<![CDATA[Red Rocks The Kitchen - Recipes]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:57:16 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Butternut Squash, Fennel, & Sausage Penne]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:33:13 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/butternut-squash-fennel-sausage-pennePicture
Fall has to be one of my most favorite times of the the year!  The changing color of the leaves, crisp cool air, apples, pumpkins, squash......I could just keep going!  Well, one thing is for sure, it never gets old coming up with new squash recipes- sweet or savory!
Butternut squash is probably my favorite to use in soups and sauces because the texture, (once pureed), is so silky and velvety smooth, and so versatile.  I like to roast my squash ahead of time, (like before I go to work), because it makes for a pretty quick dish later in the evening on a busy night!  I caramelized  some onions, garlic, and fennel to deepen the flavor, and added some tumeric for a beautiful "earthy" flavor, as well as some added health benefits. 
****Tumeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Nutmeg would  be a nice addition, but I chose instead to add some Dark LaMesa chili powder for bolder flavor.  Chicken broth was used for flavor, as well as "thinning" out the sauce.  You could also add some half & half, or heavy cream at the end for added richness.
This is really a simple dish- not complex at all, but so healthy and delicious!  The sausage adds another level of flavor and heartiness to the dish.  I chose  a mild ground sausage, but feel free to add a "spicy/hot" style if you prefer.  This recipe makes about 2 quarts, so you can either freeze the leftover sauce if you'd like, or cut the recipe in half.  Either way, it's absolutely delicious, healthy, and a great use of one of my favorite squashes! 

Yield:  2 Quarts sauce (6-8 servings)

Prep Time:  40min.

1 small Butternut squash
1/2 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic
1 small bulb fennel (sliced)
4+ cups chicken broth or stock
1 t. ground tumeric
1/2 t. chili powder  ***I used Dark LaMesa, but any style is fine!
salt & pepper

1# ground sausage (cooked)
1 box of  whole wheat penne pasta (or regular if you prefer)

Optional items to add:  Sage, basil, roasted red peppers, spinach, Asiago, Parmesan, Pecorino cheese, heavy cream, Prosciutto, Pancetta, etc.

1)  Slice the squash in half, place both halves on a foil lined baking sheet, remove seeds, brush olive oil, (or melted butter), on both squash halves, season with salt & pepper, and bake at 350F for 45-60min.  
Remove from oven, allow to cool, and wrap in foil and refrigerate  until ready to make sauce.

2)  Before beginning sauce, begin to boil water for cooking pasta, and cook the sausage, and set aside.
In a saute pan on medium heat, place about 2-3 T oil or butter, and after 30sec or so, add the onions, garlic, and fennel.  Saute until it all looks nice and caramelized.   Transfer to a 2 Qt. pot, and add 2 cups chicken broth on medium heat.  Remove the cooked squash from refrigerator, remove peel/ stem, quarter, and add to pot carefully.   After sauce begins to simmer, lower heat and using an immersion blender, puree the sauce at this time.  Cover- as it will begin to bubble & "pop"!  (Add spices, stir, and adjust thickness by adding more broth if necessary.)  Adjust seasoning at this time as well.

3)  Cook the pasta according to directions on package.  Ladle enough sauce over the pasta, and add sausage.  Gently toss together.  Garnish with fennel fronds, shaved parmesan, sage, etc. and serve immediately.
For leftover sauce, simply allow to cool and pour into gallon freezer bags, (or quarts for smaller portions), and freeze for up to 1 month.


<![CDATA[Moroccan Red Lentil Soup]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 12:28:51 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/moroccan-red-lentil-soupPicture
Well, the kids are officially back in school, and it appears that Fall has decided to come extra early this year in the U.P. of MI.  Perfect soup weather in my opinion! 
My oldest son spent a week this past summer with his Aunt & Uncle in lower MI, and raved about a lentil soup he tried  at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Hamtramck.  (Yes, Hamtramck!  It appears that although this city used to be the Polish capitol of MI, it has now been taken over by Middle Eastern population/ culture.) 
He did his best to describe to me what was in the soup, so I went about my quest to replicate it- since it sounded absolutely amazing!  Apparently, I did a remarkable job, because it is now one of his favorite soups, and mine as well!  This soup is also entirely vegetarian, and super healthy!  It is rather simple in base ingredients, but very complex in spice and flavor- which makes for a perfect balance.  Lentils are very small, which allows for quick cooking, (especially if soaked ahead of time), add a hearty body to any dish, and are excellent in absorbing flavors.  (Plus, they're inexpensive, and available year round!)
When soaked, they actually have a pink-y or orange-y sort of color, so the addition of the fire roasted tomatoes added depth of color, and a sweet smoky flavor.  The lemon juice at the end adds that fresh tartness, that brings all of those amazing spices together!  Many spices are used in Morocco and other Middle East countries, such as:  coriander, ginger, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, sumac, pepper, allspice, clove, tumeric, paprika, chili, saffron, and cayenne.   The blend of spices I have chosen for this soup are just right.  It is not "hot" at all, but rather intriguing and incredibly flavorful.  If you like your food more on the spicy side, simply add some cayenne to bring on the heat!
This is probably the only "meatless" dish I've ever made that my husband will eat, (which says alot!)  This makes for excellent leftovers, it's quick and easy to make, and if you have a smaller family, feel free to cut this recipe in half.  Some additional items you could add would be:  red peppers, chiles, or carrots.  And this soup would go great with some fresh naan or pita bread, and maybe a sprinkle of feta cheese before serving.  Absolutely delicious!

