Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Happy Father’s Day & Meatloaf

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

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I know you would probably argue, but I happen to have the most wonderful grandfather in the world, my Gramp. I have never met anyone as self sacrificing, loving and hilarious as him. He was  and always be the greatest father in my life. He helped to raise me and to show me what it means to take care of family, to work hard and to love, love, love.  Every time I come home to Colorado for a visit, I know there will be an entire box of my favorite pink cherry chip cookies waiting for me on the counter and a pound of ground beef waiting in the refrigerator. Ground beef? Yes, the man loves a good meatloaf. I would love to one day cook him a very fancy meal; chicken marsala or maybe braised chicken in a white wine sauce… But no, just simple, classic meat loaf it is for him! And do not let me even try to add anything “fancy,” my gramp will catch it in a minute.

If I were home this Father’s Day this would be his treat. I nice hot slice of meatloaf and maybe a peach cobbler for dessert.

Happy Father’s Day to all my favorite fathers out there!

Classic Meatloaf

1 lb. ground chuck

1 small onion, chopped

1 green pepper

5-6 saltine crackers

2 eggs

1 clove of garlic

Salt and pepper

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup brown sugar

Tabasco sauce

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dice onion and bell pepper. In a large mixing bowl, combine onion, peppers, eggs, crumbled saltines, garlic and spices. There is no better way to combine a meatloaf (or meatballs) than through squishy finger but a rubber spatula will do as well. Do not overwork the mixture or your meat will become dense. Form raw meat into a loaf on sheet pan.

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Mix together ketchup and brown sugar. This is our family secret… this sauce is the bees knees and so simple. Spread half the sweet sauce on top of the loaf, reserving the rest to apply mid way through the baking.

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Surround vegetables around the edge of the pan for roasting. I enjoy potatoes, carrots, big chunks of onions or broccoli with my meatloaf. When roasting broccoli, I add them during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Bake for 60 minute or until meat temperature reads 155 degrees.

That’s it. Simple, classic meatloaf.

Enjoy!

Queso Fundido

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Queso Fundido or “Molten Cheese”… ooey gooey delicious. This dip is a cheese lovers dream, sort of a Mexican fondue. I love the contrast of the smooth, gooey cheese with the spicy (slightly greasy) chorizo. Every time I pull a dish of Queso Fundido out of the oven, friends and family gather around. Its fun! To eat, dip in crunchy tortilla chips or pile the cheese high on a tortilla, roll up and enjoy.

Queso Fundido

6 oz. of ground chorizo

2 cups of Mexican melting or quesadilla cheese (mozzarella is also a great substitute)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown chorizo in a skillet until cooked through. Drain off excess fat from chorizo. Load a well greased baking dish with grated cheese and sprinkle over the cooked chorizo. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Simply delicioso!

Get creative with your Fundido toppings, try; ground beef, avocados, fresh pico de gallo, the sky’s the limit!

Bacon, Jalapeno and Gorgonzola Scones

Friday, December 4th, 2015

imageI love brunch.

Waffles.

Pancakes.

Muffins.

Scones… sweet, sweet, sweet!

Sometimes its nice to have something different, something savory. These bacon, jalapeño and gorgonzola scones were perfect for my husband, who isn’t to big on sweets. Paired with two eggs (sunny side up) and a cup of hot coffee, we made the best of a lazy Saturday morning.

Bacon, Jalapeno and Gorgonzola Scones

2 cups flour

1 tbs. baking powder

4 tbs. cold butter

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 egg, slightly beaten

4 oz. gorgonzola

2 fresh jalapeños, diced

1 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking and chili powders. Blend in cold butter until mixture resembles course meal. This can be done by pulsating ingredients in a food processor, simply using a pastry blender or even worked together with your fingers.

Next, gently stir in the cream and eggs until a soft dough forms.

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Using your hands or a rubber spatula fold in the bacon, cheese and jalapeños. (Note: if you are sensitive to the heat, wear rubber gloves when handling jalapeños)

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Sprinkle a bit of flour onto your counter or cutting board. Form dough into a round, flat disc and slice into 8 “pizza slices.”

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Bake for 15 minutes, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used a silpat), until slightly golden brown.

These scones are best when served warm out of the oven.

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Two eggs over easy and I am one happy girl!

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Enjoy!

3 Tips for a Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

I remember waking up Thanksgiving morning at the crack of dawn to help my grandmother prepare to roast our holiday turkey. It was imperative that the turkey make its way into the oven before the sun came up. Why? I am not quite sure considering it only takes about 4 hours to cook a 20 lb. turkey…

Every year I helped Gram cook our thanksgiving feast and every year I cut my knuckle open on the potato peeler. Here are a few tips learned over the years for making the best ever turkey for your family:

#1. The key to a juicy turkey is a compound butter

Soften a stick of unsalted butter and mix in your favorite herbs. For turkey, I use sage, rosemary, thyme and orange zest. Gently pull back the skin, away from the meat, and spread  1/2 of the butter underneath.  The butter will slowly baste the turkey as it cooks. The flavors of the herbs infuse the meat. Massage the remaining butter onto the outside of the turkey  to get that crispy crunchy skin that family and friends fight over.

