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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sudia's Pizza Loaf

As seen on WIBW 13 News at 4 with Ralph Hipp, July 27, 2011. 

Ready for the oven!

Sudia’s Pizza Loaf
1 loaf (1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed in fridge
1 pound ground sausage
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 can (sliced) black olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or use 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup cheddar, if preferred)
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water (this is egg wash)
Italian seasoning, for garnish
Grated parmesan, for garnish

Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is cooked, drain. Stir in tomato sauce, black olives and seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Punch dough down. Place dough onto a large, greased jelly roll pan (approx. 15 x 12 inches); roll or press dough to edges of pan, then spread prepared, cooled filling lengthwise down center third of dough. Sprinkle cheeses over filling.
On each long side of dough, cut several 1-inch-wide strips about 2- 1/2 in. into center. Starting at one end, pull alternating strips at an angle up and across filling, pinching to seal dough in places, if needed to hold in filling. Brush pizza roll with egg wash, then sprinkle Italian seasoning and parmesan on top, as garnish.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and hot throughout.

Now You're Cookin',

Chef Alli

BLT Burgers with Chef Alli's Kickin' Ketchup

As seen on WIBW 13 News This Morning, July 28, 2011 with Dave and Amanda. 

BLT Burgers with Chef Alli’s Kickin’ Ketchup
Recipe from Fine Cooking Picnics and Cookouts, Sept. 2011, adapted by Chef Alli, Serves 8

2 lbs. ground chuck
2 lbs. ground sirloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices sharp Cheddar
8 Hy-Vee Bakery Onion Buns
8 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, cut in half (2 halves per burger)
8 leaves red leaf lettuce
2 large homegrown tomatoes
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced

Kickin’ Ketchup
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. red wine
1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. ancho chile powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of each: cinnamon, cloves, black pepper
½ cup water

For burgers, place ground beef in a large mixing bowl; gently combine. Shape beef mixture into 8 patties that are about 1 inch thick. Heat an oiled grill or grill pan to high heat; place burgers on grill (you should hear them sizzle) and season with salt and pepper. Grill burgers until nice grill marks appear, reducing heat to medium high, and continuing to cook to desired doneness, approx. 8-10 minutes total for medium-rare. Top each burger with a slice of Cheddar during the last minutes of cooking time so cheese melts slightly. Transfer burgers to a platter and keep warm. Toast buns on grill or grill pan, cut side down. Dress burgers with toasted buns, condiments and Kickin’ Ketchup, then chow down.

For Kickin’ Ketchup, heat oil over medium heat in a medium saute pan; add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, approx. 15-20 minutes. Add vinegar and wine; deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of saucepan into onion mixture. Stir in brown sugar, ketchup, spices and water; simmer for 8-10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Tips for GOOD burgers:

1. Mix ground beef gently and briefly to avoid overworking the meat. Wet hands help to form the burgers quicker, too.

2. Salt burgers just as you begin to cook them on the grill. This keeps the salt from drawing out all the juice from the beef and gives you a nice crust.

3. Be sure your grill is very preheated and nicely oiled before a burger ever lands there – this will give you a nice sear on the outside of your burger.

4. Don’t press on burgers with spatula while cooking; those juices are precious – don’t waste them!

Now You’re Cookin’,

Chef Alli

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red White and Boom Ice Cream Brownie Pie

Won't your family love this?

1 family size Duncan Hines Brownie Mix, prepared according to package directions for fudgy brownies
1 carton neapolitan ice cream
1 cup hot fudge topping, warmed
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
whipped cream

1/2 cup toffee chips
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds

Bake prepared brownie mix in a 9-inch spring form pan that has been coated with nonstick baking spray.  Bake according to package directions.  Cool, then freeze until firm, leaving brownies in pan.  Using approximately 1/3 cup for each scoop, place 8 scoops of ice cream onto a parchment-lined baking sheet; freeze until scoops are solid.  Once brownies and ice cream are well frozen, place prepared scoops of ice cream on top of brownie crust around edge and in the center, leaving sides of pan intact.  Cover and freeze until very firm. 

To serve, remove sides of springform pan.   Drizzle ice cream with warm hot fudge topping. Arrange strawberries and blueberries over topping.  Garnish with whipped cream, toffee chips and almonds.  Cut into wedges and serve at once!

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

P.S.  Have a great July 4th holiday!

