Easter Parties

After weeks of depriving ourselves of some things we love and working extra hard to help those in need, the time has finally come to celebrate. Easter Sunday is not only a holy day; it also signifies that it is finally safe to celebrate life coming back to the outdoors. So whether you are celebrating for religious reasons or simply celebrating the beauty of spring in full force, Easter Sunday deserves a gathering of friends and family over delicious food and fellowship.

Center your main menu on fresh, seasonal ingredients like farm raised crawfish and locally grown vegetables. Check the farmers market to see what is available to get some inspiration. Also, go to your favorite meat market for fresh cuts of lamb to roast or a juicy ham to bake. Or serve a bevy of heavy hors d’oeuvres like our crawfish ball recipe shared here. Of course, there’s always room for an egg-based dish or two, like quiche or deviled eggs, at an Easter gathering.

Read the full article at www.CitySocial.com or grab a free copy of the April issue around town!

Crawfish BallsBalls1
4 ounce bottle of canola oil for frying
1 pound cooked crawfish tails
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
8 ounce box of panko bread crumbs, Italian style

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or just two inches deep in a Dutch oven (you won’t need all the oil in this case). In a large food processor, mix the crawfish, cream cheese, salt, pepper, Tabasco and egg. Add the chopped parsley and green onions and pulse two or three more times. Take the mixture out and fold in 1 and 1/2 cups of the panko. Pour the rest of the panko in a separate bowl for dredging. Take a cookie scoop or spoon and form the crawfish mixture into a ball. Roll each ball in the panko then gently place into the hot oil. Fry 10 to 15 minutes or until the crawfish balls are golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels then serve warm with pepper jelly, if desired.

Quiche2Crustless Roasted Broccoli Quiche
1/2 head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
6 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the thick stems from the broccoli and separate the florets into small sections. Place the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin. Roast broccoli in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is tender and slightly brown. Set broccoli aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 375.

Whisk the egg, milk and cream together in a large bowl. Chop the broccoli coarsely. Fold the broccoli and the cheese into the egg mixture. Line a mini-muffin tin with small paper liners. Spoon the egg mixture into the each paper. Bake the quiches at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until they poof and brown slightly on top – Don’t worry if they fall. Transfer to wire racks to cool and serve warm.

Lemon Basil Shortbread CookiesLemonBasil2
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, basil, lemon zest and salt. Cut in butter and lemon juice with a pastry blender, or mix everything in a food processor, until large, moist clumps form. Scoop up tablespoon-sized balls and roll between your palms. Place ball on a large baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Gently press the cookies with the back of a measuring cup or the bottom of a glass, lightly dust the bottom of the glass or cup with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Bake about 20 minutes or until edges are brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Friday Night Bites

If you’re a Catholic living in South Louisiana, abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent doesn’t always feel like a sacrifice because we live so close to the Gulf of Mexico and in an area rich in Mississippi Delta soil leaving us to enjoy the abundance from both. We also have access to fresh farmers markets and produce stands to cook what’s in season locally and try things from all over the world. Finding new and different Lenten dishes for your family or your guests is easier than ever. Now, giving up dessert for forty days is whole other matter!

Read the full article at www.citysocial.com or pick up a free copy of our March issue around town.

Kale Kale Chips
1 large bunch of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons bread crumbs or panko

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash, dry and roughly chop the kale and place in a large bowl. Shake the olive oil and vinegar together in a bottle. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the kale and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Place the kale on a large cookie sheet. Be careful not to let the kale leaves overlap. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the kale and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the kale is crispy but not too brown.

PortobelloCroissantPortobello & Goat Cheese Croissants with Blackberry Preserves
1 8-ounce package sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 croissants cut in half
4 ounces goat cheese
4 tablespoons blackberry preserves
Spring greens

Sautee the mushrooms in the olive oil until tender, set aside. Heat a griddle to 325. Butter both sides of the croissants. Lightly toast the croissants inside down on the griddle. Flip the croissants and place a few mushrooms topped with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese on each bottom half. Heat until the goat cheese starts to melt. Spoon one tablespoon of blackberry preserves over the goat cheese, top with greens and cover with the croissant top half. Serve warm. Makes four sandwiches.

Lenten Louisiana LasagnaLasagana
4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 stick of butter
1 pound Gulf shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails, peeled and cleaned
8 ounces lump Gulf crabmeat
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 to 2 cups flour
4 cups of milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
1/2 pound (9) lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven. Sautee all the seafood in the 4 tablespoons of butter until the shrimp are slightly pink. Remove from the pan and set aside in a dish lined with paper towels. Melt the one stick of butter in the pot. Brown the garlic slightly in the butter. Add flour and brown two to three minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in one cup of milk at a time until the white sauce has as few lumps as possible. Season with sugar, sea salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup of the white sauce. Stir the cooked seafood in the pot with the white sauce.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then whisk in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses with the parsley and Italian seasoning blend. Set aside.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. Spread 1 cup of white sauce in the bottom of a pan. Arrange 3 cooked lasagna noodles in the pan and spread all of the Ricotta mixture over the noodles, covering completely. Add another layer of noodles. Top with half the seafood and white sauce mixture. Add a third layer of noodles and cover them with the rest of the seafood mixture. Cover the lasagna with all of the mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered until bubbly and golden, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Heart Healthy Dinners

February is Heart Month! Make sure you take good care of your sweethearts by adding more heart healthy meals to your kitchen repertoire. Almost any dish can be made heart healthy. Lowing the salt you add, replacing the oils you use and substituting a few ingredients are just some of the many ways you can make some of your favorite dishes a little kinder to the arteries.

Pick up a free copy of February’s City Social around town or read it online at www.citysocial.com!

SalmonPan Seared Salmon with Wilted Spinach
2 center-cut salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

For the spinach:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Place the salmon fillets on a plate. Season with sea salt and pepper then sprinkle with lemon juice. Let rest for 15 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Place the filets skin side down and cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until the salmon is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Meanwhile, combine the oil and vinegar, then toss with the spinach. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Place leaves in a skillet over medium low heat. Turn the leaves with tongs until they are slightly wilted. Place on the plate and top with salmon before serving.

Mashed Turnips with Horseradish
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into cubes
4 to 6 turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup fat free half and half
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 to 2 tablespoons low sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the turnips first for 10 minutes then add the potato. Boil the vegetables for 10 to 12 minutes more or until they are tender. Drain the vegetables in the pan. Cook them over high heat, shaking the pan, for 30 seconds, or until any excess liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Mash the potato and turnips then strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Return to the pan and whip in the half and half, horseradish and broth of liquid is needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker White Chicken ChiliChili
3 chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups low salt chicken broth
1 7-ounce can salsa verde
1 pound dried white canelli or Great Northern beans
Shredded mozzarella cheese.

Spray the bottom of a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Place the chopped onions on the bottom of the pot. Season the chicken breasts with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Place the chicken over the onions. Slowly pour in the broth, careful not to splash the seasoning off the chicken. Pour in the salsa verde. Finally, add the beans. Cook the chili on low for 6 to 7 hours.

The chicken should shred easily in the pot. If not place it on a cutting board and pull it with two forks in opposite directions, then return it to the pot to re-heat it. Serve each bowl topped with mozzarella cheese.

SweetPotatoBlack Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 small to medium sweet potatoes
1 can black beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice (one lime)

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the sweet potatoes 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. While the potatoes finish baking, drain the beans and Rotel tomatoes in a colander together, then transfer them to a medium sauce pan. Heat the bean and Rotel until warm stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Once the potatoes are done, cut them in half and top each half with the bean mixture and a small spoon of sour cream or yogurt. Garnish each stuffed potato with fresh cilantro and serve.

Little Black Dress Parties

Ever since Coco Chanel debuted the very first little black dress on the cover of Vogue in 1926, the fashion statement has exemplified simple elegance. Why not translate this statement into planning an elegant party? A little black dress, or a Breakfast at Tiffany’s, theme party is one of the latest trends for bridal showers, Oscar parties and even milestone birthdays. In my opinion, a sassy little black dress and some elegant hors d’oeuvres beats that tired “over the hill” theme any day.

Read more in the January issue of City Social. Online and in stores soon!

BloodyMarySoup Bloody Mary Soup Shots
4-5 ripe tomatoes, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 cup Bloody Mary mix
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Pickapeppa sauce
1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
Pickled vegetables as desired

Quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds. Chop the tomatoes and garlic in the food processor until the mixture is the consistency of a thick sauce. Pour into a large mixing bowl, preferably with a spout. Whisk in the other ingredients, adding more or less hot sauce and horseradish as desired. Pour into shot glasses or other small cups. Garnish with vegetables and serve. Makes 8 to 10 shooters depending on glass size.

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Sweet Soy Dipping SauceShrimpRoll
1 pound boiled shrimp
2 carrots
2 cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
6 green onion tops
8 sheets rice paper or spring roll skin
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar

You can purchase boiled shrimp to save time or boil your own. Cut vegetables in half then slice into long, thin strips. In a large skillet, pour just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Cook the vegetables over medium heat about 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Season with sea salt and black pepper while cooking. Place vegetables on paper towels to drain and set aside to cool.

To assemble the rolls, fill a large bowl with warm water. Soak the rice papers one at a time in the water until they are pliable, but not too soft. Lay the sheet down on a paper towel and blot the water off the top with another towel. Place a few strips of the vegetables an inch or two from one corner or side of the paper. Then place about three shrimp, depending on their size, over the vegetables. Roll halfway diagonally, then fold in the top and bottom corners of the wrap over the vegetables, then continue rolling, tightly, but gently. Finally, with a very sharp knife, slice the roll diagonally across.

To make the sauce, whisk together the soy sauce, water, vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Place in small, shallow dipping bowls and serve with the rolls.

Strawberry Champagne Floats
1 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 pints strawberry ice cream
2 cups chilled sweet Prosecco or sparkling wine

Slice the strawberries and sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover tightly and chill at least one hour to overnight. Next, make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil 1 cup sugar with water in a small, heavy saucepan. Let boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Place a few strawberries in the bottom of each glass. Top with one small scoop of ice cream, then more strawberries. Add a second scoop of ice cream and top with more strawberries. Drizzle in the simple syrup into each glass. Top with one scoop ice cream, drizzle with additional simple syrup and pour chilled Prosecco into the glass. Serve immediately.

Land of Sweets

I don’t make as many sweets and candies the whole year as I make the week or two before Christmas. It’s so nice to give homemade gifts to family, friends and neighbors during the holidays. Of course, it’s even better to get some sweet treats in return.

I hope you will enjoy trying the recipes below and we’d love for you to share your favorite candy recipes or ideas with us. Just drop us a line on Facebook at City Social Food. I hope your holiday season is filled with sweet treats and small gestures from big hearts. Happy holidays!

Read the full article in the December issue of City Social for some candy-making basics. Pick up an issue around town or read it online at www.citysocial.com.

tigerbarkTiger Bark
20 ounces (1 package) vanilla almond bark
1/2 cup cashew butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Break vanilla almond bark into pieces and melt over low heat in a heavy saucepan.  Stir bark constantly until it is melted and smooth, being careful not to let it brown on the bottom. Stir in cashew butter until smooth.

Pour bark onto a rimmed cookie sheet (1/2 jellyroll pan) or baking dish and smooth out into a thin layer. Melt chocolate chips in a small saucepan, stirring until melted and smooth as well. Spoon chocolate over bark and cashew butter mixture in lines about 1/2 inch apart.  Swirl with a spatula, toothpick or knife to create a marble effect.

Place in refrigerator 10 minutes or until set.  Break the bark into pieces and store in an air-tight container in refrigerator or at room temperature. Allow the back to come to room temperature before serving.

