Caramel Popcorn

February 3, 2008
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Just the ticket for a great football game … SAM

8 ounces popcorn, popped (8 quarts popped)
2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup salted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Pop the corn according to the directions on the package and, in a large bowl, combine with and peanuts. In a saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, sugars, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the soda, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Pour over the popcorn mixture and toss well. Spread on three ungreased 15- by 10- by 1-inch jellyroll pans. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cool on the pans, stirring occasionally. Store in airtight containers.
Makes 8 1/2 quarts.

Adapted from Emily’s cookbook All-American Comfort Food.

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A Super Bowl Menu from The ROL!

February 2, 2008
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Click on the links below, make your shopping list, and start cooking … SAM

Spinach Dip
Sour Cream Dip
Baba Ghanouj
Guacamole
Cheddar Cheese Rounds
Beer Biscuits
Quesadillas
Macaroni Salad
Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs
Chili with Beef and Beans
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Basic Brownies
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge


Lemon Shortbread Cookies

February 1, 2008
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I love shortbread in any form! These light, buttery wonders are especially addictive, and the dusting of confectioners’ sugar makes them perfect for any party or feast. SAM

10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for top
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and lemon zest. Divide the dough into quarters, and on a lightly floured surface, roll each quarter into a 6-inch cylinder. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Cut the dough crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle with additional confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.


Strawberry Bisque

January 31, 2008
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Another cool and sophisticated party treat … SAM

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup light red wine
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/4 cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, wine, sugar, and lemon juice. Boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the strawberries and boil 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl, fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold the cream mixture into the strawberry mixture. Chill 10 to 12 hours.
Makes 6 servings.


Wine Gelatin

January 30, 2008
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Serve this beautiful, sophisticated dessert and you’ll win the heart of every adult who ever loved a quivering bowl of Jello! SAM

1/2 cup cold water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 cup rosé wine
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
Red grape clusters

Place the cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin and sugar over the top. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the wine and lemon juice. Pour into 4 wine glasses and chill 4 hours or until set. Garnish with whipped cream and grapes.
Makes 4 servings.


Crab Soufflé

January 29, 2008
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Here’s another recipe that calls for canned soup. Some cooks swear by it, some avoid it like the plague. If you’re in the second category, substitute for the soup 1 cup of béchamel sauce or 6 ounces of log goat’s cheese melted in 3 ounces of water. But, in addition to being convenient, the canned soup makes it awfully good. SAM

2 cups garlic croutons, divided
2 cups cooked crabmeat or 1 pound imitation crabmeat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
4 medium inside ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped (1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese or other mild cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish and cover the bottom with 1 cup of croutons. In a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, mayonnaise, onion, bell pepper, celery, salt, and pepper and spread over the croutons. Spread the remaining 1 cup of croutons on top. In another bowl, combine the eggs and half-and-half and pour over the croutons. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the crab mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the soup and paprika and pour over the crab mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour more.
Makes 8 servings.


Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

January 28, 2008
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Lasagna is a crowd pleaser no mater how you serve it. This hearty vegetarian version doubles as an entrée. Multiply it to feed as many guests as you need. SAM

6 ounces no-boil lasagna (six 7-inch squares)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, very warm
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and torn
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup yogurt cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, divided
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

In an 8-inch square pan, crisscross the lasagna noodles and cover with warm stock, turning once to coat evenly.

In a chef’s pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cover and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms, sherry, lemon juice, paprika, and rosemary, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, uncovered, until liquid is reduced. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, Romano cheese, and pepper.

Pour 1/3 cup of stock from the noodles into another 8-inch square baking pan and crisscross 2 layers of lasagna noodles in the bottom. Spread on top 1/3 each of the ricotta mixture, spinach mixture, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until the pan is 3/4 filled, ending with mozzarella cheese. Do not fill to the top as the lasagna will expand as it cooks. Drizzle on top the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Romano cheese. Pour the remaining stock around the edges and cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees F, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the lasagna has risen to fill the pan and is golden on top, about 1 hour more. Let rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
Makes 4 servings.