; Supermarket Serenade

Friday, February 4, 2011

#FranksRedHot Pigskins

I have never really been a huge football fan but I can certainly bandwagon with the best of them. Truthfully for non-fans such as myself, the Super Bowl is all about the commercials (here’s hoping there are some good ones) and of course about the food (Here’s hoping that is good too).

This year without any obvious team for me to root for at my Super Bowl Party, such as a New York team or a New England team, I have decided to use food as my guide in choosing my bandwagon designee. I am going with the team that has fans that wear cheese on their heads (you may know them as cheeseheads): The Packers. (Go Pack Go!)

So the team is selected and now the decision turns to what food to bring to the party. That decision is actually easier-I am bringing Frank’s RedHot to my Super bowl party. Frank’s RedHot is searching for the ultimate Game Day Party recipe using Frank’s RedHot sauces. And for your efforts, they are generously offering a fine selection of prizes:

Grand Prize Winner: $500 gift card and assorted Frank’s RedHot products.
First Prize Winner: $250 gift card and assorted Frank’s RedHot products.

Second Prize Winner: $125 gift card and assorted Frank’s RedHot products.

My entry: Frank’s RedHot “Pigskins” is a spicy twist on an appetizer favorite: potato skins. (Did you get the football reference I snuck in?) Baked potato skins are smothered with RedHot spiced ground pork and topped with a cheesy nod to Wisconsin. (Go Pack Go).

Even if my last minute adopted team doesn’t come through with the big pigskin win, I’m hoping to score big at my Super Bowl party with a tasty Frank’s RedHot Pigskin(s) win.

Frank’s RedHot “Pigskins”

6 medium Russet potatoes

1 pound ground pork (ground beef or chicken may be substituted)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup Frank’s Original RedHot

1 cup shredded Wisconsin sharp white cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, “stab” each potato 1 or 2 times.

Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 45-50 minutes or until tender to touch.

Allow the potatoes to cool slightly. Slice each potato in half and scoop out the filling leaving a shell with about 1/4 inch of potato in each. (Reserve the filling for another use).

While the potatoes are cooking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crumble the ground pork into the pan and cook until browned. Drain the pork and return to the pan. Whisk together the melted butter and the Franks RedHot then stir mixture into the pork.

Preheat broiler. Divide the pork between the potato shells. Sprinkle each with the cheese, evenly dividing. Arrange shells on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and garnish with the chives.

Makes 12 skins

Post Script: The more observant among you may notice in my photos that instead of chives, as called for in the recipe, the skins are garnished with chopped parsley. I realized when getting ready to garnish that I had forgotten to buy chives at the supermarket. So like a good quarterback I had to think on my feet and I substituted something on hand…I still would recommend the chives though.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Roasted Chicken and Brie Panini with Hot Raspberry Jam

I cannot stop making panini.

Without question my favorite thing in the new year is my shiny new panini grill. Oh I know...panini are so last decade. I don't care-I'm late for the party and now I'm hooked.

My first panini were basically "clean out the fridge panini". I used supermarket deli sliced chicken breast and brie. While I chose to use deli sliced because it was what I had on hand, feel free to substitute leftover roasted chicken or store bought rotisserie.
The spinach was really an afterthought. One of my New Year's resolutions is to each some sort of fruit or vegetable with every meal (OK I know I should have been doing that last decade too, but what can I say?). As it turns out the spinach worked perfectly. The jam was a holiday leftover. Purchased at my local Homegoods, the hot pepper raspberry jam was delicious. I may run out tomorrow and see if I can find a few more jars...it was really good-not too hot, in fact barely warm...but really wonderful tasting.

The most important part of making good panini is your bread selection. A soft regular bread just won't hold up with too many fillings. I chose a sprouted whole grain bread from the bakery section at Whole Foods that was both sturdy and flavorful. Firm rolls also work incredibly well.

5 Tips for Perfect Panini:

1. Choose a firm, sturdy bread
2. Divide the cheese between both slices of bread for best "melting together"
3. Preheat your panini grill
4. Experiment with different flavored oils brushed on the outside of the bread.
5. For best melting without leaking, do not over stuff with cheese and/or other fillings.

