10.15.2015

Pumpkin Cornbread



Pumpkin Cornbread

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



Recipe adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen


Slow Cooker Cream and Ale Short Ribs over Polenta

So without exaggeration...this was THE BEST thing I have ever made in my slow cooker. No joke. My husband and our friend Ronnie were circling my kitchen for 8 hours like 2 starving vultures...lol! I served it over polenta but you can change it up with mashed potatoes.



Slow Cooker Cream and Ale Short Ribs over Polenta

6 meaty short ribs (I served 2 short ribs per person)
1 package au jus gravy mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef broth, divided
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1 - 12 oz. can beer (I used Miller Light)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
A few tablespoons oil for browning
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Mix the au jus, brown sugar, flour and thyme in a small bowl. Place into your slow cooker. I used a mesh strainer to sift the mixture to make sure that there were no lumps. Add the beer and mix well.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper then brown well on all sides. You will probably have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Place short ribs on a plate. Deglaze the pan with the 1/4 cup white wine scraping up any browned bits. Add 1/2 cup of beef broth. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze again.

Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker. Place short ribs into slow cooker. Add the remaining 2 cups of beef broth. Cover and set on Hi (4 to 6 hours) or Low (8 to 10 hours).

Remove short ribs from slow cooker onto a serving plate. Carefully pour the liquid into a fat separator. Once settled, pour the liquid in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, being careful to get to get as little fat as possible. stir in the heavy cream. Allow to cook for a few minutes to thicken up. Pour gravy over the short ribs and enjoy!!



Creamy Parmesan Polenta

2 cups instant polenta
8 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup good-quality grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, boil the chicken stock over medium-high heat. Pour in the polenta, stirring constantly. The polenta should be fully cooked in about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Then mix in the Parmesan and mascarpone. Seaaon with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

7.21.2015

Mezzi Rigatoni with Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatotes and Burrata



If you are not familiar with burrata mozzarella, be prepared to enter Mozzarella Heaven. Burrata is basically a mozzarella truffle...mozzarella on the outside and little mozzarella shreds mixed with cream inside. It is so delicious and so amazing in this pasta dish.



Mezzi Rigatoni with Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatotes and Burrata

1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, lightly crushed
2 pints cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup balsamic glaze
1 lb. mezzi rigatoni
1 - 8 oz. ball burrata mozzarella, cut into quarters
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is very light golden in color. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the white wine and stir. Cover the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes burst, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add the balsamic glaze. Reduce the heat to low and reduce for about 2 minutes more.
Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in a large pot of salted, boiling water to al dente. Reserve about a cup of the starchy cooking water just before draining.
Break the tomatoes up a bit with a potato masher. Add 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and parsley to the pan, then toss with the drained rigatoni for 1 to 2 minutes, using a little more of the starchy cooking water to combine the sauce with pasta if necessary. Place the rigatoni into 4 shallow bowls. Place a piece of the burrata on top of each and add a small drizzle of the balsamic glaze and top with the Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.



Chicken Francese with Ziti



Chicken Francese with Ziti

4 to 6 thin-sliced chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon slices
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated good-quality Parmesan cheese
3 lemons, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, 2 sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
Parsley
1 lb. ziti pasta, cooked according to package instructions, drain and set aside

Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides.
Place flour in a shallow bowl. Add the garlic powder and paprika to the flour. Dredge the butter slices in the flour and set aside.
In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs and add the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.
Heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. You will have to cook the chicken cutlets in batches. Dredge 2 pieces of chicken in flour then coat in egg batter and saute to deep golden, 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat with each batch, removing browned chicken to plate.
Add sliced lemon to the pan, allowing to brown on both sides. Add the garlic to pan and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan the white wine. Add the stock and bring to a slight boil. Add the reserved flour-coated butter and swirl in pan to form sauce. Add the chicken back into pan for about 5 to 7 minutes to combine the flavors. Serve over ziti.







Footnotes - You can make this using veal or pork cutlets, tilapia or shrimp...all delicious.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.......and my mom.

Quick Nutella Ice Cream



Quick Nutella Ice Cream

3/4 cup Nutella
1 - 8 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup heavy cream

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or ice cream container. Freeze until set.

Oreo Truffle Brownies

Okay so...I am not a baker so I shortcut these by using boxed brownie mix. If you have a favorite brownie recipe that you love, absolutely use it.



Oreo Truffle Brownies

1 box Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie Mix, plus ingredients to make the brownies

For the truffle layer -

1 package Double Stuf Oreos, finely crushed
8 to 10 oz. softened cream cheese

Chocolate layer -

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

Make brownies according to package instructions. Allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl, mash together the Oreo crumbs and softened cream cheese until well combined. Spread truffle layer on top of cooled brownies.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine both chocolate chips and shortening. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth. Pour evenly on top of truffle layer.
Refrigerate for about an hour or so....then cut into these bad boys and enjoy!!

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training

Raspberry Lily Cookies

My mom got this recipe from her friend Ellen who made these all the time. The cream cheese in the dough makes these cookies so rich and decadent. Plus...who doesn't love raspberry jam?!



