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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bussin' Bussin' Banana Bread

 


Ready for a banana bread recipe that is out of this world delicious, then look no more!   This is loaded with some fantastic and good for you ingredients that fill you with all the right stuff and just in time for picnicking, backpacking, camping, cooking out, tailgating, entertaining, relaxing, visiting, gifting, snacking, easy breakfasts or just because!  

I used Cocavo Oil w/ Turmeric and Lemon Zest, full of antioxidants, with the addition of essential vitamins,minerals and healthy fats, along with some roasted Walnut oil to complement the walnut pieces scattered throughout, bringing in some antioxidant richness, fiber, plant sourced Omega 3's, blood pressure and blood sugar lowering properties, plus cancer and heart disease defense, anti-inflammatory properties, enhancing gut health and so much more. 

  Organic Oat flour is also used in my recipe.  Oat flour is filled with fiber, both soluble and insoluble and helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular episodes and coronary heart disease.  There's lots more substantial and relevant ingredients, but I won't bore you with the details, let's get to it, you will be replacing your old go-to Banana Bread recipe in no time, with a bread of this new age of delicious and inspired ingredients, because this one is BUSSIN' BUSSIN'! 

Recipe:

1 1/2 c. unbleached AP flour, spooned into measuring cup
1 c. Organic Oat flour
2 tbsp. Organic Coconut Spice Granola, Red Mill
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1 1/2 c. very ripe bananas, frozen, then thawed and mashed
1 cup Walnut halves, roughly broken into smaller pieces
2 c. pure cane and brown sugar blend
2 tsp. Pumpkin Spice blend
1 tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
1 c. evaporated milk 
2 tbsp. heavy cream 
2/3 c. Cocavo Oil w/ Turmeric and Lemon Zest
2 tbsp. Roasted Walnut Oil
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. Caramel flavoring
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Combine wet ingredients in a larger bowl.
Gradually add dry mix into wet ingredients, stirring just until each round is moist. 
After mixing, let batter rest for 15 minutes.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure it's well incorporated.
Divide evenly among nonstick sprayed pans, filling about 1/2 inch from the top.
Bake until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes for individual sized loaf pans, closer to 1 hour for regular sized loaf pans, depending on oven.

For an even more wholesome Bussin' Banana Bread, substitute Oat Milk for the evaporated milk, use an egg substitute and 3/4 c. maple syrup in place of the sugar blend.

Bussin' Bussin' Banana Bread; great any time of day, travels well and is great for gifting!

Happy Juneteenth Everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Harlem Shrimp

All I can say is that this spice blend is as rich in culture and flavor, as the neighborhood it's named after.  Harlem Garlic Pepper seasoning by BADIA, is one of  my new favorite spice blends.  The flavors of garlic and pepper and prominent, while dehydrated veggies and other spices play a perfect part.  The kiss of sweetness, balances out the salt even more.  
I love this blend because salt is not the first, second, third or fourth ingredient.  As a matter of fact, each serving contains only 60 mg of sodium, that's 60% than a serving of Kosher salt!  You can get the beauty of the spices; garlic, onion, pepper and  bell peppers, without blowing your sodium intake for the day!  
I sprinkled some on popcorn for an awesome snack and also some salt and vinegar chips to test it out.  Lots of flavor and possibilities led me to the creation of this recipe.
Recipe: 
I sprinkled some de-shelled, de-veined and prepped Wild Caught Red Argentine Shrimp 21/25 ct. with the Harlem blend and allowed it to hang out while I made the wet batter.  
I used 1 part seasoned flour and one half part buttermilk pancake mix, along with some evaporated milk and a little water, to achieve the consistency I needed.  I didn't want them to be batter heavy and greasy tasting, so I thinned the batter just so it could drain off and set up in the hot oil. 
 Once the shrimp had been fried and drained well on paper towels,
 I plated them and added a bit more Harlem Garlic Pepper to seal the deal.  
I made a dipping sauce from 4 parts ketchup and 2 parts horseradish, with a hit of Blazin' Hot Ranch, mixing well.  It was phenomenal.  The "Father of Harlem" Philip Payton Jr. would be proud. 


 


 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Creek Gourmet: Sauteed Garlic- Lemon-Thyme Butter Crayfish

It's that time of year again and I can't wait.  My sister Bonnie and her husband J.R, who are both avid 'outdoorsmen' gift me with small bounties of local Virginia crayfish, caught fresh from the creek near their hunting cabin, deep down in a hollow, the same place we found our first Morels.  They have been a bit scarce over the past two years, hauls so small, they leave them, in hopes of a larger haul in the near future.  On a gorgeous day maybe two weeks ago, before the rains finally made it to our region, we got together and helped her with some watering of the expansive garden plot down at the cabin,  full of rich, red soil.  After toting fresh water from the creek in 5 gallon buckets, I went back to enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape and the man made pond, where we helped to feed the newly restored and restocked fish, juxtaposed to the cabin site.   

As I walked along the winding creek, I paid close attention to the deeper sections and noticed movement from small fishes and ultimately langoustine looking critters, scuttling amongst the mud and pebble laden bottom, plus around and under mossy rocks.  I even observed a crayfish noshing on another crayfish, apparently that is not uncommon with these guys, creek cannibals indeed!  They bait the traps with protein, usually a good sturdy chicken leg, raw preferably, because it has staying power and isn't easily conquered by the hungry brood, and they seem to like it very much!    The traps remain submerged until a decent haul is amassed.  Sometimes, they may eat the bait and scurry away, given enough time between trap checks.   The crayfish remain alive all the way up until the time to cook them arrives, being transported in a bucket with fresh creek water.

With the hardest part being done, the fun and most delicious part is just around the corner.  I give these "mud bugs" or "crawfish", as they are known by in the lower lying states, namely Louisiana, a good time in a sink pool, for around 2 to 2 1/2 hours, refreshing the water many times over.  I swish and slosh them a bit with a rubber spatula.  I plan to use a scrubby brush on their little hands and bodies for the next time around, as I have observed on every Mukbang video featuring seafood, for good measure.  Next, I transfer them to a large strainer or colander, shaking it constantly and running more cool water over them for the final rinse. 

The crayfish are ever moving and you will have to shake them down relentlessly.   I then chop copious amounts of fresh garlic, parsley and sprigs of thyme from my herb garden.  Then, I melt some  salted butter and a couple turns of the pan of good Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large saute pan and infuse it with garlic and thyme flavor, at a just warm temperature.  After about 5 minutes.  I turn the heat up to medium high and add the crayfish.  I shake and toss until all the crayfish are a brilliant bright red, about 5 minutes, dressing with the parsley, fresh lemon and cracked pepper, then transfer to a large platter, pouring the pan juices over.  

We eat them with our good, clean hands and lots of paper towels.  We lick our fingers too.   Man, I can't wait.

Beautiful and Tranquil Virginia Landscape

There were small, medium and large alike.  I noticed one of the traps nearby, but it had yet to be baited. 


Virginia Crayfish, looking for food.

My sister Bonnie, watering their garden.



Virginia Crayfish hanging out in the sink

 
Sauteed Virginia Crayfish in Garlic Lemon Thyme Butter

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Strawberry's Conspicuous Doppelganger : "Snake Berries"

Potentilla indica or "Snake Berries", a colloquial term from my childhood
When I was a kid, we would spend hours upon hours during the summer months and after school when permissible; playing, running, bike riding , climbing trees and exploring the world around us.  We always had plenty to eat without even going inside, thanks to the many fruit trees, bushes, vines and gardens, that were a part of all of our family's properties. 
 We always knew where to find the best peaches, apples, grapes, cherries, blackberries, currants, wild cherries, huckleberries, wild blueberries, pears, figs, persimmons and also strawberries, even the delicious honey suckles, that provided its tiny portion of goodness, coating the little stem that we pulled from the  middle.   Admittedly, I never liked the persimmon as a kid, it gave me 'lock jaw', as we called it, probably because I didn't try it in its proper ripened stage.  We knew our way around the gardens, so that gave us access to the juicy and plentiful tomatoes and cucumbers, we would eat straight from the vine, but of course, someone had to run inside and get some salt.   We even knew where to find fresh water in the springs down behind and around our houses, in the vast, wooded lands.  

The strawberries we ate usually came from farms and patches nearby, but not in our community.  We did however, have a surplus of the strawberry looking berries above.  Our parents and older siblings told us not to eat these because they were  "snake berries".  Whether they were for snakes or not is up for debate I guess, but they did always seem to have these little spit or foam like matter on them, which for us, was a good enough reason to leave them be.  

Only as of late, as in last week, did I actually take the time to do some self educating and see what I could find out about these strawberry impostors.  Our back yard has a plethora of them growing near its edges and along the ground in places throughout.  The berries look beautiful and unique, with the seeds literally on the outside of each 'berry', like a tiny red porcupine, its tiny quills, sticking out.  The berries aren't tasty to the palate either.  They are bitter and dry, as per accounts in my readings.  Unlike a 'true' strawberry, which has white flowers and sometimes pinkish, 'snake berry' flowers are yellow.  They also have seeds that protrude outward of its fruit, as opposed to being embedded into the fruit, as with a Fragaria virginiana or genuine strawberry.  

Its scientific name is Duchesnea indica from the Genus Potentilla indica, from the Rosaceae Family.   They were originally introduced to this country as a decorative or ornamental vine for walls and trellises, by way of India.  The vine quickly became a nuisance because of its rampant nature and soon after, became classified as a weed.  


 








 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Father's Day Fare: Smoky Brisket

 

With Father's Day fast approaching, give the dinner menu gift that keeps them coming back for more, a huge slab of smokey, tender and delicious beef brisket.  Veggies are good too, though you aren't likely to hear him say 'Man, that broccoli I had on Father's Day was just fantastic'!.  Yes, broccoli is good and great for you, but not really a memory maker like a mother lode of sandwiches, wraps, salads and plates piled high with some succulent beef with all the fixins'.  Everyone wins. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and it's a meal fit for Kings.
I started this mammoth brisket (14 1/2 lbs.) with a dry rub.  I let the brisket hang out for 1 hour, then overnight in the fridge and for about 2 hours at room temperature, before putting it in my smoker.  I used some Cherry wood chips, moistened, in an aluminum pan over charcoal and smoked the protein uncovered at a fairly low temperature (about 220*F) for around 9 hours, transferred it to a long pan, then covered it tightly with heavy duty foil and finished it in a 325* degree oven for another 6 hours. (This can be done overnight, so don't worry about too much commitment) Maintenance is low and the reward is at the apex of a stereo-typically "Man's Meal" for his or their special day.   Everyone will be pleased, especially the host or hostess, because you are free from meal planning for another two to three days.  The brisket freezes well, making a rainy day in the near future, shine bright like a diamond, in all its smoke forward glory.  
My family loves it when I prepare a nice brisket, and having a large one ensures everyone can get their fill. The oohs and ahhs really make me proud and the looks of satisfaction on their faces, makes the time put in well worth it.  I  get to make these a couple of times of year, and they never disappoint!  The pan jus is an added bonus, simply add some low sodium stock before covering and placing in the oven, ensuring a very moist and satisfying outcome.  
Visible smoke ring on Brisket

Brisket after removing foil and resting for 1 hour

For even more Brisket deliciousness, try my Smoky Brisket Mayonnaise!! You can access the recipe by scanning the code below!!


