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Showing posts with label easy dinners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy dinners. Show all posts

Sunday, July 11, 2021

5n@i1 5p@gh3tt1: Spaghetti a la Escargot

Escargot (Snails)
I have wanted to try Escargot for the longest time.  I had so many questions and I finally got the opportunity for some hands on lab. First off, man are they off putting, to say the least, I won't even tell you the words that came to my mind to describe them, nor will I tell you what my family members thought they resembled.  There were four of us willing to give them a try, my sister Bonnie. her husband Jackie, Bronwyn and myself.  I was relieved that they are not slimy in the can.  I can't say I enjoyed the smell at first though.  These were the giant variety and they were about the size of an average sized meatball.  They are quite firm and have good texture, with an almost rubbery undertone.  I made sure that I cooked them gently, afraid of the potentially irreversible consequences of a tough protein such as this.  
Traditionally, Escargot is prepared with a garlic, butter and parsley compound and broiled lightly to melt the delicious aromatics down into the shell, which are to be purchased separately.  I failed to get my order for the shells in before our vacation departure and I figured I would scarcely find them for purchase in any of the supermarkets or shoppes near the lake, so I took them in a different direction.  I wanted to come from this experience with something different and I think I achieved as much with this recipe.  
To counter the almost scary appearance of the Escargot, I halved them, then sliced them into manageable pieces, hoping to capture the appetites of the naysayers.  Next time, I will keep them whole and follow a more traditional route, preparing them in their I guess you would say intended form, for a more genuine experience.  
This recipe is a good introduction to the world of Escargot, a once exclusive dish for the wealthy, now transgressed into a dish to be served on any given weeknight, full of delicious nuances and mystery.

Snails are not just your average exotic food, they also bring with them many nutritional benefits.
They are rich in protein,  substantially so, providing about 18 grams per serving.  The fat in Escargot, albeit small, is mostly polyunsaturated.  Snails boasts essential fatty acids of the good variety, linolenic and linoleic acids, respectively, they lend brain and heart health benefits. There is a wealth of iron, magnesium and calcium, plus copper and phosphorus.   Snails are a good alternative meat as well as a healthy one.  They have vitamins A, B12 and K, where K is mostly found in the veggie department, particularly greens with leaves.  Vitamin B6 and folate also have presence.  If that weren't enough, Escargot has two amino acids that are also present in eggs, lysine and  arginine, both in higher amounts than it's more familar round buddy!  They are sustainable and have a much smaller impact on the environment than other animal proteins.  Just a thought.

Spaghetti a la Escargot


Recipe:

1 7.7 oz. can giant snails, halved and sliced thinly
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked according to instructions in salted water, al dente
1 large ripe tomato, chopped with seeds removed
1 bunch fresh herbs, about 1/2 c. lemon thyme, parsley and sage, rough chopped
6 tbsp. salted Amish Butter 
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
6 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive oil and fresh herbs for garnish
Shredded or Shaved Parmesan Cheese for garnish


Place butter, olive oil, onion and garlic in a large saucepan over low heat and let sweat for about 20 minutes, until soft and fragrant.  
Add Escargots and gently warm through, while pasta cooks.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and transfer to saucepan with butter mixture and turn  up to medium, add tomato and herbs, SPST, tossing until everything is coated and well incorporated.  
Garnish with additional herbs and Parmesan cheese as desired.  
Makes 6 to 10 servings. 





















 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Calypso Cranberry and Pecan Shrimp Boats