Yield:  6-8 Servings

Prep-time:  About 20min.


1 # dried red lentils

1/2 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped or minced)
Olive or Grapeseed Oil
6 cups of Chicken or Vegetable Stock or Broth
1- 14.5oz can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Salt & pepper
1 t. Paprika
1 t. Cumin
1 t. Chili powder
1/2 t. Tumeric
1/2 t. ground Cinnamon
1/2 t. Sumac  *****If can't find, simply omit     
2 T. of dried Parsley  (or, 1/2 of a bunch of fresh chopped parsley)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Garnish:  extra parsley and/or crumbled feta cheese

1)  Soak the lentils:  Place the dried lentils in a bowl, and add water until the lentils are just covered.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Or, you can simply do this 1-2 hours prior to making soup.  Just leave out at room temp. covered.

2)  When ready to make soup, add some olive or grapseed oil to your pot and place on medium/ high heat.  Add the garlic and onion, and saute until translucent.  Lower the heat, and slowly add the stock or broth.  Then, add about 2/3 of the soaked lentils, the can of tomatoes, and all of the spices, (including parsley.) 

3)  Allow to cook for about 10min.  Using a stick/ immersion blender, blend the soup while in the pot until pureed.  Add the lemon juice, and the remaining soaked lentils.  Taste at this time to adjust any seasoning.  Cook for about 5-7min., and serve hot.  Garnish with additional parsley or crumbled feta cheese, along with some naan or pita bread. 


<![CDATA[Creamy Cantaloupe Tart]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:36:50 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/creamy-cantaloupe-tartPicture
Cantaloupes are one of those great summer fruits that you just can't get enough of on a hot and sunny day!  Most people enjoy this melon by itself, in a salad, or as an appetizer with a lovely salty piece of proscuitto wrapped around it.  But, did you ever think to use it in a pie or tart?
My inspiration for this recipe comes from a vintage recipe I came across that originated on the Texas & Pacific Railway, and was once served as a pie in their First class dining car- "Cantaloupe Pie".   (A traditional meringue style pie.)  It seems weird, doesn't it?  I mean, you would never really be able to use a watermelon, (for example), in baking because the water content is way too high.  However, cantaloupes are much denser, and the flavor is very mild- which actually makes for a very lovely pie or tart!   Using a more ripe cantaloupe yields a better result since the fruit will be juicier and sweeter.
This dessert is very easy to make, and absolutely delicious!  I used a sugar cookie dough for my crust- which adds an excellent sturdy base, and amazing flavor.  The cantaloupe filling is essentially a pastry cream- nice, creamy, and thick- not overly sweet, and has all of that yummy cantaloupe flavor.  It's finished with a fabulous creamy vanilla bean and (light) mint fresh whipped cream.  Mint can so easily over power any other flavors you're pairing it with, so I literally added 1 drop of extract to the cream- just enough to add that light, minty freshness!
This is an excellent tart to serve at any summer event, or anytime of the year depending on when cantaloupes are in season in your part of the world!

Yield:  1- Lg. tart (11 in.) or 1- 9in deep pie

Prep time:  Varies (If making own crust, about 1 hour 10min. total, otherwise, about 45min.)


