Recipes courtesy of a 'pioneer woman'

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

For Christmas my nephew gave me "The Pioneer Woman" cookbook. Its author, Ree Drummond, is all the rage right now, with the release of her new book, blogging on the Internet and numerous television appearances. She has a heartwarming story about how she became a "pioneer woman" and about her life on the ranch with her love, "the Marlboro Man." I have enjoyed her book so much and especially the fantastic photographs she has taken and included in the book. You will certainly want to and add her book to your collection. I have also included her comments about a few recipes I have selected to share with you.

Apple Dumplings

"Warning: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable."

2 whole Granny Smith apples

2 cans (8 ounces) crescent rolls

2 sticks butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon, to taste

1 can (12 ounce) Mountain Dew soda

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9-by-13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

"You'll love these so much, you're gonna come out of your skin. Or something like that."

20 whole fresh jalapenos, 2-3 inches in size

2 cubes cream cheese, softened

1 pound thin bacon, sliced into thirds

If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper preparation. Cut jalapenos in half, lengthwise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things hot). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. You don't want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn't look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it. Serve immediately, or they're also great at room temperature.

Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing

3/4 cups olive oil or canola oil

Juice of 2 lemons

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoons sugar

Dash of paprika

1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole

Place all ingredients into a jar. Shake it up and store in the fridge at least 24 hours before serving. Serve on your favorite green salads. Also works well on pasta salad.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix, or to taste

1 pound fettuccine

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 whole green bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 whole red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1/2 whole large red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cups white wine

1 cup heavy cream

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Chopped fresh parsley, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.

Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture.

Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy.

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Top with chopped fresh parsley.

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

2 pounds raw shrimp, deveined, shells on

2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cups fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 whole lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley and red pepper. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp. Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly. Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, then dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan.

Braised Short Ribs

8 whole beef short ribs

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cups all-purpose flour

6 pieces pancetta, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole medium onion, diced

3 whole carrots, diced

2 whole shallots, peeled and finely minced

2 cups red or white wine

2 cups beef or chicken broth (enough to almost cover ribs)

2 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs rosemary

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside. In a large Dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease. Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium. Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.) Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

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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