Friday, December 4, 2015

Breakfast for Dinner

I have to admit that for the longest time I despised eggs. The smell of them cooking gagged me and then that whole runny yolk thing, nauseating. When people asked me how I liked my eggs I would reply, "Baked into cookies". However, in the past five years I have learned to like them quite a lot, sans the runny yolk. I don't think I will ever get over that. I started eating them in omelets that were loaded with sausage and vegetables and cheese. When eaten this way the egg pretty much got lost among the fillings. Then I progressed to sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, eggs over hard, please. Now, I will eat scrambled eggs so long as I have some hot sauce at a minimum but hot sauce and cheese is my preference. A few weeks ago I was watching Lidia Bastianich, on of my favorite TV chefs, on public television (because food network is a freaking joke!). I love the public television cooking shows, Jacques Pepin, Lidia, the occasional Julia, Pati Jinich (where everything is super yummy, lol), Cooks Country, ALL so good. Anyway, on this particular episode Lidia was making a ricotta fritatta and it looked so delicious. Then yesterday as I was pulling out some chicken to defrost for dinner (even though I wasn't really in the mood for chicken) and I looked in my refrigerator and realized I had everything I needed to make that fritatta. That chicken was back in the freezer in the blink of an eye and I left for work knowing the first thing on the agenda was to get the recipe so I could make it for dinner. I have to say that preparing this was very quick and easy and our dinner was light yet filling. Husband was a little reluctant at first as he thought the ricotta was a bit strange with eggs but once he got into it he commented on how light and delicious it was. On the show Lidia recommended serving this with a salad for lunch or dinner but we just ate it straight up. I think adding a tad of crushed red pepper would have kicked it up a notch but then my husband would have complained that it was too spicy. He is a big sissy when it comes to spicy. But for those of you who like spice like I do, go ahead and add some. It would add a nice kick to the dish!

Lidia Basitanich's Ricotta Fritatta
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 ripe large tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 large basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 6 tablespoons fresh ricotta, drained

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Push onion slices to one side of the skillet, and lay the tomato slices in one layer in the cleared space. Sear the tomato, turning once until the slices soften just at the edges, about 30 seconds per side. Remove tomatoes to a plate, let onions continue to cook while you prepare the eggs.

2. In a bowl, beat eggs with the salt. Stir in basil and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese until well mixed.

3. Spread the onion slices in an even layer in the bottom of the skillet and pour eggs on top. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook until the eggs begin to set around the edges of the pan, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Arrange tomato slices on top of the frittata and drop tablespoons of the ricotta between the tomato slices. Sprinkle all over with the remaining grated cheese. Bake frittata until set all the way through and the top is golden, about 18 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the skillet and invert onto a plate or cutting board. Serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Kinds of People

in the Kitchen, there are typically 2 kinds of people. Cookers and bakers. I fall solidly in the cooker category but occasionally like to venture towards the latter. I lack the confidence as a baker that I have as a cooker but if you don't get out of your comfort zone you will never learn, expand or improve. With baking it seems most of the expanding is at my waistline! LOL! This weekend I just had the overwhelming urge to bake something, not just anything, scones. I don't know why. I mean I like them well enough but I wouldn't say I LOVE them. I remember my first scone was made in 7th grade home ec class. They weren't horrible but I remember them being dry and kind of bland. Fast Forward 20+ years .....a new bakery opens in my office building. They have raspberry white chocolate chip scone. WOW they were good. Still not overly sweet but just right with coffee. The downside though is they were HUGE (remember that waistline comment)! Eventually the bakery moved down the street so temptation was not greeting me at the elevator every day. But this weekend man was I hankering for one of those scones. I decided to take a walk on the wild side and make some myself. To the internet I went in search of recipes, I didn't have buttermilk and wasn't going to make a special trip for it so all those went out the window, checked out Tyler Florence's recipe - It looked delicious but make my own butter - um no. Finally I found one on chew out loud. It had sour cream in it and the reviews all commented on home moist the final product came out. I went through the ingredient list and I had everything I needed - BAM! We had a winner. I followed the recipe and I admit there was some trepidation getting that dough to come together. The raspberries were not enjoying the process and the dough was getting stickier and more pink the more I handled it. Finally I got it to the point where it seemed right and I cut it and put it in the oven. When the kitchen timer rang and I checked on them they looked awfully wet and under-cooked so I turned the oven off and let them sit in there another 10 minutes just to be safe. That seemed to work because when I finally removed them from the oven they actually looked OK. I did regret using red colored sugar as a topping because it made them look like they came off the set of a slasher movie but live and learn. They certainly tasted great and that's really what matters.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones
4 cups all purpose flour
⅔ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
2 sticks (16 TB) salted butter, frozen
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 cup whole sour cream
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 container fresh raspberries
1 egg + 2 tsp water, lightly beaten together (for egg wash)
coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using large holes of a box grater, grate frozen butter into the flour. Use fingers to work in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in white chocolate chips.

In separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs, and almond extract until fully incorporated.

Use a fork to stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large clumps form. Gently stir in raspberries with a rubber spatula. Do be gentle, but the berries will break up somewhat; that's ok. Use hands to gently form dough into two even sized balls. Don't overwork dough. Dough will seem rather wet. Wrap dough balls tightly and chill until it's easier to work with, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set oven to 400F, with rack on lower-middle position.
On a lightly floured, flat surface, gently pat each dough ball (might still seem too wet, but it will bake up fine) evenly into an 8-inch circle, about ¾ inch thick each. Using a very sharp knife, cut each circle into 8 triangle wedges. Place triangles on lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart.

