.  In a large bowl boss vermicelli with eggplant mixture and salt and pepper to taste and cool 2 minutes.  Add eggs and combine well.

 

In a 12-inch skillet heat remaining 3 Tbsp oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the pasta mixture and with 2 forks, spread across the pan evenly.  Reduce heat to moderate and cook frittata 3 minutes.  Shift skillet so that one fourth of frittata is directly over center of burner and cook1-1/2 minutes.  Shift skillet 3 more times, cooking remaining fourths in same manner.  Put a heatproof platter over skillet and invert frittata onto it.  Slide frittata, browned side up, back into skillet and cook other side in same manner.  Slide frittata onto platter and cool to room temperature.

 

Note:  This recipe serves 6 – 8 generously, and is great served with a nice marinara over the top.  This frittata also freezes exceptionally well, and can be cooked in a smaller skillet so you have another meal ready and waiting in the freezer!

 

Posted July 28th, 2011.

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Palettes’ Roasted Chile Sauce With Chicken and Penne Pasta

by Danica Waters

 

The midsummer harvest is a beautiful thing; the seasonal bounty from the local Farmer’s Market provides a never-ending and always changing source of inspiration.  This week the red bell peppers beckoned voluptuously from the produce stands, at an unheard-of low seasonal price!  I remembered a recipe I had tucked away in the archives and really needed to revisit.  Originally posted in the food section of the Rocky Mountain News, it comes from Kevin Taylor’s globally-inspired Palettes Restaurant, which is located in the Denver Art Museum.

 

This recipe is an absolute treasure; it’s upscale but unpretentious and just spicy enough to make your tongue tingle a bit.  Fire-roasting the vegetables takes a little while, but is hands-down worth it in the end, so give yourself some room.

 

In my opinion, this is the perfect thing to serve when you’re surrounded by friends, the room is filled with intelligent conversation, great music, and lots of candlelight.  Accompany with a simple salad, a baguette with Roasted Garlic Spread, and a delectable hearty red wine, and you’ve got a weekend dinner everyone will remember for a long, long time to come.

 

Enjoy!

 

Palettes’ Roasted Chile Sauce With Chicken and Penne Pasta

(Recipe from Kevin Taylor’s Palettes Restaurant in the Denver Art Museum)

 

Serves 6-8

 

Grilled chicken breasts

Penne pasta, cooked and drained

 

Roasted Chile Sauce:

 

4 Roma tomatoes, roasted

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

1 jalapeno pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

1 Tbsp roasted garlic puree (1 large head)

2 C chicken stock

Corn kernels cut from 2 ears of fresh corn

Garnish:  scallions, sour cream

 

To roast the garlic:

Pull off the papery outside and place the whole head in a pan with a little water on the bottom.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cook at 350 degrees F for about an hour and 15 minutes.  Let cool and squeeze out the garlic puree.

 

 

To roast tomatoes and peppers:

 

Cut tomatoes and place cut side down on a roasting pan.  Cut into quarters lengthwise and remove ribs and seeds from red bell peppers and jalapeno peppers; place on same roasting pan.  Brush all with olive oil.  Place under broiler.  Broil five minutes; turn tomatoes and peppers and broil five more minutes.  Remove pan from oven and carefully remove tomatoes (if jalapeno is also blackened, remove from pan).  Place pan back under broiler.  Continue to char the peppers, turning to blacken all sides.  When peppers are charred, remove from oven and place jalapeno and bell peppers in a plastic bag.  Allow to cool to loosen the skins.  Rub off skins.

 

Saute the shallot, garlic puree, and the herbs until the shallot is translucent.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

 

Place in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with sliced grilled chicken and fresh corn, tossed with penne pasta.  Garnish with scallions and sour cream.

Posted July 25th, 2011.

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Capellini Frittata with Asparagus

One of the most frequently overlooked, elegant, and wonderfully-transportable addition to any picnic menu is the pasta frittata.  Besides being delicious, it is inexpensive, easy to make and can be served hot or cold without losing its flare.

 

Capellini Frittata with Asparagus is a very mild-flavored, delicate version of the pasta frittata.  Perfect for a light lunch, it is wonderful served at room temperature with a light smear of Roasted Garlic Spread and topped with thinly-sliced fresh tomato.  Paired with a nice chilled glass of sparkling wine or champagne, you have the makings for a very romantic picnic.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Capellini Frittata with Asparagus

Gourmet Magazine, April 1994

1 lb thin asparagus, trimmed, and if desired, peeled

½ lb capellini

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 Tbsp  butter, softened

¾ C finely diced Italian Fontina cheese (about ¼ lb)

¼ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

 

On a steamer rack set over boiling water, steam asparagus, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Cool asparagus and cut into ¼ inch pieces.

 

In a kettle of salted boiling water, cook capellini until al dente and drain.  In a large bowl toss capellini with oil, 3 Tbsp. butter, asparagus, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste and cool 2 minutes.  Add eggs and combine well.