Calypso Spice Rub Makes these Colossal Shrimp Pop!
Nice cooling salads are right at home this time of year.  With the heat hitting record highs week after week, we are all looking for a quicker and cooler way to get breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table, and at least try to follow the RDA.  I came up with this nutritious and delicious plus versatile salad while on vacation last week in the beautiful Occoneechee State Park.  I knew I wanted a nice bright salad along with our special steak dinner, commemorating our last night of another spectacular getaway, the other 5 nights went by so fast.  
We decided on a nice set of Ribeyes, on sale at the time for a great price via Food Lion, some fresh Romaine, cherry tomatoes and Italian Herbs, as I was in the process of making my first homemade, handmade pasta, after watching a couple of tutorials.  It had been on my mind for some time now and I made a promise to myself that I would execute while on vacation.  I can't wait to share that experience with you too. 
Back to the salads, I had some fantastic Colossal White Shrimp on board, as well as some salad topping with cranberries and candied pecans.  I also picked up some shredded Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapenos.  I had a Calypso spice rub to try out and therein, the recipe was born.  
The Romaine was large, crisp and fresh with leaves as large as a small long plate, so I decided to build the salad right on it.  With the shrimp marinating since earlier in the day and my Blackstone grill, I was able to make light work of a nice Grilled Shrimp Salad to accompany the steaks, baked potatoes and pasta.  
The meal was a lovely affair, with a couple of simple candles and a bottle of Red, the kiddoes imbibed on some Zero Sugar fruit beverage blend, which was thirst quenching and refreshing.  We celebrated some of my personal achievements that had been forgone because of other obligations. Now, we could toast to those milestones and bright moments and be Thankful and Grateful for our each other and the many everyday blessings, often overlooked.   I could take a moment to be proud, with my loved ones and a good meal, every aspect, prepared by me, a dinner that would have easily cost around $200 including tip for 4 people.  The atmosphere was ambient and every aspect was spot on, like it was meant to be.  
This salad can easily serve as a nice lunch or dinner meal by increasing the amount of shredded Romaine, adding more tomatoes, cucumber and a couple more shrimp.  The added bonus is less dishes to clean afterwards, since you can literally eat the salad 'bowl'!  Don't have large shrimp? No problem, just use what you have on hand and be careful not to overcook them.  

Recipe:
1 large head Romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
4 oz. shredded Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapenos
1 pkg. salad topper with Cranberries and Candied Pecans
Colossal Shrimp, shell on, but de-veined, mine came cleaned
Calypso dry rub, 1 tbsp. per pound
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 tbsp. per pound
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive Oil for drizzling
Dressings of your choice, I used Buttermilk Ranch and Tangy French
Directions:
In a large resealable bag, combine shrimp, spice rub and olive oil.
Marry the flavors and place in fridge until ready to grill. This may be done up to a day ahead for Colossal shrimp.
Tear the larger, best and sturdiest leaves off and trim or break to make the boats for the salads, trimming from the root side, for however many salads you'll need.
Julienne the remaining lettuce, light and dark parts, enough to fill each bowl with about 1/2 to 3/4 c. lettuce per boat.
Trim and peel the off most of the cucumber skin lengthwise, alternating in strips, such that it creates a striped design. Cut the cucumber in 1 to 1 1/2 inch portions and core out seeds using a butter knife or small paring knife. 
Place on paper towels to remove excess moisture, until ready to use. 
Grill the marinated shrimp, flipping once, until done, careful not to overcook, time depends on the 
size of the shrimp, mine took around 4 minutes total on a high griddle. Let rest before peeling. 
To assemble:
Place shredded lettuce on each boat, then nestle a piece of cucumber among the lettuce and top with a cherry tomato, several if you like.
Peel shrimp down to segment before tail, for aesthetic and position on top of lettuce or as desired.
Sprinkle with cranberries and candied pecans.
Sprinkle with scant amount of cheese.
Drizzle with Olive Oil and SPST, as desired.
Serve Dressings on the side.




 





Three Course Meal Celebration Dinner, with Handmade Pasta and Sauce, Casual Plating

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.

