Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cream Cheese Pepper Jam Puffs

Appetizer
Cream Cheese Pepper Jam Puffs
 
 
     Since it is still the holiday season I thought I would post another simple and fantastic appetizer recipe for those parties we all have to host or go to. This idea came to me from another dish that I have found at many office parties. You know the one, someone brings a block of cream cheese, spreads some pepper jam on top, and serves it with some crackers spread around it. So easy and one of the best things I like to eat at a party. I thought why not switch it up a bit and turn it into an easy and bite size appetizer that everyone can enjoy. Cream Cheese Pepper Jam Puffs.
 
Ingredients:
 
  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry sheets
  • 1 pack cream cheese
  • 1 jar pepper jam
 
1. Cut puff pastry sheets into 2 inc squares.
 
2. In a mini muffin pan spray some cooking spray and press in each square of puff pastry.
 
3. Take a spoon and drop a dollop of cream cheese into each puff pastry cup.
 
4. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until pastry has browned around edges.
 
5. Remove, let cool, and drop a dollop of pepper jam on top of each bite.
 
     These are so quick, easy, and will definitely be a favorite at your next holiday party.
 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 5-10 +
 

 
Appetizer

Appetizer


Monday, December 7, 2015

Pollock Over Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Red-Pepper-Sauce
Red Pepper Sauce

     Not much to say about this dish. I was craving fish and wanted an interesting sauce to accompany it. So here goes; My Pollock over spicy red pepper sauce.

Ingredients:
  • 2 fillets of Pollock
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • olive oil

1. In a large skillet over high heat drizzle some olive oil and saute diced red bell pepper and green onion until soft.

2. Add in garlic and saute until fragrant.

3. Remove from heat and place in a blender. Add pinch of cayenne, cumin, lime juice and water and
pulse until smooth.

4. Pour mixture back into skillet.

5. Salt and pepper your Pollock fillets. Place in skillet and cover and simmer in pepper sauce for about 8-10 minutes or until flaky and done.

      Delicious, spicy, flavorful, and very healthy. This fish dish was fantastic and the sauce would go good with any type of fish.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2





Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Giving Thanks" Pasta

Thanksgiving-Pasta
Giving Thanks Pasta


     Ok so this dish was inspired by the chef at the restaurant I work at. He had one evening during a wine tasting dinner created this wonderful creamed corn sauce  that he served  under a chicken drumette. The sauce was so great we thought why not  make it into a sauce over pasta? So when I was hosting a "Thanksgiving" kind of night for some coworkers we thought why not take that sauce, add some turkey, and serve it over the pasta as our entrée for the evening? And that is exactly what I did. The sauce and pasta were very light but packed for of flavor. Now what  I mean about light in flavor was that it was overpowering or had too much of one flavor. It was soft on the pallet and very delicious. Hope you enjoy this "Giving Thanks" Pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large boneless turkey breast diced into bite size pieces
  • 6 slices of bacon diced
  • 1/2 small white onion diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tbs thyme
  • 1 diced garlic clove
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup shredded Romano cheese
  • Salt/pepper
  • Pasta of choice

1. In a large skillet brown the diced bacon until begins to brown.

2. Toss in onion and saute.

3. Toss in garlic and saute until fragrant.

4. Pour in white wine and reduce.

5. Toss in diced turkey and brown.

6. Pour in cream and thyme and bring to a slow simmer.

7. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes on low.

8. Toss in corn kernels and shredded Romano cheese, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.

9. Salt and pepper to taste.

10. Serve over favorite pasta. (We used fresh homemade as that is what my coworkers requested).

     This dish was so good that everyone was "Giving Thanks" for the soon to be holiday season as well as a night off from work. (wink wink).

