Friday, February 8, 2013

Clementine Jicama Salad

Holy cow, this salad was so good!  Which is not surprising.  I loooooooooove jicama.  It gives everything such a satisfying crunch.  I loved that I could make parts of this several hours ahead of time.  I also got this one at

Clementine Jicama Salad

Serves 8


  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 clementines (1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks (3 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup packed cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or mild feta
  • 1/3 cup raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then whisk together with lime juice, oil, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Just before serving, add clementines, jicama, onion, and cilantro and gently toss. Season with salt. Sprinkle with cheese and pumpkin seeds. 

Cooks’ notes: •Vinaigrette can be made 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.
•Clementines, jicama, and onion can be cut 4 hours ahead and chilled.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Squash and Sausage Shepherd's Pie

I got this from Better Homes and Gardens, the October 2012 issue.  I've gotta say, I am not usually a fan of shepherd's pie, but this was great and different and felt...fresher...than the usual type.  And two of my four kids gobbled it down, which was amazing.  Ben called this recipe a "double smiley face."  I don't have individual casserole dishes, so I used my own large casserole dish. 

Squash and Sausage Shepherd's Pie

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
5 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage or ground beef (I couldn't find any sweet Italian sausage that wasn't in casings, so I had to just cut and peel the casings off, breaking the meat apart when I cooked it.)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 of a 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
sliced green onion (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly coat a large casserole dish (or six 10- to 12-oz. individual casseroles) with nonstick cooking spray.
2.  In a large pan, cook squash in lightly-salted boiling water, covered, for 15-17 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain; return to pan.  Mash with butter, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper; set aside.
3.  Put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet; cook sausage in it over medium high heat, breaking up and cooking until no longer pink. Remove cooked meat from skillet.
4. In same skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat.  Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 2 minutes more.  Stir in broth, crushed tomatoes, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in meat, peas and carrots, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; cook 2 minutes.  If using small individual casseroles, divide mixture among them.  If using one large casserole dish, pour the whole thing in the bottom.  Spread top with butternut squash.  Place on a large baking sheet.
5.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Top with shaved Parmesan and green onion, if desired.  Makes 12 servings.

Cranberry Walnut Cole Slaw

Hm.  Sorry my pictures are always so crappy.  Trust me that this salad is reeeally good.  I got it from a cookbook called Barbeques: Parties and Pot Lucks.

Cranberry Walnut Cole Slaw
Serves 12

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
2 Tbsp honey mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 head green cabbage, shredded
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, relish, honey mustard, honey, ground pepper, salt, and celery seed.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage, walnuts, celery, onion, red pepper, and cranberries.  Add dressing to cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.

*  Kar's note - I only cook every other day, so to make this salad last two days, you'll want to split the mixed dressing in half and the other ingredients in half, then make the other half of the salad the second day.  If you prepare the whole salad, the second day, it will be wilted.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

I was really intimidated by this recipe at first (which I got from Mel's Kitchen Cafe), but it really ended up to be pretty easy.  I finally dropped the money for a springform pan, and I'm excited to do more cheesecakey stuff in the future.  I've made one change from Mel's original recipe - she has you press crumbs from one layer of the red velvet cake into the frosting at the side.  I did do this, but I don't think I will in the future.  I'm just going to do one red velvet layer at the bottom, cheesecake layer in the middle, one red velvet layer at the top, and then cover the tops and sides with the frosting.  This recipe makes oodles of frosting, so I don't think it will be a problem.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

*Note: this cake can be assembled start to finish and refrigerated, well-covered, for up to two days before serving. If you don't have time to make it all at once, the cheesecake layer can be baked, cooled and frozen up to several weeks in advance.
*Serves 8-10


Cheesecake Layer:
2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red Velvet Cake Layer:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Make the cheesecake layer first so it has time to chill while the cake and frosting are being prepared. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Don't overbeat - just mix until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes until it is set and not jiggly in the middle. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it rest on a wire rack until completely cooled. Wrap the pan in foil and place the cooled cheesecake in the freezer until ready to assemble.

For the red velvet cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Whisk until fully combined, and continue whisking for another minute or two until the batter is thick and smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (don't overbake or the cake layers will be dry). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a piece of parchment or wax paper set on a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.

Prepare the frosting, by whipping the cream cheese with an electric handheld mixer in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the butter and vanilla and mix. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix on high speed until it is light and fluffy and creamy.
To assemble, place one of the bottom halves in the middle of a serving platter or cake plate. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer. Gently loosen it from the sides and bottom of the pan with a flat knife/spatula that has been run through hot water (this will help loosen it from the pan). When removed, lay the cheesecake layer on top of the red velvet cake layer on the serving plate. Place the other red velvet cake layer on top of the cheesecake. 

Frost the cake by scooping dollops of the frosting on top of the cake and using an offset spatula, spread the frosting over the tops and sides. 

Cover the cake lightly (or else the cake crumbs on the side will dry out) and refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be made up to two days in advance and chilled until serving.