Tropical Fruit Salad #SundaySupper

By Coleen

With flavors of pineapple, coconut, mango and lime, you’ll transport yourself to the Caribbean with this easy tropical fruit salad.

Tropical Fruit Salad #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

My mom and I joke that we were born in the wrong country. We love tropical everything. Tropical flowers, tropical weather, tropical music, and especially tropical flavors. If you walked into my mother’s basement, you’d think you’d been transported to the Bahamas. Turquoise paint on the walls, coral paint in the bathroom, and palm trees everywhere.

When I read that this week’s Sunday Supper theme was tropical food, I really couldn’t make up my mind. Should I make something with coconut? Something with pineapple? Something with mango? I finally decided to go super simple, and combine all the flavors in one delicious, easy fruit salad.

Tropical Fruit Salad #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to hollow out a watermelon to use as a serving vessel for fruit salad at family picnics. I decided to do the same with a pineapple to serve this fruit salad. One pineapple will not hold all of the fruit salad at once, and to be quite frank, it was HARD WORK to hollow out just one pineapple. If you serve this at a party, you’ll need to keep the rest in a bowl nearby, or refill the pineapple as needed. Or you can skip the hollow pineapple altogether, and just peel and core the pineapple, and proceed with Step 4.

One tip: bananas oxidize (turn brown) after being cut. Leave those until last, and toss with a little lime juice before adding to the salad. Feel free to leave out any tropical fruits you don’t like, and /or add in other tropical fruits, like oranges, papaya, or starfruit.

Tropical Fruit Salad #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tropical Fruit Salad #SundaySupper
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
For the syrup:
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup (2¼ oz) sweetened flaked coconut
For the salad:
  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 mangos, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 3 kiwis, peeled, and cut into ¼-inch rounds or wedges
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut on the bias into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes (about a pound), halved if desired
  • Zest of 2 limes
Directions
  1. Make the syrup: Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture boils, stir in the coconut, remove the saucepan from the heat, and cover. Let stand for 30 minutes to 4 hours (the longer it sits, the stronger the coconut flavor).
  2. Strain the syrup into a 2-cup measuring glass (or storage container, if not using immediately). Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate if not using immediately. Discard solids from the strainer. Syrup can be stored for up to a day before using.
  3. Use a pineapple cutter to hollow out the pineapple, stopping about ¾-inch from the bottom. Remove the flesh, discard the core. Cut the flesh into 1-inch wedges.
  4. Combine the pineapple, mango, kiwi, banana, and grapes in a large bowl. Pour the syrup over the fruit, then sprinkle on the lime zest. Toss to coat. Chill in the refrigerator if not serving immediately.

Syrup recipe from Food Network

Discover more Sunday Supper Tropical Recipes!

Tidbits and Pupus

Breakfast

Companions

Condiments and Sauces

Coolers

Main Event

Delectable Delights

Wine Pairings

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Blackberry Lemonade #SundaySupper

By Coleen

For your next picnic, make a batch of this blackberry lemonade. It’s sweet, and tart, and very refreshing! 

Blackberry Lemonade #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

I’ve found yet another reason to be excited about spring and warmer temperatures: picnic season! Liam and I have already had one “snack picnic.” We packed up some snacks (Goldfish, dried fruit, some cookies, and milk boxes), and walked a few blocks to a local park. We ate our snacks in the sunshine, watching kids playing and dogs walking and people riding bikes.

Today’s #SundaySupper is all about picnic foods — the most delicious appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts and beverages that are easy to pack up and bring along on a picnic, whether that picnic is for two people, or a crowd.

Blackberry Lemonade #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

My blackberry lemonade is inspired by a drink I had at a local chain restaurant. I actually had blackberry iced tea, and while it was tasty, I thought the blackberries would pair much better with lemonade than tea. I checked out TheKitchn.com for a tutorial on making lemonade from scratch. The basic ratio is 1 part lemon juice, 1 part sugar, and 5 parts water. That means for every cup of lemon juice and sugar, use 5 cups of water.

