Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dessert To Go: S'mores in a Jar


Hi there, I'm back!

I've been having computer problems and have decided it time to retire my laptop and upgrade to something new.  I've been looking at Chromebooks lately.  Anyone have one and want to share their likes or dislikes? As such with my current laptop it takes me about 2 hours to complete one post!  So, I'm sorry that the posts slowed down, but I'm working around that with an interim fix.

Last time I brought you Dinner To Go.  This was a wonderful Asian Pasta Salad dish that we took to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  It was the perfect dish in every way; taste, and ease of transport.  I hope you enjoyed this and if you haven't made it...do so right away!


Today I wanted to bring you the perfect Dessert To Go. Again, this was born out the need to create a comforting yet delicious dessert that was easy to transport.  I could have made a cake and cut it into pieces, but I wanted something a little more special.  This is my take on S'mores in a Jar!

I love putting desserts in a jar so that each person have their own individual serving.  I use these jars which you can get here.  I love the design but any regular jar or container will do.  These Peach Raspberry Crisps were baked straight in the jar and we took these to a concert several years ago. 


As chocolate was on my mind I wanted to get on the S'mores train and create a portable dish.  I wouldn't have a fire to roast marshmallows so I improvised and used the flavor of S'mores and built a wonderful layered dessert.  Using chocolate fudge pudding, graham cracker crumbs and small marshmallows worked perfectly.


Layering these ingredients in a jar, makes it cute!  It also allows you to get all the flavors in one bite.  The desserts were easy to pack and totally hit the spot during the concert intermission.  We even got comments from our neighbors on how pretty the dessert was, and what a great idea to use the jars.

Enjoy!



S'mores in a Jar

serves 4

1 3.9 oz box of Jello instant pudding, chocolate fudge flavored
2 cups 2% milk
2 sheets of graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup of miniature marshmallows
4 mason or other canning jars - 8 oz.

Make the pudding according to the directions on the box and refrigerate until set and ready for use.

To assemble jars:  Evenly distribute half of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of 4 mason jars.  Divide half of the pudding among the four jars layering on top of the crumbs. Divide all of the marshmallows on top of the pudding.  Follow with the remaining pudding divided equally and topping with the remaining crumbs.

Secure lid and keep cold until ready to serve.  NOTE:  if packing these for travel make sure that they are packed with ice packs and that they stay upright.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Dinner to Go: Asian Pasta Salad with Hoisin Grilled Chicken


Last week MGG and I got to do one of our favorite summer things...taking in a concert at the Hollywood Bowl!

It was a night of Hitchcock.  There is nothing better than listening to music under the stars.  The program was absolutely amazing.  They showcased 17 Hitchcock movies taking popular scenes from each and showed them on the big screens while the LA Phil Orchestra played the music in time with the movie. FABULOUS!!!  


We arrived early to eat alfresco while the sun was setting. Sometimes we buy hot food to share for our picnic, but quite often I cook our meal, planning out a great dinner and dessert.

This time I decided to fix a dish that would be delicious either cold or at room temperature.  Flipping through my memory I recalled a dish that a wonderful chef taught me that I fixed for a concert my mom and I attended.  This Asian Pasta Salad is filled with good things such as Hoisin flavored chicken, carrots, and strips of crunchy sweet red peppers among spaghetti.  This is all tossed in a Ginger Cilantro dressing that is to die for.  This meal is really all about the dressing....trust me and don't skip this part!

It's the perfect item to pack in individual containers making it travel ready and also easy to eat.  I served it along with some small appetizers to round out the meal.  MGG was bragging about the flavors of this dish for about 1 week. Now that's a compliment!


So if you are eating under the stars, in a park, or the backyard, this dish is perfect.  

Enjoy!

Asian Pasta Salad with Hoisin Grilled Chicken
source:  slightly adapted from Phillis Carey "Fast and Fabulous Summer Chicken"

serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
12 oz spaghetti, uncooked
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 small red bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 small carrot, cut into julienne strips

Ginger-Cilantro Dressing:
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

Trim chicken and pound to an even 1/2 inch thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in a zip lock bag.  In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, Hoisin sauce, sherry, soy sauce and ginger.  Pour over chicken, turning to coat.  Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

For dressing, using a mini food processor add garlic and ginger and process to mince.  Add the cilantro, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and oil.  Puree until well blended. Remove chicken from marinade and grill for 3-5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through.  Set aside to cool slightly and then cut into thin strips.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until tender.  Toss noodles with sesame oil in a large bowl.  Add the peppers and carrots to the warm noodles.  Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly.  Add enough dressing to coat noodles well. Serve at room temperature or may be served cold.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad


Today's dish screams summer.  

We're taking advantage of our warm evenings and grilling our dinner for a night under the stars with good food and good company.

I encourage you to take advantage of the last summer bumper crop of corn and tomatoes (Yum!) and pull together a dinner that is fresh and light. This dish was adapted from a Cooking Light recipe of the same name, and is perfect to throw together this weekend.  


The grilled chicken is flavored with a spicy rub that's easy to put together.  The salad is fresh with several types of tomatoes, avocado, and corn.  Top it with a homemade dressing made with buttermilk.  It's the perfect topping to the salad.  


Serve your fabulous dinner with a mixed fruit salad to keep the fresh theme going.


The result?  Killer dinner!!!  Your family and guest will think you are a genius! (shhh!  don't tell them how easy this was...)

Hope you enjoy this dish and take time to savor the end of summer.

Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad

serves 4

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced

For the Chicken:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded thin
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chipotle or ancho chile powder

For the Salad:
2 ears yellow corn, shucked
1 yellow heirloom tomato, sliced
1 red heirloom tomato, sliced
1 orange heirloom tomato, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 sliced peeled ripe avocado

Preheat grill to high heat. Combine first 9 ingredients in a mason jar, shake to combine. Chill buttermilk mixture until ready to serve.

Combine oil, onion powder, cumin, and chipotle or ancho chile powder. Rub evenly over chicken. Arrange chicken and corn, on grill rack; grill 8 minutes or until done, turning chicken once and corn occasionally. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut corn kernels from cobs.

Slice chicken. Arrange on a platter or individual plates.  For the salad, arrange tomatoes on a platter alternating colors, and adding cherry tomatoes randomly.  Top with corn and avocado evenly on the platter.   Drizzle with dressing and serve.  

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