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Screams and Sprouts; Ginger Scallops/ Pea, Carrot, Dill Sprouts/Sage Flowers/Mulberry Gastrique


Illustration of Scallops and Sprouts Salad w/Mulberry Gastrique


I wanted to discover the delicate side of my growing garden and I had a wonderful learning experience in sprouts.  I am at the thinning phase for some, so I thought it would be fruitful to see what I could develop with some of the freshest springtime ingredients available, literally in my own yard.  The birds hadn't eaten all of the Mulberries from our tree just yet and I was able to procure a full cup, from which I made the Gastrique.
 I reduced the berries and honey with a little water down to about 3 tablespoons, then added the aged balsamic, reducing again to about 2 tablespoons.  I used a good aged balsamic and wildflower honey.  Fresh ginger, lemon, organic extra virgin olive oil and Irish butter also make an appearance.  I used slices of ginger to scent the olive oil before searing the scallops.  I added the Irish butter after flipping the scallops and getting the caramelization on the tops.  I made a simple vinaigrette using the organic olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, sage flowers, cracked pepper and Fleur de Sel. I garnished with microgreens from my homegrown Brassicas.
 The recipe turned out wonderfully, though the stencil of the pea shoots could have been better.  I wanted to share the above photo of how my mind sees recipe ideas and ingredients before becoming a finished product. Grab some sprouts from your garden and have at it, it's a most rewarding experience.  Micorgreens can have upwards of 40 times the nutrients of regularly grown greens, bigger isn't always better!






 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Fish Tacos with Sun and Soul

My Southern Style Fish Tacos w/ Hawaiian Slaw as featured on the Cook's Cook.
 Well Folks, the weather seems to have 'broken' and the time is nigh to begin to enjoy the warmer weather, the fabulous summer grilling and chilling and maybe a fish fry or 20.  With the Covid 19 cases on the steady decline, for the first time in a year for Virginia, vaccinations are enabling us to finally gather again.  Normalcy is just around the bend.  I finished up my rounds of the Moderna vaccination last week and I  breathed a sigh of relief, I feel empowered again.  I hadn't expected to feel such a weight lifted from my shoulders and a renewal of zest and zeal, because  I thought I was doing okay, as far as keeping my eyes forward and not losing sight of a 'regular' day some time in the future, not plagued with new cases and our countrymen dying at every turn.  I continued to rally my troops to keep Hope alive and trust in the process of this terrible time running its course.  I had no idea that I was as oppressed, suppressed and depressed as ever, putting on an inwardly apprehensive face with a plastic smile, as not to worry my children.  Very much like the commercial with the people holding up those smiley faced fronts, hiding in plain sight, an internal mess.

I was unaware  I would feel this good again, mentally, A mentally more serene (in some aspects), happier place.  I implore you to seek that same relief, cerebral restitution if you will, of which we all are entitled to, quoting Niccolo Machiavelli "the end, justifies the means..." Humans are  social creatures of habit, gathering and congregating is inherent.   Studies even support the power of being social and the benefits bestowed upon us as a result.  We need each other, in one way or many.  What is the fun in a great recipe, if there's no one around with whom to share it?

Cooking and entertaining with friends and family is something that has always brought my family joy.  This featured recipe was created during the darker days of this Pandemic, and highlighted by one of my online cooking families, The Cook's Cook.   Now is  a great time to click on the following link and have the taste of summer right at your fingertips! southern-style-fish-tacos-w-hawaiian-slaw/ .   Exhale and take a delicious bite out of the wondrous times ahead, with this Pandemic in our rear view mirrors and a magnificent dish in hand, that you can take to the next cookout! The only Zoom will be the sound the car makes, on its way to fellowship with the world once again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Simply Vanilla Gourmet Cheesecakes: Simply Scrumptious

Simply Vanilla's Cheesecake Case
IN A WORD, Yessss!
We sampled our myriad of mini cheesecakes in front of the fireplace in the mall!

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Simply Vanilla's wonderful selection of bars and brownies

Whoopie Pies, Massive Danishes, Muffins and Cookies

Simply Vanilla offers Vegan and Keto options




Social Distancing Parameters at Simply Vanilla

Key Lime Cheesecake by Simply Vanilla


Simply Vanilla Menu



 

Sharing is Caring, Simply Vanilla Gourmet Cheesecake

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Say Cheese!

Katiebug Turns 21!
Katiebug turned 21 (3) and we had a party.  She was the Belle of the Ball and had a great time, you can tell by her smile.  We just wanted to share her special day with you all and hope it brings on the same smiles we have, every time we see this photo.  Her menu consisted of pizza, cheesy puffs and kibbles and bits, bone shaped treats, plus T bone steak and Rib shaped treats for her and her pet guests, the humans had Scooby Snacks!
 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hanging Strawberry Moss Baskets- Vertical Gardening Technique


Vertical Strawberry Moss Basket
I came up with this idea as I embark on my first season of growing strawberries at home.  I wanted to test out more vertical growing techniques and so, I in turn wanted to have a successful harvest.  Moisture is a big part of that equation and moss is a perfect candidate to help retain a good balance.  I gathered moss in sizable clumps and used it to line the shelves of a shower caddy I purchased specifically for this project, because I wanted it to hang flush against any wall space outside and hang downward, not sprawl across the ground, using vital grow space.  I also wanted to protect it from the animals, so suspending it  seemed like the best method to implement my idea.  
The moss adds a beautiful and organic touch to my hanging basket, which I secure with twine on the backside, enclosing the moss to serve as containers to house the strawberry plants.  The end result is a very cute and functional work of edible art, worthy of sharing and a focal point for a small grow space.  I am excited to see how it progresses and I will certainly keep you posted.  I chose three different types of strawberries, two of which are touted as best for growing when using a hanging basket, Allstar and Quinault, I also use Ozark Beautys.  These are June bearing plants, but do not make a surplus of viney connections, which is not ideal for this type of vertical gardening.  If you have more tips for growing strawberries vertically, myself and other readers would certainly appreciate your feedback.  You may leave comments in the space below and I will also take questions, if you have any about assembling your very own moss 'growing' basket.  Happy Gardening, the sky's the limit, literally!


 


Sunday, May 2, 2021

A 'Moss' Beautiful Gardening Idea



Freshly harvested Moss helped to elevate my planting vessel!
Turn an ordinary, inexpensive and planting suitable vessel into a work of art, with Moss.  I harvested this moss from our church yard, by a prominent tree, near the resting place of one of my little brothers, Keith.  Going to the church is always such a bittersweet destination, Alas, I digress, my Dad and one of my big brothers is there too.  In fact, generations of Smiths and Bergers are.  They are in a better place now and that comforts me, when I miss them sorely and feel despondent.  

I carefully peeled tufts of the softest and most durable sections of the expansive patch for my project.  
The moss is plush and feels like memory foam underfoot and beckons for you to take off your shoes and scrunch your toes in it and feel like a kid again.  Highly resilient and masterful for retaining moisture, moss is a versatile and beautiful plus textured plant, appealing to several senses at once, in a most flattering way.  

With a little creativity, a little moss can go a long way.  Have fun with it and stay tuned to see what I've planted here when it starts to peek above the soil.  The moss used for this featured project, is actually remnants of another project idea, coming up soon, I'm elated with those results as well!

Recipe:

A  plastic container, basket or bowl, with holes preferably

A knife or other sharp object to make small holes for draining 

Fresh moss

Planting soil

Desired suitable plants for vessel

Take a few moments to carefully bore several holes in the bottom of the vessel for draining.

The design will of course vary by container, but for this one, I simply tore off pieces to plug the larger holes on the container, on all four sides.  You want the pieces to fit somewhat snuggly in each of the holes.

Once desired pattern is achieved, carefully fill the vessel with potting soil.  

Plant your desired seeds for your personal needs. 

Enjoy the project and the bounty. 


  

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Blueberry Butter Maple Bacon

And why the heck not? I probably should have run this recipe a few more times for better shots, but I think the flavors speak for themselves. I stumbled across this PRIMO Maple syrup called Trees Knees Butter Maple and WOW, it's fantastic! The company's name is Bushwick Kitchen LLC. and they carry a barrage of other delicious and intriguing flavor combinations featuring honey, maple and even a 'hot line' with Sriracha and Gochujang!   They are whimsically marketed as "Bees Knees, Trees Knees and Weak Knees", very befitting of such elevated condiments!  Next on my list is the Honey/Meyer Lemon blend, it sounds Amazeballs.  
This quick and simple recipe is a melodious fraternization of fresh spring flavor, with familiar and classic staples, bacon and maple syrup, to bring a modern elevation to your next sandwich or breakfast/ brunch table.  Frozen thawed blueberries will do just fine, as only the juice will be used to marinate the thick cut, smoked protein, imparting its color and subtle nuance.  The results are an upbeat tinted, smoky, not too  sticky treat, hitting the high notes and satisfying your bacon cravings and hankering for  something a bit sweet at the same time, and that's pretty sweet!  
Recipe:
1 lb. thick cut Apple or Cherrywood smoked bacon
1/4 c. blueberry juice, plain nothing added
Trees Knees Butter Maple for brushing
Directions:
Arrange bacon on parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush with the blueberry juice.
Let stand for about 10 minutes to absorb the colors and place in a 400*F oven to roast or under a broiler.
Cook until desired crispness is reached, brushing with the Butter Maple during the last 5 minutes.
Let stand for several minutes to set the Maple coating and serve as desired.  
 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Noodle MegaBowl: Just Add Kimchi

Korean Noodle Bowl w/ Kimchi

 Do your body a favor and add some Kimchi to your next noodle bowl for a plethora of good bacteria for your gastrointestinal flora and an elevated dish in just a few forkfuls.  Kimchi is a Korean staple and condiment made with fermented cabbage, lots of garlic, Korean radish, carrot, Red Pepper Powder, bonito and other flavor builders, that pair perfectly with any dish you can think of! Being a given in Korean cuisine, there are quite literally thousands of versions, varying from family to family.  
I am currently buying my Kimchi, but making some from scratch is high on my agenda, likely with a Southern American twist, what I am not sure yet, but subtle enough not to disrupt or disrespect the integrity of the dish.  It's actually quite perfect and can turn a basic meal into a well balanced one. Full of fresh tasting flavors and crunch, the cool bites of pungent cabbage alongside your veg, starches and proteins, is a match made in heaven. 
 My daughter Bronwyn and I are big fans, my oldest daughter Genesis, can't get past its aroma, which is admittedly not something you will soon forget, but the taste is BONKERSMACK! 
 Today's feature is brought to you by a Korean brand of Ramen called Bibim Men, spicy, and a modest half teaspoon of some Red Pepper Powder.  


Monday, April 26, 2021

Dinners Without Borders: Proscuitto Wrapped Provolone and Swiss Chicken Breasts


 

Dinner is a cinch when you cook from the heart and without pretense.  This meal came together at short notice and was centered around a request for a "vegetable medley".  Yes, that's all I had to go on, which immediately sent me into a tailspin, because it sparked more questions than a few, like what kind? Steamed, roasted, sauteed? Creamy, stewed, tender crisp? What vegetables in the medley? Spring veggies? Root veggies? The answer in return was "I don't care, just make it good!" I laughed, relieved, because that part I was pretty sure I could handle, so for traditionalists sake, I chose the usual suspects, with a triad of colors and roastability, whole carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, red onion (which I roasted separately, for the two 'no onioners' attending dinner) and garlic, a dream team of tastes and textures, full on flavors and self explanatory for my client.  
I broke the vegetables down into a bit larger sized pieces and lowered the overall roasting temperature, to accommodate the cooking time of the chicken, which admittedly started off as frozen.  I married the freshly thawed chicken with flavor builders like Prosciutto, smoked Provolone and Swiss cheese, with a modest pat of butter to the toppings before going into a 375*F. oven.  I used a garlic based seasoning blend to boost the sometimes dry breast cutlets and served as a quick dry rub before tossing with some olive oil and a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt.  I threw in a store bought pesto for time constraints to embellish both the veggies and the protein, even the starch, which was a garlicky and cheesy Italian loaf, quick and homemade, well the assembly at least, the bread was fresh from the bakery.    
Dinner was a casual one, family members, served later, as my client (Brother in Law Mark) and his spouse (my sister Brenda) both worked late this beautiful day.  The featured photos are just that, a quick snapshot after the dishes came from the oven, with no time to fuss over plating and lighting, a document of my newest Chicken Recipe, producing a plate full of color and delicious roasted flavors, plus a medley of vegetables to choose from and stack with every moist bite of smothered, smoky chicken goodness.  I enjoyed the freedom to create outside of my normal kitchen and in someone else's lab, using their utensils.  I was able to find my way around pretty well and the menu came out solid and satisfying.  There were no strict dietary rules to follow and a blank canvas to work my magic and I did just that, and there were compliments on each dish, respectively.  I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of cooking while they chatted on, did a chore or two, showered, then converged back on the scene at my beckoning.  They were satisfied and so was I.  I love dinners without borders, it gives me room to create and bring scribbles on paper, to life...


*This post is dedicated in memory of my cousin and friend, Lawrence "Jay" Berger, who left us today for higher ground, We Love You and are deeply saddened by your passing, too soon- Prayers and condolences to lil cuz Jason and Frances, Teresa, Skeet(Willie), Aaron( Frame) and Karen. - The Smith Family. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Grilled Cheese Bar: National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day Highlights

Grilled Cheese Duo; Bacon and Sauteed Spinach/ Buffalo Ranch Pulled Chicken
Grilled Cheese is like the universal language of delish and its special day (April 11) had to be celebrated accordingly.  I really wanted to make this day memorable for the kiddoes and adults alike by providing a variety of accoutrements to make each sandwich unique.  I started out with breads offering Sourdough, English Toasting, Brioche and Marbled Rye.  The cheeses included American, Extra Sharp and Mild Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Habanero and Pepper Jack Blend, Colby and Monterey Jack, Smoked Provolone and Muenster.  I may have missed one or two, but you get the idea. 

The spreads included regular butter spread, Honey Infused, Garlic and Herbs and Mayonnaise.  Mayo makes for an amazing color and crisp Mukbang style snap when you cut into the sandwich or take a bite!!  The fillings were so much fun. I made a cream cheese based Cheesesteak Spread, made with fire roasted green chilies and Cheesesteak sirloin.  I also made a Buffalo Ranch Chicken Spread, full of savory and spicy shredded chicken breast.  Other accessories included, pepperoni, precooked bacon, Black  Forest ham, Virginia Prosciutto or (thinly sliced Country Ham), Sauteed Spinach with Garlic  and Fresh Gourmet Greens Blend! 

I set up my beloved Blackstone Griddle, 17 inch, Propane, I fricking LOVE LOVE LOVE it, I have been able to entertain my family many a night with my griddle on our patio picnic table, its like Hibachi Outdoors and soooo much fun.  I made Pad Thai one night for dinner and the griddle is perfect for developing the levels of flavor in such a complex and fantastic dish.  Burgers and Hotdogs, no problem, the griddle heats quickly and efficiently, imparting grilled deliciousness in every bite. Power outage, no biggie, this propane powered gem handles the tiny tabletop canisters.  Too hot in the kitchen, pull it out! Take the worry of a food heat source off your mind.  

 The Blackstone Griddle is perfect for making Grilled Cheese for the whole family, all at once.  The seasoned surface is the key to  a gorgeous bark with a great crunch and mouthfeel,  as demonstrated in some of the masterpieces we created that evening.  A good grilled cheese sandwich is hard to beat and when your family can customize it to their exact standard, dinner will be seamless and unforgettable, just like your first bite!!

Grilled Cheese Meatlover's Supreme

Grilled Cheese w/3 Cheeses and Sauteed Spinach

 Make your next family meal amazing by having a Grilled Cheese Bar, your family won't soon forget it!! The spreads were so delicious, we used them for sandwiches the next day!  Plan to do it again the next night, for even more combinations you didn't get to try the first time around!  Stay tuned for the fabulous Cheesesteak and Buffalo Ranch Pulled Chicken Spread recipes , coming up in my next few posts! 

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Smokinhotchef
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