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. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Gulf Shrimp and Pantry Ham Fettuccine Alfredo

 

Gulf Shrimp and Ham Alfredo
Spruce up your regular Alfredo with the addition of some simple, canned, diced ham and some clam juice.  With the tides turning for the better, in great part due to the implementation of the three Covid 19 vaccines; Pfizer,  Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, I feel that I can safely begin to dwindle down the pantry ingredients acquired out of necessity.  We are not out of the woods just yet though, and its imperative that we remain vigilant in our course, to effectively turn the corner on this nightmare that is a Pandemic.  Being aware is all of our responsibilities and continuing to wear our masks, at the very least until we are personally vaccinated is to our benefit.  Soon, sooner than later even, we will be back to business as usual.  I am now comfortable enough to start using some of these dried and canned goods I have amassed as well, so get ready for some recipes featuring legumes of all sorts!  Admittedly, I used a box version of a Tuna Casserole, just out of curiosity, by a certain brand that features a guy whose name rhymes with Harry and may or may not be involved with fiber optics (chuckles to myself) and they absolutely abhorred it.  I just followed the instructions, so I don't feel like it was a personal attack on my culinary fortitude, but the kids certainly won't let me live it down!  I actually have a very solid and delicious recipe I wrote for Tuna Casserole, but unfortunately, they seem to only remember the one I made last. I wasn't impressed either, to me it was 'just food', but I kept my poker face to the end and was relieved when my portion was no more.  There was something about the sauce and the tuna, sad face. I am glad I only purchased one pair of those kits, though the brand has other kits that are solid and worth the very affordable cost of a buck!  
The canned, diced  ham is another such purchase.  On it's own, it is a very plain and unimpressive affair, lacking any pizzazz and very little flavor. I remedied that, as best I could, by draining it from its watery grave and patting it dry.  I then proceeded to saute it in some olive oil, getting some good color on it and adding texture, then using it as the base for this recipe's sauce and pairing it with an elevated ingredient, Gulf Shrimp.  This recipe is inspired additionally by a Roman born Carbonara, a rich and amazing pasta dish that features cured pork, raw egg, black pepper and a hard cheese, with the egg and pasta water, stirred in at the end and cooked by the heat of the pasta! Delish!  
Recipe:
1 lb. 41-60 Wild Gulf Shrimp, if frozen, thawed, cleaned
1 5 oz. can cooked, diced ham in water, drained and patted dry
1 lb. Fettuccine, cooked al dente in salted water, about 7 to 8 minutes, reserving 1 c. pasta water
3 tbsp. AP flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion, 
3 -4 cloves garlic, chopped or finely minced
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk or 12 oz. whole milk
1 bottle of clam juice, 8 oz.
1 cup. pasta water with 1/2 c. hot water to equal 1 1/2 c.
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Garlic bread, baked and cut into thirds for garnish, optional

Directions:
Over medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed pan drizzled with olive oil and 1/2 of butter, brown ham, getting caramelization on all sides, about 4 minutes.
Add butter and once melted and  shrimp and saute until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Remove shrimp and ham from pan and cover to keep warm.
Reduce heat to medium. 
Add onion and continue to cook until onions are translucent, another 4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle in flour, gradually and cook for about 1 minute.
Add pasta water and bring up to a boil and allow to thicken.
Add clam juice.
Continue to simmer for several more minutes and add milk.
Allow to come back up to temperature and stir in cheese.
Heat and simmer more to thicken.
Add pasta to coat and heat through.
Fold in ham and shrimp and drizzle in a bit more olive oil, as needed.
If too thick, add a splash of milk or water, chicken broth if desired to reach desired consistency.
Garnish with Parsley and Olive oil.
Serves 8 to 10. 
 




  


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Pantry Chicken and Broccoli 'Lo Mein'



Feeling like takeout, but want to stay at home and save some money? This recipe is easy to execute and full of bold and delicious flavors from the Orient. These ingredients are probably in your pantry and freezer already. The Lo Mein in this recipe is actually spaghetti, left over from a spaghetti dinner I made on a Friday night, two weeks ago.  The uncooked spaghetti was in a large sealed zip bag, but I wanted to go ahead and rotate my pasta stock, so I built a dish around it. Buying the 2 lb. package really saves!  
Some thawed chicken breast, frozen broccoli, peas and carrot blend, and some baby corn come together and BOOM! you've got a delicious one dish meal with all the right moves! 
The black sesame seeds are an added plus, but not necessary, the plain will do just fine.  I used some liquid aminos in this recipe to supplement some of the soy sauce and shave the sodium, just a bit.  I don't worry too much about it in this dish, because the amounts are spread across at least 10 servings.  
Some water chestnuts are a  great inexpensive way to add mega crunch and texture, just a thought!

Recipe:
1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips, then cut into 1 inch, bite sized pieces
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, cooked according to instructions, in salted water, just short of al dente, about 7 minutes.
1 lb. frozen broccoli, thawed
1 c. frozen peas and carrots, frozen
1/2 can baby corn, drained and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c. reduced sodium soy, plus 3/4 c. water or stock to make 1 cup.
1/3 c. liquid aminos 
1/4. c. pure cane sugar
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 to 2 tsp. Sriracha or to taste
2 tbs. cornstarch, plus 2 tbsp. water to make a slurry
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. ground ginger 
SPST
Olive oil for drizzling
Sesame Oil for garnish, optional

Instructions:
In a medium hot skillet drizzled with olive oil, brown chicken in batches.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
While pasta cooks, add the thawed broccoli. After 7 minutes, drain and shock in cold water.
Add pasta and broccoli back to spaghetti pot and drizzle with scant amount of sesame oil and keep warm on the lowest setting.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine soy, water, aminos, sugar, ginger, garlic, Sriracha and corn starch, set aside.
 After the chicken is all browned, add back to skillet , add sauce ingredients from bowl and bring up to a boil
to thicken, then turn off heat.
Add peas and carrots and baby corn, stir.
Pour chicken mixture over pasta and broccoli.
Over medium low heat, fold until evenly coated and veggies/colors are distributed as evenly as possible. 
Check seasonings and adjust as desired. 
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle lightly with sesame oil.
Sliced Green onion will make an excellent garnish also. 




Friday, June 26, 2020

Low Country Boil: Less Trouble, Less Toil


A low country boil makes for a low maintenance, filling and inexpensive way to entertain your family or guests and make a memorable experience out of an ordinary day.  With some simple layering and timing, crusty bread for dipping and a green salad, the table can be set for a hands on, fun filled social occasion not soon forgotten.  
When the meal is done, you can either serve in large trays or drain and pour contents out onto a picnic or large table onto some newspaper, with the juice as a dipping sauce!  This was a dinner prepared while on vacation at Occoneechee State Park to accompany some gorgeous Catch of the Day Catfish, the crew caught while fishing at Buggs Island Lake.  I also found some frogs' legs at the local supermarket for a splurge-fest of goodies, as I hadn't had them in about one year. 
 
Dinner was amazing, especially with good wine, great food and the best family, the twins and my brother in law, who came down also, we got together several times during the week.  Everyone had a role to play as we prepared the meal, making it a breeze.  We all cleaned the fish together, scaling, fileting and butterflying , depending on their sizes. Every hand wheeled a knife, pliers or gadget, making light work of  a potentially time consuming endeavor, considering we had about 30.  Together we're better, indeed.  Our haul included both catfish and crappie.  Some of the fish were soaked and packed in Ziplocs, then frozen to make the trip home and be enjoyed at a later date, while some was fried up nice and golden for dinner as pictured below.  A good salty, briny soak is essential for fresh fish to eliminate any 'fresh out of water' taste and also rid the fillets of a bit of the excess water it holds, which can prevent the crust from adhering to the protein while frying. 
The whole pageantry of it all was soothing. The dance of the fishing, preparing and sharing, the communion and the preserving, for moments like this, when we return home to the rest of the family.  Memorable. One day at a time and being thankful for fellowship another day is Priceless. 
Recipe":
3 lb. potatoes, I used Russet, cut into manageable even sized pieces
2 lb. Polska Kielbasa or favorite smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 lb. 31-40 count shrimp, raw
4 ears of corn, cut into quarters
1 stick butter
Seafood Seasoning
Fresh Lemon Slices and Lemon Wedges for serving
Fresh Parsley for Garnish, optional
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

In a large pot, bring about 1 1/2 quarts of seafood and lemon seasoned water.
Once water comes to a boil over medium high heat. add potatoes. 
Drizzle with olive oil.
Cover with lid.
Reduce heat to Medium, so that the water is a simmering boil.
After about 15 minutes, add Kielbasa pieces.
After another 5 minutes add corn nubbins.
After another 3 minutes, add shrimp. Sprinkle, Drizzle and SPST.
Continue to cook until all shrimp are pink and translucent.
Place pats of butter across top of contents and cover to melt.
Sprinkle with Seafood Seasoning as desired.
Serve with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, crusty bread for dipping, beer, wine, friends and family.
Serves 8 to 10 comfortably with extras and a side of happy!










Thursday, June 25, 2020

Jewels on the Virginia Nile by the Cupful



Aside for the much needed change of scenery and time to re-center, this past week brought some pleasant surprises along with the rain that hung out there for the whole trip.  I am a coffee appreciator and lifelong fan. I happened by this robust and flavorful caramel noted brew at the supermarket in Clarksville, the town on the bustling Buggs Island Lake.  
This is a superb place for relaxing, water skiing, wakeboarding, camping and the fisherman alike, from leisure to pro sport, walking or by boat, the activities of this area are bountiful and the atmosphere is magical.  The above is a picture of the coffee I discovered and just had to try.  I am an advocate of local, small businesses and believe in doing my part, when and where I can.  The object in the front is a piece of driftwood I found on the shore behind our cabin. I find it full of character and as a piece of natural water/nature made art.
The coffee itself is from a small batch roastery called Lake Gaston Coffee Company, situated in Littleton, North Carolina.   Lake Gaston is a manmade lake with about 35 miles of shoreline.  It is situated near Buggs Island Lake or John H. Kerr Dam, which is a  50,000 acre reservoir. It was constructed between 1947 and 1957, as a means of hydroelectricity and flood control.  This massive lake extends into North Carolina. I admiringly call it The Virginia Nile.
Lake Gaston Coffee Company offer both Arabica whole bean and ground roast in an array of flavors and intensities brewed from beans from all over the world, including South and Central America and East  Africa.  They also offer teas, wine slushies, Lattes to go, Farm Sciences CBD oil and much more! They even have a small coffee shop located in Littleton.  
I have fallen in love with this fabulous bag of coffee and I am eager to try more.  Good news should not be kept to oneself, so I thought I'd share it with you.  Stay tuned for more updates on products and coffee talk.  This roast was indeed as described with a satisfyingly hearty flavor and true notes of caramel chews and toothpicks made from cherrywood.  
Anytime is a good time for coffee in my book and the constant cool showers and uncharacteristically, inclement weather, presented the perfect storm for trying a new hot beverage. 
 I generally go for medium roasts, since I drink quite a bit of it, but this Buggs Island Lake Columbia grind, with my skimmed down amounts, was just a darling!  I've provided a link for your discovery and enjoyment.  This micro-roastery is a real gem.  https://lakegastoncoffee.com/ 







Sunday, April 5, 2020

Spinach Tagliatelle and Fettuccine w/ Country Style Sausage

This is an easy and most flavorful pasta dish that I created 'on the fly' one day, for a late evening dinner.  I used on hand ingredients with the least effort, as it was approaching the wind down time for the kiddies and we were finishing up a hectic day.
 I used a country style sausage originally bought for breakfast and decided to use two different pastas because the spinach tagliatelle wasn't enough for a meal on its own.  I had some heavy cream on hand, but I like to mix 2% milk or evaporated milk with it, to shave off some of the fat.  I find that this works well for my family.
This sauce may be prepared in the same way as a bechamel , stirring in a cup of the cooking liquid. The al dente cooked pasta is tossed with it at the end and sprinkled with a little cheese, toasted bread crumbs or both. 
Recipe:
1 lb. country style breakfast sausage, cooked and drained
1 lb. total, spinach taggliatelle and fettuccine, cooked al dente in salted water
1/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. 2 % milk or evaporated milk
1 c. pasta water
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. AP flour
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

To make the bechamel, use the same pan you cooked the sausage in, leaving about 1 tsp. of the rendered fat.
Add butter.
 Add about 1 turn of the pan of olive oil to make sufficient amount to 'cook out' flour over medium high heat.
Add onions, and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 4 minutes.
Sprinkle flour into pan and cook for about 1 minute, scraping up browned bits as you go.
Add milk and pasta water, then cream and garlic.
Bring up to rolling simmer, then reduce to medium.
The sauce will thicken as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
SPST.
Once the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon, stir in the cheese and sausage.
Fold pasta into sauce and simmer for an additional 2 minutes to finish the pasta.
Remove from heat.
Garnish with toasted bread crumbs, parmesan, olive oil or fresh herbs  as desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Bacon Cheeseburger Garlic Bread w/ Fresh Dill

Give your everyday garlic bread loaf a kick in the pants and have the hungry brood ready for seconds. This recipe came to me one day on the fly, tired and weary from the day's schedule, but needing to get something on the plate.  I originally planned on doing a pasta bake, my go to, especially for Monday nights, to serve with the bread, but inspiration hit and I just put the cooked pasta in the fridge and swapped out the cheeses for an incredible meal to be served with a green salad or corn with minimal cleanup!
I love  a good burger and this recipe hits all those notes and even mimics some good 'ole pickles, by sprinkling with some fresh dill!


Recipe:
1 1/2 lb. cooked ground beef or desired protein
Precooked bacon, 3 oz.
1 loaf garlic bread
Slices Colby Jack cheese, 6 to 8 oz.
Fresh Dill, pulled apart with fingers

Place loaf in a cold oven and heat to 375*F.
By the time the oven has reached the desired temperature, it's time to remove from oven and begin assembling the deliciousness.
Start with ground beef topping.  I simply layer the toppings evenly across the warmed garlic bread with the torn dill across the top.  Of course, if you are not partial to pickles, you may want to omit it.   A nice fresh herb should be used in place though, for added freshness and brightness.
Place in  oven and finish baking until golden and melty.
Slice across the loaves to serve! 
For a little variety you can add or subtract the proteins/veggies like sausage and peppers,mushroms and carmelized onions, lamb and mint, etc... Have fun with it!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Pasta Bake Ninja

I just love love love my Ninja Foodi!  It truly has single handedly made my oven a lonely soul.  I love that my slow food recipes have been sped up dramatically.  I love that I can set it and walk away, being free to do other things.  Normally, I'm always leary of getting too far away from the kitchen, especially when I have recipes that require hours of simmering, braising or baking.  With my Ninja Foodi, the specific functions do their thing and even turns itself off.
I rarely use the oven because now I can crisp and roast, air fry and sear or saute, all in the same pot.  The pressure cooker aspect is a beast!  At first, I was somewhat nervous, afraid I'd do something wrong and cause an explosion to level the house, like a scene from the Die Hard or Lethal Weapon series lol, but of course that was me being apprehensive from lack of experience.  After I read my  manual many, many times over, I felt I had gathered the strength and prowess to manipulate this sophisticated new toy and the rest is delicious history. 
My go-to on an easy night is often a pasta bake.  I add the cooked ingredients and top it with cheese and set it on 'air crisp' for about 3 1/2 minutes and reveal a masterfully browned, ooey, gooey, one pot, one dish meal, that can't go wrong. Just throw in a salad and some fruit and your labors for dinner are done!  I brown the beef and veggies in the Ninja and make the sauce, but I still like to do my pasta on the stovetop, I fear the dreaded over cooked pasta!  My Ninja has instruction for pasta and even rice, but I feel most comfortable doing them as a sidecar, as opposed to an all in one deal.
If you are shopping for a new gadget or appliance, definitely consider this guy, I knew we were meant to be.  I've cooked everything from air fried or roasted chicken to pig tails and "Pad BowThai" Pasta in this vessel and I keep getting better and better at it.  Make the Ninja Foodi a part of your wish list and be glad you did!  
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Smokinhotchef
Smokinhotchef
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