Brush the egg wash on top of each triangle. Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake one sheet at a time, about 14-17 minutes or just until tops are light golden. Do not over bake. Allow scones to cool completely to room temp.

 Serve immediately, or store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

Vive la France

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bella Casseroli

So, this weekend I was hit with the cooking bug. The past few weeks have been so crazy busy that dinners have been haphazardly thrown together meals that I could get on the table in 30 minutes while still providing some basic nutritional needs. Sunday came around and I just wanted to have a nice traditional Sunday dinner at the table, once a regular occurrence at my house but not so much lately. I knew that I wanted a roast. I originally thought prime rib but forgot to set it out to thaw the night before so instead I opted for a much smaller eye round roast. To go with it we had mashed cauliflower, roasted potatoes (for hubs), and for the veggies I came up with this casserole to use up what was left from my CSA share. Now, I see a LOT of food blogs condemn the use of canned soups or other pre-made ingredients in recipes. To them I say, UP YOURS! Not all of us have the time, energy or desire to cook every fucking thing from scratch. Yes, it IS always better when it's homemade but it is NOT always convenient or economical, especially for people who are working very hard to make a living while simultaneously balancing work with family and personal lives.  I enjoy making things from scratch but certainly am not above using canned soups, broths or even an occasional jar of prepared spaghetti sauce if that is all that time and energy permits and that's perfectly OK! So go ahead and use those cans if you need/want to. Unless the man has holes in his hands, it ain't his place to judge!

Cheesy Fall Veggie Casserole
1 large head fresh broccoli, trimmed, peeled (stalks) and chopped
1 large handful fresh spinach, rinsed and rough chopped
1 leek sliced
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can cream of broccoli soup
3/4 cup half and half or milk
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat over to 350F

In a large bowl mix broccoli, spinach, leeks, soups, half and half, crackers and 1/2 Cup cheddar cheese until combined. Place in an ungreased casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheddar cheese. return to oven and bake another 15 minutes until cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Pie! Oh My!

If I am to be totally honest, I have to admit that I don't really like pie. Pie season is in full swing here in New England with apples and pumpkins at peak harvest. Even I, the pie hater, got caught up in the hoopla and made one this weekend. I figured it would be easy to resist and I would stay on my diet. Boy was I wrong. This pie, even though I didn't get the bottom crust quite right (soggy) has changed my opinion regarding pie. I love pie. Well THIS pie!

Maple Whiskey Caramel Apple Pie (adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)

For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used Imperial)
3 TBSP dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 TBSP chilled butter, cut into pieces

For the filling:
6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced about ¼-inch thick
1/2 cup  butter
 3 TBSP ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Maple Whiskey (I used Cabin Fever)
1/2 cup half and half (can sub heavy cream)
1 tsp butter vanilla (can sub vanilla extract)

Preheat over to 400F

Prepare the topping:
In a bowl (or food processor) combine the both sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour.
Cut in the butter (by hand, pastry cutter, or using the food processor) until crumbly and stir in the pecans.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the filling:
Melt the butter for the filling in a large pot over medium-high heat and sauté the apples for 5-8 minutes.
Transfer the apples to a bowl and set aside
Add the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and whiskey to the pot, simmering for at least 5 minutes until much of the alcohol burns off.
Add the cream and cook another 5-10 minutes more, until it is about as thick as pourable caramel. Turn off heat and return the apples to the pot and stir to coat. Let filling cool before preparing pie crust.

Assemble Pie:
Roll out the pie dough onto a lightly floured surface and then transfer it to a deep dish pie plate, crimping the edges.
Pour the filling into the pie plate, sprinkle the crumb topping over, and put in the oven on a baking sheet for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping has browned.
Serve warm or room temperature.

I should probably mention that I used a combination of Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Granny Smith Apples to make this.

UPDATE - Sept 2017: I recently made this pie using a combination of McIntosh, Macoun, honeycrisp, golden delicious, and cortland apples (1 each). The combination made for a nice balance of flavors and textures. I also ran a little of short of Maple whiskey and subbed about 1/3 C with honey whiskey. Results were still delicious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Falling for Fall

Yep, it's that time of year again. the mornings are crisp and the leaves are turning lovely hues of red and orange. Fall. I love it despite the winter that inevitably follows. Apples and pumpkins and squash abound. MMMM. While every one else posts recipes for Fall. I am going to hang on to summer just a tad longer. Today recipe is brought to you by my grocery store's olive bar.  I am obsessed with the olive bar at the grocery store. Not because I love olives. In fact, I don't really care for them at all. It's the other random stuff that shows up. The stuffed cherry peppers, the marinated mozzarella, the roasted red peppers, the roasted garlic cloves (YUM). This past week what did I find, ARTICHOKE HEARTS! I have never seen artichokes on the olive bar before so I felt compelled to buy them. I love artichokes although my husband does not. So now I had to figure out what to do with them so they would get eating quickly. Then I remembered that hubs LOVES spinach and artichoke dip. BINGO! I had a game plan and was ready to throw down. Here is what I did:

Chicken in a Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Sauce

2 Tbs oil
2 Chicken breast halves, filleted if very large
4-6 oz marinated artichoke hearts
1 box frozen, chopped spinach
2 medium carrots, shredded
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 C white wine
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet until shimmery
Add chicken breast pieces and brown on each side. Once browned, remove from skillet and set aside
Deglaze pan with white wine and allow to simmer down
Add artichokes, spinach, carrots, garlic and leeks to skillet and saute until soft.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.
Return chicken to skillet and let simmer until cooked through
Serve over pasta, rice or spaghetti squash.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

South of the Border Break Through!