1- 11in tart pan (removable base) or 9in deep pie pan
**1 disc of sugar dough or your favorite short dough recipe
(Could also purchase 1 roll of premade sugar dough)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
dash of salt
2 cups pureed cantaloupe  (3/4-1 whole cantaloupe/ depending on size)
3/4 cup whole milk
3 yolks
1 T unsalted butter

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. Vanilla Bean Paste
1 drop of Mint extract
Mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350F

1)  Remove the chilled dough, and allow to set at room temp for about 10min. prior to rolling.  On a clean and floured surface, roll out your dough about  1/8-1/4in thick.  Carefully roll up on rolling pin, and transfer to your tart pan.  If any cracking occurred, no worries!  Simply piece together the dough into place, and make sure to cut the excess of the edges.  The sugar cookie dough does not shrink much during baking, but if using a short dough, you may need to leave a bit of excess dough over the edges.  ***There is no need to prick the sugar dough prior to baking unless you want to.  
Place the tart in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 10min. prior to baking.  (This helps it to hold it's shape better.)
Remove tart from the refrigerator, and bake for about 15-20min at 350F, or until the edges start to look a light golden brown.    Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. 
1)  Prep your melon:  remove peel and seeds.  Cut into larger chunks.  Puree in a food processor or blender.  Measure 2 cups and set aside.  (If you have more, use the extra for a Granita or smoothie!)

2)  In a medium size pot, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt.  Slowly whisk in the pureed cantaloupe- making sure to get those bottom edges of pot.  Whisk in the yolks, milk, and add butter.
Place heat on medium, and switch to a rubber spatula for stirring at this point- being very careful not to scorch the bottom or sides of pan.  *****If it looks like the bottom of the pan is scorching, immediately transfer the cream to another pot of the same size, and return to heat.
Once the mixture comes up to temp and begins to thicken and bubble, lower the heat, and cook for about 10 min. more - making sure to stir.  If you think mixture is too thick, simply add more milk.
Immediately pour the cream into your cooled crust.  Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap, and using a sharp knife, cut a few slits into the plastic to allow the cream to vent/ cool.  Place in the refrigerator to chill completely.  (2-4 hours min.) 

Whipped Cream
1)  Using a very cold and clean bowl w/ whip attachment, add the pint of whipping cream, and place on med/ high speed.  When cream begins to froth up, begin to add the sugar in stages.  When cream thickens to soft peaks, add a teaspoon of the Vanilla Bean paste, and 1 drop of mint extract, and turn off machine as soon the cream thickens to stiff peaks.
Using a large star pastry tip, begin to pipe the cream onto the tart in any design you wish!  Or, if you don't have pastry tips, you can always just add the whipped cream on top of the chilled tart in a more rustic style.  Whatever you prefer!  Finish with fresh mint leaves.
Make sure to slice your tart using a very hot knife between cuts, and keep chilled.  Best consumed within 3-5 days.


<![CDATA[Persian Medjool Date Balls]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 12:30:43 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/persian-medjool-date-ballsPicture
Anything "Persian" sounds exotic, doesn't it?  I think when it comes to multi-cultural foods, more people today are apt to try new and different things.  Any flavors that hail from the Middle East are very bold, incredibly flavorful, and some may even think too "weird" to try!  However, these couldn't be more simple to make, incredibly healthy, and decadent at the same time!  Each bite is sweet and chewy, with a bit of crunch from the crushed toasted coconut chips, and cocoa nibs, and the subtle almonds and light rose and cardamom flavors really take it to the next level!  There is absolutely no added sugar.  The Medjool Dates are the largest and sweetest of the date varieties, as well as the most flavorful.  They are worth the higher price over your typical "dry" and small dates you'll typically find in the store!  Rose water is added to many sweets in the Middle East, and in small amounts adds a very unique and special sweet floral taste.  If you really can't handle the flavor, then just omit it from the recipe, and sub it with almond, citrus, or vanilla oil or extract instead.  Orange water would also be lovely!  Pistachios could also be an excellent sub for the almonds.  Allergic to nuts?  Just omit all together!  Because these are raw and all natural, this treat makes a perfect pre or post- workout snack as well!  Dates are  high in potassium, fiber, complex B vitamins, copper, antioxidants, and are a perfect energy source!
These literally take only 10-15min to make, and are perfect for gift giving, bake sales, parties, etc.
They should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for pro-longed freshness.  (They will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator!)
Yield:  18- 20 Balls

Prep time:  10-15min.


1 container (12oz) Medjool Dates  (Pitted)
2 T. Cocoa Nibs  (Or, can use chopped Dark Choc.)
1/2 cup Ground Almonds 
1/2 cup Toasted Coconut chips (I used the "Bare" Brand)
1/4 t. Rose Water (Culinary grade) ***I used Nielsen- Massey
1/4 t. Ground Cardamom
**Optional:   A sprinkle of sea salt

For Rolling:
1/2 cup Ground almonds, cocoa powder, ground pistachios, toasted coconut, etc.

