The Green Panini: Hot Food Truck Goodness

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

If you frequent Houston inside the loop, you can run across someone serving upscale lunches, dinners, and desserts over 70 food trucks, including Bernie’s Burger Bus, The Waffle Bus, The Pink Taco, The Rice Box, St. John’s Fire, Oh My Gogi, Monster PBJ, The Haute Frog, and Frosted Betty. Many of these  mobile food establishments have a great number of devoted followers. They server solid-to-gourmet food at a reasonable price.

In South Montgomery County, the food truck presence has largely been the run-down taco trucks that frequent constructions sites. The food is not bad (I had one stop in front of my house this week) and the price is relatively low. But we really haven’t had the pleasure of our very own upscale food truck in South County.

Until Now. Sondra Kerr has opened up The Green Panini, a gourmet food truck specializing in – you guessed it – paninis at 1810 Rayford Road. They are right next to the Cupcake Shack there on the south side of Rayford, not far from the various Milstead businesses.

And are the paninis good? They are Oh-My-Gosh good. I tried the Chicken Alfredo Panini with roasted herbed chicken and Alfredo sauce on French bread. I have no idea how many calories it has, and I really don’t care. It was deee-licious. So much better than picking up a Whopper or Big Mac for lunch. The Chicken Alfredo Panini has proven to be the most popular, but they also have one with meatballs and marinara, another with tomato, Mozzarella, and pesto, and finally the PB&J panini, which I probably have to try.

They also have three desserts: a strawberry, banana, and nutella panini crusty, country style bread, a marshmallow cream and chocolate panini (with some peanut butter) also on country style bread, and upscale strawberry shortcake, with fresh strawberries and smooth whipped cream on homemade pound cake. I opted, of course, for the marshmallow cream and chocolate version, which indeed tastes like a warm chocolate chip cookie. I highly suggests napkins for this one. I may or may not have dripped some of it on my shirt.

The Green Panini offers strawberry and banana or tropical fruit smoothies for those looking for healthy alternatives. And they will often have some gourmet soups and salads to choose from.

While I am always in favor of folks in our area supporting our local-owned businesses, I highly recommend you try out The Green Panini. You won’t go there just once.

For more information, give Sonya a call at 832.381.4118.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Making Sweet Memories

Family time can get lost when the family calendar is filled up with activities, practices, meetings and homework. It’s important to carve out some special time each week to slow down and enjoy making some fun memories together.

Food and games are two great ways to connect as a family – and keeping things simple makes it easy to really focus on each other and have fun. These activities are easy and can involve everyone in the family. And these dessert recipes take advantage of the versatility of Sara Lee Frozen Pound Cake – it can be used to make something simple with the family or something a little more elaborate when company comes over. Either way, you get a scrumptious dessert the whole family can dig into.

You can find more ways to create family moments – and more dessert recipes – at www.saraleedesserts.com and www.facebook.com/saraleedesserts.

Taste-of-the-Islands Banana Foster Trifle

Ingredients

  • 1 10.75-ounce package Sara Lee Frozen Pound Cake thawed
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits in juice
  • 1 3.4-ounce package instant coconut or banana cream pudding and pie filling
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract, divided
  • 1 cup caramel topping
  • 3 bananas thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut toasted
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts finely chopped

Preparation

  1. Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
  2. Drain pineapple; reserving juice.
  3. Place pudding mix, whipping cream, sour cream, sugar, reserved pineapple juice and 1 teaspoon coconut extract in a large bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  4. Combine remaining 1 teaspoon coconut extract and ice cream topping in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High until warmed.
  5. Layer pound cake cubes in 4 martini or dessert glasses. Drizzle caramel topping mixture over pound cake. Top with coconut cream mixture and bananas.
  6. Garnish with pineapple tidbits, toasted coconut and macadamia nuts.

Serves
Serves 4-6 servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
This recipe also works well in a trifle bowl.

