Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Morning Mix recipe: Cuban Hash

Morning Mix recipe: Cuban Hash

Cuban Hash (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network)

Cuban Hash (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network)

Cuban Hash is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. This one pan recipe from PorkBeInspired.com is great for late suppers on New Year’s Eve or breakfast or brunch on New Year’s Day. Pair the hash with poached eggs and whole grain bread or rolls. Look for more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1 at the station’s website.

Cuban Hash
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground pork
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups new potatoes, cooked, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups tomatillo salsa
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled (see note)

1. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large skillet; add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the ground pork, breaking into crumbles with the back of a spoon and turning frequently until browned on all sides.
3. Add potatoes, salsa and corn; stir and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Fold in the cilantro and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe note: Feta cheese can substitute for queso fresco.
SOURCE: Adapted from PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars have a wonderful, light crackle on the top and the insides are soft and sweet. These are my favorite non-chocolate dessert ever and a must for the holidays. I think I have saved the best for last in this holiday series of 12 great bars that go great with tall glass of cold milk. I first made these in Mrs. Pert’s Home Economics class in grade school in Indianapolis.  You can dust them with powdered sugar if desired, but it’s really not needed.

Apricot Walnut Bars
Yield: About 48 servings

1 1/3 cups (6-ounce package) dried apricots
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cup baking mix, such a Bisquick or Jiffy
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup baking mix, such a Bisquick or Jiffy
1 teaspoon spiced rum
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. Place the apricots in a 2-quart saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered. Drain. Cool completely. Chop and reserve. (Using kitchen shears makes this step a breeze.)
2. Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by 1-inch baking pan lengthwise with nonstick aluminum foil, letting just a bit hang over the edges.
3. Mix the butter and granulated sugar and 2 1/2 cups of the baking mix until crumbly. A pastry blender or two knives are tried and true tools for this, but I have found careful pulses in the work bowl of a food processor work just as well. Pour into the foil-lined baking pan, patting down evenly over the bottom. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Beat brown sugar and eggs. Stir in apricots, 2/3 cup baking mix, rum, and nuts. Spread over the baked layer. Bake 30 minutes. Remove pan to a wire rack and cool completely.
5. Using the foil “handles,” lift the bars from the baking pan and place on a cutting board. Remove foil and cut into bars.

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars are thin treats bursting with flavor. You can substitute pecans for walnuts if desired. Be sure to use a good-quality cocoa powder for best flavor. I used Ghirardelli for this recipe. For the frosting, add the milk a tablespoon at a time. I like the consistency that the entire amount gave the mixture, but you might prefer a thicker frosting.

Cocoa Wheat Germ and Walnut Bars
Yield: About 4 dozen bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup regular flavored wheat germ
1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided
Cocoa cream frosting:
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons whole milk

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan lengthwise with nonstick aluminum foil, letting a little bit hang over the edges.
2. Combine the flour, wheat germ, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine.
3. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Stir in 1 cup of the nuts. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and use an offset spatula to spread evenly. Bake 15-20 minutes. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. For the cocoa cream frosting, with an electric mixer blend the butter and powdered sugar. Mix in the cocoa, vanilla, and milk.
5. Lift the bars from the baking pan with the foil “handles” and place on a cutting board. Peel away the foil. Spread the cocoa cream frosting over the top and scatter the remaining walnuts over the top. Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars are a great way to take advantage of Florida’s strawberry season. It’s our winter gift to the world.

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cheese Bars

1 (16.5-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
2 cups old-fashioned or quick oats, divided
2 (8-ounce) packages low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 cups chopped fresh Florida strawberries
Crumble topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks chilled salted butter, cut into pieces

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil, letting 1 inch of the lining hang over the sides.
2. Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just golden brown. Do not overbake. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. While still warm, press 1 cup of the oats into the bottom of the cookie crust.
3. With a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and eggs. Spread over the bottom of the cooled cookie crust. Top with chopped strawberries (see Recipe Notes).
4. For the crumble topping, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and cinnamon. Cut 1 1/2 sticks chilled butter into pieces. With your hands (see Recipe Notes), work in the butter pieces, until loose clumps form. Scatter the mixture over the top of the berries. You do not have to completely cover the fruit (see Recipe Notes). Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Using the foil or parchment “handles,” lift bars from pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into bars.
Recipe notes:

  • The oats on top of the baked cookie crust help form a barrier to any liquid that exudes from the berries. Also, it’s best to let the chopped berries rest in a strainer or on paper towels for at least 15 minutes before adding in Step 3.
  • I keep plastic food service gloves in the kitchen at all times for mixing foods by hand. Your hands are one of your best tools in the kitchen. And the gloves help make sure you work with food safety in mind. You can buy the gloves in supermarkets and restaurant supply stores.
  • Any extra crumble mixture can be toasted separately at 350F for 15 minutes. Store in a freezer quality plastic bag and use as a topping for ice cream.
  • Pecan Pie Bars

    Pecan Pie Bars

    Pecan Pie Bars

    Pecan Pie Bars are everything we love about a classic fall and winter pie but simply reimagined into bite-size indulgences. I like to add a small amount of fresh orange zest to the crust mixture. It adds a subtle flavor note and a wisp of a favorite seasonal aroma. Like other bars, these are best served after a thorough chilling. (And they freeze well too.) If left out at room temperature too long, the filling does get sticky. At parties, serve a dozen on a chilled glass platter and replenish as needed with additional bars stored in the refrigerator.

