Friday, June 29, 2018

Let's Go Nuts!!!

Just a picture I arranged and shot one day using my Saveur Magazine's latest edition as the backdrop. 
This magazine is a GEM by the way!  I've been a loyal subscriber for years!
I am very fond of this picture and wanted to share it with you.  Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Peanuts and Hazelnuts nuts are represented in this photo.  Pecans come with the gang too, but I had eaten them all.:) They are a part of Planter's NUTrition mixed nut combinations.  They are rich in antioxidants and good fats, promoting heart and overall health. I just wanted to let you know.   Have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend and thanks for reading my thoughts.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pizza Pasta Bake



Pasta bakes are one of my family's favorite meals.  When I am unsure about a dinner idea, ole trusty pasta bakes see me through.  I keep various types of pasta on hand, plus spaghetti and cream sauces stocked at all times.  Recently there was a sale on a Mozzarella cheese sauce, Alfredos, pastas and hearty spaghetti sauces.   This recipe is a result of that sale.
 In all fairness, I can make my own 'gravy' and cream sauces which I enjoy, but sometimes time is not on our side and speedier backups are in order.  The fact that some family came by was the other determinate in this menu as well.
I had some fresh packaged Mozzarella Ravioli on hand and thought it would be awesome to double down on the cheesiness and add them as the top layer of the pasta bake.  The bottom layer consists of a mushroom spiked, saucy and beefy combination.  The pepperoni on the top and the fennel seeds lend the pizza like effect and adds to the overall decidedly Italian ingredient call that is this recipe.
 I rounded the meal off with some toasted cheesy garlic bread and gourmet/mixed green salad.  Steamed broccoli came along for the ride.  The kids were happy, the guests were too.  That makes me happy.  I guess it's the little things that make the world go around and I enjoy making folks smile, one recipe at a time!

Recipe:
1 lb. pkg. mezze penne 
1 family sized pkg. fresh Ravioli with Mozzarella
1 23 oz. jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
1 16 oz. jar of Mozzarella Cheese sauce
2 lbs. ground beef
2 tsp. powdered beef base, optional
2 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
sugar the taste, optional
Pinch of Herbs de Provence* (one of  my current obsessions)
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Cook the mezze penne according to package instructions in salted water, to just under al dente, about 6 minutes, remove from pasta water and reserve the pot of water to cook the ravioli.
Cook the ravioli and remove from water, drain and drizzle with olive oil.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, drizzle large saute pan with olive oil over medium high and add onions.
Cook until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes and add the garlic.
SPST.
Add ground beef and beef base and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Drain excess fat off beef and add spaghetti sauce and pinch of sugar and *HdP.
Reduce heat to medium, stirring often for several minutes.
Combine penne and meat sauce.
Assembly:
In a large oven safe baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and pour in penne with meat sauce.
Arrange ravioli over the penne, covering it completely, overlapping if necessary.
Pour Mozzarella sauce over the ravioli and spread evenly as possible from end to end.
Arrange pepperoni at intervals over top and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until bubbly and contents are heated through, about 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand before serving.
Serves Plenty with seconds or leftovers.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Jams, preserves and jellies are perfect flavor builders for lush and delicious sauces to coat your favorite proteins, especially during these grill laden, late spring and summer months.  I found this exceptional fruit spread at Walmart flavored with raspberry and chipotle.
I love the idea of sweet and hot on my proteins and thought it would serve me well as a finishing glaze for some spare ribs I had dry rubbed and roasted.  This recipe was a hit with the family and I can't wait to grill again! Roasting is awesome too!
Recipe:
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. raspberry chipotle fruit spread
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
Splash of fish sauce, optional
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of liquid smoke, optional
1/2 tsp. onion powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Place all items in a small saucepan and bring up to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for several minutes.
Remove from heat.
Brush favorite protein with sauce during the last minutes of cooking process. Brush with several layers for maximum flavor.
Makes 1 cup.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Dedication: Anthony Bourdain

This is a simple dedication to one of the most renown individuals in the culinary world.  Kitchen Confidential was intriguing and eye opening, much like Upton  Sinclair's: The Jungle. "Parts Unknown"  is my favorite show. His voice is perfect for orating and his flare for writing is admirable.  My condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.  We've never met, but I feel I've gotten to know you through your work.  We are but flowers, and this one was picked way too soon.  So long dear friend (in my head).

Thursday, June 7, 2018

BurgerFi "Cry and Fry" Omelette w/ Ham, Aged White Cheddar and Fresh Tomato

Last evening, as part of our vacation here in sunny Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, we ordered out for dinner.  The restaurant of choice was BurgerFi, a hip burger joint with burgers that can be customized from an extensive list of condiments and toppings. The ingredient call offers many, from the usual suspects like mustard and ketchup, to more luscious add ons like garlic or truffle aioli!(which tastes amazing on the fries and onion rings too). The menu covers burgers, onion rings, fries, shakes, AND BEER! They also have vegetarian options!
The burgers are made to order and delicious, moist and juicy, well seasoned.  The fries are offered in 3 sizes, all of which are quite large.  The onion rings are offered stand alone or as a Cry and Fry,  which consists of humongous onion rings and a mound of fries together. Bring your appetite or  consider sharing, especially if you don't like leftovers.
"Cry and Fry," onion rings and french fries.

"The BurgerFi Burger", with bacon added.




















I went with the BURGERFi BURGER, adding bacon, diced onion, mayo and ketchup. Last year I had the CEO, which is an amazing Wagyu and Brisket Blend burger with a bacon and tomato jam, and hit over the head with a truffle aioli!! BANANAS!!!.
I ordered the Cry and Fry both times and had leftovers both times.  This time however, I was inspired to create a dish to utilize the remaining fries and onion rings, bringing new life to the ghost of dinner past.
Potatoes and onions are always a good addition to a rustic omelette, hearty and flavorful, fantastically filling.  We are winding down our vacation days, so I grabbed some of the other foods we needed to use up anyway; some deli ham, extra sharp New York white cheddar cheese, a bit of Monterey Jack cheese (from Taco Tuesday) and tomato.
The omelette comes out bursting with potato and oniony goodness; the ham and cheeses are harmonious and pleasant.  My bestie Rufus loved it and my good friend Doris enjoyed hers, as did I. For vegetarian spectacularness, simply omit the ham and game on!
Recipe:
6 large eggs
1 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. butter, divided
about  1 1/2 c. BurgerFI fries, cut into bite sized pieces
2 BurgerFI onion rings, cut into small pieces
4 slices deli style ham, medium diced
2 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1/4 c. shredded Monterey Jack
Paprika
Tomato Slices
Herbs de Provence for Garnish, optional
SPST
Instructions:
Combine eggs, milk and a dash of paprika, until blended.
Microwave the fries and onions for about 30 seconds to help expedite egg setting and thorough warming (optional).
 Melt half butter in small saucepan until melted over medium heat.
Pour half the egg mixture into the pan and shake often.
After the egg starts to set up and almost firm, layer remaining ingredients on one side of the omelette, sprinkling the Monterey Jack over the entire pan's contents.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Reduce heat to low, and allow heating through.
Fold heaviest side of omelette onto the other side.
Serve tomato slices on top or alongside the omelette and SPST.
Garnish with Herbs de Provence, Paprika and a scant amount of shredded cheese.
Serves 2 to 4.























Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Zucchini Bread 2.0/ Roasted Zucchini, Cream Cheese and Apple Smoked Gouda

Looking for a savory way to enjoy the beloved zucchini this summer, this recipe fits the bill.  The garden harvests never tasted so good!  The above pictured are 4 more ways to make the most of the ever handy garlic bread, which is the base of all.
The 'Cheatzzas' in the background are Zucchini and Deli Sliced Corned Beef, Wine Braised Mushrooms and Blue Cheese, Wine Braised Mushrooms and Deli Sliced Beef and Swiss and my favorite creation of the four, Roasted Zucchini, Cream Cheese and Apple Smoked Gouda Cheatzza.   The idea of a Cheatzza is that there are shortcuts in the recipes which can come in handy in a pinch layered like a pizza and satisfy a HANGRY family without compromising on flavor.  All my "Cheatzza" recipes start with either frozen Garlic or Cheesy Garlic Bread.
A fantastic vegetarian meal is at your fingertips with just a little prep.  Great for main courses or appetizer portions, and are super portable and amazing, even at room temperature!!
Recipe:
2 small zucchini, about 1 1/2 cups  sliced, I used a Mandolin
1 8 oz. pkg. Neufchatel, at room temperature
Apple Smoked Gouda, sliced or grated
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST
Instructions:
Prepare Zucchini:
Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini, then in a bowl, toss with a large pinch of kosher salt.
Let stand for 5 minutes.  Pour off accumulated water and rinse the zucchini in cold water.
Dry zucchini on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. The zucchini is now ready to use.

Heat oven to 425*F.
Arrange 8 slices of garlic bread onto sheet pan.
Carefully spread each toast with 1 oz. cream cheese.
Layer the zucchini evenly over all the tops, making sure to overlap the slices.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Drizzle with Olive Oil.
Place a slice or about 1/2 oz. grated Apple Smoked Gouda.
Place in oven and roast off until the cheese is melted, lightly browned and the bread is crisp, about 8 minutes.
Makes 4 main courses or 16 appetizers( when halved).


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Virginia Prosciutto, Apple and Onion Grilled Cheese

There's nothing like a sandwich that hits all the notes on the tongue and this grilled cheese does just that. The cheeses are Pepper Jack, Gouda and  Apple Smoked Cheddar, two from the Wisconsin family.  Add in the crunchy component of the thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, french fried onions and the toasty cinnamon raisin bread and you have some serious eats on your hands.  Thinly sliced country ham is lovingly referred to by some fellow culinarians as ''Virginia Prosciutto".
This is actually my creation for a recipe contest that I failed to get in on time, my computer decided to be a complete @$$ and lost it's connection right at the point of upload and I ran out of time.   I accepted my technology fail gracefully and was grateful that I at least had a tasty recipe to share with my peeps, even without the $15,000 prize.  I decided to get it next year and plan better for when "stuff" happens.
The thin cut of the cinnamon raisin bread requires that you use a lower than normal temperature to toast the bread while simultaneously melting the cheeses.  A LID is suggested also.  Too high a temperature will cost you the in the form of burnt raisins and bread.  I used a grill pan and found that this bread responds well to it, considering it's lack of thickness.
Recipe:
Cinnamon Raisin bread
Deli sliced thin Country Ham, as thin as you can get it, if unavailable, you may use deli shaved Black Forest Ham
Cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith Apple, I used a Mandolin
Pepper Jack, Gouda and Apple Smoked Cheddar Cheeses (Grating the cheese helps with melting and portioning)
French Fried Onions
Butter or Mayonnaise for spreading
SPST
 Instructions:
Heat the grill pan on medium to medium low.
Spray with olive oil diffuser or nonstick spray.
Add desired spread to one side of bread and place in pan.
Layer the ingredients starting with smoked Cheddar, fried onions, then apples on one side and Gouda, country ham (sparingly, it's highly seasoned), followed by the Pepper Jack on the other.
Cover with lid and and allow the bread to grill slowly as not to burn and melt the cheeses, about 7 minutes.
Flip one side onto the other.
Cut in half for presentation.

































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