Beef, Pasta and Artichoke Toss with Balsamic Vinaigrette

As shown on WIBW 13 News at 4 with Ralph Hipp, June 29, 2011

1 ½ lbs. sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
4 cups cooked tri-colored rotini pasta
14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 large red bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 cup small pitted ripe olives, optional
2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil

Balsamic Vinaigrette
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 ½ tsp. dried basil leaves

Grill steak over medium-high heat until desired doneness is reached, turning once.  Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine pasta, artichoke hearts, bell pepper, olives, and basil.  Cut steak lengthwise in half and then crosswise into thin slices; add to bowl with other ingredients.  Toss lightly.  In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.  Pour over pasta/beef mixture in bowl and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, if desired, before serving.

Serves 8 (1 ½ cups each)

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Baked Swai with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Serves: 4

¼ cup lime juice
1 ½ T. honey
1 mango, diced
1 peach, chopped
1 cup chopped pineapple
2 kiwi, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
4 swai fillets, defrosted
Old bay or Cajun seasoning to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Combine lime juice and honey in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the fruit, jalapeño and cilantro. Drizzle the lime mixture over the fruit and toss to coat.

3. Coat the fish with Old Bay or Cajun seasoning to taste. Bake the fish in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

4. Serve salsa over fish. Leftover salsa can be served with tortilla chips or whole grain crackers.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 195 calories, 1 g fat, 12 g carb, 2 g fiber, 50 mg sodium, 34 g protein

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mediterranean Salmon

Fresh - Fast - Fabulous!  This salmon recipe is a definite keeper.  We should be eating at least 2 servings of salmon each week to load up on the omega 3's!

6 salmon fillets, boneless, skinless, 5-6 oz. each
Extra-virgin olive oil, for basting
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of ½ lemon
6 thin lemon slices
8 green olives, sliced

Serves 6

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill, broiler or grill pan. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack, broiler pan or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray. If using a grill or broiler, position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Top each fillet with equal amounts of the fresh herb mixture. Place the fish herb-side down on the grill. Grill over medium high heat. When the edges turn white, after about 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish over and reduce heat or move to a cooler part of the grill. Grill until the fillets are opaque throughout and very fork-tender. (Instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads 145 F) Garnish cooked fillets with green olives and lemon slices. Serve at once.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Build-Your-Own Quesadilla Bar

Your friends and family will love it when you set up a quesadilla bar for them. It's fun, simple and gives everyone the opportunity to customize their own quesadilla to their liking.  AND, it's a great way to feed a family in a hurry.

Quesadilla Bar Set Up:
1.  If you are cooking quesadillas for several people, give everyone their own paper plate and ask them to put their name on the plate with a marker. 
2.  Place your selection of quesadilla filling ingredients and toppings into individual bowls and set in an area that is easy for your guests/family to access as they create their quesadillas. 
3.  Set up your cooking station (I often use my butane burner, set up on my bar area because there is alot of space here).  You will need a grill pan or large skillet, nonstick spray or butter, and tongs for flipping. Preheat your pan over medium high heat to be good and hot for cooking the quesadillas.  Getting that nice, crispy exterior with a little browning really adds to the flavor!
4.  As your guests bring you their plates with their quesadilla creations, place their quesadillas 2-3 at a time (depending on how big your grill pan or skillet is) onto the grill pan.  Be sure to place the quesadillas onto the grill pan in the same position you have placed their empty plates next to your cooking station so that you will know which quesadilla returns to each plate/owner. 

Tips for making GREAT Quesadillas:
  • Put cheese onto the tortilla as the first ingredient - this will act as your "glue" to hold quesadilla ingredients inside tortilla.
  • Don't overfill your quesadilla - quesadillas that are too fat lose their ingredients when flipped in the pan.
  • Use your imagination for great flavor combinations - be adventurous!
  • A pizza cutter works quickly and easily when cutting quesadillas into wedges for easier handling.

Cooking Quesadillas:
1. If you are making quesadillas as-you-go, (meaning not assembled ahead by guests/family as above), place your buttered tortilla onto a preheated grill pan over medium high heat. 
2. Sprinkle shredded cheese onto the tortilla as your first ingredient; now top cheese with desired filling ingredients, placing these on only one half of the tortilla.  Fold tortilla over ingredients; cook until hot throughout and exterior is golden brown and crispy.
3. Top warm quesadilla with your favorite toppings and enjoy at once.