    Pecan Pie Bars
    Yield: 48 bars

    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup salted butter, softened
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest
    1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
    Filling:
    1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup
    2/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
    4 large eggs
    6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons spiced rum
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
    Garnish:
    Freshly whipped cream (optional)

    1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with foil lengthwise, letting about an inch of foil hang over the handles.
    2. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 3/4 cups flour, butter, sugar, and orange zest, scraping often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in finely chopped pecans. Press mixture into foil-lined baking pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until edges are golden. Let cool 5 minutes.
    3. With a spatula, mix corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, flour, rum, and salt. Stir in the nuts. Spread over the crust.
    4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the filling is set and knife inserted at least 1-inch from the edge comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Lift bars from the pan by the foil “handles” and place on a cutting board. Cut into bars. Serve immediately with a small dot of freshly whipped cream.
    Recipe note: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. If stacking, use parchment paper or nonstick foil between layers.

    Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies

    Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies

    Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies

    Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies are a fudgy, minty delight and the perfect foil for a glass of ice cold milk. Refrigerate in airtight containers layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper.

    Chocolate Candy Cane Brownies
    Yield: 12-16 servings, depending on size of bars

    Powdered baking cocoa for dusting baking pan
    1 cup salted butter, cubed
    6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    4 large eggs
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
    1 cup crushed candy canes, divided

    1. Heat oven to 350F. Line bottom of a 9-by-9-inch pan with foil or parchment paper and let about an inch hang over the handles. This will make removing brownies easy. Lightly butter uncovered sides of pan and foil or parchment inside pan. Use a little bit of powdered baking cocoa to dust the pan, shaking out and excess.
    2. In a small saucepan, melt butter and chopped unsweetened chocolate over low heat. Cool slightly.
    3. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt on low speed just until blended. Using a sturdy spatula, stir in the chocolate mixture. Add flour and chocolate chips, mixing well. Stir in 1/2 cup crushed candy canes.
    4. Scrape batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a pick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean but with a few moist crumbs. When done, brownies will be fragrant and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake.
    5. Remove pan from oven. Let brownies cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least  1 hour. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to chill. Using the foil or parchment “handles,” lift the brownies from the pan and cut into desired number of bars on a cutting board. Sprinkle tops with the remaining crushed candy canes, pressing down slightly to embed in the tops.

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars have a wonderful rich and creamy flavor with judicious notes of pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Superfine sugar dissolves quicker than regular granulated sugar, but you can use either in this recipe. Be sure to build in time to let the bars chill overnight for best results.

    Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars
    Yield: 36 bars

    1 (16-ounce) package sugar cookie dough
    2 1/4 cups coarsely crushed gingersnap cookies
    2 (8-ounce) packages low-fat cream cheese, softened
    1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon fresh lime zest
    1 tablespoon almond liqueur (such as Amaretto) or 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
    1 teaspoon allspice
    2 large eggs

    1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with foil or parchment paper, extending the foil or paper an inch over the handles of the pan. Press the sugar cookie dough in the bottom of the lined pan. Top with 1 cup of the crushed cookies pressing them into the dough. Bake 15-20 minutes or until surface is a light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.
    2. With an electric mixer combine cream cheese, sugar, zest, liqueur, allspice, and eggs. Dollop all over baked crust, and then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 1 cup crushed cookies.
    3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight. Using foil or parchment “handles,” lift bars from pan and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle with remaining crumbled cookies. Cut into bars.

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars are a twist on an old butter cake recipe. While baking, the apples exude their juices giving the bars a nice moist texture. You can give this recipe a cranberry twist by eliminating one apple and adding dried craisins. The result is a rich, sweet-tart bar. While these are best served warm, I like to chill all bars overnight to let them firm up a bit. You can gently warm in the oven or give them a few seconds in the microwave just before serving. If you prefer peeled apples, then by all means peel them before adding to the batter.