Instead of making a “plain” simple syrup (which consists of equal parts sugar and water), I flavored the syrup with blackberries. It’s a very easy recipe, and if you start early enough, it can be made in one day. If you plan on having a morning picnic, make the syrup (or the whole lemonade recipe) the night before.

Blackberry Lemonade #SundaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

One tip: make lemon-flavored ice cubes. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water. Freeze in an ice cube tray, then add the cubes to your lemonade. It will keep your lemonade chilled without diluting the flavor.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Blackberry Lemonade #SundaySupper
 
Author:
Serves: 2 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 2 pints (12 ounces) blackberries
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 12 lemons)
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Set over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the blackberries, and cover the saucepan. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover the saucepan. Cool to room temperature. Strain into a storage container, and place in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. In a serving pitcher, combine the blackberry syrup (straining again, if necessary), the lemon juice, and the remaining water. If serving immediately, add ice cubes. If not, chill until ready to serve.

Adapted from The Kitchn

Appetizers:

Beverages:

Main Dishes:

Sides:

Soups and Salads:

Desserts:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Cherry-Apple Smoothie

By Coleen

Get kids into the kitchen early to expose them to new flavors and healthy eating. This cherry-apple smoothie is so easy, even a preschooler can help!

Cherry Apple Smoothie #KidsintheKitchen #CLBlogger | theredheadbaker.com

Have you been through either the infant/toddler aisle or the kids’ snack aisle at a local grocery store lately? Have you seen those pouches? Some are just fruits, some are just veggies, some are a mix of both, some are complete meals. I recently learned that some moms are REALLY opinionated on pouches.

Personally, I’m pro-pouch. Well, technically, I’m pro-whatever-makes-your-life-easier. I will happily hand my son a fruit/veggie mix pouch and watch him down it one breath rather than fight with him over dinner to eat one morsel of a carrot. He’s happy; I’m happy.

The thing is, as is with all convenience items, they can get expensive. I try to stock up when they’re on sale, and ration them to make them last, but then I wondered why I didn’t just make them at home.

Cherry Apple Smoothie #KidsintheKitchen  #CLBlogger | theredheadbaker.com

Making them at home doesn’t solve the “what do I pack for an easy snack at the playground” dilemma. But when he’s playing at home and wants a pouch, he and I can easily whip up a homemade version of his favorite flavor combos, saving the “real” pouches for times I need the convenience factor. (FYI, there are reusable pouches on the market, but for a variety of reasons, we’re not buying them right now).

At this stage (Liam is almost 3.5 years old), I did the measuring and blending, and he did the pouring (and the sampling — have to make sure the ingredients are good!). Older kids can measure and pour on their own and have an adult do the blending. My favorite part of having Liam helping me in the kitchen is the sampling. He’s exposed to new flavors because he loves sampling as we go along. And studies have shown that kids are more likely to taste the final dish when they’ve had a hand in making it. I’m really excited that Cooking Light magazine has a recipe in each issue that is labeled “Kids in the Kitchen.”

The nutrition information estimated below (calculated with MyFitnessPal’s recipe calculator) assumes you use a 5.3-oz single-serve container of nonfat Greek yogurt. As always, these numbers are just estimates; if you need a true calculation of nutrition, consult a qualified professional.

The consistency of this smoothie is on the thinner side, so if you prefer it thicker, use more yogurt. Unlike baking, smoothie-making is more of an art than a science; feel free to adjust amounts to your preference.