Suggested Ingredients:
Use what's readily available in your fridge!  All meats must be fully cooked:

Chicken - Shredded Pork -  Ham - Shrimp - Sausage - Roast Beef - Cheddar Cheese - Pepper Jack Cheese - Mozzarella  Cheese - Feta Crumbles - Goat Cheese - Sliced Olives - Black Beans - Sweet Bell Peppers - Diced Tomatoes - Artichoke Hearts - Jalapenos - Green Chilies - Avocado - Salsas

Caramelized Onions - The Bomb!
If you want to take your quesadillas over the top, add caramelized onions as an ingredient - your guests will go crazy over this!  Here's how to make 'em:

In a large skillet over medium high heat, place 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil.  When oil is hot, add 4-5 yellow onions that have been sliced. (Your skillet will be piled high with onions!) Drizzle onions with 1 Tbs. good balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/3-1/2 cup red wine.  Toss to combine all ingredients.  Cover pan and reduce heat to medium, cooking for 20-25 minutes or until onions have softened and begin to absorb liquids.  Remove lid and let onions continue to cook until caramelized and very tender.

Your options for quesadillas are endless - have fun with it.  How about DESSERT quesadillas soon?

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Honey, Raisin and Pecan French Toast

4 large eggs
½ cup skim milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 one-inch-thick slices Hy-Vee Baking Stone Honey Raisin and Pecan Bread
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Powdered sugar, pure maple syrup, fresh berries, for garnish

In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; add bread slices and let stand about 1 minute on each side. Melt butter in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Cook prepared bread slices on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar, drizzle with maple syrup and garnish with fresh berries.

Happy Mother's Day,
Chef Alli


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lattice-Top Cherry Pie: Marjorye Savage Heeney Cooks with Chef Alli

There was no hesitation.  When I asked Marje to be my cooking partner for a WIBW Culinary Segment, she let me know right up front she wanted to make a cherry pie.  That was no surprise - I've known Marje my entire life and it seems as though she has always known what she's wanted and how to pursue it with passion.  

I often run across Marje in the produce section of Hy-Vee Topeka as she's shopping for fruits and veggies, trying her best to keep her diet healthy.  Sometimes I can only see the feather in her hat as it moves along the top of the case, letting me know its Marje shopping on the other side.  I look forward to visiting with Marje because she brightens my day, always encouraging me with a good word.  And, I must admit, I'm always curious to see which hat it is that Marje has chosen to wear for the day - this is her Topeka trademark and each hat is unique, very fitting of her wonderful, adventurous spirit.   

Marje, thanks for joining me in the kitchen - I'm glad we could figure out the lattice top together on that "cheater" cherry pie!  For those of you wondering, we called it a ccp (cheater cherry pie) because we simply used canned cherry pie filling with a little added almond extract and pastry crust straight from the a box! No recipe, few ingredients, fast fixin's!

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

White Chocolate Berry Baskets

1 box puff pastry shells (not sheets!)
1 package (3.3 oz) instant white chocolate pudding
1 cup milk
1½ cups sweetened whipped cream
1 cup assorted chopped fresh berries (diced strawberries and raspberries with blueberries is my favorite combination)
2 Tbs. granulate sugar
2 Tbs. peach schnapps

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place puff pastry shells onto baking sheet and bake for approx. 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to cool on wire rack. Immediately press centers of shells down to create ‘ baskets’.

In a mixing bowl, combine pudding with milk and whisk until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and set aside in refrigeration for later use. Combine berries in a large mixing bowl; sprinkle with sugar and add schnapps; gently toss to combine.

To assemble: Spoon prepared white chocolate mixture into each berry basket. Top with marinated fruit, letting fruit and juices fall down over sides of puff pastry baskets. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. Serve at once.

Makes 6 berry baskets

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Monday, April 11, 2011

Halibut Sliders with Spicy Mango Coleslaw

These Sliders turned into COD Sliders on Saturday, but they were DELICIOUS, just the same!  Here's the recipe in case you need it or want to share.  I added a few red pepper flakes to my coleslaw at home to take it up a notch in the SPICY dept!

Chef Alli’s Fried Halibut Sliders with Spicy Mango Coleslaw

4 halibut fillets, 6-8 oz. each, skins removed
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. Old bay seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
4 large sandwich rolls, halved and toasted
1 tomato, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Rinse halibut fillets and pat dry; set aside. In a shallow dish, combine flour with Old bay seasoning, salt and pepper; dredge each fillet in flour mixture to coat. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat; cook fillets in hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Place fish fillet onto prepared rolls and top with Spicy Mango Coleslaw.