    Cinnamon-Scented Apple Bars
    Yield: 12-16 bars

    Butter for greasing pan
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup granulated white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon apple brandy
    2 tablespoons buttermilk
    2 large apples, cored and chopped (peeling is optional)
    Freshly whipped cream or butter pecan ice cream for serving

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with butter. Line the coated pan with parchment paper letting a little bit hang over the edges of two opposite sides. This helps lift them out of the pan.
    2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt with an electric mixer. Blend in the melted butter, eggs, apple brandy, and buttermilk. Fold in the chopped apples. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden and pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool. When cool, lift the parchment paper to remove to a cutting board and cut into bars.
    3. Serve warm with whipped cream or butter pecan ice cream.

    Salted Caramel Bars

    Salted Caramel Bars

    Salted Caramel Bars

    Salted Caramel Bars

    Salted Caramel Bars have a rich flavor and chewy texture with decadent drizzle. I made them in two 8-by-8 glass pans for thicker bars, but you can also use a shallow half sheet baking pan (about 1-by-13-by-18-inches) for thinner bars. Expect to have more of the rum-flavored caramel sauce than you will need. Refrigerate the extra for topping oatmeal, ice cream, chocolate cake or anything else that benefits from a touch of salted caramel. Smucker’s Salted Caramel Topping can be substituted for the homemade sauce to save time. You will find it in 11.5-ounce jars with the ice cream toppings in supermarkets. If you decide to create a shortcut with a packaged blondie mix (I won’t tell), you will have a denser bar.

    Salted Caramel Bars
    Yield: 24 servings

    Butter for greasing pan
    1 box vanilla cake mix
    1/3 cup salted butter, melted
    2 tablespoons water
    2 large eggs
    1 cup toffee bits
    Coarse ground sea salt to taste
    Salted caramel sauce:
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/3 cup water
    1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    1/4 cup spiced rum
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    Coarse ground sea salt

    1. For the sauce, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix sugar, 1/3 cup water, and the lemon juice. Heat over medium-high until bubbles form on the surface and mixture is simmering. Gently stir (do not aggressively mix) occasionally to incorporate all ingredients. Sugar should begin to caramelize in about 10 minutes, do not stir. Simmer until mixture is a rich, dark amber color. Remove pan from heat. Very carefully, stir in rum. Add whipping cream and coarsely ground sea salt to taste; stirring to combine. Cook over medium-low about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; set aside.
    2. Heat oven to 325F for dark or nonstick metal pans, 350F for glass baking dish or shiny metal pan. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil or parchment paper, letting extra hang over the sides to make removing bars from pan easier. Lightly butter sides and bottom of pan.
    3. In large bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter, 2 tablespoons water and the eggs. Fold in toffee bits. Spread mixture evenly in baking pan.
    4. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the top of the batter. With a fork, drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the batter.
    5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and a pick inserted 2 inches in from the sides comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Use the parchment or foil over hangs as handles to lift bars from the pan onto a cutting board.
    6. Before serving, drizzle additional sauce over bars. (You may not use all of the sauce. See intro for other uses.) Let bars stand about 30 minutes or until caramel is set.

    Morning Mix recipe: Pork Milanese

    Morning Mix recipe: Pork Milanese

    Pork Milanese with Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the National Pork Board)

    Pork Milanese with Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the National Pork Board)

    Pork Milanese with Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. This Italian specialty from PorkBeInspired.com and the National Pork Board would be great with steamed asparagus or a simple green salad drizzled with vinaigrette. By the way, cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper. Look for more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1.

    Pork Milanese with Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti
    Yield: 4 servings

    4 top loin pork chops, cut about 3/4-inch thick
    1/2 cup flour
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs (without cheese)
    Vegetable oil for frying
    Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
    Lemon wedges for serving and garnish
    Cacio E Pepe:
    8 ounces spaghetti
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese, or more Parmesan
    Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 200F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack.
    2. To make the Pork Milanese: One at a time, place pork between two 1-gallon plastic storage bags. Using a flat meat pounder or a rolling pin, pound the pork until wider and about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick. Spread flour in a shallow, wide bowl. Beat eggs in a second bowl and spread bread crumbs in a third bowl. Coat pork chop in flour, shaking off excess, dip in eggs and then coat with bread crumbs. Place on another baking sheet and let stand 5 minutes to set coating.
    3. Pour enough oil into skillet to come about 1/8 inch up sides of pan and heat over moderately high heat until oil shimmers. In two batches without crowding, add pork and cook, adjusting heat so pork does not burn, until underside is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pork and cook until other side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack and keep warm in oven while cooking remaining pork.
    4. Meanwhile, make the cacio e pepe: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When the second batch of pork is in skillet, add spaghetti to water and cook according to package directions. Scoop out, reserve 1/3 cup of cooking water, discard the rest. Drain spaghetti and return to pot. Add Parmesan and Romano cheeses and pepper. Mix well, adding enough of the cooking water to make a creamy sauce.
    5. Transfer pork and pasta to dinner plates. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot with lemon wedges.
    SOURCE: PorkBeInspired.com and the National Pork Board