Eureka I have Found it! A low carb enchilada recipe that tastes great and doesn't require me too cook all sorts of shit before I actually start cooking my dinner (i.e. cauliflower tortillas). YEEHAW! Thank you food gawker for the inspiration! What am I talking about you ask? Well, it all started when I saw this image:
What you see there are lamb cannelloni but instead of pasta sheets, the filling is wrapped in sliced eggplant! I shit you not! Immediately I went to the website (in French), translated it and read the recipe through. It required the eggplant to be sliced thinly on a mandolin and they lightly fried in olive oil before filling and baking in sauce. No problem. I just so happened to have an eggplant and a mandolin at home! BUT rather than recreate this recipe, I figured if it works with Italian food then surely it will work for Mexican as well. I had some leftover taco meat from dinner a few days earlier and a couple jars of home made enchilada sauce that I was dying to eat. You see this low carb thing I am on seriously limits my opportunities for eating Mexican beyond a taco salad (booo!). Needless to say, I was super excited to give this idea a shot. Now, when it comes to eggplants I think those big round purple things should only be used for baba ganoush, if at all. For Parmesan I use the Japanese varieties and for this I used the smaller white skinned eggplant. I set my mandolin on 1/8 inch (3mm) and sliced away. I spread the slices on paper towels and generously salted them with sea salt. Then I took the dogs to the park for a while. When I returned the eggplant had shed a lot of water, which I blotted up with more paper towels, and was fairly pliable. Enough so that I decided to skip the frying step and see what would happen. After all, my homemade sauce was very thick and wouldn't really be ruined by any additional water shed by the eggplant during baking. I overlapped 2 slices of the eggplant, put some taco meat at one end and rolled it up. It worked great. I placed the eggplant enchilada in a sauce lined baker and continued until all the large enough slices were used up.  At this point I should mention again that the sauce I had made was very thick and that helped keep the enchiladas from unrolling while in the pan. I topped the enchiladas with a little more sauce, covered them in foil and baked them at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. Then I removed the foil, topped them with cheddar cheese and baked them another 15 minutes until the cheese was good and melted. I was a little nervous that the eggplant would be tough to eat but I was thrilled to find that they worked perfectly. Not only were they easy to eat with a fork, but the eggplant was nearly undetectable. If I didn't know better, I would never have guessed that there was eggplant in this dish. WIN!

Now, I made the enchilada sauce last summer with fresh tomatoes and peppers but this is the basic recipe as far as I can remember it:

For the Enchilada Sauce:
6 ancho chile peppers, roasted, peeled, cored, and seeded
3 Anaheim Chilies, roasted, peeled, cored, and seeded
2 jalapeno peppers, 
2 chipotles, chopped  
2 medium tomatoes, halved  
1 medium white onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic  
1 Tbs chili powder  
1 teaspoon cumin  
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano S
alt and pepper to taste  
3½ to 4 cups chicken broth 
2 tablespoons masa harina

Combine the tomato, onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan. Cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until tomatoes are tender and onion is soft. Add chilies and blend with an immersion blender or transfer to traditional blender.  Add cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.  Transfer sauce back to pan and heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Whisk the masa harina into the simmering sauce until well combined. Cook for 5 more minutes, keep warm on low.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Low Carb Little Beauties!

Hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day Weekend. The Hubs and I sure did. At first I wasn't so sure since he decided to have a party meaning a lot of cooking and cleaning for me. But it actually ended being a really nice time. We had a good turn out of friends joining us and I managed to not drink too much or stray too far off of my diet! YAY Me! What helped were these little beauties that I concocted using a bag of little baby bell peppers. I meant to take a picture of them but ate them all instead. lol.

Bacon, Cheddar, Ranch Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

1 bag baby bell peppers, stemmed and cored
1 brick cream cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoon ranch seasoning
6 or so slices of bacon, cooked crisp
1 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Put the cheeses, ranch seasoning and bacon in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix at low speed and gradually increase until everything is full mixed together

Stuff cheese mixtures into the hollowed out bell peppers. I found that using your hands to do this was the easiest way to get them stuffed. Enjoy. Simple, tasty and low carb!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Experimenting With Squash

Are you up to your ear with squash, too? I never thought I could get sick of it but, damn. There is SO much of it around. Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff but not with every meal, every day. So, in light of it's over abundance I decided to experiment and am I glad I did. I now have yet another delicious way to eat this vegetable. Best part - for dessert! That's right. i decided to play with that whoopie pie recipe and concocted zucchini bread whoopie pies. Try them, you'll like them!

Zucchini Bread Whoopie Pies

For the Cookies:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon maple whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2¾ cup flour
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed of excess liquid 
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
For the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter 
  • 1/2 cups shortening
  • 1 cups marshmallow fluff,
  • 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 1 teaspoons maple whiskey
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream together shortening, butter and sugar. Slowly add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake approximately 15 minutes until set. Allow to cool.

While the cookies are baking add the filling ingredients to a mixing bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until smooth.

When cookies are cooled, assemble with the filling.

Enjoy! Share with friends and neighbors! These are GOOD!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Down the Hatch!

