December 12, 2018

Fruitcake Waffles



Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon brandy or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fruitcake mix candied fruit (I used this), cherries chopped if needed
confectioner's sugar for serving

Directions:


Prepare and heat your waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg, brandy or vanilla and milk until fluffy. Mix in the oil. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Stir in fruitcake fruit.

Pour the manufacturer's recommended amount of batter onto center of the hot waffle iron. Close lid of waffle iron. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops or the iron beeps. Carefully remove waffle. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200° oven. Repeat with remaining batter.

Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve. Garnish with additional candied fruit if desired.

Yield: about 8 Belgian-style waffles (two batches on a 4-square waffle iron)

Recipe can be doubled.


My thoughts:

Fruitcake has become such a joke in at least the United States, I'm hardpressed to say if I've ever encountered one in the wild or met anyone who admitted to liking it. It does have a reputation for being dense and old fashioned which may or may not be deserved. 

It's a shame though because the flavors of fruitcake are winners! Who doesn't like sweetened fruit and the warmness of brandy or vanilla? I decided to take those flavors and modernize them a bit. The result was these fluffy waffles. The spirit of fruitcake is still there but they are also light and fresh tasting. The perfect breakfast to put you into the holiday spirit. 


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December 10, 2018

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies



Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creme de menthe baking bits (I used these Andes chips)*
3-4 drops green food coloring
pinch salt



Directions:



Preheat the oven to 350. Line 387 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the extract. Taste and add additional extract to taste as needed. Add the eggs and food coloring and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Add additional food dye if needed. Fold in the chips. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart.



Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out on the baking mat on to a cooling rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the baking mat/parchment on the wire rack before removing them to cool directly on the wire rack.



Yield: about 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies



* I bet you could just finely chop some Andes mints and they'd work fine but I haven't tried this myself. Let me know if you do and how it turns out!


My thoughts:
I saw a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies on the Betty Crocker website that looked like fun but they called for a sugar cookie mix. Cookies are so easy and use such basic ingredients, I thought I'd make it myself from scratch.

Dying the cookies a minty green is of course totally unnecessary but it's the holidays and it calls to mind a big scoop of chocolate mint ice cream so why not? It also makes them stand out on a cookie tray so they don't get mistaken for a plain chocolate chip cookie.

As these cookies have both peppermint extract and creme de menthe bits, these are definitely cookies for the mint lover. The dark chocolate chips temper it a bit and give the cookies a bigger depth of flavor.

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December 07, 2018

How-to: Sweet & Savory Blue Cheese Boards




You can't beat a cheese board for holiday entertaining! Litehouse approached me to create a cheese board using their center cut cheese, which is cut from the center of a cheese wheel that has been aged 100 days,  and I jumped at the chance. I love having snacks for dinner and assembling cheese boards! It's so fun and satisfying and requires little to no cooking. The cheese is already in a perfect circle and the packaging makes it super easy to turn it over on to a platter so all you have to do is arrange everything else around it.

When I was pulling together items for the board, I realized I couldn't decide if I wanted to go sweet or savory. I think the rich creaminess and deep flavor of blue cheese pairs so wonderfully with both sweet/fruity and savory/smoky flavors.

Rather than decide I made two small boards that can be served together or separately and that would appeal to any blue cheese lover.  For the milder blue cheese, I paired it with a variety of sweeter accompaniments and for the more robust gorgonzola, I went with bold flavors like smoked meat and fish and mustard. I tied the two boards together by using figs and beets in both in different formats. Of course, you can serve this on one big board but I liked splitting it up to make pairings easier.

Sweet:



Litehouse Simply Artisan Blue Cheese Center Cut
brioche toasts
toasted pecans
roasted beets, cubed (can be made ahead and refrigerated)
raw honey
fig jam or fig preserves
semi-sweet chocolate squares





Savory:



Litehouse Simply Artisan Gorgonzola Center Cut
4 oz cracked black pepper cold smoked salmon
Halkidiki olives, roasted for 10 minutes with olive oil and rosemary at 350°
Truffle honey mustard
dried Mission figs
Serrano ham
beet crackers
garlic and chive pita chips



Serve both at room temperature.

December 05, 2018

Soft-Candied Cranberries


Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar


Directions:


Place the cranberries, water, and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the juices from the cranberries are fully released and the mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the mixture through a wire mesh strainer, into a heat-safe jar, measuring cup or bowl. Discard the syrup or save to make drinks. Remove the cranberries to a bowl to cool completely. Use immediately or refrigerate up to one week in an airtight container.

Yield: about 1 cup


Pro Tip: Add ginger (about 1 1/2 inch knob) for ginger infused cranberries and/or sub out the water for citrus juice for a flavor boost.
My thoughts:
I made cranberry-ginger lime rickeys over the summer and loved how the cranberries that I used to make the syrup came out-sweet and plump but still with a great cranberry flavor. Why don't we candy cranberries more often? They are nearly identical in texture to the soft-candied cherries or citron, lemon or lime that are used in making many holiday baked goods like fruitcake.

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December 03, 2018

Käsespätzle


Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb fresh or cooked dry spätzle
5 oz Emmenthaler cheese, grated



Directions:
In a large pan, caramelize the onions in butter until golden. Cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease an 8-inch round pan. Layer 1/3 of the spätzle in the bottom. Top with 1/2 of the cheese and 1/3 of the onions. Repeat with remaining spätzle, cheese, and onion, ending in onion. Bake 15 minutes or until brown and bubbly.










My thoughts:
I've been wanting to make the Austrian dish käsespätzle for a while but Emmenthaler cheese is a bit expensive so I kept putting it off. We went to the Baltimore German Christmas Market and had some great German food which reawakened my interest in German and Austrian food which has a fair amount of overlap. It is always so hardy, I feel like it's a good cuisine to explore when it is cold out.

I saw Emmenthaler cheese at Aldi for under $5, so I picked some up and finally made it. To make it easier to make on a weeknight (I also made schnitzel) I caramelized the onions the day before (they darkened up a bit overnight but I promise they were not burnt!) and assembled the whole dish in the morning so in the evening I just had to pop it in the oven. If you do this and are using a baking dish like this Fire King, make sure you set it out for a few minutes before baking so it doesn't crack in the oven.

This dish is really satisfying. Its sort of like a more savory version of mac and cheese but oddly isn't that heavy. I guess because there isn't a heavy cheese sauce, just shredded cheese and caramelized onions. Totally worth the effort and a great side to have or even a main if you served it with a salad.  Feel free to put more onions on top, I went a little heavier inside the dish and chose just to have a sprinkle on top but you can layer the onions however you'd like.



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November 26, 2018

Prosciutto and Thyme Brussels Sprouts



Ingredients:

1 small onion, quartered and sliced
6 oz cubed prosciutto
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb small Brussels sprouts, halved
1/3 cup water or stock
3-4 sprigs' worth of thyme
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

In a medium skillet, saute the prosciutto, onions, and garlic.  Add the sprouts and saute until starting to brown. Add the water or stock, salt, pepper and thyme, and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until nearly fork-tender. Remove the lid and saute until the liquid has evaporated and the Brussels sprouts have caramelized.
My thoughts:
This is one of those super simple recipes that turn out way better than you'd think. The trick is with the water/stock step. It not only speeds up the time it takes to make the Brussels sprouts by lightly steaming them, it really infuses them with the flavors of the onion, prosciutto, and thyme. Then you lift the lid, let it evaporate, and you have super flavorful caramelized sprouts. It is a wonderful side dish for this time of year, equally at home on a weeknight as it is on a holiday.

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November 19, 2018

Cuban Black Beans and Rice Casserole with Turkey and Zucchini



Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, cubed
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups cubed, cooked turkey
2 cups leftover Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)
2/3 cup extra sharp cheddar

Directions:

Grease a 2-quart baking pan or small casseroles to equal 2 quarts.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large skillet, brown the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the zucchini and onion and saute until softened. Add the turkey and rice and beans and heat through.




Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.


My thoughts:
We made a ton of Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans) for our Cuban themed Thanksgiving so I knew I had to incorporate it into my annual leftovers dish. To brighten the flavors of the leftover rice, I sauteed some bacon and used the grease to saute the zucchini and turkey. Then I stirred in the rice. I added it just enough cheese to keep it from drying out in the oven and to add a sharp flavor. If you don't have turkey, chicken would work just as well!

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November 16, 2018

Cuban Inspired Cranberry Sauce



Ingredients:

2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup homemade vanilla infused rum
1/4 cup sour orange juice
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Directions:
Simmer in a small pot until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.



My thoughts:
Since we had a Cuban themed Thanksgiving this year, it was only natural to use sour orange juice in our cranberry sauce! It is the crucial ingredient in Mojo Criollo which was the basting sauce we made and served the turkey with. As the same suggests, it is quite tart so we upped the sugar a bit more than normal. It was the perfect sweet-tart condiment the dinner needed.

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November 14, 2018

Sweet Potato Pie Empanadas




Ingredients:

for the dough:

3 cups flour
3/4 cup butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water
tablespoon sugar
pinch salt

for the filling:

2 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (cooled, can be made ahead of time)
2 eggs
1/4 cup (homemade) vanilla bean infused rum (or 1 tablespoon vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon star anise
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon



assembly:
2 eggs beaten
pearl sugar (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with silipats or parchment. Set aside.


for the dough:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms, adding water as needed. Roll out on to a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. (you can use a countertop but I love my baking mat and I feel like it is a lot less messy)

for the filling:
Mix by hand or in a mixer, throughly mix together all ingredients. Set aside.

assembly:

Cut the dough into 3-4 inch rounds (I used an empanada press similar to this one I found in a thrift shop for 25¢ but a large biscuit or cookie cutter works just fine), fill with about 2 tablespoons of filling and seal, brushing a bit of beaten egg around the edge and pinching to seal. You may end up with extra filling, discard or use to make something else.

Arrange on the cookie sheets in a single layer. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and puffy. Cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
Since we were doing a Cuban themed Thanksgiving this year, it made sense to forgo the usual pie and make empanadas. Sweet potato pie empanadas are of course not a traditional food by any sense but they sure are good! Matt came up with the filling to give it a slightly Caribbean flavor while still tasting like his favorite kind of pie. 

The directions seem long but it really is easy. Feel free to cook the potatoes ahead of time and even to make the dough the day before and they bake up much faster than a traditional pie. I think it would make a great pie alternative on any Thanksgiving table. 


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November 12, 2018

Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)




Ingredients:


1 white onion, diced
2 cubanelle peppers, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz can tomato paste
2-15 oz cans black beans (do not drain!)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups cooked white rice

Directions:


In a large pot sauté onion, cubanelle peppers and garlic in oil until translucent. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the rice and simmer until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cooked white rice until well coated. Simmer 5 additional minutes prior to serving.


My thoughts:
Every year we do a different themed Thanksgiving. One year it was Hawaiian, one year it was Polish, and even Maryland themed. This year we a Cuban theme so of course we had to make Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)! We made the recipe a little easier by mixing the white rice cooked into the bean mixture vs cooking the rice in with the beans. I feel like it yields more consistent results and if you have a rice cooker, it is so much more hands-free and easy. Perfect for the holidays! It went wonderfully with our mojo-spiked turkey and picadillo stuffing.

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October 31, 2018

Ham & Peas Baked Polenta



Ingredients:
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz Frick's sliced Gourmet Ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
2/3 cup frozen peas
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup coarse cornmeal*
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups very hot or boiling water, chicken or ham stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil an 8x8 baking dish. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the ham, and cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg, milk,  until well combined. Whisk in the cornmeal and cheese. Fold in the ham mixture and peas. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Whisk in the boiling/hot water/stock. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and whisk the mixture. Return to the oven and bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until the polenta is firm and golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the dish comes out clean.

Allow to cool 5 minutes prior to serving.


*I used Bob's Red Mill polenta; I buy it in bulk on Amazon.
My thoughts:
I came across a reference to baked polenta recently and was intrigued. I don't find polenta difficult to make but I'm always a little scared of the molten bubbles it produces when I get distracted. I've had more than one run in with scalding polenta! So baking it seemed like an easy solution. Then I had the idea to make it into a more complete meal and came up with this.

Ham and peas are a classic combination and I think they go wonderfully with polenta (or grits but I'm going for a subtle Italian vibe so it's polenta); the creaminess of the polenta is really set off by the smoky ham and fresh pea flavor. Serve with some crusty bread or a light salad and you have a meal!

I served it for dinner but I bet it would make a good breakfast or brunch dish too! It reheats very nicely in the oven. Just take it out of the fridge for about an half hour to cut down on the reheating time and to avoid cracking the dish.


This recipe is an entry in the Frick's blogger contest. Check out their website, Facebook page and Instagram.

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October 26, 2018

Ham, Pesto and Italian Cheese Stuffed Bread



Ingredients:

1 large loaf crusty Italian bread
6 slices Frick's Hickory Smoked Ham, cut each slice into 8 wedges
8 oz fresh mozzarella, grated
3-4 tablespoons fresh or bottled pesto
1 1/2 teaspoons grated Parmesan
olive oil


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the bread on the diagonal making 1/2 inch thick slices without slicing the bread all the way through. Repeat, going the opposite direction forming a cross hatch pattern.


Using a spreader or spoon, spread pesto between each cut. This scoop and spreader works perfectly for this!


Insert one wedge of ham in between each cut.


Add mozzarella between each cut. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil. Place on a baking rack and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, unwrap and sprinkle with Parmesan and return to the oven to brown, about five minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before plating and serving.


Note: Depending on the size of your loaf, you may end up with ham or mozzarella leftover.




My thoughts:
I love appetizers that look impressive and are fun to eat but are also easy to make, transport and serve. This stuffed bread hits all those points. I used smoky Frick's ham slices which worked perfectly, they are a good thickness so you can really get them in-between the cuts and have a lot of flavor. For ease's sake (and the fact that you use less than 1/4 cup), I used bottled pesto but feel free to use fresh if you'd like. Thanks to the mozzarella the mix holds together well when you tear off a chunk. It's important to use a good, crusty loaf of bread--I get mine at the local Italian market--so you can cut it 95% of the way through and still have it hold its shape. The results are worth it! Great Italian flavors and smokiness from the hickory smoked ham.

I really enjoyed this! I am not always someone who makes an appetizer but this one was so easy and so flavorful, I can see making this again and again.


This recipe is an entry in the Frick's blogger contest. Check out their website, Facebook page and Instagram.
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October 10, 2018

Parmesan Pork Chop Sheet Pan Supper with Delicata Squash and Mushrooms




Ingredients:

4 thick cut boneless pork chops
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 delicata squash, sliced into rings, seeds removed
8 oz crimini mushrooms
1 small red onion, cut into wedges
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.

Place the breadcrumbs, 1/2 of the Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, and the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Dredge the pork chops in the mixture. Place on the baking sheet. (I placed them on a single silicone baking rack similar to this one to help promote even cooking but they can be placed directly on the baking sheet)

Arrange the squash and onions in a single layer. Top with mushrooms. Drizzle the vegetables lightly with oil, sprinkle with remaining Italian seasoning,  salt, and pepper.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pork chops are fully cooked. Served immediately.


My thoughts:

This was another surprise hit! I really didn't feel like dinner so something like this seemed like the way to go; everything cooks at once and minimal fuss. I didn't even bother dredging the pork chops in egg first. Who knew it would turn out so well?

The hardest part was seeding the squash but once I cut it into rings, I used a biscuit cutter to cut out the centers so that went pretty quickly. I love delicata squash, it is super tender and you can eat the skin. I hate peeling bumpy squash! Technically it is a summer squash but since it is in season in the fall, it often characterized as a winter squash.

The whole dish just really pulled together and was as flavorful as it was easy. All of the ingredients cook for the same amount of time so you can really just prep, stick it in the oven and walk away unlike a lot of sheet pan meals that require ingredients that have to be tended to or added at different intervals. The pork was particularly juicy and flavorful. Even the leftovers were great. Perfect weeknight dinner.

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October 01, 2018

Pineapple-Coconut Kiss Macaroons



Ingredients:

7-oz unsweetened grated coconut
12 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple*
24 (unwrapped) Hershey's Kisses Pineapple Coconut Flavors Of Hawaii Edition


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the Kisses thoroughly. Form into small balls (or use a medium-sized cookie scoop) and place 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Slide the macaroons out ON the parchment paper onto the wire racks. Press a Kiss in the middle of each macaroon. Cool completely.


NOTE: the candies will become very, very soft once they are placed on the macaroon. If you want them to keep their "Kiss" shape, do not touch or move them until they are completely cool and set, about 1 1/2-2 hrs. Alternately, you could press down on the top of each Kiss to flatten into more of a "filled" effect.

Yield: about 2 dozen


*I used about 1/3 cup of this candied pineapple to yield 1/4 cup chopped.

My thoughts:
Saturday we spent the afternoon at Hersheypark. I went there a bunch as a child but it's been years! It was lovely weather--one of the nice few days we've since spring but so very, very crowded. Luckily we are not ride people so we mostly walked around, ate lunch and I was able to cross off playing skeeball from my summer goals list.

We also stopped off in Chocolate World, where you can get a virtual tour of a chocolate factory, prepared food and tons of everything Hershey makes. Chocolate World was also a zoo but were able to pick up some fun candy (including Hershey-ettes for my dad who is probably the only person who prefers them to M & Ms) and baking bits. My husband picked up these Pineapple Coconut Kisses impulsively at the check out line (left unattended, ha!) without realizing that they weren't milk or dark chocolate. We thought they were tasty but not something we'd want to eat by the handful.

I immediately thought of making Kiss cookies like I have in the past but then I thought, why not macaroons? So easy to make yet so tasty and very appropriate flavor-wise. I had some candied pineapple on hand so I chopped that up and in it went! Instead of using the typical sweetened flaked coconut, I used unsweetened because I worried that between the sweet pineapple-coconut candy, the candied pineapple, and the sweetened condensed milk, it would be too sweet. I think I made the correct choice but feel free to sub in sweetened flaked coconut if you'd like.

The resulting macaroon has a great tropical coconut-pineapple flavor that is welcome any time of the year! The candy adds a nice note of creaminess and of course, coconut-pineapple to the mix. Just a really fun, easy dessert that any coconut fan would like.

One note: if you can't find these Kisses (although I have seen them at various chain stores and online) try it with white, milk or dark chocolate Kiss or even leave them off altogether, the macaroon is delicious on its own merits.

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September 20, 2018

Reuben-Inspired Twice Baked Potatoes




Ingredients:

4 large Russet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
2 1/2 tablespoons minced dill pickles OR dill relish
1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cup chopped corned beef*
3/4 cup sauerkraut
2/3 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyère
freshly ground black pepper



Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Bake potatoes one hour or until fully cooked. Half each potato and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Place the empty skins openside up on a foil-lined baking sheet.


Add the pickles, tomato paste, pepper and sour cream to the bowl with the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash until well combined. Add the corned beef and stir well mixed.





Scoop the mixture into the skins. Divide the sauerkraut among each potato half, top with cheese.



Bake 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the potatoes are hot. Serve immediately.


*I cooked mine for 8-10 hrs on low in the slow cooker, covered in water.

My thoughts:

I had this idea a few months ago but it was just too hot to bake potatoes. We finally had a few cool days so I used that an as an excuse to make this riff on the popular, totally no Kosher deli sandwich, the Reuben. Ruebens normally have corned beef, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and rye bread. I ditched the rye bread (I did toy with having rye bread crumbs but decided against it) but kept pretty much everything else. Instead of the Russian dressing I've made when I've made the sandwich, I tossed in the two ingredients that influence the flavor the most, pickled and tomato, and mixed it with the potatoes and sour cream. Adding the corned beef was easy. I debated about mixing the sauerkraut in but I left it on top and I think it was the best choice. It really did end up tasting more like a Reuben that way; in the sandwich, there are very distinct layers and you taste each one individually so it makes sense!

The end result was a triumph, it really did taste like a Rueben, the potato was perfectly flavored and creamy and the toppings nicely browned and slightly crunchy. I made the corned beef  "fresh" but it would also be a great way to use up leftovers.


Note: corned beef can be tricky to find but Aldi seems to carry it most of the year and most supermarkets will order it for you if they don't have it in stock. I personally buy a bunch when it is super cheap near St Patrick's Day and freeze it. It freezes and defrosts wonderfully.

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September 17, 2018

Cheesy Zucchini Pimento Casserole




Ingredients

1 1/3 lb (about 3 medium) zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick half moons
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
5 oz shredded gruyere, divided use
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.


Place the zucchini in the prepared pan. Steam the zucchini until just tender. I used a steamer pot like this one and steamed it for roughly 4 minutes. Drain (if needed) and allow to cool.


In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pimentos, milk, and spices Stir in the onions and 3/4 of the cheese. Pour over the zucchini.


Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese then bread crumbs. Bake 35 minutes, until bubbly and browned.





My thoughts:
Zucchini season is still in full swing! Honestly, the zucchini we've had this year has been the best out of all of the local produce. The peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, and corn that I wait for all year have been either just fine or downright inedible. My old pal, zucchini, however, had been quite tasty.

One thing I like to do is make a slightly labor intensive dish like then when I am making a super easy main (ahem, hot dogs) so I'm not torn in so many directions for a weeknight dinner. I made this dish up on the fly like I have so many dishes lately. I had stocked up on pimentos to make pimento cheese (jarred chopped pimentos can be oddly difficult to find locally) and accidentally knocked a jar to the floor breaking the seal. Rather than making pimento cheese, I took it as a sign to try something different with it. Pimentos have a great mix of heat and sweetness and were perfectly paired with similarly lightly sweet zucchini. The whole dish was homey and satisfying, with just the right amount of cheese and eggs for it all to hold together. It's definitely making its way into regular rotation. The leftovers held up well reheated in the oven.

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September 13, 2018

Triple Pepper Pork Chops


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Mazola® Corn Oil . All opinions are mine alone. #MakeItMazola #simpleswap #CollectiveBias
With cholesterol-blocking plant sterols, neutral-tasting Mazola® Corn Oil is a heart-healthy choice for salad dressings, marinades and more. A clinical study showed Mazola® Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, see Mazola.com.


Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb lean, boneless pork chops (about 4-5 pork chops)
2 Hatch Green Chiles*, sliced into strips
3 shishito peppers, sliced into strips
2 large jalapeño peppers, sliced into strips
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
 1/2 cup Mazola® Cooking Oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Place all ingredients in a resealable plastic bag or marinating container. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.




When you are ready to cook, prepare a grill pan according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place the pork chops, onions and peppers on the grill in a single layer and grill 2-3 minutes on each side until fully cooked and grill marks appear.




Remove to a paper towel-lined platter (the peppers release a lot of liquid). If necessary, repeat until all of the pork, peppers, and onions are cooked. Serve immediately. *If Hatch Green Chiles are unavailable, substitute cubanelle or poblano
My thoughts:
I was pleasantly surprised to learn this fact about Corn Oil, so I thought I'd swap out my usual canola or olive oil in a marinade for Mazola Corn Oil and check it out myself. To keep with the lighter vibe, I created this simple recipe as a spin on the classic sausage with peppers and onions. I swapped out the sausage for lean, quick-cooking pork chops and used three kinds of peppers for flavor instead of using bland bell peppers and spices. These peppers are not only tasty, they are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber and are low in calories. Another benefit of corn oil I had no idea about was Mazola Corn Oil has a smoke point higher than most cooking oils at 450°F, which makes it perfect for sautéing or in this case, indoor grill pan use. My grill pan gets so hot, it sears the meat almost instantly so using an oil that doesn't burn or smoke up the house is important. Both of us really enjoyed this dish, it was super quick to put together (under 30 minutes including marinating!) and the meat had a ton of flavor and heat thanks to the in-season hatch chiles, jalapeño, and shishito peppers. I love grilled onions and red onions caramelize pretty quickly which added some depth to the dish. The strips of peppers ended up being more like a side dish than a flavoring device in the marinade which I really liked. It made a great make-ahead dish for lunches this week too, my husband packed some up with rice to easily reheat at work and I made sandwiches and salad with the leftovers. You can also double the recipe successfully.

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Chorizo, Hatch Chile and Rice Bake




Ingredients:
1 lb Mexican style chorizo
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cooked rice
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 roasted* Hatch Green Chiles, diced
5 oz shredded quesadilla cheese
7 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon Tajín Clásico Seasoning
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Direction:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. Set aside.

Saute the chorizo, onion, and garlic in a medium pan until the chorizo is cooked through and the onions are translucent. Drain off any fat. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and spices. Stir in the chorizo mixture, and 3/4 of the cheese. Pour into the prepared baking dish.


Sprinkle the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake 35 minutes, until bubbly and the edges are nicely browned.

*Thanks to the rain, I oven roasted my chiles this year.
My thoughts:
This was not the most photogenic dish but it was so tasty, I had to share. It's another dish born out of trying to use up ingredients I had on hand. I roasted some green chiles for this how-to that afternoon and rather than freezing them, I wanted to use them up. I had some chorizo in the freezer that quickly defrosted, tomatoes from my mom and a whole pint of rice leftover from Chinese takeout so why not combine them all? 

I'm glad I did because it turned out really well. It wasn't quite a baked frittata, more of a casserole thanks to all of the rice so I'm just calling it a bake. It was savory, spicy (which can vary with your chorizo and it's always the luck of a draw with the chiles) and very satisfying. A great weeknight meal. The leftovers reheated nicely, wrapped in foil and baked for about 10-15 minutes. 


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