Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nanimo Bars – my grandma’s recipe


  • butter (1/2 cup, 1/2 cup, + more to taste later)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups fine honey graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 – 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate


Layer 1:

Put 1/2 cup butter, granulated sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and vanilla in top part of double boiler.  Cook over boiling water until well blended.  Add egg (temper egg first) and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring.  Add crumbs, nuts and coconut.  Press into buttered 9x9 pan.  Chill in fridge for 15 minutes.


Layer 2:

Cream 1/2 cup butter until fluffy; beat in pudding mix and milk.  Add confections sugar gradually and beat until smooth.  Spread over first layer.  Chill 15 minutes.


Layer 3:

Melt semisweet chocolate and 1-2 tablespoon(s) butter over low heat until smooth.  Spread over second layer. Chill until firm.  Cut in small (1 inch) squares.  Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve (let set out 10 minutes to soften before serving).


So good!!  Thanks grandma, God rest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina.  It starts out similar to a basic spaghetti sauce, but becomes SO much more.  Perfect for an impressive weekend dinner.

As you can tell by the name, it’s meant to be made with penne pasta – but when I made it for the first time, I didn’t have any - so I made due with elbow noodles.  I’ve made it again since, and actually found I like it best with campanelle noodles.

My side dishes with this dinner tend to be garlic bread or bruschetta, and a refreshing wedge salad (blue cheese, bacon, & tomatoes over a wedge of iceberg and spicy ranch or parmesan dressing).


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof sauté pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.


Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.


Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicken Chilaquiles

When my mom and I went to Hilton Head, I had the best chicken chilaquiles EVER!!!  When I got back home, I looked up “chilaquiles” and found a million and one recipes for this dish.  It can range from a breakfast dish or a hearty dinner dish… casserole style or portioned and plated… etc…

In essence, chilaquiles refers to fried corn tortillas and a partnering red or green salsa.  Other ingredients are optional and are often either fried / scrambled eggs or pulled chicken.  If anyone would have described this recipe to me, I don’t think I would have been impressed, but after tasting it – it will definitely be a staple in my home!

I made my chilaquiles with red salsa and pulled chicken.  Unfortunately, I did not have corn tortillas on hand, so I used basic tortilla chips.  It was still delicious, but next time I’ll definitely make the extra stop at the grocery for authentic corn tortillas.

The recipe below has tomatillos for a green salsa, but if you don’t have any on hand, the red it just as good and you make it simply by using red tomatoes or tomato sauce.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño until smooth. In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin and coriander and cook over high heat until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the tomatillo puree, bring to a boil and cook until the sauce loses its bright green color, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 3/4 cup of the pepper Jack, the farmer cheese and half of the tomatillo sauce; season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, toss the tortilla chips with the remaining sauce.
  3. Spread half of the chips in an 8-by-11-inch baking dish; top with the chicken and cover with the remaining tortilla chips. Don't pack the chips down. Dollop the sour cream over the chips and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup of pepper Jack. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is browned. Serve immediately.

Red salsa (before blended):


Red Salsa (after blending):


Pulled Chicken:


Chicken w/ Salsa:


The final product (mixed w/ cheeses and poured over chips!):