Birthdays, Burgers and Bad Movies

by Cate on April 15, 2007

First, before I forget, a big happy birthday to my brother-in-law — hope it was a good one!

Tonight’s dinner brought three new recipes from me, and one tried-and-true, and two new recipes from The Neighbor Husband. It was a mix of types of food, but made for a plentiful feast while kicking back catching up on movies.

One-Hour Shrimp Paella – a new recipe from the April issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Very simple to make, but nothing wow about it. Just your average Paella recipe, and definitely needs a little more seasoning to amp up the flavor.

Layered Mexican Dip – a tried-and-true. Layer softened cream cheese in a dish, and top with salsa and shredded cheese. Add assorted toppings. I used chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro and chopped black olives. Nice and easy.

Veggie-Cheese Panini Sandwiches – a new recipe from the April issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I could swear I didn’t pack our panini maker yet, but couldn’t find it, so ended up just making these in a regular skillet. Next time, I think I’d skip the cucumber and either add extra spinach or sauteed mushrooms instead. Declared the hit of the night, these will definitely be coming back.

Chocolate-Raspberry Truffle Bars – a new recipe from the February issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. Simple, simple, simple, and sure to impress your guests, and better still, a perfect one to make if you’re a little pressed for time. Fudgy bar, topped with a silky ganache and fresh raspberries (ok, frozen). Fudge, ganache, raspberries … need I say more?

Stuffed JalapenosThe Neighbor Husband made this one, from Cookbook Junkie’s contribution to this week’s ARF/5-A-Day. He made the whole recipe, so we saved the leftovers for our upcoming Cinco de Mayo party (hello? It’s on a Saturday this year – how can we not have a shin-dig?). Creamy, cheesy, not a wow, but a good stand-by with a teensy little bit of heat in the last bite.

Mini Burgers – Another one from The Neighbor Husband. Not the exact title of the recipe, but I’m sure he’ll chime in with it. This one comes from Sandra Lee’s Grilling cookbook. He cut out the little rounds for the bottom of the burgers (very cute) and each burger gets a tiny little indentation for ketchup. Not a wow, but I think with a little tweak of seasoning, it could be improved.

There was a recent episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways on Food TV Network that highlighted a restaurant that served mini burgers on 3-tiered silver serving trays with assorted toppings (caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, bleu cheese, etc.). That would be fun for a party.

As far as movies? In a word … eh. We saw Friends with Money (ok, but lousy “that’s it?” ending that left you hanging), Black Christmas (remake of a horror flick that was a little hard to follow; since when are horror films hard to follow?) and lastly Come Early Morning (didn’t even bother finishing).

OK, all for tonight.

Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeños
Taste of Home Celebrations Cookbook via The Cookbook Junkie

25 medium fresh jalapeño peppers
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes. In a large saucepan, boil peppers in water for 5-10 minutes (the longer you boil the peppers, the milder they become.) Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon 2 teaspoonfuls in to each jalapeño half; sprinkle with bacon. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Yield: about 4 dozen

Veggie-Cheese Sandwiches
Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens, April 2007

Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 5 minutes
8-1/2-inch slices country French white bread
4 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey mustard
4 oz. thinly sliced Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1. Brush one side of each bread slice with oil; brush other side with mustard. Top mustard side of four slices with cheese, cucumber, spinach, and onion. Top with remaining bread slices, mustard side down.

2. Preheat indoor electric grill. Place sandwiches on grill. If using covered grill, close lid. Grill sandwiches until bread is golden. For covered grill, allow 3 to 5 minutes. For uncovered grill, allow 6 to 8 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling. Serve.

Chocolate-Raspberry Truffle Bars
From Every Day with Rachael Ray, February 2007

MAKES NINE BARS (that’s crazy! we got way more)
Prep Time: 15 min
Bake Time: 40 min

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate
2 sticks (8 ounces) plus 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup flour
2 half-pints fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. In a microwave oven or double boiler, melt half of the chocolate and the 2 sticks butter; stir to combine. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat the sugar with the eggs until bubbly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate, then the flour. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

3. In a microwave oven or double boiler, melt the remaining chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter; stir to combine. Pour the glaze onto the cooled truffle cake and tilt the pan to coat the top. Refrigerate to partially set the glaze, about 30 minutes. While the chocolate is still tacky, scatter the raspberries in a single layer on top, then refrigerate for a few more minutes to set the glaze completely. Cut the cake into 3-inch squares.

Bon Appétit, April 2007

Makes 4 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces 1/2-inch cubes smoked ham (about 1-3/4 cups)
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon (generous) saffron threads, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon hot Spanish paprika or hot Hungarian paprika
3-1/4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth, divided
1-1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add smoked ham, onions, and bell pepper, and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in saffron and paprika, then 3 cups broth and rice. Bring to boil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Nestle shrimp into rice, top with olives, and drizzle with 1/4 cup (or more) broth to moisten. Cover and cook until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Orchidea April 15, 2007 at 7:51 am

I like home made burgers! Nice post and very good food.


Cate April 16, 2007 at 12:43 am

Orchidea – they were cute, weren’t they? Thanks for dropping by!


Victoria April 16, 2007 at 10:30 am

The burgers look so cute and…round! hehe. and the sound of chocolate truffle bars is resonating in my hungry tummyy.=) cute blog!!


Anonymous April 16, 2007 at 12:29 pm

WOW i am getting jealous of this neighbor stuff. wish i was close by to participate. the jalapenos will be one of the firts things i make when i have a party. Cate i need to start thinking of a menu for when i come to visit. all the eating i hope to get some work done. chris


girlville April 16, 2007 at 12:35 pm

thanks for posting the recipes. i’m definitely trying the chocolate-raspberry truffle bars.


Colleen June 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Excellent menu. I’m defiantly trying some of the recipes at my next family gathering. For olive oi I highly recommend trying the extra-virgin olive oil from Holy Food Imports.
It is imported to the US from Israel, and it is produced using cold presses,
as was the method over 3,000 years ago.


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