Spicy Mango Coleslaw
14 oz. bag coleslaw mix
2 fresh mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
2-3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. fresh lime zest
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine cilantro – garlic; stirring well; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in coleslaw mix; toss to coat. Gently fold in diced mango. Chill.

Chef Alli’s, Inc
Topeka, KS 66611
(785) 272-1055
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

1 unbaked 9 inch deep-dish pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, whip eggs until foamy, approx. 1 minute, using an electric mixer.  Beat in flour, salt, and sugars; beat in butter.  Using a spatula, fold in morsels and pecans; spoon filling into pie shell.  Bake on center rack for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F. and bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  After removing from the oven, use additional chocolate chips to spell OH MY on the center of your pie. Cool on wire rack.  Serve warm, topped with ice cream. 

Filling for a 10 inch Pie:
3 large eggs 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans

Mix as above and pour into 10 inch unbaked pie crust. May need to adjust baking time slightly.   

Friday, March 18, 2011

DEEP Dish Pizza in Your Cast Iron Skillet!

1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 package of your favorite pizza crust mix, prepared according to pkg directions, or 1 softball-size ball of pizza dough
8 oz. can pizza sauce
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano flakes
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 oz. turkey pepperoni slices
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet with 1 Tbs. olive oil.  Place dough into prepared cast iron skillet; roll or press out across bottom and part way up sides of skillet.  Spread pizza sauce over dough, then sprinkle half of cheese over sauce. In a small bowl, toss garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, onion, mushrooms, pepperoni and spinach together with 1/2 Tbs. olive oil; spread over cheese.  Top pizza with remaining half of cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.  Let set 5 minutes before cutting into slices. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Lava Cakes for Valentine's Day

Ghirardelli Chocolate Lava Cakes

Center:  1/2 bar (2 oz.) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cake:  Nonstick cooking spray
1 bar (4 oz.) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
8 Tbs. unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup cake flour
fresh raspberries and whipped cream for garnish

To make centers, melt chocolate and cream in double boiler.  Whisk gently to blend.  Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.  Form into 6 balls, refrigerate until needed.

To make cake, heat oven to 400 degree F. Spray six 4 oz. ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray.  Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler; whisk gently to blend.  With an electric mixter, whisk eggs, yolks, sugara and vanilla on high speed for about 5 minutes or until thick and light.  Fold melted chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture just until combined.  Spoon cake batter into ramekins.  Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin.  Bake about 15 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch.  Let cakes sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes.  Run a small, sharp knife around the inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin.  Garnish with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream and serve to your sweet, sweet Valentine at once.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Sunday, February 13, 2011

5 Spice Pot Roast

Oh, for the love of a good pot roast -  beefy and tender, plopped onto a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and smothered with savory pan your mouth watering yet? 

Pot roast is the ultimate comfort food and my friend, Rich Bowers (otherwise known as Topeka's legendary Radio Rich!) whole-heartedly agrees. We often discuss "all things pot roast" when I am invited to be a guest on his radio program ( As a matter of fact, I still vividly remember the day that man nearly fell in a heap at my feet when I delivered him a pot roast and vegetables, still warm from the oven. Yes, I knew he would appreciate it, but I had no idea he would react in such a manner! All because of a warm pot roast and memories of Mom.....oh yes, the power of food.

From that day forward, each time I see Rich he never fails to ask "Hey, Chef Alli - do you have a pot roast in your purse?" This always make me smile because I wish (ALMOST as much as he does) that I could simply pop open my bag and POOF! a perfect pot roast would magically appear for him. Not that pot roast is hard to make, mind you, it just takes a little time and planning, and so far, neither I nor my purse has truly mastered the art of organized time management, but we're working on it.

Below is another of my tried-and-true pot roast recipes, this one created in honor of Valentine's Day 2011 - Food for Your Lover!  Yesterday, many of you enjoyed a sample of this 5 Spice Pot Roast over mashed potatoes when you stopped by Topeka Hy-Vee for my cooking demonstration on the sales floor - so glad you took time to talk "food" with me.