Peppermint LollipopsPeppermintLollipops
2/3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint or spearmint extract
1/8 teaspoon red food coloring.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay lollipop sticks down several inches apart on the baking sheet. Prepare an ice bath in your sink.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan (one with a spout is helpful, but not necessary) over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring. Put a candy thermometer into syrup and continue to boil until it registers 300 degrees Fahrenheit (hard-crack stage), then stir in peppermint extract and food coloring. Immediately dip bottom of pan in ice bath to stop cooking and remove quickly.

Pour a 2-inch pool of syrup onto the baking sheet over each lollipop stick or fill in lollipop molds. If syrup becomes too thick to pour, heat to thin it, then continue to pour. Let lollipops cool and harden, about 10 to 15 minutes, then gently loosen from the paper. If desired, individually wrap lollipops in cellophane wrappers and tie them closed with a festive ribbon.

FudgeChocolate Orange Fudge
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Triple Sec or orange liqueur
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons orange zest

Butter or line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Cook sugar, milk, half and half, corn syrup and liqueur in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Add butter and orange zest.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to 150 degrees Fahrenheit without stirring. Then stir mixture until it is thick and no longer shiny. Spread in pan and smooth out evenly with the back of a spatula or place wax paper over the fudge and smooth it with your hands.  Allow the fudge to cool completely, then cut it into squares. Sprinkle a little more zest before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Black Friday Breakfast

I have to admit, I’ve only braved Black Friday as a shopper once and that was enough. I know a lot of you are ready to tackle your lists while the sales are hot. Remember, to keep up your stamina and to keep you from getting just a bit too testy with the masses, it’s important to have a good breakfast before you go.

Once you’ve conquered the crowds and checked off your Christmas shopping list, you can come home to a hardy recovery breakfast. Warm turnovers and savory muffins will replenish some of your lost sleep and repair your frazzled nerves. This and a good cup of coffee may even restore a crowd-worn holiday spirit.

From the comfort of my sofa, at a time much later than o’ dark-thirty, I’ll be wishing my best to all you brave bargain hunters.

For the full article and more, read our November issue at www.citysocial.com or pick up one of our pretty issues around town.

Energy Barsbars
2 eggs
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted pepitas
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Ovaltine chocolate milk powder
1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried, mixed fruit
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/3 cup light maple syrup
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Beat the eggs and banana together in a medium bowl. Add oats, pepitas, cinnamon, milk powder, dates, raisins, pecans, fruit, wheat germ, maple syrup and whole-wheat flour together in a large food processor. Pulse one or twice until thoroughly combined. Add the banana mixture and pulse once or twice more to mix evenly. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 20 to25 minutes; set the pan on a rack to cool. Cut into bars with a pizza cutter. Wrap the bars with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Bacon, Herb and Cheese Savory Muffinsmuffins
6 slices cooked bacon
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded sharp cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or paper a muffin tin. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Crumble bacon. Wisk the bacon fat and butter together in a small dish or bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cheese, herbs and bacon. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg. Make sure the bacon fat and butter mixture is room temperature before incorporating with the eggs. Whisk the butter and bacon fat mixture into the milk and egg until blended. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined (do not over mix).

Scoop the batter evenly among muffin tins and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean. Makes 10 to 12 muffins.

turnoversEasy Apple Turnovers
1/2 package frozen puff pastry sheets
2 Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple jelly
1 egg, beaten
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the pastry sheets out to thaw to room temperature. Peel and cut the apples into thin wedges. Place them in a medium sauce pan with cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon juice. Cook until the apples begin to get tender and the sugar has melted. Stir in the jelly.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Roll out the pastry and cut it into 5-inch squares. Place three or four slices of the apple mixture in the center. Fold the pastry in half at the corners, making it a triangle. Brush the inside edges with the egg and seal it down with a fork. Poke a few holes in the top of the turnover so steam can escape. Brush the top of the turnover with egg and place on the pan. Repeat with the others.

Once you’ve filled all the turnovers, bake them for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Whisk the powdered sugar into the juices left from cooking the apples. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until the glaze is think, but pourable. Drizzle the glaze over slightly warm turnovers and serve.

The Scoop on Jambalaya

The first jambalaya recipes were made by the Spanish attempting to make something close to paella with what they could find in the “New World.” Because Spanish settlers could not find saffron here and it was too expensive to import, they used tomatoes instead. As time passed and the recipe began to travel throughout the state, jambalaya took on new seasonings and flavors influenced by French settlers. Today, we have two basic versions of jambalaya referred to by some as Creole and Cajun. Creole, or red, jambalaya is made with tomatoes; and Cajun, is made without tomatoes.

First, choose the right equipment, like a cast iron pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Next, prepare your vegetables by using equal parts of onion, peppers and celery and cut them uniformly so they are evenly balanced throughout your jambalaya. Brown your meat until it is safely done, but be careful not to over cook it because it will cook more once mixed in with the rice. Finally, choose good quality rice. There are many rice farms in South Louisiana providing local-grown varieties that may be found in our neighborhood grocery stores. You can do everything right in your jambalaya, but if the rice is poor quality, sticky from being over cooked, or hard and crunchy from being under cooked, it can ruin your whole dish.

Jambalaya2Oven Red Jambalaya
2 or 3 chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces
1 pound pork sausage, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
1/2 small can tomato paste (optional)
2 cups uncooked rice
Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown sausage, set aside to drain on a platter lined with paper towels. Then brown chicken in sausage drippings. Combine cooked chicken with sausage and set aside. Saute bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic in butter until tender then remove from heat. Stir in meat mixture. Pour uncooked rice into a Dutch oven with a secure lid or other oven-safe covered dish. For a more Creole version, whisk together tomato paste and broth or use broth alone. Pour broth mixture over rice. Add seasonings and hot sauce. Stir in meat and vegetables. Cover tightly and bake for one hour or until rice is tender.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

It’s Pumpkin Season! Here’s one recipe I made this morning. (Fingers crossed the kids actually ate theirs on the way to school.) Hope your pumpkin season is off to a great start! Find more pumpkin recipes here.

pumpkinPumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten until frothy
1 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs. Blend in mashed pumpkin. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk, blending until batter is smooth after each addition; stir in chopped walnuts or pecans. Spoon batter into well-greased and floured or paper-lined muffin pan cups. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Frost with cream cheese frosting, whipped cream, or leave plain. Makes about 24 cup cakes

Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, butter and maple syrup. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Ice cooled cupcakes with a butter knife or piping bag and tip.

Slow Cookin’

The days of homework, afterschool activities and harried evenings short on daylight are upon us. This is the time of year when I crank up the crock pot, or slow cooker, the most. It’s so nice to come home after a busy school or work day and have dinner either already done or at least well on its way.

Let your slow cooker or crock pot give back some of the time you spend scrambling to get dinner cooked on busy school nights or even lazy weekends. Try these recipes, get immersed in the billions of recipes
online, or tweak your own favorites like pot roast or even gumbo. An added bonus is that you’ll come home to heavenly aromas wafting from your kitchen on slow cooker days.

To get tips and tricks about slow cooking, read the full article in the September issue of City Social or pick up a copy around town.

PotatoSoupSmoked Cheddar Potato Soup Courtesy of Tammy Pearl, neighbor and crock pot queen.
1 30-ounce bag of frozen hash browns
3, 14-ounce cans chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 onion, chopped
Pepper
8 ounces cream cheese, not fat-free
5 strips cooked bacon, chopped
3 bunches green onions, chopped
1 block Applewood smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

Mix everything together except the cream cheese. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Add the cream cheese about 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Stir in the shredded cheese, if you decide to add it, and bacon just before serving. Reserve some for topping along with sour cream and green onions.

Cook’s Note: I added the smoked cheddar to Tammy’s recipe, but it is perfectly delicious with or without it.

Chipotle Pulled Pork SlidersPorkSliders
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1, 6-pound pork shoulder or Boston butt, trimmed of fat
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
4 chipotle chiles
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle chiles
1 cup barbeque sauce
20 to 32 split dinner rolls

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. In small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, salt, mustard, pepper and cumin with a fork. Rub seasoning mixture over pork. Place pork in cooker. Sprinkle sliced onion over top of pork in cooker. Cover; cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours.

Remove pork from cooker; place on cutting board. Skim fat from liquid and reserve liquid from the slow cooker. Shred pork by pulling two forks in opposite directions. Return to cooker. Mince garlic cloves with chipotle chilies and adobo in a food processor. Whisk together barbeque sauce, garlic and chipotle mixture, then pour shredded pork. Stir in some of the reserved cooking liquid for desired moistness.

Increase heat setting to high. Cover and cook 15 to 30 minutes longer or until pork is hot. Spoon pork mixture onto each roll and serve. Pork mixture can be kept warm in the slow cooker on low up to 2 hours.

AppleCrispSlow Cooker Apple Crisp
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 cups apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1 stick butter, cut into cubes

Put lemon juice in the bottom of a slow cooker. Peel, core and slice apples and put in the slow cooker with the lemon juice and toss to coat. Mix together sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour over the apples and toss to coat.

For topping: In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. Mix in butter with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form.

Sprinkle crumb topping on top. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours, until apples are tender. For the last hour, cover the slow cooker with a paper towels capture the moisture and set the cover slightly askew to allow the steam to escape for the topping will crisp.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are generally more delicate than high volume varieties, but are full of flavor and come in a bounty of colors and sizes. Every heirloom variety is genetically unique, because it has evolved to resist pests and diseases and adapted to specific growing conditions and climates. Heirloom tomatoes don’t fit well into the commercial process, so choosing an organic heirloom tomato, will give you more flavor and less harmful ingredients.

You can find heirloom tomatoes at our local farmers markets and at specialty grocery stores. Shop now, because tomatoes are best during June through September. I encourage you to grow or purchase heirloom variety tomatoes. You’ll be surprised at the color and flavor they will add to your dishes. And don’t forget to save the seeds – you’ll be ensuring the survival of the fruit for years to come.

Read the entire August issue of City Social magazine at www.citysocial.com and read the full article in the Stirring It Up column! Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of City Social on stands all over town.

Couscous1

Roasted Tomato and Vegetables over Pesto Couscous
1 package couscous
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Steen’s Cane vinegar
2 heirloom tomatoes (8 to 10 ounces total), cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 medium red onion
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
1 box sliced mushrooms
1 red or yellow bell pepper
3 tablespoons prepared pesto
Sliced fresh basil leaves plus sprigs for garnish
1 cup fresh feta cheese crumbles
1 pound large boiled shrimp, if desired

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, salt, cumin, pepper and vinegar. Slice tomatoes, onion and squash into 1/4-inch rounds. Wash sliced mushrooms. Seed and cut bell peppers into strips. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables over a greased jelly roll or half sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare couscous according to package directions, replacing half the water with chicken or vegetable broth. After it’s done, stir in the prepared pesto. Spoon the couscous into a large serving bowl, top with roasted vegetables and feta and sprinkle with basil and serve warm.

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Pepper Jelly ReductionMozzarella1
1 red heirloom tomato
1 yellow or other colored tomato
1 6 or 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup pepper jelly (any kind)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

Slice tomatoes into thin slices. Slice mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices. Heat balsamic vinegar and pepper jelly until well blended, about 5 minutes. Arrange the tomato and cheese slices alternating them on a platter. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with strips of basil. Serve room temperature.

Polenta1Tomato, Onion and Goat Cheese Polenta
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups polenta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of goat cheese crumbles, divided
1 tablespoon of bacon fat
1 garlic clove
1 large red onion
2 or 3 heirloom tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farhenheit. In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a rapid boil. Slowly stir in polenta. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in the olive oil and 1 cup goat cheese. Pour the polenta into a greased 10-inch pie plate or tart pan and press down evenly. Let the polenta cool on a wire rack.

Slice the tomatoes and onion into thin slices. Melt the bacon fat in a skillet and sauté onion and garlic until slightly tender. Arrange the slices of onion with tomato slices covering the top of the polenta. Top with the second cup of goat cheese.

Bake the polenta for 15 minutes, then brown 3 minutes under the broiler until golden brown. Serve warm.