1)  Using a Food processor, add the pitted dates, coconut chips, cocoa nibs, and almonds, cardamom, & rose water, and pulse, (or run on low), until the mixture is ground up.  (Can be a bit chunky, but the mixture should stick together to be able to roll into balls.)   
Using a tea spoon, simply take a spoonful of the mixture, roll into a ball, and place on a covered sheet tray.  Roll the balls into ground almonds, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, etc. to finish them.  If taking to an event, or giving away, place each ball in a decorative candy paper liner.  Or, enjoy right away!  Place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer for several weeks to enjoy before or after a workout, or whenever you get a craving for something sweet!


<![CDATA[Salmon & Wasabi Ramen Salad]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:36:35 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/salmon-wasabi-ramen-saladPicture
The Fourth of July is almost here, and I can't think of a better salad than this one to bring to any gathering!  My daughter made  a salad a couple years ago at a community meal she worked, and raved about how good it was!  She explained to me what she put in it, and it was basically a cold ramen salad- very simple, and yet delicious!  (You know, those super cheap ramen noodle packets you can buy at any store!  Except, the noodles are not cooked, they are left dry!)
I decided to take the salad she had made, and put my own spin on it, by adding a bit of Japanese flair.  What I love about any salad is, anything goes!  You can add or subtract any items you want, based on what you prefer, or may already have on hand.  Chopping all of these items will take you some time- unless you purchase the pre-shredded slaw mixes, carrots, etc for a great time saver.  I chose to add salmon because of the protein, nutrition, and flavor that it adds, but you can sub any meat/ seafood, or leave out altogether if you are vegetarian or vegan!   Rianna likes salmon, (but not typically in salad), so she wasn't sure about my choice of ingredients!  However, she did try it, really liked it, and gave it a solid "thumbs up"- so, I guess I did pretty good!
As you can see, all of the various colors of the veggies make for a beautiful and super healthy salad, and the Wasabi and sesame dressing add intensity of flavor and the right balance to marry all of the ingredients together.  **Wasabi is known to be similar to a "hot mustard".  It is also called Japanese horseradish, and comes from grating the root of the plant Wasabia Japonica.
You have the crunch of the fresh veggies combined with the tender pieces of salmon, cucumbers, and the delicious crumbles of dry ramen.  (You'd think that the pieces of dry ramen might cause some damage to your teeth or mouth, but they soften in the salad, and really add a delicious element of their own!)  This makes for an excellent light meal on those hot summer days, and goes with just about anything at a BBQ or potluck.  Some other items you could add would be:  peppers, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bean shoots or sprouts, toasted almonds or peanuts, chopped nori (seaweed), etc.
This recipe is best made earlier in the day, (or the night before), your meal or event to really develop the flavors, and "wow" your family and friends with a salad they will want seconds and thirds of!  Those pesky packets from the ramen noodles were not used in this recipe, so you can either discard them, or save them for something else.

Yield:  10+ servings

Prep time:  20-40min.


1/2 small/med green cabbage  (shredded)
1/2 small/ med red cabbage    (shredded)
****Or, sub for 1 bag of slaw
2 carrots (I used rainbow carrots for added color)  peeled & julienned
3 mini cucumbers (sliced)
2 cups of cooked Mukimame (Edamame that's been removed from pods)
2-3 green onions (sliced on bias)
1 # cooked Salmon  (Can use 3- 5oz. pouches)
2 pkg. ramen noodles (any flavor, remove packets, and break apart by hand, or place in large ziploc and use a rolling pin or other heavy item to crush noodles.)

1/2 cup Veg or Canola oil
1 t. Sesame oil
2 t. Black sesame seeds
1 minced garlic clove
1 t. fresh grated ginger
2 t. Wasabi powder
3 T. honey
3 T. Teriyaki sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 t. salt
Juice & zest of 1/2 of a lime

Super Simple!!
1)  In a large salad/ serving bowl, place all veggies, salmon, and crushed ramen noodles.

2)  Using a medium sized (8oz +) mason jar, place all dressing ingredients inside jar.  Screw on lid, and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds or more to emulsify ingredients.  (Do a quick taste test to make sure it's to your preference, and adjust seasoning if necessary.)  Pour dressing over salad, mix well to incorporate dressing, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours prior to serving.