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#2. Using a roasting bag = lots of gravy

My grandmother always, always used a roasting bag to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. Roasting bags trap moisture inside resulting in a super juicy and flavorful bird! Using an oven bag shortens cooking time. No more waking up at 4am to get the turkey started, 3-4 hours for a perfectly cooked turkey and the skin, so crispy and golden brown. When the roasting is complete you will be left with several cups of rich tasty drippings, perfect for gravy. The best part… no scrubbing a roasting pan.

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#3. Use a meat thermometer to avoid an over-cooked turkey

It cannot be a guessing game, it is so important to ensure your turkey is completely cooked but never dry. The proper temperature for a fully cooked turkey is 165 degrees. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thigh of the turkey until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. Once removed from the oven, tent the turkey in foil and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

So many of my friends are terrified of preparing the star of their family meal. There is nothing to be afraid of… IT IS ONLY A BIRD! You can do it.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends

Roasted Tomato Cream Soup

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

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This fickle Georgia weather has my heart confused today. The day started off crisp and chilly, only to warm up to a bright, sunny afternoon. High 70s in November? At least the trees are screaming fall; reds, golds and burnt orange. I am reminded of the words of one of my favorite songs by Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, Killing the Blues

Leaves were falling, just like embers,
In colors red and gold, they set us on fire
Burning just like a moonbeam in our eyes.
Somebody said they saw me, swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues.

Early this morning I decided my day was going to end with a piping bowl of roasted tomato cream soup. Spicy garlic, sweet cherry tomatoes and basil, the last of our summer harvest, make this soup irresistible… no matter the temperature.

Roasted Tomato Cream Soup

6-8 large tomatoes or 4 pints cherry tomatoes

2 carrots

1 onion

4 large cloves of garlic

Olive oil

1 cup fresh basil

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbs. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

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On a sheet pan drizzle tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves (in their skin). Roast vegetables at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until slightly charred and softened.

I typically add white sugar to this soup to cut some of the acidity and highlight the sweetness of the tomatoes. However, I decided to try something new. Roasting carrots! The carrots provided a rich sweetness that rounded out this lovely soup. Roast the carrots alongside your vegetable mix.

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Allow vegetables to cool slightly, add to food processor or blender along with fresh basil. Be sure to pop the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins. Blend until smooth. Add tomato puree, chicken broth, salt and pepper into a soup pan. Bring soup to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes.

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Last, stir in the heavy cream and sprinkle in red pepper flakes for a little spice.

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Serve with bread, grilled cheese or toast up some tortilla chips (made by Jude) to dip into this creamy soup. Creamy and rich, this soup is sure to get you in the fall spirit!

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Soup. Smores. Fall festivals. How are you enjoying your Autumn?

 

Strawberries & Cream

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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This valentines Day, I am reminded of a simply decadent dessert my great grandma Ida would prepare, strawberries & cream.

Have you ever tried Lorna Doone shortbread cookies? Every time I pass them in the supermarket, my mind is brought back to my childhood.

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Grandma would sprinkle sliced strawberries with a bit of sugar, letting them macerate in a cold icebox to develop a sweet sauce.

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Start by with a layer of buttery Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. Any shortbread cookies will work… even those legendary Girl Scout cookies!

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Top with sliced strawberries.

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Pour over a bit of cold half and half.

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An old fashioned treat that is rich and decadent to share with your loved ones this Valentines Day.

Enjoy!

12 Days of Baking: Birthday Cake

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

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I love that my son gives me kisses, loves to cuddle and still brings me every dandelion he find in the yard.

I love that my son has already begun to develop a heart to serve others.

I love that my son finds beauty and magic in the ordinary.

With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I am thankful for a husband and a son who truly bring joy to my life and remind me to SLOW DOWN. They are always ready to laugh, play and have adventures.  I don’t ever want our family to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas, Christ. On Christmas morning we take a moment, before the presents, to thank God for all that he has done for us. To celebrate Christ.

So each year I bake a birthday cake for Jesus. And not just any cake… I want it to be the most beautiful cake I have made all year to celebrates such a Glorious holiday.We light candles and sing Happy Birthday.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

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And yes, I get to eat cake for breakfast on Christmas morning.IMG_9620.JPG

Apple Spice Cake

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tbs. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground clove

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

3 granny smith apples, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs to wet mixture one at a time until well incorporated. Next, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Finally, pour  in the apple pieces, you may need to use a rubber spatula at this point to fold in the apples.

