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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fruit, Cream Cheese and Brownie Layered Fluff

I love making dessert almost as much as eating it.
And I have my favorites.
A lot of favorites.
If you've checked out my blog postings, you'll see many of my favorite recipes. Some are family recipes and others come from my favorite cookbooks, magazines and websites. You'll see scrumptious, mouth-watering, wonderful, got-to-have-some, sweet, sensational desserts.

Not too many desserts are healthy, but I do feel a little less guilty when I make this.

I took the goodness of fruit and combined it with a couple of my favorites - brownies and cream cheese - and come up with a combination of flavors that will leave your taste buds jumping for joy.









What you'll need:
1 box chocolate brownie mix (I used Pillsbury's brand )
2 8 ounce packages Philadelphia brand cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 12 ounce container Cool Whip (thawed)
1 18 ounce can mandarin oranges (drained and diced, reserving 1/3 of can)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh raspberries




Directions
Make brownies according to directions on box. Cool in pan and cut into squares. Set aside.
Blend cream cheese with mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar until well blended. Fold in Cool Whip with spatula until completely blended.

Now, let's put it all together. Grab your glass trifle bowl and get started:

Cover the bottom of the bowl with a layer of overlapping brownies
Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture over brownies
Cover cream cheese mixture with half of each prepared fruit
Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture over fruit
Cover cream cheese mixture with another layer of overlapping brownies
Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture over brownies
Cover cream cheese mixture with remaining fruit
Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture over fruit
Top with reserved Mandarin oranges

Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bring boldness to the table with McCormick Gourmet Blends and Recipe Mixes

Photos courtesy of McCormick
McCormick Gourmet offers all natural, coarsely-ground herbs and spices to create exciting dishes.
Each Gourmet Recipe mixes and blends are packed full of herbs and spices, especially selected for preparing your favorite recipes.

One of my favorites, is the Tuscan Seasoning. With a blend of garlic, Italian herbs and sun-dried tomatoes, I can create a whole meal.

I can toss an exquisite salad with a Tuscan Vinaigrette dressing, create a mouth-watering chicken entree and add a side of spinach and mushroom Risotto - all starting with this special Gourmet Blend.

Another favorite is the Creamy Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Penne from the Gourmet Recipe Mixes. A combo of marjoram, thyme and oregano makes this mix the perfect start to a grand 20-minute gourmet dinner any day of the week.

Here are three recipes from McCormickGourmet.com that can be easily prepared and will give you that great gourmet taste right at home.

Tuscan Vinaigrette

Serve this versatile Tuscan-inspired vinaigrette over salad greens, pasta salad, vegetable salad or panzanella.

Makes 3/4 cup or 6 (2-tablespoon) servings.
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Tuscan Seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Directions
1. Mix vinegar, Seasoning and sea salt in small bowl with wire whisk. Gradually add oil, whisking until well blended. Cover.
2. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Whisk dressing before drizzling over salad greens.


 

Creamy Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Penne

Dinner can be ready in less than 30 minutes with this great-tasting chicken and pasta recipe.
Makes 8 servings.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Creamy-Parmesan-and-Sun-Dried-Tomato-Chicken-Penne
Photos courtesy of McCormick
Cook Time: 15 minutes
 
 Ingredients
2 cups penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 package McCormick® Gourmet Creamy Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Penne Recipe & Seasoning Mix
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Watch Step-by-Step Video

Directions
1. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add Seasoning Mix, tomatoes, cream and cheese. Bring to boil, stirring constantly with wire whisk until well blended. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
3. Stir in pasta; toss gently to coat. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Shrimp Variation: Use 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, in place of the chicken. Cook and stir shrimp in melted butter 2 minutes. Continue as directed.

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto


Makes 4 servings.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Tuscan Seasoning
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups Kitchen Basics® Chicken Stock, heated
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions
1. Heat oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Add sausage; cook until browned, stirring to break into small chunks. Add onion, mushrooms and Seasoning; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onion and mushrooms are tender.
2. Stir in rice. Cook and stir 1 minute to toast rice. Add wine; cook and stir 1 minute or until absorbed.
3. Stirring constantly, add warm stock, 1/2 cup at a time, until liquid is absorbed by rice after each addition. (It takes about 25 minutes for all of the stock mixture to be absorbed and the risotto to become thick and creamy.) Remove from heat. Stir in spinach and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

For more recipes using McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes and Blends visit www.mccormickgourmet.com

Photo by Vicki Arsenault
McCormick Gourmet offers a variety of Gourmet Recipe Mixes and Blends.
McCormick Gourmet Blends come in 1.25-1.87 oz. bottles and retail for $2.74.
McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes retail at $1.99 per package.

Recipes printed with permission of McCormick & Company

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mom's Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

If you love a good homemade sweet pickle with just a little tang - you'll want to mix up a batch or two of these. They remind me of the 'bread and butter' pickles we always had growing up. I'm not really sure where this recipe originated. Although I believe it came from Iris, a dear sweet friend of the family. I'll just call them Mom's Refrigerator Pickles, because that's where I can always find them - at mom's house, in the fridge. It's a very simple recipe but has big results.

It all starts with getting young, firm cucumbers.
My Mom - 93 years young
If it's not too late in the season, I recommend visiting your local farmer's market, or if you're fortunate enough to have your own backyard vegetable garden - even better. You'll need about 16-20 cucumbers to get started.

Mom's Refrigerator Pickles
4 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup canning salt
1 Tsp mustard seed
1 Tsp celery seed
1/2 Tsp turmeric
16-20 fresh cucumbers (young cucumbers with small seeds are best)
4 large onions

Directions
Slice cucumbers about 1/4 inch thick and onion about 1/8 inch thick and set aside.
Mix all the above ingredients (except cucumbers and onions) together in a large heavy pot for your brine. Stir over medium heat until liquid comes to a complete boil.
Remove from heat.
Fill one 1/2 gallon canning jar or 2 quart size jars with cucumber and onion slices. Pack tightly.
Slowly pour hot brine into jars within one inch from the top. (I recommend using a canning funnel to avoid possible burns from brine.)
Seal jars with lids and rings.
Let stand on counter for 24 hours before refrigerating.
Pickles will be ready for eating once they are cold.
Enjoy!