Roasted Chicken and Brie Panini with Hot Raspberry Jam
4 slices sturdy whole grain bread cut 1/4-1/2 inch thick
4 teaspoons hot pepper raspberry jam
2 ounces sliced brie, rind removed
1/4 lb. deli roasted chicken breast
1/2 cup (packed)baby spinach leaves
2 teaspoons crushed raw almonds
2 teaspoons red pepper flavored olive oil

Preheat your panini grill according to manufacturers directions.

Arrange your bread on a work surface. Spread 1 teaspoon of the jam over each slice of bread.
Divide the brie between the bread slices spreading gently over the jam. Stack the chicken, spinach and almonds on 2 of the bread slices then top with the remaining bread slices. Brush the sandwiches with the oil and place on the grill; close the grill and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick Sour Cream Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I spent a rainy afternoon in New York City on a shopping trip. Albeit very wet, the shopping trip was a lot of fun, I found some wonderful deals at Century 21 (cool, cool store), scouted out some future purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (i.e. stuff I hope will one day soon appear on the racks of Marshalls or TJ Maxx given that their SFA prices were a little too steep for my budget). But without question the highlight of my my trip was a little detour into the Magnolia bakery for cupcakes.

I love cupcakes. Cupcakes are usually smaller than a slice of cake so I don't feel too guilty indulging (at least that's my rationalization). This particular day, rainy as it was, I waited on the relatively short line for a (famous) Magnolia cupcake. I ordered two. I know I should only have had one but the pressure of the line behind me made it impossible for me to make a quick decision and choose between a snickerdoodle cupcake and a red velvet one. Once outside I huddled with my friends under an umbrella and ate the snickerdoodle one; not quite satisfied I greedily ate the red velvet one. The red velvet one wins...both were fabulous, but boy that red velvet one..mmmmm.

Since the trip I have been obsessed with all things cupcakes. I will admit that I am really not much of a baker and I seem to have difficulty finding a home made cake/cupcake recipe that produces a light, fluffy cake/cupcake as opposed to a heavy dense one. Any suggestions?? As a result of my baking deficiencies I have turned to box mixes with a few alterations to make them more homemade tasting.

One of my favorite boxed mixes is the Ghiardelli chocolate cupcake mix. The mix which I purchased at a big warehouse store included two bags of mix, two bags of frosting mix and cupcake wrappers. The first time I made the cupcakes I made it just as directed, but found it to be just too chocolaty and the frosting to be way too thick. So second time around I decided to make some slight changes. I replaced the oil called for in the recipe with 3/4 cup of sour cream and instead of using the frosting mix (I'll save it for something else...maybe sandwich cookie filling?)I made a quick sour cream butter cream. The results were fabulous! The cupcakes were tender and fluffy and the creamy vanilla frosting was just the contrast the chocolaty cupcakes needed.

Quick Sour Cream Cupcakes

1 pouch of Ghiardelli cupcake mix
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Line 12 muffin cups with the foil liners. Divide the batter between the liners and bake for 18 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Sour Cream Butter Cream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beating to combine. Add the vanilla and sour cream, beat for 3-4 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tasty Buttermilk Tilapia Toes

You read it right. I said Tilapia toes. Why is it that it is perfectly acceptable to say chicken fingers...fish fingers...lady fingers? What about toes? Is the word toes that unappealing? Perhaps.

Call them what you would like, but today I've prepared some tasty morsels of the trendiest fish in supermarkets these days: Tilapia. Tilapia are fish from the Cichlidae family found typically in fresh water ponds, lakes and streams and in the supermarket can usually be found fresh in the fish market area or frozen in the freezer section.

Tilapia's flavor is quite mild making it an appealing choice to families with children. I dare say even the staunchest fish stick hater (I happen to be one of them) will not mind the almost poultry-like flavor of Tilapia. I suppose it is very cliche to say "it tastes like chicken", but it almost does taste like a very tender chicken. The mild flavor makes Tilapia a perfect ingredient for so many dinner recipes...tacos, sandwiches, stews or one of my favorites-"Tilapi-joes".

Today I've marinated the fish in a mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce, cut them into bite-sized pieces and coated with fresh bread crumbs. The bites or "toes" are then fried in a bit of butter and oil and served with your favorite ranch dressing. They're Toe-riffic...sorry I couldn't resist!