Cherry Apple Smoothie #KidsintheKitchen  #CLBlogger | theredheadbaker.com

Cherry-Apple Smoothie
 
Author:
Serves: 2 (8-oz) servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, thawed
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (5.3 oz) container low- or non-fat vanilla yogurt (Greek or traditional)
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a tall 32-oz container, or the carafe of a blender.
  2. Puree the ingredients with an immersion blender, or a counter-top blender until smooth.
  3. Divide into two 8-oz cups and serve. Refrigerate any remaining smoothie.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 8 oz Calories: 121 Fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 25 Sugar: 15 Protein: 7

An original recipe by The Redhead Baker

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper

By Coleen

French onion grilled cheese stuffs the best flavors of the soup into a delicious sandwich. Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper #GalloFamily | theredheadbaker.com

April is National Grilled Cheese month, aka The Best Month Ever. Grilled cheese has been one of my favorite comfort foods for as long as I can remember. The perfect grilled cheese sandwich is crisp on the outside, and stuffed with ooey gooey melted cheese on the inside. Gallo Family Vineyards has invited the Sunday Supper Movement to share their favorite grilled cheese recipes, and pair them with Gallo wines.

I can still remember coming inside after playing in the snow, cheeks rosy red and hands frozen, to see my mom waiting for me with a bowl of soup (chicken noodle) and a grilled cheese sandwich. My dad would try to sneak a few slices of tomato, or deli ham into my grilled cheese, but I was a purist (or, according to Dad, “boring”). I just wanted bread and cheese.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered that adding new flavors to grilled cheese isn’t such a bad thing (yep, Dad, you were right). Sure, there are times I crave a traditional white-bread-and-American grilled cheese sandwich. But the flavor possibilities with this sandwich are endless.

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper #GalloFamily | theredheadbaker.com

The first flavored grilled cheese sandwich I ever made was Brie and pear. You can also pair manchego and ham; mozzarella with basil and tomato; taleggio and fruit chutney; cheddar and roast beef; even Brie and chocolate for a slightly sweet sandwich. I could go on and on! But I’m getting hungry, and I have a recipe to share with you.

This particular sandwich is a nod to my favorite soup of all time: French onion. Caramelizing onions brings out the sweet side of the onion. Standard yellow onions work well for this sandwich, because they actually contain more natural sugar than “sweet” onions (which only taste sweet because they have fewer sulfur compounds).

The key to a great grilled cheese sandwich (and caramelized onions, come to think of it) is “low and slow”. You can’t rush this sandwich, or else you’ll end up with a burnt outside and un-melted cheese inside. Not tasty. You can make the caramelized onions up to a day ahead of time, and refrigerate them. Warm them in a separate saucepan just before you start making your grilled cheese sandwiches.

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper #GalloFamily | theredheadbaker.com

The most commonly-used cheese for French onion soup is Gruyere, but others use Comté, and some even use fontina. The best cheeses for a grilled cheese sandwich are obviously ones that melt well. You add flavor by mixing in a fresh or aged crumbly cheese, but the primary cheese should be a good melting cheese.

Preheat your skillet (I like cast iron for this) or griddle over medium-low heat. Some swear by melting butter on the cooking surface, but I’ve always spread it on the bread itself. Go beyond basic white sandwich bread, and try slices of sourdough, or Italian ciabatta bread. Don’t go for anything with large holes on it, or else your cheese will ooze right out. I prefer a white or wheat bread labeled “hearty” or “country,” which is cut thicker than standard sandwich bread, and doesn’t collapse when I spread the butter on it.

The beefy onion flavor of this sandwich pairs beautifully with Gallo Family Vineyard’s Merlot. This full-bodied red wine stands up to the rich flavors of the sandwich. I served these sandwiches with a small cup of rich tomato bisque. If you’re a white wine fan, use a Gruyere cheese in the sandwich and pair with Gallo’s Sauvignon Blanc – it complements the nutty cheese well.

