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By Robin Devereaux-Nelson
There's nothing like cozying up on a chilly, fall evening with some great friends, great food and fun. Last Thursday marked Dev’s annual Pampered Chef Extravaganza, with fledgling Pampered Chef Demonstrator Stephanie Kester. Stephanie did a great job showing off the latest and greatest Pampered Chef gizmos, gadgets and cookware, and as an added bonus baked us up some fabulous Jalapeno Popper Pizzas.
Of course, Dev was busy in the kitchen as well, getting ready for some hungry guests, and promised one and all to include all the party recipes on the 360 Main Street site. Our Halloween-themed gathering included Chicken Cilantro Chili, Jalapeno Roll-Ups, Dev's Not-So-Secret Sauce (veggie dip), and Dev’s Pasta Prima Salad. Since we have quite a few recipes to get through, we’ll jump right in with the Pampered Chef recipe for
JALAPENO POPPER PIZZAS
For this recipe you will need:
1 pkg. (11 oz) refrigerated thin crust pizza crust
4 slices bacon
1 small red bell pepper (use half)
2 jalapeno peppers
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 425. Place dough onto cutting board. Using a sawing motion slice dough into 24 disks using utility knife. Place disks onto large bar pan; press to flatten and seal seams. Bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven to stackable cooling rack.
Meanwhile, slice bacon into 1/4 inch pieces; cook in sauté pan over medium high heat 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan using slotted turner; drain on paper towels. Chop bell pepper and jalapenos using food chopper. Combine cream cheese, half of the cheddar cheese, bacon, and peppers in classic batter bowl; mix well. Divide cream cheese mixture evenly over crusts. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 4-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and crusts are golden brown.
There was lots of oooooing and aaaahhhing over the Chicken Cilantro Chili, which is super-easy to make, and as an added bonus, can be made as a vegan dish by substituting vegetable broth (you made that with me last week, right Gentle Readers?), adding a can of chickpeas, and omitting the chicken. This soup is jam packed with piquant flavor. Serve with some blue corn chips for a nice touch. You may also want to add a squeeze of lime.
CHICKEN CILANTRO CHILI
Place in a crock pot:
2 quarts chicken stock
3 15 oz. cans of white navy beans (including broth)
1-2 cups left-over, diced chicken
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
In a pan, sauté until soft (in chicken fat or "schmaltz," if possible):
2 diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 medium onion, chopped
Add the vegetables to the crockpot. Place the crockpot on high until well heated. Just before serving, chop one bunch of cilantro and add to the pot. Stir and serve.
Each time I make my Prima Pasta Salad, it's a little different. There are so many shapes and flavors of pasta to choose from, and each makes the salad taste a little different. Also my veggies and other additions vary: tomatoes, peppers, onion, mushrooms, olives, celery, cheeses and of course meats, such as pepperoni, salami and ham.
The real secret to the salad is the dressing, which also varies according to herb availability—and if you don't have fresh herbs, utilizing dried is completely acceptable. Included are approximate measures for both fresh and dried herbs. This dressing can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one month and used to dress any type of salad. This recipe makes a lot, so you can dress your pasta salad with as little or as much as you like. Save the leftovers for your next green salad, or add leftover grilled chicken, Parmesan cheese and croutons for an awesome Ceasar-style salad.
FRESH ITALIAN STYLE SALAD DRESSING
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup water or white wine
2 cups salad oil
½ cup good olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dry basil
3 cloves garlic, chopped, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 sprigs fresh marjoram or 2 teaspoons dry marjoram
½ bunch fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dry thyme
Place all in a food processor or blender and process on high setting until creamy and well blended, or place in a large bowl and whisk with a wire whisk till creamy.
PRIMA PASTA SALAD
1 1-lb. box of Quadrefiore (or any other shape) pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large green pepper, diced
½ cup chopped celery and celery leaves
½ red pepper diced
½ cup grated combination of Parmesan, Asiago and Roman cheeses (available in Kraft brand)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, pour on homemade Italian Style dressing, and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl. Dress with some extra grated cheese.
I make this vegetable dip all the time and can't tell you how many times I've been asked for the recipe, which I find kind of funny because it is so dang easy. We call it:
DEV'S NOT-SO-SECRET SAUCE
Open a large container of sour cream. Add 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dried chives.
Mix together vigorously. If you use a long tea spoon to do this, it's easier and you can avoid some spilling. Make sure you stir all the way to the bottom. Now for the essential part: close the container back up and let it sit for several hours, or best, over night. Place in a decorative bowl and serve with fresh vegetables or chips.
This last recipe is ultra easy and is made with only three ingredients.
4 flour tortillas
1 large package softened cream cheese
2 heaping tablespoons diced, pickled jalapeno peppers
Soften the cream cheese and add the peppers. Mix well. Lay out the tortillas and divide the cheese mixture evenly between them. Spread the cheese over the surface of the tortilla and roll up tightly. Wrap each roll in a piece of foil to hold the shape and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Remove from the refrigerator, unwrap and slice into bite-sized pieces. Serve.
Stop in next time to see what's cookin' in Dev's Kitchen. I hear she’s getting a little corny with yummy Roasted Corn Pancakes served with Carne Asada Steak Chili.
© Robin Devereaux-Nelson, 2010