<![CDATA[Chocolate Peanut Butter Ribbon Cheesecake]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:06:34 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-ribbon-cheesecake
There are plenty of cheesecake recipes out there for just about every flavor under the sun, but  this one is truly special!  First of all, it's hard to top the combination of chocolate and peanut butter...layered together in a delicious peanut butter cookie crust, and topped with a sinful dark chocolate ganache.  Secondly, it's an absolutely gorgeous presentation to "wow" any family member, friend, or guest!  Ok, so honestly, this was my attempt at a "zebra" style cheesecake.  I wanted to see if it could be done with this type of batter, which as you can see, doesn't quite have the same outcome as a standard cake batter would, due to the incredible thickness of the batter.  But, that's what experimentation is all about!  So, that is why I am referring to this as a "ribbon" style cake.  The result is still cool and interesting, and I wish I would've taken a pic as you dive in to each piece to view the layering effect from the inside.  This cheesecake may be a bit more time consuming than your standard individual flavor, but the results are so well worth the extra effort- trust me!  My boys were not fans of cheesecake, until they tried a piece of this heavenly treat!  Simply AMAZING, and it sure went fast in my house!!!

Now, as always, I will offer a couple time savers: 
***Purchase pre-made peanut butter dough for the crust
***Purchase hot fudge topping for the top of the cheesecake (instead of making ganache)

Could also purchase peanut butter topping as well.

Yield:  1- 9 inch Cheesecake
           12-14 servings

Prep-time:  45-60min. total

Peanut Butter Cookie Crust:

1 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 T. of maple syrup
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 t. baking soda
2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease your spring form pan, and place a parchment circle at base.
1)  In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.  Shut off, and scrape bottom of bowl.   Add the peanut butter, then beat in the egg, and shut off, and scrape down sides and bottom again.  Add vanilla, and then soda, and on low, mix in 1 cup of flour at a time- mixing just until incorporated.  (You don't want to over mix cookie dough!)
2)  Take the dough, and begin to place in the spring form pan- completely covering base, and going up the sides.  If you have a small dowel roller, Take a small piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, place over dough, and use the dowel to roll over the base of pan to even out more uniformly.  If you have a bit of extra dough, make some cookies with it!
***Place the pan in the freezer or refrigerator for 10-15 min. to firm.  Take out and place in a 350F oven for 15-20min.  (Should be a nice golden brown color.)  Remove and allow to cool.
****While crust is cooling, make the cheesecake filling:

Cheesecake Filling:
3-  8 oz. pkg. of Cream Cheese (softened)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
2 eggs
3/4 cup of Sour cream or Plain Greek yogurt

8 oz. of melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter (softened in microwave for 30 sec.)

Turn oven down to 290F.
1)  Using a mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese till fluffy.  Add sugar and cornstarch, beat, turn off mixer, scrape down sides, and mix at medium to high speed for 30 sec. to 1min.  Add eggs on low speed, and mix in one at a time.  Add the sour cream or yogurt.

2) Divide the dough in half between two bowls.
Add the warm melted dark chocolate to one half- mixing very well to incorporate the chocolate.  (If chocolate is too cool when adding to batter, it may seize up and lump up while mixing in.)  
Add the softened peanut butter to other half of batter- making sure to blend well.

3)  Cover the outside of springform pan completely in foil, (to avoid leaking of water while in bath.)
Start by adding 1 cup or scoopful of chocolate batter, then directly in center of chocolate batter, add 1 cup of scoopful of peanut butter batter.  Continue repeating this alternating method until both cheesecake batters are gone.  Carefully jiggle the cheesecake to level.  Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan, or half sheet cake pan, open oven, place on rack.  Using very hot water pour enough into roasting pan to fill about half way up of exterior of cheesecake for a water bath.  Bake at 290F for 60-90min.  Shut oven off, and leave in for an additional 30min. Remove from oven, remove cheesecake from water bath, and allow to cool to room temp before placing in fridge to chill overnight, (or for no less than 4 hours.)   
***Cheesecake when done, will not jiggle at all in center, and should be slightly golden on top.  There should be no cracks- as the water bath prevents this.

To Finish:
Ganache:  1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 T unsalted butter, and 6oz dark chocolate
Peanut Butter Sauce:  2 T creamy peanut butter & 4 T. honey

1)  For the Ganache:  Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream and butter until boiling.  Add to chocolate, and mix until creamy and smooth.  Allow to cool for about 20-30min.

2)  While Ganache is cooling, in a bowl, add both peanut butter and honey, and heat for 30 sec to soften.  Mix together.

3)  Remove the chilled cheesecake from the pan.  Using a cake board, invert the cheesecake- removing the springform bottom and parchment circle.  Place another cake board over crust, and flip cheesecake back over.