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper #GalloFamily | theredheadbaker.com

5.0 from 1 reviews
French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper
 
Author:
Serves: 4 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch-thick vertical slices
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp beef stock
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 8 slices hearty white bread
  • Salted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz fontina or gruyere cheese (or a mix of both), sliced or coarsely shredded
Directions
  1. Heat the unsalted butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Use a pastry brush or tilt the skillet to spread the fat around and ensure the whole surface is coated. Season the onions with salt and pepper, and add to the skillet in an even layer. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent.
  2. Uncover the skillet and continue cooking the onions another 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often, until caramel-brown in color and very soft, almost mushy.
  3. Pour the beef stock with over the onions, at the same time using a spatula to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle the thyme as well as more salt and pepper over the onions, and continue cooking until beef stock reduces by half.
  4. Remove the onions from the heat and keep warm (or, if making the onions ahead of time, cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container).
  5. Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Spread salted butter all over one side of two slices of bread.
  6. Lay one slice of bread, butter-side down, in the skillet. Spread 1 ounce of the cheese evenly over the bread. Top with caramelized onions, and another ounce of the cheese. Top with the second slice of bread, butter-side-up. Cook until the bread is golden brown on the bottom (2 to 3 minutes).
  7. Flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Adapted from Food Network

French Onion Grilled Cheese #SundaySupper #GalloFamily | theredheadbaker.com

Discover more delicious grilled cheese recipes!

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Gallo Family VineyardsMake sure to go visit Gallo to learn more about their wine and get more grilled cheese recipe inspiration. While you’re at it, make sure to check out Gallo’s convenient Store Locator!

To learn more about Gallo wines and find out why #SundaySupper is such great fans of their products, be sure to visit Gallo’s social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GalloFamilyVineyards
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GalloFamily
Instagram: http://instagram.com/gallofamily
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/gallofamilyvineyards

Chocolate Pot de Crème

By Coleen

Once you taste homemade chocolate pot de crème, you’ll never make chocolate pudding from a boxed mix again! 

Chocolate Pot de Creme | theredheadbaker.com

So, you just made a triple batch of those cherry chocolate chip meringue cookies, right? And now you have three egg yolks hanging out in the refrigerator. What do you do with them?

Do yourself a favor, and make this chocolate pot de creme. “Pot de crème?? What the heck is that??”, you say. Pot de crème translates to “pot of cream.” It’s a type of custard. “So, it’s chocolate pudding?” you ask. It’s similar. The chocolate pudding you’re probably thinking about is called a “stirred custard,” and is made on the stovetop (or a boxed mix) and thickened with starch. Pot de crème custards are baked in a water bath in the oven, and thickened with egg yolks.

Chocolate Pot de Creme | theredheadbaker.com

As convenient as boxed pudding mix is, once you taste chocolate pot de crème made from scratch, you will never go back to the mix. Baked custards are very easy to make — if you can stir, you can make baked custard. The rich, deep flavor of chocolate pot de crème just can be matched by boxed mixes.

If you plan to make chocolate pot de crème at home, plan ahead. It does need to refrigerate overnight, so plan to make it the day before you want to serve it. Serve with a garnish of whipped cream, fresh berries, a sprig of mint, and/or chocolate shavings. Your friends and family will be impressed, but they don’t need to know how (little) effort these take!

Chocolate Pot de Creme | theredheadbaker.com

Chocolate Pot de Crème
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • Salt
  • 6 large yolks
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Boiling water for the water bath
  • Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, raspberries, mint sprigs
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place six 6-ounce ramekins in a 9x13 roasting pan.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the milk, heavy cream and salt in a stainless steel saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the milk mixture.
  5. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until slightly thickened and the yolks lighten in color.
  6. Very slowly drizzle about a quarter of the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, then pour the yolk mixture back into the rest of the chocolate mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then divide into the six ramekins.
  7. Very carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan, carefully avoiding getting water in the custard mixture. Set the roasting pan in the oven and bake the custards for 30 to 35 minutes, until just barely set (mixture should still jiggle when you gently shake the roasting pan).
  8. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and cool to room temperature on a cooling rack. Then transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Garnish ramekins with a dollop of sweetened whip cream, raspberries and a mint sprig, then serve.

Recipe adapted from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

By Coleen

Cherry chocolate chip meringue cookies are sweet and tart, studded with delicious bits of chocolate. If you like the ice cream, you’ll LOVE the cookies!