Preparation Time:
30 minutes

Fun-to-do Fondue

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package big marshmallows (optional)
  • 1 16-ounce package Sara Lee Frozen Pound Cake, thawed and sliced
  • Assorted fruits (optional)

Preparation

  1. Place sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.
  2. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in whipping cream and vanilla; mixing until well blended.
  3. Dip pound cake pieces and fruits into warm sauce and enjoy.

Serves
Makes 3 cups

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Cook’s Tip: Refrigerate left over chocolate sauce, covered, for up to 4 days.

Preparation Time:
5 minutes

“Sweet Life” Italian Ice Lemon Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 1 10.75-ounce package Sara Lee Frozen Pound Cake thawed
  • 1/3 cup lemonade concentrate
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • 1/3 cup marshmallow cream or fluff
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Lemon zest and raspberries for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Cut cake into twelve 1/4-inch slices. Line the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish with 6 of the cake slices.
  2. Combine lemonade concentrate and water in a glass measuring cup or bowl.
  3. Brush half of the cake slices with half of lemonade mixture. Set aside.
  4. Place mascarpone cheese, cream, lemon curd, marshmallow cream and zest in a large bowl. Beat until smooth.
  5. Spread cake slices with half of lemon cream filling. Top with the remaining 6 cake slices. Brush with remaining syrup and spread with remaining cream filling.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight. Garnish with lemon zest and fresh raspberries, if desired.

Serves
Serves 4-6 servings

Preparation Time:
20 minutes



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Whether it’s simple dinner for a few friends or a big bash for a crowd, taking the party outside takes entertaining to a whole new level. If you’re planning an outdoor get-together, don’t spend all your time in the kitchen. These quick and easy tips will help you spend more time with guests and ensure your gathering is an effortless success.

Preparation is key. Prepare any appetizers you’re serving the night before and keep in the fridge. This will allow you to focus on any last minute arrangements on the day of your party.

Think outside the box. If you’re worried that you may not have enough serving dishes for your get-together, look for cups and glasses that may double as a dip bowl or unique container for fruits or vegetables.

Embrace the idea of “family style” dining. Serve appetizers on large platters or set a buffet where everyone can serve themselves. This way, guests can take what they want and eat at their own pace.

Make sure you have music. Loading up your iPod with fun songs, both new and old, will provide a fun atmosphere for your guests.

Candles are always a quick and easy way to add ambiance and class to any space. Keep several on hand to grab when the sun goes down, but the party is still going strong.

Serve a delicious iced coffee cocktail. These cool drinks provide guests with a sweet treat that no one will be able to resist. Plus, they’re so easy to make you’ll have plenty of time to tend to all of your other host duties. Just double brew your coffee in the morning and stick in the fridge until you’re ready to mix and serve.

Try these easy, indulgent recipes below to host a party all of your friends will be talking about.

Visit www.Facebook.com/Baileys for more recipes, and videos of top baristas and bartenders from around the country making delicious iced coffee cocktails.

Tips for making the best iced coffee cocktail

  • The type of roast used to make your iced coffee is more important than you may think. Using a medium roasted coffee bean will produce the best flavor for your iced coffee cocktail. The result is a blend that offers balance, sweetness and a mild acidity.
  • Another easy way to ensure your iced coffee never gets watered down is to freeze coffee ahead of time in an ice cube tray. Use these instead of ice to ensure your iced coffee cocktail is perfection.

 

Ingredients

  • 3.5 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 7 ounces iced coffee

Preparation

  1. Pour ingredients over ice in a tall glass.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

The Simple One

 

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 3/4 ounce cognac-based orange liqueur
  • 3 ounces iced coffee

Preparation

  1. Pour ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Guatemalan Spice

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces iced coffee
  • 1 1/8 ounces rum
  • 1/16 ounce cinnamon syrup
  • Pinch of freshly ground cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Add Irish Cream, rum, cinnamon syrup and iced coffee to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a Delmonico or other glass of your choice, and garnish with freshly ground cinnamon.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Fresh Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Chill for half an hour to blend flavors.