4)  Carefully pour some ganache over the top of cheesecake- trying to keep it from spilling over edges, and smooth with a flat spatula if necessary.  Take the peanut butter sauce in a plastic bag, snip the very tip off, and beginning in the center, spiral around the top of the cake until you come to the very edge.  Using a toothpick, start in the very center, and pull a straight line through the lines to make a "spider web" effect.    Repeat this until you have about 12 lines pulled.  ***Refer to the pic above.
Place cheesecake back in the refrigerator to set the top, (about 30min.), then slice and serve when ready!
***Tip:  Use a knife dipped in very hot water to slice cake.  Continuously dip the knife in hot water after EVERY slice for best results!


<![CDATA[Tropical Jicama Slaw]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 14:25:52 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/tropical-jicama-slawPicture
Call me a cynic, but it sure feels like we are just not going to see warmer temps in the U.P. anytime soon!  So, I must pretend that summer is on it's way by making this super healthy and delicious tropical slaw!
There's nothing more refreshing than a light, and healthy slaw to go with pretty much any meal; pork, chicken, seafood, beef- it pairs well with most anything!   (Plus, it's pretty quick and easy to make as well.)
Each bite is slightly sweet, crunchy, and that wee bit of cayenne hits right at the end!  It doesn't over power, but adds a small amount of heat to counteract the sweetness.  Jicama is rather bland on it's own, (has the texture of a granny smith apple, and is slightly sweet), so it pairs well with anything sweet or savory!  The addition of the coconut chips for garnish adds variation of texture, (a different kind of "crunch"), and really wraps all of those amazing flavors together.  This is an excellent dish to have on a hot day, or, to make you feel like you're someplace tropical on those cold and dreadful U.P. "Spring" days.   If you can't find good fresh mangoes or pineapple where you live, you can always use canned or dried.  That also adds variation of texture and flavor in this slaw as well!  If you don't like the heat of cayenne pepper, use mint, cinnamon, or ginger for a different twist.  This salad is best consumed the same day it's made, but will still hold well for 2-4 days.   Be sure to keep it cold for best results.    Also, for some "quick" tips to speed things along:
Use your food processor for shredding, or simply purchase shredded carrots.  Also, as I mentioned above, you can also use canned or dried pineapple and mango as well, but I would still squeeze fresh citrus juice for the dressing!  (I really believe it makes a difference in flavor & quality.)   If you want to add some additional items, try:  green or red cabbage, red onion, peppers/ chiles, etc.

Yield:  8-10 servings

Prep-time:  15- 30min.

1 cup or 1/2 Jicama  (shredded)
1 cup of shredded or matchstick carrots
1 cup of chopped pineapple  (Or a small can of drained pineapple "tidbits")
1 Mango (chopped) or 1/2 cup of chopped dried mango

zest and juice of 1 lime
zest and juice of 1 orange
1-2 T honey
pinch of salt
1/4 t. of cayenne pepper
Grapeseed or Olive oil  (About a 1/4 cup)

Optional:  Toasted Coconut chips

1)  Shred and/or chop all veggies/ fruit, and place in a strainer over a bowl.  Sprinkle some salt over, and allow to drain for 30-60min.  (This will pull the moisture out of the veggies/ fruit.)

2)  Press down on the veggies & fruit to extract additional moisture, then place contents in a medium sized bowl.

3)  In a separate smaller bowl, combine the juices of lime and orange, zest, honey, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Whisk in very quickly the oil- not adding it all at once, but streaming it in while you whisk for good emulsion.
***You can also place all dressing ingredients into a mason jar or blender, and blend or shake vigorously to emulsify your dressing.

4)  Pour the dressing over the veggies/ fruit, and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the slaw for a good 2-4 hours prior to serving for best results.   Right before serving, sprinkle over some toasted coconut chips for garnish.


<![CDATA[Creamy Avocado & Artichoke Pasta]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 20:20:06 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/creamy-avocado-artichoke-pastaPicture
Avocados are making an appearance in all kinds of new innovative recipes- from baked goods to smoothies!  And why not, I mean they have great nutritional composition, and a natural creamy texture.  Which makes it a perfect ingredient for a quick and healthy pasta sauce!
This pasta dish is perfect anytime  of the year, and can be served as a hot dish, or a cold pasta salad!  If you're a Vegan or Vegetarian, simply omit the chicken and/or parmesan cheese.  The sauce is a "no cook" sauce!  Similar to a pesto, you simply combine all the ingredients in a food processor, (except for the oil), and blend.  Add the sauce to your cooked pasta, along with the artichokes and tomatoes, and either bake, or serve cold.  I chose to use canned tomatoes and artichokes in this recipe for those busy nights as a time saver, but use fresh if you prefer!  Every bite of this creamy and zesty pasta is amazing- there's a lot of flavor going on in the sauce, and the addition of the white wine adds a touch of sophistication.  The tomatoes add a pop of color and flavor, and the artichokes add that salty taste and variation of texture.  This is a perfect dish for using up any leftover meat you may have from a previous meal as well.  Super easy and delicious!  Makes excellent leftovers- one of those dishes that tastes better the next day!
***Some other great additions to this recipe would be:  shrimp, crab, bacon, sausage, pancetta, olives, peppers, etc.

Yield:  6-8 servings+

Prep time:  20-30min.

1 box or pkg. of your choice pasta
1# Chicken (COOKED: cubed, shredded, etc.)
1- 14oz. can of Artichoke hearts (drained)
1- 14.5 oz can of Fire roasted diced tomatoes (drained)

3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole avocados (pitted and peel removed)
1 sprig fresh basil
salt (to taste)
splash of white wine
Grapeseed or Olive oil

***Optional:  Additional grated Parmesan or Italian Cheese (4-6oz.),  chopped basil, etc.

1)  Cook the pasta according to directions on package, cool, and set aside.
  If you are using  fresh chicken: saute, bake, poach, or use  whatever cooking method you would like at this time.

2)  Preheat oven to 350F (If baking pasta) & lightly grease your casserole dish.

3)  Using a food processor, place garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, avocados, basil, salt, splash of white wine, and begin to puree.  Begin to stream in your oil, until your sauce is the consistency you would like.  (Should be a medium consistency- not too thick, and not too thin.)

4) In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta with the sauce,  tomatoes, chicken, and artichokes.  Pour into prepared casserole dish, top with shredded cheese, and bake at 350F for 15-20min.  Serve hot!
If serving as a cold dish, refrigerate immediately for 2-4 hours before serving. 


<![CDATA[Confetti Coconut Macaroons]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:50:46 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/confetti-coconut-macaroonsPicture

Spring is just full of color, isn't it?  When I think of Spring, I think flowers, Easter eggs, pastels, rainbows, etc.
I'm always trying to come up with something new or different, and coconut is a definite staple used for Easter baking!  ( Whether it be coconut cakes, or making "grass" for bunny, lamb cakes, or cupcakes!)
Coconut Macaroons are such a simple and easy treat to make, and they're not heavy or overly sweet like a lot of other foods or sweets this time of year.  There is no fat in these treats- just coconut, sugar, and egg whites!  These are sweet, chewy, and just a bit toasty on the outside.   Yumlicious!!
Since I love rainbows and color so much, I thought the kids would get a kick out of these rainbow or "confetti" treats!  This is also a great recipe to get your kids to help you with, because the more hands, the faster it is to color the coconut!  Simply divide the bag of coconut between ziploc bags for your colors, put a small drop or two of color in, seal it, and let the kids do their magic!  (My 7 yr. old son Rodney had fun with this one!)
Both liquid or gel food coloring can be used, and you can flavor these with virtually any extract or flavored oil you wish.  (I flavored mine "pina colada"- using Lou Ann flavored candy oil.) 
I was going to call these "Rainbow" coconut macaroons, but after the coconut was all colored, it really resembled shreds of confetti, so these treats would also be perfect for birthday parties, baby showers, etc.  Super easy, inexpensive, low in fat, what more can I say?!!    Dip the bottoms in chocolate?  Yes!  Any color you wish-
**Some important things to remember:
After whipping up the egg whites, CAREFULLY fold in your coconut in stages.  You don't want to lose the air whipped up into the whites!
Also, be careful when baking these, as you don't want to brown them!    You want all that pretty color to pop!

Yield:  2 dozen

Prep time:  10-25min.


1- 14oz bag of Sweetened coconut
2 egg whites (room temp.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
liquid or gel food coloring   (I used 1-2 drops of: pink, yellow, orange, green, blue, & purple)
6 ziploc sandwich baggies
flavored candy oil or extract  (vanilla, almond, lemon, cherry, etc.)
Optional for finishing:  dark, milk, white, or colored chocolate wafers

Preheat oven to 325F & line 2 sheet trays with silpats or parchment paper.
1)  Divide the 14oz bag of coconut as evenly as possible between the 6 ziploc bags.  In each one, drop 1-2 drops of food coloring, (or a small amount of gel), seal the bags, and manipulate the coconut until the color is even throughout.   Do this for all 6 colors, (or however many you choose to do.)

2)  Either by hand or machine, whip your egg whites.  Slowly begin to add the sugar in stages after it becomes "frothy".  Whip until stiff peaks.  Add a drop or 2 of flavored oil, or about a 1/2 tsp of extract at the very end of whipping.
Carefully, (and in stages), add the colored coconut by folding in with a rubber spatula.

3)  Scoop  coconut onto sheet trays- 12 mounds per tray.  Using clean, wet hands, go back and form each mound into a more uniform ball shape.  (You don't need to roll in your hands, but just shape while on the tray.)

4)  Bake at 325F for about 15-20min.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool.

Optional:  Melt some chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, and carefully dip the bottom of each macaroon, placing onto a parchment or silpat lined tray.  When done, you can place the tray in the refrigerator for about 5-10min to set the chocolate.  Remove, transfer treats to a lined storage container or platter, and cover well.

Store in a cool dry place for 5-10 days. 


<![CDATA[Bubblegum Lollipops]]>Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:18:55 GMThttp://redrocksthekitchen.com/recipes/bubblegum-lollipopsPicture
Spring is finally here!  No more snow, (for now!), milder temps, and Easter is coming soon......I love this time of the year!
Lollipops, (aka "suckers" as we also call them), are so colorful and fun for the kids.  I like to actually make these for bake sales and fundraisers because they are a great "do ahead" item, and obviously last awhile.  Plus, you can package them using fun ribbons for any occasion, and make an amazing display using your imagination as well for any party, celebration, or fundraiser!  Plus, did I mention that they are a big seller???!!
I came across these awesome "sprinkles" at Target in the baking section, (who knew?), and they are essentially mini "chiclets"- the candy- coated retro gum they used to sell when I was a kid.  I always enjoyed the "Charm Pops" too, (bubblegum filled lollies), when I was younger as well, but when I came across these mini bubblegum sprinkles, I just had to make some of these fun lollies!  The ones pictured are my "free form" style, but I made some in standard molds as well.  They were a definite hit!  Very fun, colorful, and yummy!   These are really easy to make, inexpensive, and you can play with any color and/or flavor as well.  (The blue ones pictured are a Blueberry Cream swirl.)

Yield:  About 18- 24 standard size lollipops

Prep time:  About 20 min.


Cooking spray (Can use Coconut, vegetable, canola, etc.)
Lollipop molds  (About 3-4 trays of 6)
lollipop sticks
Wilton's "Bubblegum Sprinkles"
Candy thermometer

1/4 c water
1 c sugar
1/2 c corn syrup

2-4 drops of liquid pink food color
1/2 dram of Bubblegum oil  **LorAnn flavored oil

1) On a flat surface, (preferably a sheet tray lined with a silpat), place your clean and dry lollipop molds.  Lightly spray the plastic molds (only) with cooking spray.  Using a paper towel, gently blot the inside cavities to remove excess oil.  ***No need to spray the silicone molds, but you will have a difficult time getting your lollipops out of the plastic molds if they aren't sprayed ahead of time!
Place a few "bubblegum sprinkles" in your molds at this time, and place your sticks in the cavities as well.
***If you are doing "free form" lollipops, simply line a couple sheet trays with silpats, and randomly lay out your sticks- making sure to place them at least 4in. apart.

2) In a medium sauce pan, add the water and sugars.  Stir together, and place over medium heat.  Using a silicone spatula or pastry brush, dip in cold water, and brush away crystals from the sides of pot.  Stir the sugar mixture until it comes to a simmer.  At this time, place your candy thermometer in the pan, and do not stir or brush sides down at this point!
When the sugar mixture reaches about 285F, add about 2- 4 drops of the pink food color.  (Since the mixture is bubbling rapidly, there is no need to stir the color at this time.)  When the temp reaches "Hard Crack Stage" or 295-300F, remove from heat.

3) Within a 1-2 minutes, the mixture will stop bubbling, at this time, slowly stir in the bubblegum flavor.  Carefully stir.
Using a spoon, work quickly to fill each lollipop mold with the sugar mixture- as evenly as you can.    Allow the molds to set up for about 60min. before inverting or popping out cooled lollipops.
Individually wrap each one- using tags and/or ribbons for a decorative touch, and enjoy!  These will keep for 30 days+ if kept in a cool/ dry place.  
**Heat and moisture will effect the quality/ texture of the lollipops, so store in a cool/ dry place.