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

It’s sometimes hard to come up with recipes to share with you. I get in a rut of cooking at home, and our dinners are pretty much, “throw some herbs on the chicken and heat up a steam-in-the-bag veggie.”

This particular recipe actually came to me as I was perusing the ice cream aisle in the grocery store. I was trying to decide between cookie dough ice cream and cherry chip ice cream. And my brain thought, “Hey, cherry chip cookies!”

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

It took a while for these cookies to come to fruition because freeze-dried cherries seem to be the one fruit that grocery stores do NOT carry. At least not in my area. I searched four different grocery stores, and a specialty market. I searched the snack aisle, the canned fruit aisle, the produce section, and the bulk bins.

They are available online, but shipping prices were ridiculous unless you have an Amazon Prime account (which I don’t). A friend offered to buy a bag with her Prime account and have them shipped to me. And so, I made cookies for you.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

I’ve posted about meringue cookies before. Meringue is not technically difficult, but it is finicky. Make sure your bowl and whisk attachment are 100% spotless, and bone-dry. Set your egg whites on the counter and let them come to room temperature before beginning the recipe. Chilled whites equal less volume in your meringue.

There are three “stages” of meringue: soft peaks, medium peaks, and stiff peaks. You’re aiming for stiff peaks, where the peaks formed when the beater is inverted do not fall over (see photo below).

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

If at all possible, avoid making meringue on rainy or very humid days. In order for meringue to stay crisp, it must dry out while baking, and humidity makes that very hard. And finally, if you don’t have a pastry bag with a large round tip, you can scoop the meringue with a medium cookie scoop, or just drop the meringue by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheets.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

Cherry Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 24 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz freeze-dried cherries
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of table salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the freeze-dried cherries in a mini food processor. Pulse until a fine powder forms.
  3. Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer along with the pinch of salt. Whip on high speed with the whisk attachment until foamy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla, and continue whipping on high speed until shiny and stiff peaks form that do not fall over when the beater is raised.
  5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Sift the cherry powder over the bowl, discard any large chunks left in the sifter. Gently fold the cherry powder into the meringue until no white streaks remain. Add in the chocolate chips and fold again until evenly distributed.
  6. Scrape the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe walnut-sized mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, rotate each pan 180 degrees and switch the positions of the baking sheets (top to bottom and vice versa). Bake for another hour, or until the cookies lift easily off of the parchment paper.
  8. Remove the cookies from the baking pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

An original recipe by The Redhead Baker

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper

By Coleen

Spring leeks star in this quick and easy pasta dish. Mushrooms and sauteed bacon add contrasting flavors and textures.

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

Weeknight meals make life so much easier. Recipes that I can prep on the weekend and dive into cooking on a weeknight are ever better.

This particular recipe is a family favorite. I’ve made it several times, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to share it with you. The March Weekday Supper theme of “Green” presented the perfect opportunity. Green could be interpreted as “spring,” or literally “green food.” Leeks fit both interpretations.

Leeks are related to onions and garlic. They have a mild onion-y taste. They look like long stalks, dark green at the top, fading to white at the bottom. Though leeks have only recently become popular in the U.S., they have been consumed for centuries in Wales, where the vegetable is one of the national emblems.

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

Look for leeks in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store. They are usually in the chilled area, near the fresh herbs and organic produce. Choose leeks that are straight and firm, not yellow, bruised or cracked. I generally rinse leeks both before and after slicing, since, as a root vegetable, dirt can get between the inner layers. Once sliced, you can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you can’t find rigatoni, you can use any short variety of pasta, such as penne, cavatappi or ditalini. I change up the extras in this dish each time I make it. I use different colored peppers, or zucchini, or leave out the mushrooms, or change up the cheeses (asiago instead of pecorino, for example) — it’s a very adaptable recipe.

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper
 
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Generous palmful of kosher salt
  • 12 oz rigatoni or other short pasta, such as cavatappi or penne
  • 8 oz bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 large leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced and rinsed well
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for topping
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Do not drain the skillet.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks and bell pepper to the skillet. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half and cook until it begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta back into the skillet along with the parmesan, pecorino, and half of the bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper; toss to coat, adding enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen any stuck-together pasta. To serve, top with the remaining bacon, more parmesan and pecorino.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Pasta with Leeks and Bacon #WeekdaySupper | theredheadbaker.com

Be sure to stop and check out the rest of the Weekday Supper posts!

#WeekdaySupper

Crab Rangoon #PartyLikeAMadMan

By Coleen

Crab rangoon is a deep-fried crabmeat appetizer popularized by the Polynesian-themed restaurant Trader Vic’s in the 1950s. Say goodbye to the show Mad Men with this dish mentioned on the show.

Crab Rangoon #PartyLikeAMadMan

It’s the end of an era. On Sunday, the final episode of Mad Men will air, and it will be over. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a drama set in the 1960s about Madison Avenue advertisers. You need to see it, not just to drool over Jon Hamm, but because it’s a show worth watching. It won 15 Emmys and 4 Golden Globes in the time it’s been on the air.

I joined up with several other bloggers and the authors of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, to send the show off in style. We’re sharing recipes for dishes popular in the era of Mad Men, and featured on the show.

Crab Rangoon #PartyLikeAMadMan

I knew that I would make crab rangoon as soon as Judy contacted me about the event. I love crab rangoon. Wait, back up. I love GOOD crab rangoon. Unfortunately, good crab rangoon seems to be hard to get around here. It’s either mushy or bland. Or worse, both.

Basic crab rangoon is crabmeat and cream cheese, wrapped inside a wonton wrapper and fried. Good crab rangoon includes garlic and onion, Worcestershire or soy sauce, and for the love of god, salt and pepper. Is salt and pepper too much to ask for?? Sorry. Calming down. Serve these appetizers hot with a dipping sauce. My favorite is sweet Thai chili sauce, found in the international aisle of your local grocery store.

Crab Rangoon #PartyLikeAMadMan

Crab Rangoon #PartyLikeAMadMan
 
Author:
Serves: 16 appetizers
 
Ingredients
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
  • 6 oz drained crab meat
  • 3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16 2-inch won ton wrappers
Directions
  1. Pour oil into a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven to a depth of three inches. Heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Reduce heat to low to maintain temperature.
  2. While oil is heating, in a small mixing bowl, combine crab meat, cream cheese, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon filling by the teaspoonful into the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten all four edges of the wrapper with water, and fold opposite edges up and pinch. Fold the remaining two corners up and seal all edges together. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
  4. Prepare a baking sheet: line with two to three layers of paper towel, and set a wire mesh cooling rack on top. Place near the stove.
  5. Once oil reaches 350 degrees. fry the filled wontons in batches of four until golden brown (about 20 to 30 seconds), flip and fry until golden brown all over (about another 10 to 20 seconds). Remove with a slotted spoon to the cooling rack and season immediately with salt. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, serve with soy sauce, duck sauce or sweet Thai chili sauce.

Adapted from The Unofficial Madmen Cookbook

Spring Cleaning with OXO

By Coleen

Spring cleaning time is here! Throw open your windows, give your kitchen a deep clean, and get organized with OXO! Compensation was provided by OXO in the form of free products. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of OXO.

#OXOSpringCleaning

Spring cleaning around here means deep cleaning, organizing and purging. No place in our apartment needs this more than our kitchen. When we moved to our new apartment, we lost a lot of kitchen real estate. We went from having 8 cabinets to about 3 and a half. We used to have TONS of counter space; now we practically have none. Did I mention the lack of a dishwasher? Yeah, sometimes I wonder what we were thinking, too.

