Pinch of this, dash of that in this week's column

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This week's recipe column is certainly a hodgepodge. I had a request for a recipe so a young girl can learn to work with yeast dough over summer vacation. She has never worked with yeast dough before, so what better way to start then with a pecan sticky roll? I ran across a couple of recipes that I want to make. I love good grilled cheese sandwiches, and the recipe below sounds like a keeper to me. Then there's the cherry gelatin salad. When we were vacationing in Michigan, it was the peak of cherry season, and this recipe brings back wonderful memories from that time. I invite you to give these a try, and if you have recipes you would like to share, send them in for other readers to enjoy.

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

Caramel:

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar or dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter

4 teaspoons light corn syrup

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Dough:

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 2/3 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (about 23 1/2 ounces)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, softened

To prepare caramel, combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until butter melts. Continue cooking until mixture thickens and becomes smooth (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour into the center of a 9-inch square baking pan. Quickly spread caramel onto pan bottom using a spatula coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool to room temperature. Lightly coat sides of pan with cooking spray.

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in salt. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Level with a knife. Add 5 cups flour to yeast mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to keep dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll dough into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread 2 tablespoons of softened butter over dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends). Cut into 16 (1-inch-wide) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in prepared pan (rolls will be crowded). Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until rolls are light golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes on rack. Place a serving platter upside down on top of pan. Invert onto platter. Serve warm. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 roll)

No Bake Cranberry Nut Cookies

4 cups Fiber One Honey Clusters cereal

1 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower nuts

1/3 cup cashew pieces

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

In large bowl, mix cereal, cranberries, sunflower nuts and cashews. In 2-quart saucepan, mix brown sugar, corn syrup and peanut butter. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour syrup over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Drop mixture by scant 1/4 cupfuls onto waxed paper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Savory Zucchini Bread Pudding

Nonstick cooking spray

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh or frozen whole kernel corn

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped bottled roasted red sweet peppers

1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed

1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, crushed

1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

5 cups 1-inch sourdough or Italian bread cubes

4 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 cups fat-free milk

1 1/4 cups refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 5 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large skillet, cook and stir zucchini and corn in hot oil for 3 minutes. Stir in sweet peppers and garlic. Cook and stir about 2 minutes more or until zucchini is tender. Stir in basil, parsley and sage. Stir in bread cubes. Place half of the mixture in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers. Sprinkle with pecans. In a bowl, beat egg slightly. Whisk in milk, salt and black pepper. Pour over bread mixture. Bake, uncovered, about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 12 (2/3-cup) servings.

Make-ahead directions: Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Bake as directed, except bake about 45 minutes. Servings: 6 main-dish servings.

Grown-up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A new take on a familiar favorite pairs grilled cheese with a BLT for a luscious veggie-packed sandwich that feels like an indulgence. Serve with zesty dill pickle spears.

Cooking spray

1 cup vertically sliced red onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp white cheddar cheese

8 (1 1/2-ounce) slices hearty white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato

6 slices center-cut bacon, cooked

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 cup onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over each of 4 bread slices. Top each slice with 1/2 cup spinach, 2 tomato slices, 2 tablespoons onion mixture and 1 1/2 bacon slices. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Top with the remaining 4 bread slices. Heat skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place sandwiches in pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese melts. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich).

Creamy Cherry Gelatin Salad

Flavor plain gelatin with 100 percent cherry juice, and stir in creamy yogurt and fresh cherries to make a special treat. Experiment with other fruit juice and fruit combinations.

2 cups unsweetened 100 percent black cherry juice, divided

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1-2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1 6-ounce container (2/3 cup) nonfat cherry or vanilla yogurt

1 cup halved or chopped pitted fresh cherries or thawed and drained frozen cherries

Place 1/2 cup cherry juice in a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand for 1 minute. Bring the remaining 1 1/2 cups cherry juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Add to the gelatin mixture along with sugar to taste and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. Whisk in yogurt until combined. Divide among 4 small dishes or ramekins. Stir 1/4 cup cherries into each portion. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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