Tasty Buttermilk Tilapia Toes

4 Tilapia fillets, thawed if frozen, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
2-3 small whole grain rolls (I used Pepperidge Farms Hearth Baked 7 Grain Rolls)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place thawed Tilapia fillets in a shallow dish. Whisk together the buttermilk and the hot sauce; pour over the fillets. Let Tilapia marinate for 15-20 minutes.
In a small food processor, combine the rolls, red pepper flakes and salt; process until fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a plate. Take one piece of the Tilapia from the marinade and coat with the bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining pieces.

Heat the butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add Tilapia pieces and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown outside and flaky tender inside. Drain Tilapia pieces on paper towels. Serve immediately with your favorite ranch dressing to dip.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Island Style Banana Cream Pie

For me the Pillsbury Bake off has always been elusive...I just can't seem to figure out what they're looking for. Sadly I did not make the cut for the 2010 bakeoff however, they are running an alternate contest on their web site called the "Monthly challange" where each month they have a recipe "theme" and consumers can enter recipes for the chance to win $2500. This month's theme was homemade pies.

Well...they picked my pie as a finalist!! I need your votes...I need your friends' votes...I need any kind strangers' votes!! My recipe is for Island Style Banana Cream Pie!

The pie is a luscious banana cream pie laced with toasted coconut and topped with a creamy mango whipped cream....it is divine!

Island Style Banana Cream Pie


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups cold milk

2 boxes (4-serving size each) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix

4 medium bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

1 ripe mango, seed removed, peeled and cut up

1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


1. Heat oven to 450°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell using 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
2. In large bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until smooth. Add pudding mixes and beat until well blended.
3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture into bottom of cooled pie crust. Top with half of the banana slices. Spread another 1/3 of the pudding mixture over the bananas covering completely. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the toasted coconut. Top with the remaining banana slices. Spread remaining pudding mixture over bananas. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the toasted coconut.
4. Using the food processor, puree mango. In small bowl, fold together the mango and whipped topping. Spread mango topping over top of pie. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to chill. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Avocado Party!

I have previously established that I think that avocados are quite possibly the world’s most perfect food. Compact, nutrient packed, avocados are a portable nutrient powerhouse and I love them. So it should come as no surprise that I decided to host an avocado party.

I decided to go with an Avocado Luncheon where each course included avocados. I had nine guests and it was a lot of fun!
First up was (of course) guacamole. Served with multigrain corn chips, my guacamole is laced with diced tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro. Instead of the typical garlic-which I often find harsh-mine includes finely minced shallot. For an impressive presentation I highly recommend purchasing a molcajete (mohl-ka-hey-te) which is basically a giant mortar and pestle. Ingredients are combined and served right in the molcajete…it looks so rustic.
Quick Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeds removed, diced
1/4 cup finely diced grape or plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in molcajete or medium sized bowl; mash to combine.

Lunch was an avocado and citrus salad with a jalapeno vinaigrette. On the side were Avocado, Bacon and Sprout Sandwiches with Lemon-Pepper Crème Fraiche. Sandwiches were served on small Ciabatta rolls.

Avocado Citrus Salads with Jalapeno Avocado Oil Vinaigrette

8 cups mixed greens
2 seedless oranges, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large red grapefruit, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seed and coarsely chopped
Jalapeno Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup Avocado oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Arrange greens on a large serving platter. Scatter the oranges, grapefruit and avocado over the greens.

In a small food processor combine the avocado oil, vinegar, lime juice, shallot, jalapeno, salt and pepper; process until smooth.

Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad.

Avocado, Bacon and Sprout Ciabatta Sandwiches with Lemon Pepper Crème Fraiche

Lemon Pepper Crème Fraiche:
1 cup crème fraiche
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lb. thick sliced maple flavored bacon
2 cups sprouts, rinsed and patted dry
3-4 avocados, peeled, seeds removed, mashed
10 Ciabatta rolls, split

In a small bowl stir together the crème fraiche, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper and salt; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels.

Spread the crème fraiche on the bottom half of each roll, top with the sprouts, followed by the bacon. Spread the mashed avocado on the top half of each roll and arrange on top of sandwiches.