Chef Alli's 5 Spice Pot Roast
1 chuck roast, 2-3 lbs.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
14 oz. can stewed tomatoes, with juice
2 heads garlic, cut in half crosswise (yes, 2 heads, not cloves)
1 tsp. five spice powder (at Hy-Vee, you'll find this in the Asian section)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. sugar
2 cups dry red wine
4 cups chicken broth (substitute beef or vegetable, if you prefer)
1 batch prepared mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove roast from refrigeration; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; let roast set for 30 minutes.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat; sear roast until very nicely browned and crusty on all sides. Transfer roast to a plate. Add onion, carrots, and celery to same pot and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, approx. 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, spices, sugar and wine; bring to a boil and cook this mixture until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of pot, approx. 5 minutes. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer; add roast and cover pot. Braise roast in oven for approx. 4 hours or until meat is very fork tender.

Transfer roast to a baking sheet. Strain liquid from stock pot, discarding fat that rises to the surface; boil over high heat, whisking often, until liquid is reduced to 1 cup thickened sauce, approx. 12-15 minutes.

Serve chunks of roast on serving plates over beds of creamy mashed potatoes, drizzled with sauce.

Happy Valentine's Day 2011!

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

Prepared live with Dave, Amanda and Drew, WIBW 13 News Anchors, Thursday early morn, Feb. 10, 2011. Also sampled by Radio Rich and Friends while visiting on his radio program, mid morn same day!

Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries
15 fresh large strawberries, washed and thoroughly dried
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
6 oz. dark chocolate

Slice off the stem of each strawberry; use a paring knife to scoop out a little bit of each berry to make a cavity in the center; set berries aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla using an electric mixer; beat until smooth. Place this mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip and pipe cream cheese mixture into each strawberry, mounding a bit on top of each strawberry. (If pastry bag is not available, use a small spoon to fill strawberries.) As you work, place strawberries onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over cream cheese filling in each strawberry, for garnish.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate in microwave at full power, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Gently dip the bottom of each strawberry in the melted chocolate. Set on waxed paper to cool; refrigerate to set chocolate. Srawberries are best served within 6-8 hours of preparation.

Salty-Sweet Snack Mix
1 bag microwave family-size popcorn (not individual size), popped
2 handfuls small pretzel twists
1/2 pkg. almond bark, melted and stirred until smooth
M & M candies, red and pink, or your favorite chocolate candies (1/2 cup - 1 cup)

In a large mixing bowl, pour melted almond bark over popcorn and pretzels; stir to coat. Spread this mixture across a wax paper-lined baking sheet.  While mixture is still warm, sprinkle with M & M's for color.  Once mixture has cooled a bit, break apart into smaller chunks.  Once cooled, store in airtight container or bag into individual servings and give out as Valentine treats - you'll be a hit!

Baby Strawberry Chocolate Cream Puffs
1 box mini cream puffs, from the freezer section at Hy-Vee Grocer
fresh strawberries, sliced
milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, placed into a baggie and melted

While cream puffs are still partially frozen, use a serrated knife to cut the top 1/3 of each cream puff off; set caps aside momentarily.  Place a strawberry slice over the bottom half of cream puff, then replace the cap from each cream puff over strawberry slice.  Use scissors to snip one corner from bag of warm melted chocolate; press chocolate from opened corner, drizzling over the top of each cream puff to garnish.  Chill if desired, before serving, or serve as is - yummy!

Happy Valentine's Day!  Cook for those you love - there's no better way to touch a heart.

Now You're Cookin,
Chef Alli

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce Over Polenta Bowls

Chef Alli’s Meatballs and Tomato Basil Sauce over Polenta Bowls
Replacing spaghetti with polenta in this recipe saves calories, as does using ground turkey in the meatballs. And, the deliciously fresh tomato sauce is truly a winner in this dish: quick and easy! 

Tomato Basil Sauce
4 strips turkey bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a saute pan or skillet, cook bacon until crispy over medium high heat; remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. In bacon drippings, cook onion over medium heat until translucent, approx. 6-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and continue to cook another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes, parsley, sugar, and pepper flakes. Simmer 15-20 minutes; stir in basil, then season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

8 oz. ground sirloin
8 oz. ground turkey
1 egg
1 tsp. dried parsley
¾ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 slice white bread, crumbled finely
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dried polenta

In a large mixing bowl, combine sirloin with turkey, egg, parsley, parmesan, fennel seeds and bread; mix well, then season with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into meatballs approx. 1 ½ -2 inches in size and place into a greased and bake for 20 minutes for in preheated 450 degree F. oven, until nicely browned. Remove cooked meatballs from any fats that have accumulated in the baking dish and place into prepared Tomato Basil Sauce; simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup dried polenta according to package directions.

To serve, pour sauce over bowls of soft, warm polenta then top with meatballs; garnish with freshly shredded parmesan, if desired.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli