Sunday, July 26, 2020

Deep Dish Pulled Pork Tostada Pie: Ninja Foodi

Pulled Pork is the star of this recipe and a great idea for what to do with leftovers.  This deep dish version of a tostada is packed with layers of delicious and nutritious goodies like salsa, pulled pork, vegetarian beans, crispy hatch chilies, Peppadews, tortillas and loads of Colby Jack cheese.  All the flavors are sealed inside with a special sour cream topping that's baked right along with the tostada. The recipe is easy to follow and great for the kids to give a helping hand.
 All the food groups make an appearance in this pie and be served by itself or with some yellow rice or veggies for an authentic trip South of the Border on steroids.  I used my Ninja Foodi for this which really made it a cinch.  When using the oven, simply cover tightly with foil and remove the foil during the last 10 minutes for browning of the top. Easy, Elevated and Delish! 


1 1/2 lb. pulled pork ( cooked)
1 box taco shells, hard 12 ct.
12 oz. Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1 12 oz. can Vegetarian beans, drained and rinsed
 1 12 oz. jar Medium salsa
1/2 c. Peppadews, sweet and spicy, drained
1/2 c. crispy fried Hatch Chilies
8 oz. sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Dash Hot Sauce or to taste
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Start with a drizzle of olive oil in your Foodi and layer in half of hard shells, broken in half at the fold. Overlap is fine.
Place half of pulled pork over the shells.
Half of Salsa.
Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese.
Add beans and spread over cheese.
Scatter in Peppadews.
Another 1/3 of cheese.
Second half of shells.
Second half of pulled pork.
Sprinkle Hatch Chilies.
.Add remaining Salsa.
Add Remaining Cheese.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, beaten egg, hot sauce and spices.
Mix well and spread over top.
Place on bake setting @350*F.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
May cover with foil during cooking until last 5 minutes , then remove to caramelize the top. 
Let Stand for several minutes before cutting.
Makes about 10 servings.
Delish at room temperature.

Monday, July 20, 2020

TEN Salad

This salad is an easy and delicious one, featuring lentils.  I call it TEN Salad, because there are basically 10 ingredients combined to make a cohesive and interesting side dish or main dish, depending on your mood.  Lentils cook really quickly, even more so when soaked for a few hours.  The sidekicks provide complimentary freshness and crunch, as well as a wealth of nutritional value and a taste that's welcome and suitable alongside just about any protein.  All the right places are activated on the palate and this salad can be served at room temperature.  Serve on a bed of  mixed lettuce or butter lettuce cups for a 'green taco' or lettuce wrap. Unlikely ingredients become best friends, with a versatile vinaigrette and some familiar crispness from some garden goodies, guaranteed to have you satisfied and keep you that way, Let's get to it...

2 cups, lentils, soaked and cooked to al dente in Sazon Tropical or chicken stock, then shocked in cold water
1 medium cucumber, quartered, seeds removed and medium chopped
1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes
 2 tbs. chopped Sweet and Tangy Peppadews in jar
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbs. buckwheat honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
SPST, (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients starting with the Peppadews on down to garlic Powder.
Blend well, this is your vinaigrette.
Pour lentils into bowl atop the vinaigrette. 
Top with cucumbers and onions.
Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Toss to serve immediately or leave as is until time to serve then toss ingredients together! 
Makes about 6 servings or 3 main course servings.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mixed Berry Sake Jam w/ Cardamom, Preservation Elevation

Canning and Preserving our harvests from year to year and season to season allows us to enjoy the same joys of one time to the next.  Aside from the traditions of our families or through newly found practices, many have come to embrace our foodstory with the ways we make it last. I am relatively a novice with spunk. Canning and the preservation of food has always been a part of my life, since I was a girl.  I participated in those long and arduous days, produce and our livestock had to be prepped for the long winter months.  There was a position for every one of us.  All the toils and efforts were worth every drip of sweat and sometimes tears, because I had made friends with the hogs, even given them names, silly little girl me.  I knew that those were labors of love and provisions to sustain our family. Our family is comprised of  generations of farmers and land holders. The efforts almost like the Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper and reminiscent of House Stark's mantra in Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming! Our Dad, in all his wisdom and hard work was definitely the Ant.  Plus, we live in a rural and rough in the winter village, a far off land even, because our nearest town is 10 miles away, one way, one road really and the going most certainly got tough, if not impossible, at least by car.  
I love traditional things, but I also like being inventive and having recipes I write include my personal expressions of who I am.  This jam is one such offering.  I infused this strawberry and blackberry jam with Sake and Cardamom.  My sister Bonnie and I picked the blackberries on Sunday Morning together, down in a hollow, near their hunting cabin.  This is also the place where I found my first Morel Mushroom, some years ago.  
After we looked at the garden kept by Bonnie and her husband, checked the crawfish traps in the creek and admired their fish in the manmade pond, we set off to pick the blackberries that the birds and a very vigilant black bear hadn't eaten.  
The day was heating up fast and the viable berries were mostly a memory.  At least the bear did the dangerous job of making a path through the bush, laying the thorny, prickly and hurty tendrils or canes that held vibrant gems to each side, so we were able to get in closer to the treasures towards the back of the bushes.  We ended up with about 1 pint, for which I was grateful and wanted them to have a most excellent outcome. We hope to catch the next flight of berries that for now, are but crimson, hard and unripe.
I ordered the Cardamom pods straight from Sri Lanka at the beginning of this year.  I enjoy Cardamom.  It is a must have for my Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pie recipe, freshly ground with my Mortar and Pestle.
The aroma and flavor is fruit forward with warm, lemony notes, inviting and much brighter than pre- ground.  
The following recipe is purely simple and delicious  There are only a handful of ingredients, easy to acquire, and not requiring too much time.  I didn't add pectin to this recipe either,  the seeds have natural pectin that is released during the cooking and mashing process.  After the hulling and slicing of the strawberries, the rest is smooth sailing.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did.
5 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled and trimmed of tops, larger ones cut in half or quartered, depending on size.
1c. pure cane sugar
1/2 c. Traditional Sake
6 Cardamom pods, in a small cheesecloth pouch
1 pinch of Himalayan Salt
Juice and peel of one lemon 
Combine fruit, sugar and salt in a non reactive cooking vessel and let sit covered for 1 hour or overnight.
When ready, add remaining ingredients except Sake and bring up to a boil over medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed, non reactive saucepan or pot. 
Once boiling, reduce to medium and cook for about 15 minutes.
Using a potato masher,  press and mash the berries, but leaving some chunkiness for texture.
Cook until jam is reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes.
Add the Sake during the last 20 minutes of simmering to help retain the flavor.
Let sit in fridge overnight to thicken more after cooling at room temperature or add straight to canning jars as per instructions and method.  
If you let it sit overnight, determine whether the desired thickness is reached , if not simmer a bit longer, 5 to 10 minutes more at a time and bring up to temperature and continue canning as per instructions.
Remove Cardamom pouch and large pieces of lemon peel before placing in jars.
Makes 12 half pint containers with enough left over for an 8 oz. jar to consume now!  
Refrigerate ready to eat jar for up to 6 months.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Buttery Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Peaches are in full swing here in Virginia and man are they delicious!  The plump, brightly hued orbs of sweet and juicy 'fruitmeat' is the perfect accompaniment to both shellfish, fish and pork, even poultry.  A nice, chunk filled cobbler is easy to assemble and can be ready for your next dessert slot in no time. I was in the local supermarket looking for peaches and Elba Butcher Shoppe had just what I needed.  They have peaches by the peck, the bushel or pair, right now and I wanted to have enough for more than just one recipe.  I saw this wonderful recipe for a brown sugar cake with a Peach Bourbon Frosting and it peaked my interest.  I must create something inspired by that article, but first, I needed to complete the request of my oldest daughter, Genesis. Besides, any time is a good time to pull out my vintage Emile Henry pie dish, the beautiful ruffled retired one, "Paprika" edition. I just love it. It was a gift, a most wonderful one I might add. It is a humongous dish, made in the 90's, a full 11 inches across!  That's a mighty dish for pies and cobblers, even meat pies and quiches.

  Genesis has some firm likes and dislikes, but I know for sure she enjoys a fresh peach or two, with pleasure and gratification.  I like to grab enough for the girls to snack and go, mom included.  There's a certain nostalgia involved in eating fruit within its season, during it perfectly, wonderfully ripe time, it's a much different experience for the palate. Just Bliss.  This recipe is simple and full of flavor.  The Bourbon may be added or taken away, I wanted to add some depth of flavor, with some oaky undertones and elevation, Maker's Mark does just that and there's plenty left to either serve alongside,  save for another day or to make a boozy shake to go along with it!  

 5 lbs. or 16 c. fresh peach slices, 1/4 to 1/2 inch cut (this dish is huge, 11 inches across, 2 inches deep, you can use 2 regular deep pie dishes, but you will also need two more crusts)
1 stick of butter, unsalted
Juice of one medium lemon
2- 9 inch pie crusts, either store bought or homemade
1  c. pure cane sugar or brown sugar or to taste
1 tbs. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
3 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. Maker's Mark or good quality Bourbon
SPST, (I used some freshly cracked black pepper grinds to compliment the Bourbon and sweetness of the peaches.)
 Preheat oven to 350*F. 
In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and spices. Stir with fork to mix well. 
In a large bowl, add peaches, lemon juice and Bourbon.  Toss to coat.
Sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture and combine in a folding fashion until evenly coated. 
Lightly grease pie dish with a small piece of the butter and press one of the crusts into the bottom and up the sides.
Place small pats of butter across the first crust.
Add contents of bowl and spread evenly.
Add remaining pats of butter and cover with second crust.
Make slits to vent.
Bake until golden and bubbly, about 50 minutes.
Let stand before serving.
Makes Smiles and is perfect with some Vanilla Bean Ice cream or Butter Pecan! 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Popup 'Chatters' With Family

Taking a break from the heat and the kitchen to talk with family is always a welcome endeavor, even when you feel like you aren't prepared.  My sister Gayle, who is also our neighbor, came by to chat for a bit.  She felt for a snack and I was on board, because I was due for some sustenance too.  I was able to come up with a few 'snacky snacks' for us to share.  With a little help from some random items I had in the fridge and pantry, I created us a fun little platter of melodious flavors, a little unconventional, but no shame here, no props, no fine china, just a meal between sisters, my friends.  
For our chat platter or "Chatter" I came up with some black and white grapes, deli sliced black forest ham, sandwich turkey, sliced pepperoni, slivers of Colby Jack Cheese, multi-grain crackers, Nutter Butters, rice cakes smeared with yummy Justin's Honey Almond Butter, topped with some fantastic Wilkin and Sons LTD Morello Cherry Preserves.  We even had an amazing jar of Riga Gold Brisling Sardines,delicately smoked and perfectly packed in olive oil, in a glass jar, which I was saving for an occasion, just like this one and a side car of Himalayan Pink salt, fresh cracked pepper, Kalamata olives and Dijon mustard.

We casually snacked off plain, white paper towels and used some plastic cutlery, a knife and two forks, to select from our shared meal. We sat on the shaded portion of our newly remodeled patio, at the picnic table that hosted our niece's 8th birthday party, just days ago, the vinyl tablecloth still intact, sporting sprinkles, swirls and ice cream cones, full of color.  If we would have closed our eyes, we could've  been outside any cafe in London, France, Italy or Spain, the wind in our hair, the breeze sweet with summer, yeah, the vibe was marvelous like that.  Gayle loved the flavor combinations, as did my sister Hollie, myself included.  

We had a pleasant time, even in the heat, enjoying each others company, while the moments lasted and the day was more fabulous than hot, more mellow than muggy and just Awesome, Everything was Awesome! Things don't have to be perfect to be perfect, make memories when you can.  One day, it is all we will have....

Triple Cheese Burger: Muenster, American and Pepper Jack

There's a great burger waiting around virtually every corner and summertime is the perfect time for burger recipes worth the effort and here is one for the books.  The awesome part about this Triple Cheese burger is that it's completely meatless and is rocking two whole portobellos with a Beyond Meat® Burger sandwiched in between three slices of cheese, all bringing different elements of deliciousness to the table.  
I am rather fond of the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger™ for many reasons.  I like the option of meatless and less meat days and this burger fits the bill for a great fill in.  I won't say substitute, because this meat option stands on its own, full of flavor and fantastic texture. They are composed of pea proteins and a welcome smokiness, they even give the appearance of a burger cooked medium well. They are a bit expensive for a crowd, so using all mushrooms would rock too.  I've swapped it in on my pickiest girl, Genesis, and it went over very well. She didn't comment, one way or the other, but she ate it and afterwards said that she enjoyed it.  Although the results were not the same the second time around, I announced it before I served it and the girls were like "Mom, we're not Vegans". I expressed to them that I wasn't trying to turn them into Vegans, as much as I was trying to show them that there are plant based meat alternatives and that we can have plant based meal days as well as an omnivorous diet respectively, Bettertarians, consciously making adjustments towards better choices, decisions and health. 
Executing this recipe is breeze and you can dress it up or down any way you choose.  I used some gourmet greens I had on hand from another recipe, but you can use iceberg, bringing fresh crunch.  The portobellos are to me, best cooked on a grill pan, easily allowing excess moisture to escape.  The Beyond burger will take approximately the same time, so all you'll need to decide is what three cheeses you want to use, or not, of course it's up to you.  
This is certainly an indulgent burger, but not guilt ridden. It's easily 1/2 to 3/4  fewer calories and fat, than a full on triple meat and cheese burger, you're welcome.  Make your next meal POP with some delicious and nutritious alternatives to your meaty meals, you may be surprised at how great they taste. Now if you really want to get the crowd going, throw in some BACON! That usually wins over the last leary souls, afraid to think outside the box, the fast food box, that is.  
Portobello mushrooms, large, trimmed wiped clean
Liquid Aminos, optional
Beyond Meat™ Burgers, they come in packs of 2 and 4
3 types cheese, I chose one mild, melty and stretchy, one traditional and one with spicy kick 
Burger Fixins (lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mayo, ketchup and mustard), as desired
Hamburger Buns
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive oil for drizzling

Marinate the Portobellos(2) in 2 tsp. Liquid Aminos for 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
Brush mushrooms and Beyond burger with olive oil and place on hot grill or grill pan.
Start the mushrooms on the flat side.
Once mushrooms start to release their water, It's time to flip, about 5 minutes.
SPST, both burgers and shrooms.
While the proteins cook, prep the rest of the burger.
Lightly grill or toast the buns, drizzled with olive or a smear of plant butter, optional
Add cheeses during the last 2 minutes. 
Assemble burgers and make some memories! 

Beyond Meat Burger, World's First Plant-Based Burger, Vegan, No ...

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Grilled Filipino Style Pork Loin w/ Shishito Peppers and Onions

Summer is grilling time at its best and there's nothing like the smell of charcoal, hickory, mesquite, applewood, alderwood or cherry smoking, for low maintenance meals and a break from the kitchen.  This recipe is made simple and easy for serving by using a  marinade to flavor and tenderize the featured item, which is a pork loin, cut in a booklet fashion.   I demonstrate my technique in another one of my posts See and Slay: Easter Elegance, Pork Loin Pinwheel, How to Make a Pork Booklet.  This method cuts the cooking time of your pork loin by virtually 75%. allowing more surface area for caramelization, plus more even cooking.  Ideally, this method also allows for shaving of the loin, making thin slices, perfect for piling high on warmed buns or soft tortillas.  Get more out of your cooking experience and free up some time to be a part of your gatherings and execute an amazing meal all in a few smooth moves!

1 portion of a pork loin, about 2 lbs., cut into booklet
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. Less sodium soy sauce
2 tbs. fish sauce
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tbs. pure cane sugar or Agave Nectar
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lime and zest
1/4 c. fresh herbs, like parsley, thyme, oregano and basil, rough chopped
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Place all ingredients in a resealable bag and shake.
Add pork loin and marinate for 1 to 24 hours.
Sear on hot grill and continue to cook on indirect heat.
Cook until internal temperature reaches 145*F., about 8 minutes, give or take, depending on charcoal or grill temperature.
Let protein rest for several minutes and thinly slice on a bias. Toss with pan juices after resting and drizzle with additional olive and lime juice if desired.
For Peppers and Onions:
1 lb. Shishito Peppers
2 medium onions, sliced
Toss the peppers and onions with olive oil and SPST.
Place in grill pan on grill and cook alongside loin.   


Friday, July 3, 2020

Happy National Independant Beer Run Day, Sweet!

Tiered Rainbow Drip Cake, as per my daughter's birthday request.

These are all photos of recipes I've created and shared for family birthdays, Sunday dinners or just working with different ingredients. If you would like to see a particular recipe for any of these pics, simply drop a request in the comments section below and I will try to get it up as soon as possible! 
No Bake Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake/Pumpkin Pie with Apple Pie Cookie Crumbles

*Periodic Table Cake, Platinum, White Cake, Blue Interior, made by Bronwyn

Guinness Stout Piecaken w/ Chocolate Guinness Stout Cheesecake, Guinness Stout Buttercream and Caramel Drip, for my nephew Rob's surprise birthday party!

Apple Pie Mini Cheesecakes w/ Apple Pie Cookie Crust

Brainy Brownies for Halloween Party 2019

Maca Chocolate Cupcakes and Fruit Cups for Genesis' Birthday

Hummingbird Cake w/ Toasted Walnuts, for my Vacation Buddies 2019

Hummingbird Cake w/ Pecans, Easter Edition

White Chocolate Carrot Cake Cupcakes, Easter Edition

Thursday, July 2, 2020

'Ole Fashioned Bologna Sammich Omelette

For some reason, bologna seems to be a controversial food.  I happen to like it, and so do many of the people here and around the country, so this recipe is for you.  For those who aren't fans, no worries, you can plug in another protein, but this one is awesome, just the way it is.  Bologna comes in many different mediums like pork and chicken, beef, chicken, beef and pork, beef, chicken and turkey etc...and some are better, much better than others.  With some on hand ingredients and a little chopping, you can stave off hunger and enjoy a deconstructed Bologna sandwich, with all the components of a country store version, all in one bite.  

3 large eggs, beaten with a splash of milk or water
3 oz. red ring Bologna,  cut into small chunks, from the roll
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 oz. Hoop cheese, small dice
1/4 c. diced tomato
1 green onion, trimmed and sliced, white and green parts
Olive oil for drizzling
1 pat of butter
Over medium high heat, in a medium pan, sauté the bologna chunks in a pan drizzled with olive oil and the 1/2 pat of butter.
Sauté until showing signs of browning on the sides and add green onion.
Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes and remove from pan.
Wipe pan clean and drizzle again with olive oil and add remaining butter.
Pour beaten eggs into pan, and swirl around to coat bottom.
Using a rubber spatula, push the curds inward in the pan, so all the liquid egg comes in contact with the bottom of the pan. 
Shake pan back and forth, often.
Reduce heat to medium, and continue with spatula, going around outer edges as well.
Sprinkle Hoop Cheese dice on one side.
Sprinkle entire omelette with cheese.
Add filling to one side of omelette.
Spread tomatoes atop filling.
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Angle the pan and flip the light side onto the other side.
Garnish with more cheese if desired.
Serve Immediately.
Makes 1 hearty omelette or 2  portions for sharing.

I served this omelette with pancakes with fresh blueberries and pure Maple Syrup.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Atlantic City Sliders, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: A Review

Aside from fun in the sun, a good tan, some much needed relaxation and copious amounts of libations, a trip to the beach  is its own reward.  We normally vacation in North Myrtle Beach every year, sans this year for me and my bestie. Nothing could make that any better, unless you're talking about dropping by Atlantic City Sliders and copping a flight of mini burgers, fries and an ice cold beverage.

 Atlantic City Sliders has a simple and comprehensive menu containing something for all tastes.  My Bestie and I went with a varied selection of sliders, including cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, steak and cheese, hamburger and barbeque, plus chicken sliders and cheese balls to go.  Each and every slider was as good as the next , fresh, hot and juicy, with pillowy, soft bread and complimentary sides of pickles, house made slaw and an atmosphere that will call you back for another round.  
The décor is an exciting and nostalgic collection of pop culture favorites, 50's diner setting, complete with neon, checkerboard and license plates, photos, records, you name it. It is situated directly beside the liquor store by the Food Lion, so it's right on track with two very important stops.  The staff was amiable and diverse, immediately creating an I've been here before vibe!  The owner was on site and right there, in on the grill action.  He was  pleasant and interesting, he even came out into the dining room and chatted with my bestie and me for a bit. He was intrigued by our obvious chemistry (or hysterical laughter ) and  he was amazed at how well we interacted.  He wondered how we managed to still to smile, as some of the couples he's seen, are together but distant, stone faces and grumps.  Part of it is that we are outgoing and bubbly, a dynamic duo, with years and years of experience, when it comes to friendship. We met in college with no pretense or expectations, then blossomed into soul mates.  The rest is living history, love and understanding.  Our dads actually share the same name and we are from a similar demographic.  Things just worked out and we are incredibly supportive of one another.  He is my biggest literary and culinary fan and I am his friend to the end, confidant and homie.

The prices are reasonable and encourage extra ordering. 
 The fries were hot and crispy, fluffy and flaky on the inside. 
 I was delighted that the barbeque was made on site as well. I am a bit skeptical usually, because all barbeque sandwiches are not created equal, but these sliders proved their worth, with the right amount of zing and zang, subtle smoked porkiness, especially accompanied by a dab of the house made slaw. The steak and cheese sliders provided an ample ratio of meat/peppers and onions/cheese, melty and seasoned.
  The classic cheeseburger held its own with properly cooked beef, not over cooked and cardboardy, like some dine and dash burger joints.

 The breaded chicken sliders were simple and delicious, nice and crispy on the outside, supple in the middle, not limp and sogged out in places. 

The cheeseballs were good too.  They had a crunchy outer coating and a molten center.
 We tried to order as many items as possible, amassing a critique for our fellow vacationers and my readers alike.  Atlantic City Sliders was new to us, but it felt like home, and we wondered how we had made it through so many vacations without it, up until then.  We can't wait to go back, for the atmosphere, the food and the owner, he has top notch passion, and it shows in the sliders!  

Atlantic City Sliders
1000 Hwy 17 N
 North Myrtle Beach, SC, 29582