Our ceilings are tall, which allowed us to install two shelves over our portable kitchen island. We re-purposed a TV table into more kitchen storage. But still, our dish drainer took up the only counter space we had. Then I received OXO’s foldaway dish rack. It has a plate rack that folds up to dry plates upright, or folds down flat to accommodate large bowls or cookware. The cup rack and utensil rack fold in to create a compact rectangle that slides easily into our under-sink cabinet, giving me lots of counter space when needed.

#OXOSpringCleaning | theredheadbaker.com

Obviously, without a dishwasher, having good sponges is essential. We usually have one soft kind and one kind with a scrubber side. OXO sent us a sponge holder that fits neatly on the side of our sink, as well as a heavy duty scrubber with storage tray that has been a lifesaver. The heavy duty scrubber makes quick work of cleaning up even the worst post-dinner messes. Just look at my Dutch oven after I made chicken thighs braised in milk, and then after it’s been cleaned with the scrubber.

#OXOSpringCleaning | theredheadbaker.com

One of Dave’s favorites is the expandable utensil organizer. We had been using a cheap wire mesh organizer that slid all over the drawer. It also had a limited number of slots, so other essential kitchen tools that we use quite often were just sitting on the bottom of the drawer. Kind of gross. This organizer has a large compartment at the top, and when you expand the organizer, it creates another compartment on the side. We can easily store our most-used cooking utensils right next to the stove. And since we can expand it to the width of our drawer, there’s no sliding around.

#OXOSpringCleaning | theredheadbaker.com

We also received 4 magnetic all-purpose clips (we keep one clipped to our metal overhead cabinets, and store a kitchen towel there); a water bottle cleaning set; a silicone sink mat; and a counter-top compost bin. As we live in an apartment, we can’t have a compost pile. I looked into donating compost in Philadelphia, but couldn’t find anything. However, I have repurposed the compost bucket. I used to use plastic produce bags from the grocery store to hold garlic skins and ends of produce as I prepped dinner. These plastic bags would end up in the garbage can. I now place the unusable produce parts in the compost bucket, which I then empty into the garbage can, so we can recycle our produce bags at the grocery store.

All of the products mentioned in this post can be purchased at OXO.com. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for new products, cleaning and organization tips, recipes and more!

Disclosure: I was provided with samples of kitchen cleaning and organizing tools mentioned above from OXO. I was not compensated for writing this post and the opinions expressed are my own. Thank you, OXO!

#OXOSpringCleaning | theredheadbaker.com

Easter Candy Cookies

By Coleen

Bright, colorful Easter candy cookies are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. White chocolate cookies are loaded with pastel-colored chocolate candies. 

#Easter Candy Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

Easter ranks pretty high on my list of favorite holidays. Not for the traditions; for the candy. You see, Cadbury Caramel Eggs are one of the BEST THINGS EVER. And they’re only available around Easter. See also: chocolate bunnies. The solid kind. (Though I recently read about filling hollow bunnies with chocolate liqueur — I can get behind that idea!)

Easter also has pretty candy. Look at those beautiful pastel colors! How can you NOT want to bake something beautiful with those colors?

#Easter Candy Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

Now, sure, you could take those candies and fold them into standard chocolate chip cookie dough, or sugar cookies, or blondies. The cookie base here has melted white chocolate, which just brings these to a whole new level of addictiveness.

Keep a close eye on the white chocolate while melting it. White chocolate has a lower melting temperature than regular chocolate. Move it off and on the heat so it doesn’t scorch. Keep a close eye on these cookies, too. They will go from juuuust golden around the edges to burnt very quickly. But they are worth it!

#Easter Candy Cookies | theredheadbaker.com

Easter Candy Cookies
 
Serves: 40 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped fine
  • ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pastel candy-coated chocolates
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the white chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the sugar, baking soda and salt, and beat together for about a minute.
  5. Add the eggs and the melted white chocolate, beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the flour, and beat just until all of the flour is incorporated. Add the candies, and stir on low until incorporated.
  7. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a medium cookie scoop, spacing cookies at least two inches apart. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges.
  8. Let cookies cool about a minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens