Cook's Exchange: New recipe discoveries are a cook's delight

May 28, 2014 

I love finding and trying new recipes, and I have certain "guinea pigs" for whom I try my new creations.

Saturday, we had our weekly dinner with friends we have known more than 20 years. Sometimes we dine out, but mostly we all get involved in making dinner. One of us will do the entree, another the vegetables or salad, and another, the dessert.

True to form, I made a rustic fresh fruit tart that I had never made. I found the recipe on Pinterest and added my own touches. It was so easy, even the homemade crust. The filling was fresh strawberries and peaches with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and four tablespoons of sugar.

Everyone declared this a keeper, especially since the sugar content is low for those of us who need to limit sugar. Next time I make it, I will use fresh blueberries coming into season soon.

That was just one new recipe I encountered, but my major find was a cookbook done by the Lifelong Learning Institute at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. LLI is an organization for folks age 50 and older who want to continue learning, are self-motivated and want to share their experiences with other like-minded members.

I had the privilege of speaking to this group, but, as usual, I walked away with more than I ever could give. I enjoy hearing others share their cooking and shopping experiences as well as recipes. Their cookbook is "Recipes to Remember" and available for $14.98 per copy with $5 for postage and handling by writing MGCCC Lifelong Learning Institute, 10298 Express Drive, Gulfport, MS 39503. The spiral-bound book is divided into

10 categories over 165 pages.

Here are a few of the book's recipes that are indeed a find.

TOMATO CUPS

1 can Grands buttery flaky biscuits

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup shredded cheese, Cheddar and mozzarella, mixed

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 onion, chopped

10 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (may substitute 1/2 cup bacon bits)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate biscuits into 3 layers. Spray regular-sized muffin cups with cooking spray. Press 1 separated biscuit layer into each of 24 muffin cups. Combine remaining ingredients and place a spoonful into each muffin cup. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until brown.

-- Recipe by Kristina Allen

GRAPE SALAD

1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, low-fat or fat free

1 cup Splenda (start with 1/2 cup)

8 to 16 ounces fat free Cool Whip

1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

2 pounds red seedless grapes

Mix cream cheese and Splenda together in mixing bowl. Add Cool Whip. Fold in pecans and grapes. chill about 1 hour. Serve.

-- Recipe by Frances Carlisle submitted by Glenda Burke

Andrea's note: Pecans can be toasted in the oven or a skillet on stovetop. Don't take your eyes off them; they burn quickly.

VIVIAN'S OKRA FRITTERS

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3 teaspoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon red pepper

2 cups sliced okra

Mix all ingredients well, adding okra last. Drop by tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Fry until brown. Drain on paper towels.

-- Recipe by Linda Miller

MARINATED BOSTON BUTT

4 pounds Boston butt roast or pork shoulder

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 medium onion, sliced

1 (12-ounce) can of Coke

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 ounce fresh ginger, minced

2 pieces star anise or 1 tablespoon powdered or seed anise

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Trim fat from pork and season with salt and pepper. Add cooking oil to slow cooker. Place pork fat side down in slow cooker. Add onion, soy sauce, Coke, ginger and star anise. Cook 4 to 4- 1/2 hours on high or cook all day on low (best flavor). Meat should fall apart. Collect liquid in a cup and spoon off any fat. Press juice collected in cup through a strainer over meat. Garnish with green onion. Serves 6.

-- Recipe by Cynthia L. Hill

Another find

I also love sharing new products that I think are awesome. Frank's RedHot has five new sauces in addition to the original: Buffalo Wings Sauce, Sweet Chili, Hot Buffalo, XTRA Hot and Kickin' BBQ.

Here is the chili shrimp that I tried. This dish can be done on the grill or in an electric grill.

GLAZED SWEET CHILI SHRIMP

1- 1/2 pounds jumbo or extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup Frank's RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, divided

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Place shrimp on metal skewers. Baste shrimp generously with 1/2 cup Sweet Chili Sauce.

Grill shrimp over medium heat about 5 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with green onion.

Serve shrimp with additional 1/2 cup Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes.

This salsa is perfect for a summer barbecue or pool party.

CORN & BEAN SALSA

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package (9 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 can (16 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large ripe tomato, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Whisk together oil, Frank's RedHot Sauce, vinegar, cilantro, garlic, chili and salt in large bowl until well blended.

Add corn, beans, tomato and onions. Toss well to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Serve with grilled steak or burgers or tortilla chips. Makes 6 servings.

Prep time: 15 minutes.

Microwave pralines

A member of MGCCC LLI wants a recipe for microwave pralines. He lost his recipe during Hurricane Katrina and says he misses it.

Readers, please share your easy-does-it microwave praline recipes.

Freezing and canning

Readers, two questions: Do you prepare make-ahead meals and stash them in the freezer? If so, please share your tips and recipes with me. Secondly, do you can jam and vegetables? Fruits and vegetables are coming out of the gardens now, and readers want to know how you can them and your recipes. Please send me your ideas and recipes.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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