Posts Tagged 'Colorado Classique'

Peanut Dip with Fruit

I love getting comments on my posts, and I always check out the visitor’s Web site if they enter the information.  Last week, Sara from Saucy Dipper (also saucy, also based in Denver) left a note on my Breakfast Casserole post, so I thought I would see what was going on with her site.  It turns out that she’s hosting a fun blog event this week called Dipstock.  She’s encouraging all dip lovers to submit photos and recipes, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to participate.  Initially, I planned to make something savory.  When I saw today’s recipe – Peanut Dip with Fruit – in my Colorado Classique cookbook, though, I knew it was The One.

It doesn’t get much easier than this, folks.  Here’s the recipe:

Peanut Dip with Fruit
Serves: 6 portions

Ingredients:
8 ounces light cream cheese
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/4 ounces salted peanuts (3 small packages), finely chopped in food processor
4 Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, cut into wedges

Method:
Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and peanuts and refrigerate until chilled. Serve chilled dip in a bowl surrounded by apple wedges.

Peanut Dip with Fruit

Oh. Mah. Gawd.

If you ever wished for chunky peanut butter cream cheese, this is it.  I love, love, love snacking on apples and peanut butter; this recipe turns that simple concept into an absolutely divine dessert.  Now I just need to figure out how to avoid eating the entire recipe straight from the bowl before my husband gets home from work to “help” me with it…

TIPS:  At first, I thought I would need a hand mixer to blend the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.  My beaters were in the (running) dishwasher, though, so I just mashed everything together with a fork and then used a spatula to stir in the peanuts.  Perfection!

Update (7/1/10): Now that I’ve eaten (entirely too much of) this dip when chilled, I disagree with the serving suggestion.  I would serve it either right after you make it, or let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving if you’ve chilled it.  It’s still beyond delicious, but it gets pretty firm in the refrigerator.

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Italian Chopped Salad

I know this is totally abnormal and not a very “foodie” thing to admit, but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad my whole life.  I just wasn’t a kid who enjoyed vegetables (regardless of how drenched they were in cheese sauce or Dorothy Lynch dressing), and lettuce was at the bottom of my list.  I can’t put my finger on the source of the dislike, except that maybe I came to equate “salad” with “iceberg lettuce.”  Iceberg lettuce has its place, but I think it’s better as an edible garnish on a plate of Mexican food than it is as a base for a great salad.

As an adult who now loves vegetables, my relationship with salad has improved.  Where I get into trouble now is that I just can’t think of it as a meal.  I’ve tried to have a salad with protein and dressing on the side as a restaurant meal when the healthy menu options are lacking, but an hour later, my body is wondering when the real meal is coming.  It’s just never satisfying enough.

I made a salad last night, though, that was incredibly delicious and filling: Italian Chopped Salad from the Colorado Classique cookbook.  (Side note: I love this cookbook so much that I bought it for my mom for Christmas.  We’re going to cook through it together!)  The salad is a terrific combination of hearty, flavorful ingredients like roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, sliced meats, cheese, and pine nuts.  The base is romaine (great crunch!) and it’s topped with homemade balsamic dressing.  I made the salad to go with a batch of Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup, but I was so satiated after the salad that I hardly had room for the next course.  Give this one a try as a lunch or dinner salad, or serve smaller portions as a salad course.

Since the recipe isn’t available online, I’ve written it up below.  First, though, I’ll give you a list of my deviations:

  • I toasted the pine nuts for 5 minutes on a baking sheet at 350F instead of toasting them on the stove.
  • I’m not a huge fan of Gorgonzola cheese, so I used Fontina instead.
  • I didn’t use my food processor to make the dressing.  I just combined all the ingredients in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and shook the heck out of them.  If you use this method, be sure to shake the dressing well right before serving the salad since the ingredients will separate as they sit.

Full disclosure: I took this photo of the salad before I dressed it.  Nothing ruins a food photo faster than brown liquid!

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad
Serves 6
Prep: Less than 30 minutes | Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 – 2 red bell peppers
1 pound finely julienned romaine lettuce and field greens
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers, drained
10 thin slices Soppressata hard salami, sliced in strips
10 thin slices prosciutto ham, sliced in strips

Method:
In a blender or food processor, blend vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.  With the motor running, slowly add oil and blend until smooth.  Set dressing aside.

To prepare salad, toast pine nuts in a pan until lightly browned; cool.  Char bell peppers over an open flame or under a broiler until blackened on all sides.  Transfer peppers to large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand 15 minutes.  Peel and seed peppers and cut into strips to yield 1/2 cup.

Just before serving, toss pine nuts and roasted peppers with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, capers, salami, and ham in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

Source: Colorado Classique

TIPS: Go to the deli counter and have them slice some prosciutto for this recipe.  (Make sure you get the prosciutto di Parma if they have it.  It’s pricey by the pound, but you don’t need much and it’s totally worth it.)  I was in a hurry at the grocery store and decided to try the packaged stuff  for the first time.  It’s gross!

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I (lightly) catered a party last month for a friend who is involved in the Junior League of Denver, and she gave me a copy of Colorado Classique (the new Junior League of Denver cookbook) as part of my payment.  The JLD cookbooks are a well-known source of fantastic recipes, so I was really excited to receive my very first one.  I had the pleasure of tasting the peanut butter bars from the book at my friend’s house (absolutely incredible – I’ll be making and posting them soon), but I wanted my first selection from the book to be something well-suited for the winter-like weather we experienced here in Denver last week.  I chose to go with the Kielbasa Black Bean Chili, and boy did I choose well.  Dr. O and I enjoyed it so much that I have another pot simmering on the stove right now so we’ll have some to enjoy with football tomorrow.

To make the stew, I started off by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in my 8 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  (You could probably get away with one that’s a bit smaller.)  Next, I tossed in 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of turkey kielbasa (quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) and cooked it until it started to brown.  (This took 10 minutes at my house; the recipe indicated 12 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the kielbasa to a bowl and set it aside.  You need to have to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot before the next step, so add or subtract from the drippings if necessary.  (My turkey kielbasa didn’t render much fat but did soak up some oil, so I had to add oil to the pot.)  Still using medium-high heat, I added 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 coarsely chopped red bell pepper, 1 coarsely chopped green bell pepper, and 4 chopped garlic cloves to the pot.  I sauteed them until they were beginning to brown (6 minutes at my house, 10 minutes in the recipe).

To the vegetable mixture, I added four 15-ounce cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 32-ounce box of chicken broth, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (undrained), 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 small bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin.  I brought the chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduced the heat to medium, covered it, and simmered it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I returned the kielbasa to the pot and reduced the heat to low.  I simmered the chili, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it was nice and thick, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste and served it with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I could happily eat this once a week through the end of winter…  It’s amazingly delicious, warm, and comforting.  Plus, the recipe yields 8 servings, so we were able to have dinner twice plus a lunch for Dr. O on one night’s worth of cooking.  It was wonderful the first night, but a tip included with the recipe was spot on: The chili really was even better the next day.  This makes it perfect for casual entertaining; I’m going to put the chili, Dutch oven and all, into the refrigerator and then just gently reheat it tomorrow for the game.

TIPS:  The bottom of my Dutch oven got pretty brown when I was browning the kielbasa, and the onions picked up the color when they were sauteeing.  It didn’t cause any problems with the chili in terms of flavor or appearance, so don’t worry if this happens to you.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 1/2 pounds turkey or beef kielbasa or Canino’s Bratwurst, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box organic chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spiciness
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 small bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
Sour cream and chopped green onions for topping

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add kielbasa or bratwurst and saute 12 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer kielbasa or bratwurst to a bowl.  If necessary, add more olive oil to drippings in pot to measure 2 tablespoons, or discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Add onions, both bell peppers, and garlic.  Saute 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Add beans, broth, tomatoes with juice, chili powder, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Return kielbasa or bratwurst to pot.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chili is thick, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chili can be made a day ahead.  Cool slightly; cover, and chill.  Rewarm before serving.

Source: Colorado Classique




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