 

In a 12-inch skillet heat remaining 3 Tbsp butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides.  Add the pasta mixture and with 2 forks, spread across the pan evenly.  Reduce heat to moderate and cook frittata 3 minutes.  Shift skillet so that one fourth of frittata is directly over center of burner and cook1-1/2 minutes.  Shift skillet 3 more times, cooking remaining fourths in same manner.  Put a heatproof platter over skillet and invert frittata onto it.  Slide frittata, browned side up, back into skillet and cook other side in same manner.  Slide frittata onto platter and cool to room temperature.

 

Cut frittata into wedges.  Serves 6 – 8.

 

Posted July 15th, 2011.

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Reza’s Lasagna

by Danica Waters

My first job was, in my opinion, as romantic as a first job gets. I was a bus-girl at a four-star restaurant called The Roman Villa. It doesn’t sound terribly romantic, but this particular restaurant overlooked a lake nestled in a tiny town in the Colorado foothills. For as long as I could remember, The Roman Villa was an old-style authentic Italian restaurant, complete with red checkered tablecloths and drip-candles in Chianti bottles, a juke-box and a large, raspy-voiced Italian woman called Mama behind the darkened, smoky bar. However, a sudden change of ownership brought with it a sweeping change of décor – and a fantastic new chef. I was utterly enchanted with the romance and drama of the place, especially during the dinner hours when the lights were low and the candles twinkled on all the white linen tablecloths. But all glitz and glamour aside, The Roman Villa became well-known far and wide for its outstanding menu. One of the most popular entrees on the menu was the lasagna; I remember folks repeatedly bragging about how they’d driven all the way from Colorado Springs or Denver to get a taste of it. Thankfully, Reza was not only a cool boss and a fantastic chef, but he also happened to become a family friend, so we were lucky enough to get several of his recipes – lasagna included! It’s to die for, no lie. Enjoy!

Reza’s Lasagna

1 lb each skinned Italian Sausage & ground beef (note: I substitute ground turkey and chicken or turkey Italian Sausage and it’s absolutely fantastic… vegetarian crumbles work too!)
3 cloves minced garlic
4 Tbsp basil
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 – 1 lb can diced tomatoes
2 – 6 oz cans tomato paste
1 shredded carrot
4 stalks finely diced celery
1 small red pepper, diced
1 can consomme’, or 2 C broth (chicken or vegetable if you’re using turkey, beef if you’re using beef)
¼ C Burgundy wine
¼ C soy sauce

Brown meat, and add remaining ingredients. Cover and allow sauce to simmer on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for several hours for best results – the sauce will thicken and the flavors will combine beautifully.

In a separate bowl, combine and set aside in refrigerator until ready to assemble lasagna:

3 C ricotta or cottage cheese
½ C grated Romano cheese
½ C grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper

Grate and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna:

1 lb Mozzarella cheese

Cook according to package directions:

1 box lasagna noodles (or use the no-boil lasagna noodles to save a ton of time!)

To assemble lasagna:

While lasagna is typically made in a 13” x 9” x 2” pan, or a traditional lasagna pan, which tends to be a bit deeper, I do things a bit differently. If you’re serving a crowd, of course the larger pans work beautifully. But if you’d like to make a couple of meals out of one batch of lasagna, use two to three large bread pans instead. Cook one to eat and have one or two in the freezer for later. Here’s how to assemble the lasagna:

– a little sauce to lightly cover bottom of pan(s)
– noodles to completely cover sauce in a single layer
– a thin layer of cheese filling to cover noodles
– a thin layer of shredded mozzarella to cover cheese filling
– a generous amount of meat sauce over the cheese
– repeat, topping the lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan.

Bake in a 375? F oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

Posted May 11th, 2011.

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A Solstice Feast – Turkey Meatballs a la Gwyneth Paltrow and her friend Julia…

by Danica Waters

About a year ago I happened upon a fabulous blog site maintained by Gwyneth Paltrow:  www.goop.com.

Tonight, for our Winter Solstice feast, we made a recipe featured on her site – they are easy to make and simply fabulous – especially if you let them simmer for several hours before serving.  Enjoy!

JULIA’S TURKEY MEATBALLS  (as seen on www.goop.com)

SERVES: 4 (makes about 2 dozen small meatballs)
TIME: an hour, plus at least 20 minutes of simmering

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 additional tablespoons
  • 1 large yellow onion, very finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor with their juice or crushed by hand
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked just before serving
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly torn

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about eight minutes, sweating it without giving it too much color. When it’s soft, add the garlic and fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper should do). Sauté for an additional three or four minutes. Remove and reserve half of this onion mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the remaining mixture in the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer while you make the meatballs. Be sure to put a little water in the tomato can, swish it around and add it to the pot (don’t waste a bit!).

To make the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley, thyme and rosemary with the reserved onion mixture. Add the turkey and egg and mush it all with your hands (the best tool for this job) just until everything is well-combined, don’t over mix. Form the mixture into 1-1/2″ balls with your hands (of course you can make them whatever size you like). Heat the last two tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Making sure not to overcrowd the pan, brown the meatballs (should take about five minutes). Put the browned meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce and let them cook, shaking the pot occasionally to roll the meatballs around, for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour and a half. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve with spaghetti and the torn basil.

Enjoy!

Posted February 28th, 2011.

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