Serves
Makes 16 servings

Strawberry Parfait

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Layer ingredients in a parfait glass.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Please enjoy Baileys Responsibly. BAILEYS Irish Cream Liqueur. 17% Alc/Vol. (c)2010 R & A Bailey & Co. Imported by Paddington, Ltd., Norwalk, CT. All drink recipes contain no more than 0.6 fl. oz (14 g.) of alcohol per serving, equivalent to one standard U.S. drink.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Mix It Up with Jenny – St. Patrick’s Day Fun

Everybody’s a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right? This year, join in the fun of celebrating all things Irish with these simple ideas:

* For the table, have the kids make some shamrock napkin rings and Irish flag placemats out of construction paper. Sprinkle some green confetti on the table and use a potted shamrock plant as a centerpiece.

* Have a traditional Irish dinner with Irish Stew and Soda Bread, a Shepherd’s Pie or, of course, Corned Beef and Cabbage.

* For dessert try this festive “Lucky You” Mint Pie. The creamy combination of mint and chocolate is so good that it’s bound to become the newest tradition around your St. Patrick’s Day table.

* Write out some traditional Irish blessings on slips of paper and tuck them into treat bags of mini shamrock cookies to send home with your guests. Here’s one that I like:

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

For more ways to cook up some Irish fun, visit www.VeryBestBaking.com.

“Lucky You” Mint Pie

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels
  • 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 prepared 9-inch (6 ounces) chocolate crumb crust
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 to 4 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • Additional Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Preparation

  1. MICROWAVE 1 cup morsels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; stir until smooth. Stir in butter; pour into crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
  2. MEANWHILE, BEAT remaining evaporated milk, pudding mix, water, peppermint extract and 3 drops food coloring in medium bowl until combined. Gently stir in 2 cups whipped topping and additional drop of food coloring, if desired. Spoon over chocolate layer.
  3. REFRIGERATE for 2 hours or until set. Sprinkle with additional morsels. Spoon remaining whipped topping in center of pie. Garnish with fresh mint.

Serves
Makes 8 servings

Calories: 400g Total Fat: 21g
Cholesterol: 20mg Protein: 5g
Carbohydrates: 50g Sodium: 280mg

 

Preparation Time:
15 minutes

Chill Time:
2 hours 20 minutes


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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website

Simply Delicioso Spring Dessert Tips

Cooking Channel and Univision star Ingrid Hoffmann, host of Simply Delicioso and Delicioso (on Telefutura / Univision) shares her ideas to liven up your springtime desserts! Ingrid suggests combining fresh, seasonal flavors with Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk to ensure perfect homemade and easy desserts year-round. Serve up a sweet surprise with these delicious new recipes and baking tips from Ingrid Hoffmann:

Ingrid Hoffmann’s Spring Dessert Tips

Surprise guests with a new twist on the traditional Latin-American dessert with a Chocolate Flan Cake. A velvety-textured flan custard is layered with a rich chocolate cake for a perfect marriage of sweet and creamy.

Dessert bars are a great solution for easy entertaining. Spice up any table by preparing Tropical Dessert Bars and then top with smooth and creamy Dulce de Leche, which can easily be made by heating Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk on the stovetop or in the oven.

Exotic fruits paired with rich cream cheese create a delicious combination in this recipe for Passion Fruit Cheesecake. Find seasonal inspiration by visiting local farmers markets.

Homemade ice cream is easier than you think. Make Caribbean Pineapple Lime Ice Cream in three simple steps with Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Or create an artisan inspired ice cream flavor at home by combining spices like chipotle or cinnamon with lime zest, fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries and add to your ice cream mixture.

Visit www.eaglebrand.com or www.marcaeagle.com for more recipes and helpful tips from Ingrid Hoffmann.

Tropical Dessert Bars

Ingredients

Bottom Layer
  • 1 (17.5-ounce) package sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
Cream Cheese Pineapple Layer
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice
Coconut Layer
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Preparation

  1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.
  2. STIR cookie mix and melted butter with fork until crumbs form. Press evenly in bottom of prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. BEAT cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs just until blended. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons pineapple juice. Pour over warm crust. Sprinkle drained pineapple evenly over top.
  4. STIR coconut, macadamia nuts and butter in small bowl until evenly moistened. Sprinkle over pineapple layer.
  5. BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set and coconut is lightly browned. Cool 1 hour on wire rack. Chill 1 hour. Cut into bars.

Serves

Makes 3 dozen

Ready in Time:
3 hours

Chocolate Flan Cake

Ingredients

  • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
Cake
  • 1/2 cup Smucker’s® Caramel Flavored Topping
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Devil’s Food Premium Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups water
Flan
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 (12-fluid ounce) can PET® Evaporated Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Coat 12-cup fluted tube pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place piece of rolled up foil in tube opening of pan to prevent cake from baking over top. Pour caramel flavored topping into prepared pan.
  2. PREPARE cake mix according to package directions using the oil, eggs and water. Pour evenly over caramel flavored topping.
  3. COMBINE cream cheese, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla in blender container. Process until blended. Pour slowly over cake batter.
  4. COAT piece of foil with no-stick cooking spray. Cover pan tightly with foil and place coated side down. Place pan in large roasting pan. Pour hot water into roasting pan to a depth of 2 inches.
  5. BAKE 2 hours or until toothpick in center still has a few moist crumbs. Place cake on cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes. Remove foil and invert onto serving plate. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Chill 4 hours or overnight.

Serves

Makes 18 to 20 servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
TIP: Be careful when inverting hot cake onto serving plate. Place plate upside down on top of pan, place another cooling rack on top, then invert.

Ready in Time:
8 hours

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
Cheesecake
  • 30 gingersnap cookies
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup frozen passion fruit pulp, thawed or 1 cup passion fruit puree
Passion Fruit Glaze
  • 2/3 cup frozen passion fruit pulp, thawed or 2/3 cup passion fruit puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Preparation

  1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Coat 9 x 3-inch springform pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. PROCESS cookies and pecans in food processor until fine crumbs form. Place in small bowl. Stir in melted butter until evenly moistened. Press evenly onto bottom of prepared pan and 1-inch up sides. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Wrap foil around bottom and sides of pan.
  3. BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Pour in sweetened condensed milk gradually, beating until blended. Beat in eggs just until combined.
  4. MEASURE 2/3 cup of cheesecake and pour into small bowl. Whisk with 1 cup passion fruit pulp until blended. Pour remaining cheesecake into cooled crust. Spoon small dollops of passion fruit mixture over top of batter. Swirl with knife to make marbled appearance.
  5. BAKE 60 to 70 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool 1 hour on wire rack. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. To make glaze: COMBINE fruit pulp, sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken and measures about 2/3 cup. Place in small bowl. Cool completely.
  7. REMOVE cheesecake from pan. Place on large serving dish. Spread glaze over top.

Serves

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Ready in Time:
11 hours

Caribbean Pineapple-Lime Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

 

Preparation

  1. COMBINE undrained pineapple, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, lime peel, vanilla and food coloring, if desired, in a large bowl; mix well.
  2. WHIP cream in medium bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into pineapple mixture.
  3. POUR into 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or 2-quart freezer-safe container. Cover; freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

Serves

Makes 12 servings

Ready in Time:
4 hours

SOURCE:
The J. M. Smucker Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website

Chocolate-Laced Ideas for Sensational Sleepovers

Whoever coined the phrase “sleepover” must still be laughing – because, as many of you know, very little sleeping actually goes on. I’m always looking for fun ideas and recipes to keep the night-owls happy – here are some that you might like to try, too.

Make a Sleepover Pillow: Buy and prewash some inexpensive white pillowcases. Then hand out fun fabric pens so guests can create a one-of-a-kind souvenir they can take home. (If you put a piece of cardboard inside the pillow case, it will keep ink from seeping through to the other side.)

Go on a Backyard Treasure Hunt: Hide all the goody bags in one place somewhere in your backyard. Then create some clues to lead guests in search of the treasure. Tape the first clue to the back door. When they reach the next spot, have another clue already there to lead them on, until they get to the prize. You can make the clues like riddles, or give the guests a compass and write directional clues to follow.

Mix Up Great Munchies: Part of the fun of a sleepover is munching on some yummy treats. Brownies are always a hit – and these Chocolate Caramel Brownies are sure to be party favorites. And they’re super simple, too! For a fun twist on party mixes, try some Toll House Party Mix – sweet and salty combine for a taste so good you might want to make an extra batch.

For more sleepover treats, go to www.VeryBestBaking.com.

Toll House Party Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 cups toasted cereal squares
  • 2 cups small pretzel twists
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup (about 20) caramels, unwrapped and coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 to 2 cups (11- to 12-oz. pkg.) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Butterscotch Flavored or Premier White Morsels

Preparation

  1. COAT 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. COMBINE cereal, pretzels, peanuts and caramels in large bowl.
  3. MICROWAVE morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Pour over cereal mixture; stir to coat evenly.
  4. SPREAD mixture in prepared baking pan; cool for 30 to 45 minutes or until firm. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in airtight container.

Serves
Yields 8 servings

Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 35 (10-ounce package) caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Preparation

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
  2. COMBINE cake mix and nuts in large bowl. Stir in 2/3 cup evaporated milk and butter (batter will be thick). Spread half of batter into ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  3. BAKE for 15 minutes.
  4. HEAT caramels and remaining evaporated milk in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Sprinkle morsels over brownie; drizzle with caramel mixture.
  5. DROP remaining batter by heaping teaspoon over caramel mixture.
  6. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.

Serves
Yields 24 brownies



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website

Crunch Your Way to a Healthy Heart

During the month of February, the heart stands as the shining beacon for love. People exchange heart-shaped greeting cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and pastel colored heart candies that read “Be Mine” and “You Cutie.”

And while it is true that February is known for love, chocolate and St. Valentine, it’s also when many celebrate Heart Health Month and National Almond Day, February 16th.  Coincidence? Not really-the almond has depth and while it looks great dipped in dark chocolate; it’s also lauded for its nutritional benefits that help make for happy hearts.

To celebrate, registered dietitian and Food Network star Ellie Krieger has designed a limited edition tin to hold a single serving of almonds-about 23-a perfect portion for an ideal nutritious snack. The portable tin is small enough to slip into a purse, jacket pocket, gym bag or brief case and makes smart-snacking a snap. The new tin will be available spring 2011 and consumers can sign up now to be among the first to be notified when Ellie’s new tin is available at www.AlmondBoard.com/shop.

“I have long championed the power of almonds’ heart health benefits. My almond tin is a great way to keep a daily dose of an almond’s nutritional perks close at hand, especially when you’re on the go,” says Krieger, host of Cooking Channel‘s “Healthy Appetite” and award-winning author of “So Easy.” “February is a great month to celebrate almonds’ heart health love. They’re delicious, satisfying and good for you–that really gets my heart pumping!”

What hearts love most about almonds is how hard they work to be nutritional overachievers. Just a handful of almonds can provide an excellent source of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E with 7.4 grams or 35 percent of the daily allowance. Always cholesterol-free California Almonds are also an integral part of the “good’ fat gang, with one serving of almonds (28g) having 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only one gram of saturated fat. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Almonds are the perfect Valentine for your heart. It’s love at first crunch.

Chocolate Almond Bark

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced California Almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound fine-quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 ounces of milk chocolate or white chocolate (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and oil a large baking sheet. Set aside. In a separate large baking pan, spread almonds and toast for 8 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, bring butter, sugar, water, vanilla and salt to a boil over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Boil mixture, without stirring, until deep golden color, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 cups of the toasted almonds. Immediately pour onto reserved baking sheet and spread evenly. Refrigerate until set.
  3. Chop chocolate. In a hot double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. Pour chocolate over cooled almond toffee and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle top with remaining almonds. If desired, drizzle with melted milk or white chocolate for contrast. Chill uncovered until firm, about 1 hour.
  4. Break toffee into pieces. Store layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, or chilled, up to 1 week.

Serves
Yield 32 servings

Calories: 246g Total Fat: 17.50g
Cholesterol: 8.20mg Protein: 4.17g
Carbohydrates: 24.50g Sodium: 22.10mg



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Sharing Some Valentine’s Day Cookie Love

I love that we have a day designed to celebrate love! And I enjoy finding creative ways to show the people in my life how much I care about them. This year, I’m sharing some ideas from the kitchen and from the heart so that you can put some extra L-O-V-E into your Valentine’s Day.

L for a love letter you write to someone special. Whether it’s a spouse, a child, or a dear friend, take some time to write down the reasons they are so special to you. It will be a gift they treasure for a long time.

O for organizing the family photos in a new way. Create a slide show on a DVD, a photo book or calendar, or even a family website where you can share pictures and stories with out-of-town loved ones. You’ll preserve old photos and help create new memories.

V for Valentine cookies like these Chocolate Chip Cookie Hearts. They’re a simple way to share some love. Even the youngest bakers can help make them by pouring ingredients and using cookie cutters to make the heart shapes. Have fun decorating them with pink, red and white icing and Valentine sprinkles.

E for an elegant dessert like this Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie. It’s easy enough for anyone to make, yet pretty enough to show off at a Valentine’s Day party or a romantic dinner.

For more Valentine recipes you can share, visit www.verybestbaking.com.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Hearts

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Metal or heat-safe heart cookie cutter(s) of desired size(s), 1 inch in height
  • Various icings, sprinkles, Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • 1 container (6 ounces) or 1 1/3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1 prepared 9-inch (6 ounces) chocolate crumb crust

Preparation

  1. WHISK together evaporated milk and egg yolks in medium saucepan.
  2. HEAT over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very hot and thickens slightly; do not boil. Remove from heat; stir in morsels until completely melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into large bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until cool. Gently stir in 2 cups whipped topping.
  3. REFRIGERATE for 2 hours until thickened. Sprinkle 1 cup raspberries over crust. Spoon chilled chocolate mousse over raspberries. Dollop remaining 1 cup whipped topping on center of pie; top with remaining raspberries

Serves
8

Preparation Time:
15 min

Cook Time:
5 min

Refrigeration Time:
2.5 hours



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Go Big for the Big Game

When your friends and family gather around the big screen for the big game, only BIG FLAVOR will do! Earn MVP status with quick and easy Johnsonville recipes featuring sausages that are big on flavor when served by themselves, or when they’re included in these traditional sports-fan favorites. Visit www.Johnsonville.com for great recipes to flavor up any get-together.

Reuben Brat Hoagie

Ingredients

  • 1 package (19.76 ounces) Johnsonville Original Bratwurst
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/3 cup Thousand Island salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup coarse ground mustard
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) French bread
  • 12 slices Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, drained

Preparation

  1. Grill brats according to directions.
  2. When cool, cut into 1/4-inch bias slices.
  3. In skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender; set aside.
  4. In small bowl, combine salad dressing and mustard.
  5. Slice French bread lengthwise and transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Spread salad dressing mixture on inside of bread. Layer bottom of bread with six slices of cheese, brats, onions, sauerkraut and remaining cheese.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  8. Cut hoagie and serve hot.

Serves
6 @ $2.14 per serving

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Serving Suggestions: To grill hoagie, assemble sandwich on a large sheet of heavy-duty foil. Wrap in foil. Grill, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted

Preparation Time:
20

Grill Time:
35

Touchdown Italian Sausage Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 package (19.76 ounces) Johnsonville Italian Sausage Links
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Italian recipe stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (16 ounces) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cream sherry (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

  1. Grill Italian sausage according to package directions; cut into half moon slices and set aside.
  2. In soup kettle, sauté onion, celery, sweet pepper and garlic in oil until tender.
  3. Add sausage and remaining ingredients; bring to boil.
  4. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors are blended.

Serves
12 @ $1.38 per serving

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Serving Suggestions: Sprinkle chili with grated Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Preparation Time:
35 minutes

Cook Time:
20 minutes

PigTails & Fries

Ingredients

  • 1 package (13.5 to 16 ounces) Johnsonville smoked sausage (Polish, New Orleans, Smoked Turkey, BOLD Beef Hot Links or Beef Franks)
  • 1 package (28 ounces) frozen curly french fries Oil for deep-fat frying

Preparation

  1. Cut sausage links in half lengthwise. Cut each half into three long strips.
  2. TO FRY: In deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°F. Fry french fries in batches for 3 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place sausage strips in single layer in fryer basket. Fry for about 1 minute or until they curl. Drain on paper towels. Serve with fries.
  3. TO BAKE: Spread fries in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 17 to 20 minutes, turning once. At the same time, arrange sausage strips in single layer on separate baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 12 to 14 minutes or until they curl. Serve with fries.

Serves
6 @ $1.69 per serving fried or $0.91 per serving baked

Preparation Time:
10

Cook Time:
20 to 25 minutes

Spicy Sausage Queso

Ingredients

  • 1 package. (16 ounces) Johnsonville All Natural Ground Italian Sausage
  • 2 pounds Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chunky salsa
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • Garlic toast

Preparation

  1. In skillet, cook and crumble sausage until no longer pink; drain. Place cheese in large microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave on high for 6 minutes or until melted, stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in salsa, seasonings and sausage.
  3. Microwave 2 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with garlic toast.

Serves
24 @ $0.52 per serving

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Serving Suggestions: Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper for a spicier dish. Serve garlic toast with diced tomatoes and chopped black olives. To serve in a bread bowl, cut off the top of a round loaf of bread; carefully hollow out bottom, leaving a 1-inch shell. Cube removed bread. Spoon cheese dip into bread shell. Serve with bread cubes.

Preparation Time:
25 minutes

SOURCE:
Johnsonville



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Smart Game Day Snacks

Even armchair quarterbacks can fuel themselves like the pros. Mitzi Dulan, co-author of “The All-Pro Diet” (with Atlanta Falcon’s Tony Gonzalez), recommends keeping a bowl of almonds close by to provide sports fans with power throughout the game – whether on the sidelines or the field. A good source of energy, almonds can help keep fans going from kick-off to the final countdown, and they’re a great way to snack guilt-free without sacrificing flavor.

“Almonds are ideal for snacking because just one ounce – roughly one handful – is a tasty treat that helps crush cravings and provides hours of sustained energy that athletes and fans need,” says Dulan.

Game day snacks don’t have to be loaded with grease and calories to be tasty and satisfying, Dulan says. Instead, whip up a batch of smart snacks before kickoff that cover the flavor bases: Dulan’s Chocolate Almond Popcorn and Spicy End Zone Party Mix provide a sweet snack in one hand and a spicy, savory crunch in the other. Together they tackle any craving that comes along.

For fans of something a little heartier, try a grown-up version of a kids’ favorite: Mahi Mahi fish sticks with a crunchy almond coating provides a more substantial snack for a more sophisticated crowd. They’re fun, easy to put together and will combat any craving straight through to the post-game wrap-up.

Or keep it simple. A bowl of roasted almonds will meet the crunch craving football fans have on game day. Keeping a few favorite snacks while subbing out others for something healthier will keep everyone sated without feeling deprived.

Having worked with numerous NFL players like Tony Gonzalez, Dulan is no stranger to coaching athletes to keep their hunger in check and energy up.

“I tell my professional football clients that smart snacking is the key to maintaining optimal energy levels,” she says. “It’s easy to keep a bag of almonds and dried cherries in your gym bag for a quick pick-me-up, or to make your own power energy bars by mixing together almonds, almond butter, dried fruit, flaxseed and honey.  They’re great to have on hand after a workout or anytime you need an energy boost.”

Visit AlmondBoard.com for Dulan’s fun, football-ready snack recipes for athletes of any kind, as well as the Pro Snacker page for snacking tips and more.

Cocoa-Almond Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 6 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

  1. Combine the popcorn and almonds in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine butter, honey, cocoa, vanilla and sea salt. Boil 3 to 4 minutes; drizzle mixture over popcorn and almond mixture, stirring constantly until well-coated. Cool and serve.

Serves
Yield 12 servings

Calories: 210.70g Total Fat: 13.60g
Cholesterol: 2.54mg Protein: 5.97g
Carbohydrates: 20.30g Sodium:



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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website