Raspberry Lily Cookies

4 1/2 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 lb. butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup Confectioners sugar
1 jar raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, butter and flour. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it our with a rolling pin to about 1/8-inch thick.
Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into circles. Bring the 2 sides together letting them overlap and pressing the center gently. Fill open ends with raspberry jam. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Cool and sprinkle with Confectioners sugar.



Buffalo Cauliflower



Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Wing Sauce
Ranch dressing for dipping (I use Marie's...yummy!!)

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, tossing to combine.
spread cauliflower onto a baking sheet and roast until they begin to brown and soften, about 25 to 30 minutes.
meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the melted butter and wing sauce.
Using about 1/4 of the wing sauce mixture, drizzle over the cauliflower, tossing again to coat and roast an additional 8 to 10 minutes.
remove from oven and toss with the remaining wing sauce mixture. Serve with the ranch dressing.

Mini Key Lime Pies

These mini pies are so light and fluffy....perfect for summertime!



Mini Key Lime Pies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz Cool Whip, thawed
1/2 cup lime juice

In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
Prepare the cupcake tin by lining with foil cupcake liners. Add about 2 tablespoons of the crumb mixture to each liner pressing the crumbs down with your fingers. You will have extra crumbs left over.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip until smooth. Add the lime juice and mix until slightly thickened.
Add the filling on top of the graham cracker crust. I like to pipe my filling using a zip-top bag but you can also use a spoon.
Refrigerate for about 3 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with some extra graham cracker crumbs or whipped cream and enjoy!



5.06.2015

Shrimp Alfredo with Spinach



Shrimp Alfredo with Spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pushed thru a press
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 lb large shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined with tails removed 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
12oz fresh fettuccini pasta 
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook fettuccini according to package instructions; drain.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for about 3 minutes more. Add the shrimp and sauté until pink. 
Remove from heat and add the cream and spinach. The spinach will wilt from the heat of the sauce. Stir in the Romano cheese. And season with salt and pepper. (I use a lot of pepper). Add the fettuccini to the skillet and toss a few times to combine. Serve immediately. 



Creamy Garlic Spaghetti



Creamy Garlic Spaghetti

2 teaspoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves of garlic, pushed thru a press
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb spaghetti, broken in half
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 cup heavy cream 
2 tablespoons parsley 
Salt and ground white pepper, to taste 

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive and butter until the butter has melted. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper and raise the heat to high allowing the stock to come to a boil. 
Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (I like thicker sauce so I drained about 1/4 cup of the liquid). Reduce heat to medium and add the grated cheese, stirring until blended. Remove the pit from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and parsley. 
Serve immediately. 



Recipe adapted from The Cheese Pusher

4.24.2015

Sprinkles make everyone smile!




These sprinkles were on cupcakes....lol! Yesterday we spent the rainy day baking rainbow chip cupcakes with gooey vanilla frosting and sprinkles....YUMMY!! 




4.20.2015

Edamame 2-Ways



This morning while everyone was still sleeping, I came downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee and a banana bread English muffin. I started straightening up the kitchen and eventually made my way over to the fridge and started cleaning out the freezer. While rearranging some bags of vegetables I found a bag of shelled edamame....you know, the ones that steams in the bag. I have been wanting my 16-month old to try new vegetables so I popped it in the microwave. As they were cooling in a bowl...I decided to salt some up an have a little snack. But then inspiration struck! 

I placed a few tablespoons of edamame into 2 small bowls. One a tossed with Sriracha seasoning and brown sugar and the other with soy sauce and a bit of wasabi powder (next time I'll add some ginger too). 
Both were SO tasty!! 



Edamame 2-Ways

1 steam in bag of shelled Edamame 
Sea Salt
Soy sauce (you can use low sodium if you like) 
Wasabi powder
Sriracha seasoning (it's like powdered Sriracha but you can use regular liquid Sriracha)
Brown sugar 

Steam the bag of a edamame according to package instructions. Remove from microwave and allow to cool. Place edamame into 2 bowls. Combine soy sauce and wasabi powder (and ginger if you'd like) and pour over the edamame; toss to combine.
Sprinkle the other edamame with the Sriracha seasoning and brown sugar; toss to coat.  
Enjoy!!  



4.15.2015

Smashed Avocado with Caramelized Onions and Sea Salt

Two of my favorite foods are avocados and caramelized onions and both of them together is....well......nothing short of food bliss. 
One night, we grilled up some burgers for dinner. As my husband was outside manning the grill, I was preparing a "burger bar" of toppings....2 of which were sliced avocados and caramelized onions. After we were done eating, there were a few left-over onions and avocado pieces....and suddenly it hit me.....MIX THEM TOGETHER! So I did........in a bowl....lol! It was SO good!! The creamy, saltiness of the avocado paired with the sweetness of the onions is an amazing flavor combination. This is definitely my go-to snack/lunch/light dinner when my husband is working nights or in the summer with a nice glass of chilled white wine. 


Smashed Avocado with Caramelized Onions and Sea Salt

2 large, ripe avocados 
3-4 large yellow onions, sliced into half-moons
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices Italian Boule, cut thick 
Sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. You may have to cook the onions in 2 batches. It's okay if some onions get darker. It adds to the flavor. 
Place 4 slices of the boule onto a plate. Cut each of the avocados in half and remove the pits. Using a spoon, scoop out the inside of the avocados and place each half on each slice of the boule. Using a fork, lightly smash the avocado. I like to leave big chunks. 
Sprinkle with a good amount of the sea salt. Top with a couple of forkfuls of the onions. Season again with the sea salt, if desired. 
Serve and enjoy! 

4.09.2015

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits



Cheddar Garlic Biscuits 

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
In a large bowl, combine Bisquick with 4 tablespoons of the butter using a pastry cutter. 
Add the milk, dried parsley flakes and the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. 
Spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. 
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, garlic powder and Old Bay. Heat until melted. Spoon or brush the butter mixture over the hot biscuits. 

Tyrokafteri (Spicy Feta Cheese Spread with Pepperoncini and Olive Oil)



Tyrokafteri (Spicy Feta Cheese Spread with Pepperoncini and Olive Oil)

1/2 lb of good-quality feta cheese (I used barrel-aged Arahova feta found in Greek specialty stores)
1-2 pepperoncini peppers, chopped or 1/4 to 1/3 cup hot banana pepper slices, drained very well and chopped
Olive oil

Pat feta dry with a paper towel and place in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, break feta up into creamy chunks. 
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chopped peppers and sauté until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and allow to cool. 
Once cooled, add the peppers and the oil they were sautéed in to the feta. Stir well to combine, adding olive oil, a little at a time until you get the desired consistency. 
Serve at room temperature with toasted baguette slices or pita chips. 


3.14.2015

Fresh-Cut French Fries



Fresh-Cut French Fries 

4 to 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 
1 cup good-quality olive oil, preferably Greek
Salt

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. You can test the oil by dipping the tip of one of the potatoes in the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready. 
Add the potatoes to the oil, lower the heat to medium and fry until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt while still hot. Serve and enjoy!


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Okay....so let me start out by saying - I am not fond of baking. Mainly because I don't particularly like measuring anything and with baking you have to measure EVERYTHING! But I love red velvet cupcakes and so does Billy. They are his favorite. I'll let you in on a little secret......I'm more into the cream cheese frosting than the actual cupcake, but that's between you and me...lol! 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting 

For the cupcake batter - 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

For the cream cheese frosting - 

4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with liners. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and best until well incorporated.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color. Reduce theixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining buttermilk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes then remove from pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. 

To make the frosting - Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.


Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker 

3.02.2015

Butter Poached Chicken with Peppers and Kasseri Cheese

Okay....let me start out by saying - I hate peppers. HATE peppers. My hate for them is right up there with radishes and lettuce. 
With that being said...my husband and I took a ride to my parents house yesterday, in the snow, for dinner. When my dad got home, he called me in to the kitchen and started to show me how to make this chicken dish. I admit, I did not have high expectations for this especially because it only has 6 ingredients...none of which are garlic or onions. Plus it has peppers...green, red and yellow peppers. Who wants to eat that?!?! 
So...45 minutes later, our chicken dish is done. My dad, being all proud, tells me that I could take pictures of it, if I wanted to (he's so cute sometimes). We sit down, he serves us, and the first words out of my husband's mouth are - Oh wow! 
And he was right...OH WOW! It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. And remember from earlier....I hate peppers! LOL! 



Butter Poached Chicken with Peppers and Kasseri Cheese

1 whole small free-range chicken, cut up
1 of each green, red and yellow pepper, chopped
1 - 15 oz can crushed tomatoes, plus 2 cans water or enough to cover the chicken 
4 oz fresh Greek butter or 1 1/2 sticks regular butter
1 box tubitini pasta
Salt and ground black pepper 
Freshly shredded Kasseri cheese

In a large pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken and cook in the butter until slightly brown. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chopped peppers, crushed tomato and water to the pot, cover, lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for 30 minutes. 
Remove the chicken and set aside. You may need to add a little more water to the pot.
Add the tubitini to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pot, cover and turn off the heat. The pasta will continue to cook in the pot. Let it sit for another 5 to 10 minutes. 
Sprinkle some Kasseri cheese on a large serving platter. Pour the chicken and tubitini over the cheese. Top with a little more cheese and serve! 


2.24.2015

Oh So Good Broccoli Cheese Soup



Oh So Good Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 - 16 oz bag frozen broccoli 
florets
4 cups chicken stock
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 - 12 oz block Velveeta, cubed
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I use mild but you can use sharp)
Ground white pepper

In a large saucepan, boil the broccoli in the chicken stock for about 15 minutes. 
In a large deep skillet, sauté the onions in the margarine until soft, about 10 minutes. 
Add the flour and mix to form a thick paste. Gradually add in the milk, stirring until combined and thickened. Add mixture to the broccoli mixture. Stir to combine. Lower heat and add the Velveeta, stirring until melted, being careful not to let the soup boil. Add the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until blended. Season with the ground white pepper. 
Serve hot........with garlic bread...yummy! 



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