Bake for 60 minutes. Allow cake to cool for 15 minute before inverting onto a cake stand. Cake should release easily from pan.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to decorate.

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12 Days of Baking: Pizza & Movie Night

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

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Tonight, we are having a movie night. Our plan is to turn on the fireplace, jump into our most comfy PJs, make our own pizzas and watch my favorite Christmas movie, ELF.

We make pizza a lot – I am talking weekly. We love to try out all different kinds of toppings and having the options of making each of our pizzas our own.

Recently, I came across this fantastic pizza topped with potatoes, rosemary, garlic, prosciutto and arugula. Oh my!
So tonight this is what I am having as I enjoy my family, and make some fun holiday memories.

Potato & Prosciutto Pizza
1 ball of store bought pizza dough (check with your local baker or favorite pizza shop)
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 red potato, skin on and slice VERY thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
2-4 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin
1 handful of grated parmesan cheese
1 handful of arugula

Roll out pizza dough on a floured counter top or board. Move dough to a well oiled pizza pan and brush your dough with 1 tbs. olive oil. I like to add a little salt and fresh cracked pepper to the crust of my pizza for added flavor.

Next, combine potatoes, garlic, and rosemary with 2 tbs. olive oil, toss to combine. Place seasoned potatoes onto pizza dough in one single layer. Tear prosciutto and sprinkle it on top of your pizza, along with your cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Once pizza is pulled from the oven dress the top with a handful of arugula and a little drizzle of EVOO.
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Enjoy!

12 Days of Baking: Apple Galette

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

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This delicious apple galette is piled high with apples, cinnamon, clove and ginger. The smell of this rustic dessert is intoxicating and my family instantly began to draw into the kitchen as it baked. The crusty is so butter and flaky that it just melts in your mouth. For an simple holiday dessert try this galette. If you apples aren’t your thing, substitute with your favorite fruit; pears, peaches, even berries. For an added touch drizzle with a little honey or top with fresh whipped cream upon serving.

Holiday Apple Galette

1 1/2 cup flour

1 stick of very cold butter

4 tbs. ice cold water

2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin

2 tbs. brown sugar

2 tbs. white sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. clove

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

Begin by combining sliced apples, 1 tbs. brown sugar and spices. Set apple mixture aside so that it can begin to macerate.

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Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour, 2 tbs. white sugar, 1 tbs. brown sugar and salt until butter is blended into to about pea size pieces. Slowly drizzle in ice water until the pastry dough begins to come together. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

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Roll out dough on a floured counter top or board to form a circle or rectangle, whichever you prefer. IMG_9515.JPG

 

 

Next, layer apple mixture into the dough. Start placing apples on the outside, working your way in leaving at least a 1 inch border. Fold up all edges… no need to be perfect.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Sometimes my family and I can’t wait for our treats to cool down, sometimes we can’t wait to take a picture… sometimes we just dig in.

So for now, I do not have picture of the galette from the oven. I guess I will just have to make another VERY soon.

Enjoy!

12 Days of Baking: Cheese Straws

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

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Our family loves cheese of all kinds. We could easily make a meal out of cheese, cured meats and a loaf of good crusty bread.

In fact, for Christmas Jude asked for just this:  “salami with the wrapper that peels off” (summer sausage) and cheese. He loves evenings watching movies and sharing fun snacks together as a family. I can pretty much bribe him to do just about anything with the promise of a movie night…. I know, I know, great parenting 101. I love that I have just about one of the only 4 year olds who enjoys goat cheese and brie.

To add to holiday treats this season I thought I would make a southern classic, Cheese Straws. These tasty little guys cost quite a pretty penny when purchased at the supermarket, yet only take a few minutes to whip up a big batch of your own. Before we start let’s talk our favorite cheeses-

Michael: loves Smoked Gouda
Candice: I am a sucker for any extra sharp aged cheddar or goat cheese
Jude: we keep our refrigerator stocked with string cheese & those little round cheeses in red wax wrappers for our little buddy.

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Cheese Straws

8 oz. of really good finely grated cheese (I recommend sharp cheddar, asiago, or parmesan)

1 1/2 stick of butter, softened

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Start by allowing cheese, butter and eggs to come to room temperature. In a mixing bowl beat together the cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour, salt and pepper to form a slightly sticky dough.

Typically cheese straws are piped out using a cookie press. However, I don’t have a cookie press. I used a large pastry bag fitted with the largest piping tip I own. Evenly pipe out 3 inch long straws onto an ungreased baking sheet or silpat mat.

( If you don’t have a cookie press or pastry bag/tip, form dough into 1 inch balls and flatten with a fork, making crispy little cheese coins.)

Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden and perfectly crisp.

Enjoy!

Flying Paper Airplanes