A few weeks ago my Dad went to visit his brother who isn't doing all that well in the health department. His wife had asked for some help taking care of him as she was exhausted and quite frankly, sick men are enormous babies. So, out my Dad went because he is awesome like that. What I was NOT expecting was for my Aunt to load him up with one of my most coveted ingredients to bring back for me. What is this mystery ingredient you ask - HATCH GREEN CHILIES! Did I mention that my Aunt and Uncle live in Albuquerque, NM? Oh baby was I so happy to see them. And so many! She sent me 8 quart sized zip lock bags of the green monsters - roasted and peeled! I love you Auntie Barb! So, anticipating a long day yesterday, I got up early and made myself a nice batch of Chili Verde to put in the crockpot and cook away all day. I had everything I needed from my CSA share and it let me use up the last of the fresh salsa that I had made before it spoiled. Double WIN! Here is how it came together. First I cut up a pork tenderloin into 1 inch think slices (give or take) and put them in the crock pot. I added a pint of freshly made salsa (tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, lime juice). Then, I took a bag of those green beauties (there were about a dozen chilies in it), removed the stems and seeds, gave them a rough chop and put them in the crockpot too. Finally, I peeled and rinsed 8-10 fresh tomatillos and put them in a saucepan with water and 2 rough chopped white onion. I brought that to a boil until the tomatillos split open and the onions were cooked. When that was done, I hit it with the immersion blender until smooth, poured it into the crockpot, put the lid on,  set it to low and left for work. I can't even describe how good my house smelled when I got home! I immediately fished out the pork pieces,  shredded them, and returned them to the pot. I added some masa for thickening as it was a tad watery and brightened it up with some fresh lime juice. I also stirred in a can of black beans (Kuner's Black Beans with Cumin and Chili Spices) undrained. Then it was ready to eat! I was concerned about the spice level since those Hatch chilies can be wicked so I topped my chili with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. It was delicious. When I ate some today for breakfast, lol, I noticed it had mellowed quite a bit so I think just cheese will suffice for the remainder of the pot.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Wait, What???

August tomorrow!! WTF happened to the summer? In the blink of an eye, woosh, it's over. While I admit to Fall being my favorite time of year, it seems like summer is just getting going for me. We FINALLY have temperatures in the 90's and prime beach weather. Hard to believe, back to school shopping has already started. I swear the older I get the faster the time goes. It's kind of scary. So, one of the reasons this month went by so fast had to do with 1 week vacation followed by 1 week of field work in eastern Kentucky. I have to admit I was dreading that trip to Kentucky but, as it turns out, if was actually pretty nice. Beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife and friendly people. Our hotel was in Wise, VA (birthplace of George C Scott). I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meals we ate in this small town. The first of which was actually in the neighboring town of Norton, VA. The place was Magnolia Kitchen. The cuisine was cajun/creole influenced but also featured some standard American fare. We actually ate here twice and I had some of the BEST fried green tomatoes I have ever experienced. I also tried the beef tips and the jambalaya. All were good. I have to admit I thought the mashed potatoes tasted funny. I can't put my finger on what exactly it was. I seemed like there wasn't any added cream so maybe that threw me off. I ate them all anyway so it's not like they totally sucked, lol. The Jambalaya was great. Only complaint is that the tails were left on the shrimp so I have to fish them out of a pool of hot rice to clean them up before eating. Regardless, all of the food was tasty and the price couldn't be beat.

Magnolia Kitchen Restaurant

Next on our dinner list was a new Mexican place called El Castillo. now, anybody who knows me knows I Love, Love, Love Mexican food and have pretty high standards. Bad Mexican food is SO awful. The place advertized that they made all their salsas and sauces in house so I figured we should give it a try. Right off the bat I was optimistic as the customary chips and salsa were fantastic. The salsa tasted  fresh and homemade. For research purposes (yeah right, lol) I ordered the "Taste of Everything". It came on 2 plates and made me look like a glutton but once I dug in I regretted nothing. It was super! I had a taco, enchilada, chalupa, tamale, a chile relleno, refried beans and rice. It took me 2 days to eat it all but eat it all I did! So good!

 El Castillo Restaurant

Next on out list was Moondog Pizza.  We were there on a Wednesday and I had the $6.50 Spaghetti and Meatball Dinner special. I loved that they offered that on what, to me, is "Prince Spaghetti Day" (ANTHONYYYYY!). The pasta was actually vermicelli and was a tad mushy but the meatballs were definitely homemade as was the sauce. Both were tasty. Not the best plate of spaghetti I have ever had but I have definitely paid more for worse. The place a a very good selection of beers and the service was good. I enjoyed my meal and would visit again if I were in the area again. My coworker ordered pizza and seemed to enjoy it. I didn't try any so I can't comment on it but it looked really good.

Moon Dog Brick Oven

Finally, in what had to be the BEST meal I had in western Virginia came from a roadside shack called "Piggy Went a' Smokin'" operated by Ronnie and Tammy Mullins. We had been driving past it every day on our way to our field sites in Kentucky (HWY 23 or Otby Cantrell Hwy) and made a vow to stop at some point and try it. Turns out we wished we had stopped before out last day because we would have eaten there every night if we had. This is what we saw when we drove by:

When You See this on the Side of the Road, you STOP!

I had the best pulled pork sandwich of my life and a bargain at $6. Smokey, juicey chunks of succulent pork served with a side of what tasted like homemade BBQ sauce. HEAVEN! They had smoked turkey and chicken as well as fried catfish and other things. Seriously, I wanted to order more as soon as I finished my sandwich. I wanted to order 2 pounds of pork and sauce to take home but without a cooloer I didn't want to risk it spoiling and poisoning myself. If I ever go back I WILL be eating here daily and i WILL be bringing stuff home with me it was THAT good.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy 4th!

So, this year I wasn't planning on doing anything noteworthy over the long holiday weekend but, true to form, that wasn't how things worked out. At the last minute we were invited to a cook out with some friends and we responded with a hearty, "hell yes!" I had all sorts of things to eat in the works for our stay at home weekend, way too much for the two of us, and now I had folks to share it with, yay! The new item on the list came from a recipe over at Stacy Snacks. It is a dill pesto potato salad with green beans. YUM, right!? It was perfect because I had just gotten a bunch of fresh dill from my CSA. The other bonus for this salad is that it has no mayo or other ingredients that you need to keep cold at a hot summer picnic. It is also super quick and easy to make. Need I say more? My husband liked it better the next day but I actually liked it best right after I made it when the potatoes were still warm but thought it was great the next day as well. The only change I made to the recipe was to switch out the walnuts in the pesto for pine nuts. Walnuts are MUCH cheaper but they are not one of my favorites in the realm of nuts. So, I stuck with the original pesto nut.

Potato & Green Bean Salad w/ Dill Pesto: (adapted from Stacey Snacks who adapted it from Dishing up the Dirt)

1 bag new potatoes (yellow or red)
1-2 Cups fresh green beans, trimmed

For the pesto:

1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small package of pine nuts (lightly toasted)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup (approx) of parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a food processor blend together the dill, garlic, and walnuts. Add in the oil and cheese. Process until desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl and add in the lemon juice. Can be made a day ahead.

For the potatoes and green beans:

Cook a potatoes (skins on) in boiling water for 18-20 minutes, during the last 3 minutes of cooking add green beans (this saves you from washing 2 pots!).

Combine potatoes and beans with pesto and serve. This can be served immediately, while still warm, chilled or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I should probably post a recipe, huh. I guess I am still wallowing in hockey blues. I have been cooking but nothing super awesome or innovative. Just slapping shit together in a pan, lately it seems. Don't get me wrong, it's all come out tasty but I certainly wouldn't post a picture of it, lol. With the Fourth around the corner I should be all fired up with things to make for family cookouts and the like but this year I don't plan on going anywhere or seeing anyone. I am turning into quite the cynical misanthrope. I do plan to make stuff for me and the hubs but that's about it. I still don't know what. I have tons of leftovers in the fridge to eat but yet still have tons of veggies from the CSA that I need to use up. It's quite a conundrum. I hate wasting food but don't want to make more when I have a bunch already that needs to be eaten. Good thing I have freezer space available. This is the recipe I am envisioning for tonight. It was inspired but something I saw on public TV. I think it was Lidia Bastianich who was making it but I can't remember. The lady seemed older than her but it looked so good that it has stuck with me ever since. I do remember her mixing it all up with butter and parmesan/romano cheese. Can't possibly be bad, right? This is my interpretation of what she did

Sausage with Orecchiette and Rapini (Broccoli rabe)

1.5 lbs quality Italian sausage
1/4 lb prepared broccoli rabe, chopped (yes I cheated and got mine already cooked from an Italian market/deli)
3 TBS butter
2 Tbs olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs chicken base (add to 1 cup of the pasta water)
salt and red pepper to tase
1 lb orecchiette pasta
1 C parmesan/Romano cheese, grated

Prepare pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Remove from heat and drain just before fully cooked. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining.

While pasta is cooking, add oil to a large saute pan and add crumbled Italian sausage. Saute until cooked through. Add broccoli rabe and garlic continue to saute. Add chicken base and pasta water. Add pasta to pan to finish cooking. When liquid is absorbed gently stir in half of the cheese and the butter. Season to taste. Turn on to a platter or into a large bowl to serve and top with remaining cheese.

If you are not a fan of broccoli rabe you could substitute with spinach, chard, any leafy cooking green, really or even straight up broccoli or broccolini

UPDATE: The Italian market near my office had fresh made Italian Sausage with provolone and Broccoli rabe in it t so I made this recipe again but added a little half and half to the pan at the end. OMG it was even better than the first time I made it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grinds My Gears!

You know what REALLY does! Food blogs with so many god damn advertisements, pop ups and other random shit on them that it takes 5 minutes to load the damn page and when I finally think it's loaded and start reading, it randomly scrolls all over the god damn place because the stupid ad at the bottom wasn't quite done loading after all. GAH!!! I understand that some of you actually try to earn money doing this shit but have mercy on your readers and stop being such whores. Enough with all the crap cluttering up your sites. I want your recipes and to read your stories. I do NOT, however, need a subscription to Asshat Magazine or whatever other crap is filling your margins and annoying me to death. Please, for the love of god, limit that shit! Thank you. Rant over.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Heating Up!

Warm, sunshine, FINALLY! I have to say that it is about damn time. Of course, with the warm up the schedule inevitable goes beyond crazy. It's been so bad that I missed the submission deadline for Round 2 of the chopped at home challenge. Figures, because I had a really great recipe this time. I called it Fiesta Pasta Salad. But seeing as it is Cinco De Mayo, I guess it's appropriate for today and all is not lost. This dish can be served as a side or as a meal in itself. Here is how it goes:

Fiesta Pasta Salad

For the chicken
1 pound chicken tenders, diced small
Juice of 2 limes
1 heaping Tablespoon adobo seasoning
2 Tbs olive oil

Combine ingredients and allow chicken to marinade for at least 1 hour. Once marinaded,  add chicken and marinade to a frying pan and saute until cooked through. Set aside and let cool.

For the Salsa
2 Mangoes, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt to tase

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and salt to taste. Add additional lime juice if necessary

For the Salad
1 8.8oz box Israeli pearl cous cous, cooked according to directions  (do not rinse)
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

In a large bowl combine cooked cous cous, chicken with cooking liquid and salsa. Add sugar, cilantro and lime juice and stir to combine.  Refrigerate overnight  and adjust seasonings to taste before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Springtime in my Bowl

Yep, still cold. At least it's sunnier! Still, this 40 degree weather has got to go! It's almost Easter and I still can't put the winter coat away. It's beyond old and I am so done with it! Last night I figured if it doesn't feel like spring outside, it can at least taste like it inside! This recipe features sweet corn ravioli. I buy it in NYC whenever I am there. I first tried it on a whim and now I am totally addicted to it. I think I may try to make it from scratch this summer if I am feeling adventurous. But for now I love knowing that I have an endless supply thanks to Piemonte Ravioli Company! I teamed it up with fresh pencil thin asparagus (in season right NOW!), red bell pepper, broccoli, chicken and some real good feta (Bulgarian sheep milk feta) that my dear mother brought back from the city for me. Thanks mom! Since making this was a last minute decision, I hadn't thawed the chicken out before I left for work. So, I threw the frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot with a little water to save me a step when I got home later. The bonus was this left me with the fresh cooking liquid to use in the sauce. It worked out perfectly but you could certainly just chop and saute your chicken on the fly and throw it in. I also meant to put some chopped sun dried tomatoes in this but I totally forgot. Once things got cooking in the kitchen, it came together crazy fast and I totally forgot about them. I'll add them to the leftovers. Yeah, that will be good!

Springtime Ravioli Bowl

1 box sweet corn ravioli, cooked according to directions

 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped

2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic. sliced
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed
2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large head broccoli florets
1 Cup good feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 C white wine
1 Cup chicken stock
1 Tbs chicken base
Juice of 1 lemon (Always use fresh)
1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 1/4 C water

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add onion. saute until soft. Add red peppers and garlic, continue to saute, add broccoli. When veggies are almost cooked add chicken and wine. Add asparagus. Added chicken stock, lemon juice and chicken base. Stir to combine. Add feta, stir and place lid on pan to finish cooking off veggies. Add the cornstarch mixture to thicken pan liquids. Carefully fold in ravioli. Enjoy!

I REALLY need to work on my photography skills, lol! That picture is terrible but I assure you the food was delicious. LOL!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Little Bit o' Chicken Fry (Sharron, I finally remembered what I wanted to post!)

It's no secret. I love, love love me some good old fashioned fried chicken. I prefer it boneless but I will scarf down an extra crispy breast on the bone just as fast as any strip or nugget. I am still working on MY version of this American favorite and have yet to get the flavors just where I like them. I firmly believe that mastering fried chicken is a personal journey that takes a long time to complete.  This version was good but still not quite there. I think bumping up the marinade seasonings would have been a good thing as they didn't really carry over much in the meat despite the overnight marinade. I'll try that next time. I'll probably bump up the flour seasonings as well to give it more oomph.  Regardless, it was still good and I will keep working on it to get it just the way I like it. When I do make fried chicken, I always make a ton of it because 1, its messy and kind of a pain in that ass and 2,  it's delicious and the leftovers, no matter how much there are, never stick around long in my house.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Strips

1 pound chicken breasts, cut across the grain into strips

1 Cup buttermilk
2 tsp salt
1/4 tst cayanne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

2 Cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbs buttermilk

Combine marinade ingredients and chicken strips in a large zip lock bag and marinade overnight

In a heavy bottomed, deep pan heat 3-5 Cups (depending on size of pan) frying oil to about 350F

Combine breading ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken strips in mixture to thoroughly coat and  CAREFULLY drop into hot oil. Turn strips to brown evenly. Once cooked through, transfer to a wire rack underlain with papre towels to drain and cool. Ejoy.

Like I said make extra as the leftovers make great sandwiches and are also delicious on top of salads!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Old Man Winter GO AWAY!

It's Monday, March 30 and it is snowing outside. WTF! This winter doesn't seem like it will ever end. If old man winter were an actual person I'd be lining up to kick him in the jewels right about now! I have seriously had it with the damp and cold and gray. With the cold sucky weather hanging around, I decided to make a big pot of sauce to ward off the cold. Because I was feeling particularly creative and wanting beef, I decided to use some if it to make a very non-traditional version of steak pizzaola. I had some lovely strip steaks that were on the thin side which would work perfectly since I was pan frying them. A travesty, I know, but it's too damn cold out to grill....well for me anyway. They'd be cold by the time you bought them inside. First,I got my cast iron skillet smoking hot with a little oil. I seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper and seared them on both sides and then put them aside. I turned the heat down and added sliced onions, red bell pepper and sliced garlic to the pan and sauteed them all until nice and soft. Then I deglazed the pan with some white wine and let that all simmer down. After a couple minutes I added a cup or two of the home made marinara and stirred it all to combine. Then I returned the steaks to the pan to let them finish cooking through and bring everything up to temperature. Boom. Done. Easy as pie. I served the steaks over a bed of mashed cauliflower and then spooned the vegetable and tomato mixture over it. Finally I topped it with some thin slices of fresh mozzarella and dinner was served. You could certainly hit the cheese with the broiler to brown it up but we were hungry and the cheese was melted enough by the heat of the food beneath it. Hubs really enjoyed this meal as it was filling but not heavy. It this weather continues I am sure we will be eating it a few more times before it gets too hot to make pots of sauce.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring where art thou?

It was 15 degrees outside this morning. fifteen. fucking. degrees. Seriously WTH!! Last I looked at my calendar it clearly said SPRING! So, why am I still freezing my ass off every morning. OK now that that is out of my system.....for now....I can say that this is the weather the sugar houses have been waiting for. You see, with this endless cold, they are behind schedule too. In order for the sap to flow, sugar maples need freezing nights and thawing days. Fortunately for those tree tappers, we have been eeking out temps of 40 or so during the day so they can now make up for lost time. Then one of my favorite food blogs, Foodie With Family, posted a recipe for Amish Maple sandwich cookies (a.k.a. whoopie pies). That and the bottle of maple whiskey that I bought on my last ski trip, and I had a maple trifecta on my hands. I had been DYING to bake something with that whiskey since I purchased it and so I decided to bring that Amish recipe to the dark side. Let me tell you it was SO worth it! Now the original cookie recipe called for rolling out the dough. When I made mine the dough was very sticky and there was no way I was going to try rolling it out. It would have been a disaster. So, I just dropped in on a foil lined baking sheet and it worked out just fine. He is how I did it:

Maple Whiskey Whoopie Pies (Adapted from Foodie With Family)

For the Cookies:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon maple whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2¾ cup flour
For the Filling:
  • 1 cup softened butter 
  • 1 cups shortening
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff,
  • 1 tablespoon maple extract
  • 2 Tablespoons maple whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream together shortening, butter and sugar. Slowly add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon onto a foil lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a wet spoon. Bake approximatly 15 minutes until set. Allow to cool.

While the cookies are baking add the filling ingredients to a mixing bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until smooth.

When cookies are cooled, assemble with the filling.

I had tons of leftover filling so you can always divide it and experiment with other flavorings! I made traditional chocolate Whoopie Pies too with plain filling and some that I mixed with peanut butter. They were all super yummy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top O' The Morning To Ya!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Everyone!
Hope you all have donned your green and have your traditional Irish meal planned. I, myself, have a lovely corned beef cooking away in the crock pot as we speak. When I get home from work I will roast up some potatoes, carrots and cabbage to go with it and dinner will be complete. I never really got into the whole boil everything to death part of corned beef and cabbage. Soft slimy cabbage and mushy carrots and potatoes are just so bleh when compared to the taste of roasted, or even sauteed veggies. But, to each his own. Today I am not giving you a recipe for corned beef and cabbage, there are plenty out there already. What I am going to do is sing praises for the newest addition to the sorely lacking culinary scene in my town. This past winter a new Irish pub, The Inishmor, opened in town and Hubs and I decided to try it Friday night in honor of St Patrick's Day weekend. This is the third or fourth bar/restaurant to occupy this space since we moved into town and actually the first time I ever walked into the place. I had checked out the previous occupants online and, well, their offerings did not tempt me in the least. Just the same ol', same ol'. When I check out the the Inishmor I saw offerings I had never seen before - Curry Fries!? And the Beer list! OMG! Finally some variety! I was ecstatic!  So we beat feet over there Friday night and had, without a doubt, the BEST Irish meal I have ever had. I had the special of Irish bangers and colcannon mashed potatoes. The sausage was very mild and served with a rich onion gravy that I swear was made with beer (but can't be certain). The potatoes were LOADED with spring vegetables, not just cabbage but kale and fresh peas, too. I thinks there may have been more greens than potatoes, which was a lovely change from what the other Irish themed places in the area serve. I washed it down with a couple of Mackenzie's Black Cherry Ciders - Double YUM!
Hubs had the chili cheese burger special which was made with an unusual, but tasty, sweet chili. It had a mild kick he said but I only tried a bite so I can't confirm. For the record we tease him unmercifully about his tender palate and say ketchup is his hot sauce so I doubt it had that much of a kick, lol. But when he sliced that burger in half I have to say it was cooked PERFECTLY! A nice pink medium, just like he asked. It was one damn good looking burger. I will be trying one on my next visit....I think! That depends on what the specials are! LOL!

Bottom line is that I am THRILLED that we finally have another quality dining option in town and I hope that they do well and stick around for a long time. If you are ever in this neck of the woods I highly recommend a visit!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chopped at Home Challenge - Entry #1

man, I wish they would let you enter more than 1 recipe for this contest. I have so many directions I could go! But, for this entry period this is what I went with. You had to include chicken breast, red peppers, greek yogurt and Sargento 6 Cheese Italian blend in you rrecipe. In hindsight I am thinking that I should have used honey yogurt in my recipe instead of plain. It would have tasted great and been more creative than the plain stuff. Oh well. No turning back now.

Cheesey Chicken Canneloni in Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

Canneloni Filling:
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached and shredded
1 small container ricotta cheese
1 Cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend cheese
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt

10 fresh pasta sheets (can substitute egg roll wrappers)

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1-5.3 oz container plain Greek yogurt
2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
2-3 oz milk or cream (about half the yogurt container)
1 tsp salt

Additional 1 Cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend cheese

Mix canneloni filling ingredients together
Place 2-3 Tbs of the filling on edge of pasta sheet and roll to make canneloni
Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan, simmer garlic in oil over low heat until fragrant. Add yogurt, milk and red pepper and blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a traditional blender) and blend until smooth. Bring to a low simmer. Once simmering remove from heat and place enough in a baking dish to coat the bottom. Add canneloni to the dish and cover with remaining sauce. Top with 1 cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend Cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Impressing Myself

I have always had a fear of cooking Asian. It starts with knowing darn well that I will never get my pan as hot as it needs to be to get that classic stir fry taste. That, coupled with the long list of "non-standard" ingredients that end up costing a small fortune, (especially if you don't use them often), has always minimized my desire to recreate the cuisine at home despite my love of it. Well, the other day I found myself staring at the most gorgeous steaks in the meat case that I simply had to buy. They were labeled Kansas City Sirloin Strip (or something like that). I have no idea what the hell that is but the marbling of this meat reminded me of USDA prime! Because they were so thin I didn't want to put them on the grill. Instead, since I also had 3 pounds of red bell peppers, I decided this meat was destined for pepper steak. Oh yeah! I did some research, tweaked a few recipes and truly impressed myself with what I put together. I will admit that because I had to work late, I didn't cook this exactly as written, which is the best way. I just kind of threw it all together and hoped for the best. I was hungry, it was late, and I was in no mood for fussing! So sue me.

Chinese Take Out Style Pepper Steak

2 lbs beef steak - whatever cut you have that isn't too lean, sliced thin and across the grain
1/2 Tbs sesame oil
2Tbs Vegetable oil
3 Bell peppers rough chopped
1 large sweet onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1/4 C Mirin

1/3 C soy sauce
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1/2 C beef broth
1 Tbs cornstarch
few shakes black pepper

Combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Add beef and set aside to soak for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour

While beef is marinading, prep veggies

Heat vegetable and sesame oils in wok or sloped pan until hot. Add beef and quickly stir fry to brown. The beef does not need to be cooked through. Once browned, remove beef from pan and set aside.

Deglaze pan with Mirin and let cook down.

Add peppers, onions, garlic and ginger to pan and saute. When about half way cooked return beef to pan and continue to cook until veggies and beef are done. If more sauce is desired, add marinade to pan and cook until thickened.

Serve with rice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loving Those Leftovers

Husband still isn't feeling great. He feels a LOT better but has this god awful cough that keeps him (and me) up at night. He sounds terrible. Poor guy. To combat the cough he has been limiting his dairy intake. This is no easy task for him as he is a bonafide milk junkie. He finally broke down this week and started drinking it again. Since he was doing the dairy thing anyway, I decided to let him have some of the leftover pot roast that I had transformed into Beef Stroganoff. He looked at it funny at first but as soon as he had a bite he was hooked. Even I will admit the stuff came out super good. But I had a great start with that delicious pot roast. Here is what I did:

Beef Stroganoff

1Tbs oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small container mushrooms. (traditionally white mushrooms are used but I prefer Cremini, i.e. baby portobellas, they just have a richer flavor to me)
Leftover pot roast and reserved liquid
1/2 C beef broth + 1Tbs cornstarch, mixed
Sour cream
Cooked egg noodles

Heat oil in a large saute pan.
When hot add onions and mushrooms and saute over medium heat until softened
While veggies are cooking, separate out fatty pieces from the pot roast and shred the meat. You don't have to go too crazy, some large pieces are just fine
Add beef and pot roast liquid to the pan and let simmer until heated through. If needed, add additional beef broth. The mixture should be on the soupy side.
Add beef broth-cornstarch mixture a little at a time and stir until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat

Serve beef and veggies over egg noodles and top with a generous dollop of sour cream. Stir everything to combine before eating. YUM!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Comforts

So, I have been craving pot roast for the last few days. I mean REALLY, REALLY craving it. But, since I just defrosted the freezers, I knew I didn't have any crock pot worthy cuts of beef on hand. Sorry, but prime rib will never see the inside of a slow cooker at my house. Anyway, the past few days hubs has been feeling terrible so I stopped at our local market for some meds and OJ for him. I know I have mentioned the fabulous meat department at my local market before. I tried to avoid it but I had to go look. There it was, the perfect chuck roast. It literally called out to me, beckoning me to bring it home so it could satisfy my cravings and bring me utter joy and happiness. I HAD to have it. I bought, prepared it and I have to say that it was one of my best roasts EVER! I am sure the decent wine I cooked it in was key. Here is the drill:

Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker

3lb chuck roast - not too fatty and not too lean
kosher salt
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1-2 Cups Cabernet - something drinkable (I used 14 hands)
1-2 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 juniper berries

2 cups beef broth

Place oil in a large frying pan and heat until shimmery
While oil is heating, generously salt the roast on all sides
Once oil is hot place roast in pan and get a nice sear on all sides - even the edges. Be patient and let the meat brown.
Once meat is seared, remove from pan and transfer meat to the slow cooker
Deglaze with the wine scraping up and browned bits.
Add thyme, rosemary and bay leaves
Pour wine from pan over the roast in the slow cooker
Add beef broth to cover
Add juniper berries
Cook on low for 8 hours

Before serving skim fat from liquid and use the liquid for a delicious au jus!

Leftovers make great french dip sandwiches!