Makes 10 sandwiches

Dessert was my favorite part of the party! I debated on how to serve the avocado for dessert-I had read online that in some countries avocados are mashed and sprinkled with sugar to be eaten as dessert. That was not particularly appealing to me. I love the combination of avocado and mango so I decided to go with those flavors in a sundae. Edy’s (Dreyers in some parts of the country) makes a Tart Mango Frozen Yogurt that is absolutely amazing!

Tart Mango Frozen Yogurt with Avocado-Coconut Sauce and Toasted Coconut

1/2 avocado
1/4 cup Crème de Coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 cups Edy’s Tart Mango Frozen Yogurt
1 cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted

In a blender (Magic Bullet works great here) combine the avocado, Crème de Coconut and heavy cream and blend until smooth.

Place 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt into each 10 serving bowls. Drizzle the Avocado-Coconut cream over frozen yogurt and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Makes 10 servings

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Peanut Butter Lover's Cookie

I wish that I was one of those people that could eat anything. I wish also that when I baked cookies or cakes or even purchased them from the supermarket that I had that innate something that allowed you to perfectly portion treats without over indulging. What I am trying to say is that I have no self control...no ability to stop. An open package of Oreos (my true cookie love) can without much thought become an empty package. A plate of neatly stacked, homemade brownies, still warm from the oven, can become a plate of crumbs without as much as a second thought. It is for that reason that I seldom bake.

While creating irresistible treats is one of the pitfalls of baking for me, I do still enjoy baking. I love the feeling of success felt when a batch of cookies comes out just how it is supposed to. It is a great feeling when a pie recipe, once only made perfectly by my mother, comes out just how she would have made it (well, almost).

This past weekend I felt what I like to refer to as “the pull of the oven”. Not unlike the gravitational pull of the moon, the pull of the oven is the season, time of day or time of year, when for the taste of, the accomplishment of, or simply the smell of sweet “somethings” you are compelled to bake.

Given my temptation shortfall, I decided that I would bake something but it would be something that I probably would not eat. Consulting my (short) list of less-preferred baked goods, I fell upon peanut butter cookies. Not that I have anything against peanut butter-nothing tastes better on a Ritz cracker-I just for whatever reason, have never enjoyed peanut butter in baked goods. My other reason for choosing peanut butter-less self deprecating-is that I have a humongous jar of “natural” peanut butter that I purchased for my daughter to make peanut butter sandwiches for school which she has since decided is too “liquidy” and she would not use it (apparently she’s a Jif or Skippy only girl-who knew?).
Spatula in hand, I googled for peanut butter cookies looking for one that would use the most peanut butter. I found cookies that ranged from using as little as a 1/4 cup to as much as an entire jar of peanut butter. I ultimately settled on a recipe using an entire jar from AllRecipes.com. This cookie-not for the peanut butter faint of heart-packs a real peanutty flavor. Knowing that my kids would not like the crunch of added peanuts, I left out the listed 1 cup replacing it with milk chocolate chips for a “Reese’s-peanut-butter-cup-like” flavor. They came out so beautifully that yes… even I could not resist trying them. I really liked the texture; they were fluffy in the centers but slightly crisp at the edges. The taste was too peanut buttery for a non-peanut butter person such as me, but my kids really enjoyed them and recommend them highly.

My only critique of the preparation of these cookies is that when I went to make the cross marks using a fork, the fork kept sticking. Not being a regular peanut cookie baker I don't know if that's normal or not...anyway, just watch out for that! Also I followed the suggestion of one commenter on the Allrecipes site to chill the dough in a log that way you can slice and bake. It's a lot of dough though so you might want to make a few logs.

The Whole Jar of Peanut Butter Cookies
from Allrecipes.com Submitted by Kevin Ryan

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1(18 ounce) jar Peanut Butter*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped peanuts (which I replaced with milk chocolate chips)

*Since I was using the "natural" kind of peanut butter which is very liquidy, I only used about 16-17 ounces of peanut butter.

In a large bowl cream butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, yolk and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Stir in the peanut butter. Sift together the flour baking powder and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally stir in the peanuts (or chocolate chips). Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. (I chose to line baking sheets with parchment paper-much easier!)

Roll dough into walnut sized balls.
Place on prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should look dry on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.