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook  Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pork And Cream Cheese Wontons

wonton
Pork Cream Cheese Wontons
 
 

     It is nearing the holiday seasons and I was having a sort of “blog block” with coming up with some ideas for posts. My coworker and friend gave me the idea to come up with some appetizer ideas that could be perfect for holiday entertaining. So here goes. I attempted my first ever wonton recipe. I thought why not do a pork and cream cheese stuffed wonton and add a couple of easy  dipping sauces. This was really easy and had so many flavors that I am sure if you give it a try your holiday party will be a blast with such good appetizers. Pork and Cream Cheese Wontons

 

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • Small bundle green onion
  • 2 packages of cream cheese softened
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • ½ tbs garlic powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Dipping sauce of choice, (I chose a combination of soy and sweet and sour sauce as well as soy and mango chutney).

 

1.       Brown pork in large sauté pan until cooked through.

2.       Combine chopped green onion, cream cheese, and drained ground pork in a large mixing bowl.

3.       Sprinkle in the Chinese 5 spice powder, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Mix well until smooth and combined.

4.       Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

5.       Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

6.       Place a small dollop of filling into center of each wonton wrapper.

7.       Fold over either into little pockets or diamond shapes.

8.       Lay on baking dish and spray the tops with some cooking spray.

9.       Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

     I combined in one dish some soy and sweet and sour sauce. I also combined in another dipping dish some soy and mango chutney. I preferred the mango chutney, but whatever works for you. The flavors in the wontons were fantastic. The pork, the cheese, the hint of 5 spice powder and the onion went so well together along with dipping them into the two sauces. The flavors were fantastic and will definitely be a hit at your next holiday party.

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
 
Serves: Makes about 40 won tons.

 


wonton

wonton

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mamma's Minestra

Minestra
Mamma's Minestra


   
    Minestra, is literally one of two translations for an Italian soup, the other being zuppa. The difference is just between which one contains pasta or beans and which contains mainly a broth. Either way the difference is mostly lost here in the USA. Any soup that is Italian based that contains beans and or pasta can be called a Minestra. If the soup contains mostly broth and possibly bread it can be called Zuppa. I am sure you have heard of Minestrone, which is another Italian soup that is mostly vegetables but has its roots in the Latin word Minestra. Growing up in an Italian home we always called this dish "Minest", (Pronounced Ma-nast), "Minestra", etc. I have a few friends who also come from the same type of family and they have their own version of a "Minest". I have seen it with pasta, beans, pork, potatoes, pepperoni, and greens. A good friend of mine gave me some of her mother's leftover and told me it was "Minash", I had no clue what she was talking about, but that just shows the difference in dialects even among American Italian families. Ours was always just a beef, pasta, and bean dish. Very much different than our Pasta e Fagioli which was a tomato base or left over marinara base with beans and pasta and usually had just a little pork in it. Our Minest was beef base and does have a distinctive and different taste.

    This dish is one of those that takes only a few minutes and is so flavorful that it always reminds me of my mother. Since it is becoming colder here in WV, it is one of those soups that I will be making at least a couple times of month. So quick and easy but full of flavor that it will definitely warm you up on those cold evenings. Mama's Minestra, (Ma-nast).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb stew beef
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 32oz beef stock
  • 1 32oz water
  • 1 15oz can kidney or pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • Salt/pepper
  • Olive Oil

1. Dice up the stew beef into bite size pieces. Salt and pepper. In a Dutch Oven over medium high heat brown the beef in a little olive oil.

2. Chop up the onion and toss in and saute.

3. Pour in the beef stock and water.

4. Bring to simmer and toss in the drained diced tomatoes.

5. Simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes

6. Drain and toss in the beans.

7. Cook for another 10 minutes.

8. Stir in the pasta and cook until done.

9. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

     So quick and easy you will definitely be making this easy Italian Minest right away. Enjoy!


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 5 +

Minestra

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leona O'Connor Binns' Brandy Bread Pudding

Bread-Pudding
Leona O'Connor Binns' Brandy Bread Pudding
 
 
 
     For his recipe I decided to go back to my Grandmother Binns. An extremely talented, friendly, and well rounded Irish woman. She was a tough bird let me tell you. She raised ten children, got a college education, worked as a teacher in the school, and still was able to put dinner on the table every night. I remember her fondly. Every Sunday after mass the entire family would arrive at her house for Sunday breakfast. She made it all. Eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, grapefruit, coffee, etc.; it was all there. She not only fed just me and my siblings but all of the cousins. It was a spectacular event when any of the twenty three first cousins and family where in town. The kitchen was so full that tables had to be placed all throughout the living room and dining room just to hold all of us. Even the priest and nun were presented at times. Those were some great times. As an Irish woman she cooked a lot of the traditional foods of her culture. I have recreated a few of them on her before. When trying to come up with another I had to ask my father and aunt about some dishes I had never had before but that they remembered fondly. One in particular was her bread pudding. After compiling all the ingredients that she used I had the help of my chef at the restaurant I work at to provide me with a simple recipe for the bases of a good bread pudding. Grandma Binns' pudding had a combination of flavors in it. She used peaches, raisins, and some brandy to help create a wonderful array of flavors in your mouth. She even went as far as to create a meringue that she topped the whole thing. Leona O'Connor Binns' Brandy Bread Pudding.
 
Ingredients:
 
  • 3/4 a loaf of stale French bread
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 15 oz can peaches drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup sugar
 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 
2. Cut French bread into halves, then half again and cut into little square chunks and set in large bowl.
 
3. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a bowl.
 
4. In a sauce pot scald cream over high heat.
 
5. Combine egg yolks and sugar mixture together in bowl and whisk until pale yellow.
 
6. Temper cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
 
7. Pour egg/cream mixture into bread bowl and combine and let sit to cool for 30 minutes.
 
8. Dice up into chunks the peaches and mix into bread custard bowl.
 
9. In another sauce pan pour raisins and brandy and simmer over medium high heat to cook off some of the alcohol and hydrate the raisins.
 
10. Drain raisins and combine into the bread mixture.
 
11. In a 9 x 13 greased glass pan pour bread mixture. Sit pan inside a larger glass pan and pour water in around the bread pudding pan to create a water bath around and bake covered with tinfoil for 45 minutes until the pudding has settled.
 
12. Meanwhile take the egg whites and mix with a hand mixer until stiff peaks have form. Combine the other 1/2 cup sugar to flavor the meringue.
 
13. Remove pudding from oven, pour the left over cooked brandy over the top of the pudding, spread with the meringue and place back in the oven uncovered and not inside the water bath to brown the meringue for about 15 minutes.
 
14. Let cool before serving.
 
     This bread pudding was so light and crisp it was amazing how delicious it was. The flavors of the peaches, raisins, brandy, were all light and not overpowering that you can eat a couple pieces before feeling guilty for eating such a rich dessert. It definitely brought back memories to my aunt and father that they had not had in over 30 years.
 
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 4-5
 

Grandma Binns, (Leona) and I 
 

Bread-Pudding

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Campfire Chili

Chili
Campfire Chili


     It is fall here in WV and the leaves are starting to change, festivals are beginning, and the air is becoming more crisp. What better dish to make for the change in the season then a good pot of chili. This chili is so easy and packed full of flavor that everyone who tries it will fall in love. It can be made quickly in a pot on the stove or even in a crockpot if you do not have time to sit and watch it. Campfire Chili.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cans of water
  • 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 2 diced chili peppers
  • 1 1/2 tbs chili powder
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • Salt/ Pepper

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown your beef and sausage over medium heat.

2. Stir in diced white onion, garlic, and green bell pepper and cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pour in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water, peppers, chili powder, red wine, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Bring to a simmer.

4. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes.

5. Drain and toss in the kidney and black beans. Simmer on low for another 20 minutes.

6. Serve.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves: 4+

             Delicious and full of flavor. Campfire Chili will become your favorite.

Chili

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Praiano Shrimp Gnocchi

Shrimp-Gnocchi
Praiano Shrimp Gnocchi
 
     Sitting on the same cobblestone patio where I had my taste of stuffed zucchini flowers. The air is sweet with the smell of lemons and flowers. There is a breeze coming off the ocean below. The sun is about to set and the sky is filled with the most beautiful colors of red, orange, and yellow. The music playing overhead is that of an accordion that is softly putting me in a relaxing state. I had just finished the zucchini flowers and am taking a nice lengthy sip from my wine glass. The lovely lady brings me a dish and gently sits it in front of me. I beautiful plate of gnocchi with fresh prawns gently lining the parameter of the dish. The sauce is so light and barely looks as if it is even on the plate. It is the color of light orange and glistens in the sunlight. The smell is that of fresh peppers with hints of lemon. I take my first bite and fall deeply in love. I call this dish Praiano Shrimp Gnocchi.
 
Ingredients:
 
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Small fresh diced basil
  • Small fresh diced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic

1. Take the orange bell pepper and place it in the broiler or on a grill to roast and blacken the outer skin.

2. Once blackened remove and place in a brown paper bag so as to steam the rest of the pepper. Peel the skin off and place in a blender.

3. Add a drizzle of olive oil and puree the pepper until you have a smooth peppered liquid.

4. In a large saute pan drizzle a bit of olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant.

5. Mix in the pepper puree, tomato juice, and white wine. Bring to a slow simmer and cook until the
liquid has reduced by half.

6. Juice as much from the lemon as possible and place into the pan.

7. Place your peeled and deveined shrimp into the pan.

8. Stir in the diced basil, cover, and simmer until the shrimp have cooked through.

9. Toss with homemade gnocchi and sprinkle some fresh parsley over top.

     This was such a good dish and tasted just like I remember from that balcony in Praiano. A sweet tasting sauce, light, with flavors of the roasted pepper, the lemon accent, and the fresh shrimp. It was amazing. Give it a try.

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min.
Serves: 2-4


Original Dish in Praiano

Shrimp-Gnocchi


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blackend Tuna With Fresh Tomato Relish


Blackened-Tuna
Blackened Tuna

 
      I bought these great tuna steaks at my local market and really wanted to make a blackened fish dish and top it with  a fresh tomato and basil type of relish . Blackening seasoning is easy to make. It just takes a few almost equal part ingredients to make a delicious seasoning. If you do not have all these in your spice rack, you can simply buy a good one at your local store. I had some fresh cherry tomatoes, both orange and red, and of course still have plenty of fresh basil. Grill the fish on both sides, broil quickly, and then serve with the fresh sautéed tomato basil mixture and viola, a fantastic fish dish. Blackened Tuna.


Ingredients:
  • 1-2 tuna steaks
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Diced basil
  • White wine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/ Pepper
Blackening seasoning:

  • 2  tbs paprika
  • 2 tbs cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1tsp seasoning salt
  • (Makes enough for this recipe with just a little left over)

1. Take your fresh tuna steaks and pat them dry.
2. Mix all blackening ingredients together. Sprinkle some blackening seasoning on both sides of the tuna steaks.
3. In a large sauté pan or on a grill brown the steaks on both sides for about 1 minute each side.
4. Remove and set steaks in broiler just to cook for about 3 minutes. (I like my tuna steaks rare).

5. In same sauté pan, toss in the tomatoes, chopped basil, garlic, and some white wine. Sauté until just warmed through.
6. Serve steaks with a spoon full of the tomato basil on top.

 

     This was a surprisingly fresh, healthy, and delicious seafood dish. I loved it. I gave some to my friend and they loved it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2
 
Blackened-Tuna
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Creamy Rosemary Chicken

Rosemary-Chicken
Creamy Rosemary Chicken
 
 
 

     I am not going to bore you with a story regarding this dish. It was just something I came up with at the last minute to utilize some left over cut zucchini, squash, eggplant, and peppers. I was craving something creamy and delicious with chicken.  Creamy Rosemary Chicken.

Ingredients:
 
  • 1-2 boneless chicken breasts
  • Sliced eggplant
  • Sliced zucchini
  • Sliced squash
  • Sliced peppers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 sprig rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
 
1. In a large saute pan drizzle some olive oil.
 
2. Salt and pepper your chicken and brown on both sides. Remove
 
3. In same skillet saute the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and peppers.
 
4. Add in diced garlic and white wine. Simmer until the wine has begun to half.
 
5. Place chicken back in. Pour in heavy cream and rosemary.
 
6. Bring to simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionaly.
 
7. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice or pasta.
 
     This was an amazing and delicious dish. Easily made one weeknight and definitely has become a favorite. Enjoy!
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Italian Roma Beans

Roma-Beans
Roma Beans
 

     Italian Roma beans are a flat wide green bean that I have grown up with and is always in my mother’s house or in my own. The do not different much from regular green beans, however are just much wider and flatter. My family has always served them as a typical side dish with meats and pastas. The taste is so good and the time it takes to make them is very easy. Just add a little olive oil and fresh garlic, sauté, and serve. Viola!, a simple and yet very delicious side dish you can serve with any meal. This will quickly become your go-to way of cooking green beans and hopefully you give Roma beans a try.
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 - 1 lb Roma Beans
  • Olive Oil
  • Water
  • 1 lg clove garlic


1. Make sure you pick and snap both ends of the fresh Roma  beans

2. Rinse and place in a pot just covered enough with water.

3. Simmer on high heat for about 30 minutes or longer until just tender

4. Remove from water. In same pot drizzle about a  1/3 cup olive oil.

5. Toss in about a full large clove of diced garlic. Toss the beans in the oil and garlic.

6. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes until fragrant and even more tender.

(Hint: continue to watch so not to burn the garlic)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45-60  minutes
Serves: 2-4


Roma-Beans

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simple Bolognese

 
Bolognese
Bolognese
 
 

     Bolognese, or ragu' alla Bolognese, is a traditional meat based sauce from the Bologna area of Italy. In the United States most people typically think of this sauce as a standard sauce to put on spaghetti. Typically we just call it “spaghetti sauce” or “meat sauce”, however in Italy and in any typical Italian American home there is no such thing. Any sauce you place on spaghetti can be called spaghetti sauce. Sauces are made specifically without the name of the pasta you are placing it on. In Italy Bolognese is typically served with a thick wide noodle called Tagliatelle. However in this recipe I just used simple rigatoni pasta and made a quick and simple Bolognese sauce with some already made from fresh tomatoes marinara. The dish is not one of my favorite, I typically do not chose a meat sauce, however is good in its own right. I hope this clears up the differences to sauces in Italy. I hate seeing in the stores marinara labeled as “Spaghetti sauce” or one labeled “Meat sauce”. It burns me badly. LOL. So anyways here is a quick and delicious take on Bolognese sauce.

Ingredients:
 
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground sausage
  • 2 cups marinara
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 stalk finely diced celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
 
1. In large skillet brown both beef and sausage until cooked through. Sit aside to drain.
 
2. In same skillet in a bit of olive oil saute the onion and celery until translucent.
 
3. Toss in garlic and saute until fragrant.
 
4. Place meat mixture back in and stir in the marinara.
 
5. Toss in the bay leaf and simmer covered on low for about 15 minutes.
 
6. Serve with tagliatelle or any pasta of your choice.
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 2-4
 
 

 
Bolognese
 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Ratatouille
 
 
     What is ratatouille? Have you seen that cartoon movie with the little rat? Well, they end up making this famous traditional French stewed vegetable side dish. Beautifully presented as layers and packed full of flavor, this dish is so easy and delicious that you will make it as much as possible. Especially if you have a garden full of fresh vegetables, this dish is easy to make and will feed a lot of your family. I was surprised how quick and easy this dish was. I was also surprised it turned out so pretty too. Ratatouille.
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 2 orange bell peppers
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 1/2 12 oz can tomato sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onion powder
  • Olive oil
  • Herb de Provence
  • Goat cheese

 

1.       Slice all vegetables into ½ inch thick slices. Slice pepper into ½ slice rings. You can even cut them in half if they do not fit the same size.

2.       Take half can of tomato sauce and pour into 9x13 pan.

3.       Sprinkle some garlic and onion powder

4.       Begin layering each vegetable in a sequence until all has been used up or no more room. (See picture)

5.       Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle some Herb de Provence.

6.       Cover with parchment paper or tinfoil.
 
7.       Bake covered for 45 minutes in 375 degree oven.

8.       Sprinkle with some fresh goat cheese and serve.

     That is it! Simple delicious and full of flavor. A simple French dish that anyone can make and will not be intimidating to do.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4+

Ratatouille
 
Ratatouille
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Momma's Macaroni Salad


Macaroni-Salad
Momma's Macaroni Salad
 
 
     What says summer better than an old fashioned BBQ? Right! You gather together with friends or family. Everyone prepares something. There is the chicken, burgers or dogs on the grill, the potato salad, the fries and the brews, but what about the favorite standby of macaroni salad? Who is going to make it this year? Is it mom with her amazing yet so simple recipe or your best friend? How about you this time! Well here is a simple yet delicious recipe that is actually my mother’s. She has always made this. So easy and so delicious that once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. This macaroni salad will definitely become your go to dish for summer gatherings and picnics. Please enjoy my Momma’s Macaroni Salad.

 

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup uncooked macaroni pasta
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 4 small sweet pickles
  • 1 tomato
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup miracle whip
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • salt/pepper
  • dash of paprika

1.       Cook macaroni as directed and rinse under cold water

2.       Boil egg and dice up

3.       Dice tomato and pickle up into small chunks

4.       In a large bowl combine macaroni, egg, pickle and tomato

5.       Mix in the miracle whip, yellow mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

6.       Dash some paprika on top for looks.

Simple, delicious, and will definitely become your macaroni salad favorite. Enjoy!
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
 
 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Flatbread

Flatbread
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Flatbread



     This recipe was inspired by a friend of mine on Google+ Brittany M who had created some wonderful looking flatbread recipes. I wanted something that I had sort of had out in California on my last trip out there in February to visit some family and friends and to just get away from the blistering cold that is West Virginia in the winter. I had had this wonderful simple caramelized onion and ham recipe at my friend Andrea’s mother’s house. We had gone over there to visit her as it was the first time I was meeting her mother. She had some wine for us and this delicious little baked flatbread as we sat in the living room and chatted and got to know each other. Upon arriving back in West Virginia I had been craving this simple dish but kept putting it off until I could find the time to create it and find a good flatbread recipe that wouldn’t be difficult. Low and behold my friend on one of my food communities had posted one and was very generous enough to give me her recipe.

     This simple and easy flatbread is so good either right out of the oven or the next day as a simple snack out of the fridge. The creaminess from the ricotta, the sweetness from the honey and caramelized onions and the saltiness from the bacon add the perfect combination of flavors in one bite. The most time consuming part of this recipe is standing there and caramelizing the onions but it is so worth it. Please enjoy my take on Bacon and Caramelized Onion Flatbread.

Ingredients:

Flatbread recipe:

 Serves: Makes 2 flatbreads
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. granulated-sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
 
Directions:
1. Combine yeast and water in mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let stand a minute or two.
2. Add in flour (start with 2 ½ cups and add in more if needed), salt, sugar and oil. And start mixing.
3. Mix to combine, about 2-3 minutes. If dough is sticky add in remaining flour, and continue mixing for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
4. Place in an oil bowl and cover with plastic and let sit 30 minutes.
( I cut the recipe in half to make only one flatbread)

(Brittany M’s link to her website below)

Topping:
 
  • roughly 8oz ricotta
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • salt/pepper
  • honey
  • olive oil
  • 7 slices bacon
  • 1/2 white onion diced

1.       In a large skillet brown and cook bacon until crispy and remove and drain on paper towel lined plate.

2.       In same skillet sauté diced onions on low heat until nice and brown and the caramelized has finished. (Hint: I add a little sprinkle of sugar to help out the process)

3.       Take ricotta cheese and mix in a bowl with a little salt, pepper, pinch of thyme powder, pinch of rosemary, and drizzle of honey.

4.       Now I rolled out the dough for the flatbread, drizzled a bit of olive oil over. Dimpled with my finger tips and spread the ricotta mixture over top.

5.       Placed the onions and crumbled bacon evenly over the top of the ricotta mixture.

6.       Placed in a 400 degree oven and baked for about 25 minutes until the flatbread was crisp and brown. Drizzle with some honey and serve once cooled.

     This flatbread was so good and had to share it with my friends down at the river the next day. I would possibly recommend cooking the flatbread a bit before placing the toppings on just to make sure the crispiness was even. Fantastic dish and very appreciative to Brittany for giving me the recipe and to Andrea and her mother for serving it to me the first time.

 Prep Time Total: 1 hour ½
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Serves: 2-4

 

Brittany M’s blog: http://cookingwithbrittany.com/


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed-Zucchini-Flowers
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
 

 
     The sun has begun to set over the Mediterranean Sea. It is slowly sinking under the cover that is the blue green ocean of a blanket. The sky is a beautiful collage of reds and oranges. You are perched just comfortably at a little table overlooking the scene on a little white balcony. You can hear the sound of the waves gently hitting the rocks and cliffs below. A few boats are still out in the bay drifting by and you can faintly hear them buzzing. A soft accordion music is playing from inside the cobble stoned restaurant. There  is a sweet smell of fresh flowers and lemons in the air. No it is not coming from an arrangement on your table but rather the natural smell of the tiny village you have decided to claim. A lemon tree sits beside your table along with the fresh flowers growing on the side of the cliff that tickle your nose. The air is warm and a bit humid but with the breeze coming in off the water it is fresh and calming. You take a small sip from the wine glass that has been given to you by the lovely dark haired waitress that greeted you. What could be  more perfect? And then it happens…. The lovely dark haired lady is returning to your table and bringing you a small plate with what looks like some fried little sticks. She lays them in front of you and gently says, “Boun Appetito”. You respond with a nervous, “Grazie” as she saunters away smiling. You take a bite and the most wonderful thing happens. Your mouth is met with a fantastic combination of the cheese and herbs stuffed inside and the crispiness from the coating. You savor the taste of this simple appetizer  that you cannot wait to eat more of it. You sit back, smile, and know that you are in heaven.

     Stuffed Zucchini Flowers; this is what I think of  when I eat, Stuffed Zucchini Flowers. I had them on one of my trips to Italy. Specifically the Amalfi coast which is the description above. Now as it turns out, my mother and grandmother used to make this a lot, but low and behold they never did for me and my siblings. (A nice little piece of information I would have liked to have known as  a child). My mother says that grandma just stopped making them and she did too. Just one of the things I guess they decided to not continue down the tradition line. Oh well, I digress. Either way, they are now being brought back to the family. Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Ingredients:

  • 24 zucchini flowers
  • 1/2 block of cream cheese
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbs Italian herb seasoning, (I just used a combo bottle of basil, oregano, garlic, parsley, etc)
  • lemon juice
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup flower
  • 1 cup water

1. Rinse and remove the outer green around the base of the flowers and remove the inner stamen. (Be care not to break through the blossoms.


 
2. Paper dry the blossoms until all the water is gone

3. Combine the softened cream cheese, ricotta, and herb mixture together. Taste and add salt and pepper for your flavor and a little lemon juice.

4. Now carefully stuff a bit of the mixture into each blossom. You can use a pastry bag so as to make it easier.



5. Combine the flour and water mixture and add a little salt. Carefully take each zucchini blossom and twist the ends of the petals together to seal the inside mixture and dredge each one in the flour water mixture. Let excess drain off.

6. Now in a deep fryer or in a skillet with about 2 inches of oil heated over medium high heat drop a blossom into the oil one at a time. Careful not to overcrowd the oil. I usually only fry about 3 at a time.


7. Fry for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
      That's it. Simple, delicious, flavorful, and so easy to make. These brought me back to my time on the Amalfi coast. A fantastic little appetizer that everyone will love. Hope you enjoy!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4-5