Monthly Archives: December 2015

Prosciutto & Herbed Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

This impressive looking side dish is actually very simple to prepare and is a great addition to a family dinner, holiday meal or an elegant dinner party!  

What’s also fun about this flavorful vegetable is you can add in the spices and herbs of your choice to really add depth ….or, sshhh…, there are MANY flavored cream cheeses out there now that can make this just that much easier!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-2 large bunch asparagus spears, rinsed and tough ends chopped off
  • 1 package dry cured prosciutto slices, cut each in half vertically
  • 6oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)  

After your asparagus spears have been cleaned, tough woody ends removed and patted dry, begin the cream cheese spread.

In a small bowl, combine the finely minced garlic to the softened cream cheese  and add in the salt & pepper to taste. (*Parsley here if using) 

   Next, smear about a Tbsp of the garlicky cream cheese down the 2″ wide vertical strips of prosciutto.  *This is actually quite easy if the spread is softened enough. 

I then, depending on the asparagus spear size, take a good 3-5 spears and carefully wrap the cheesey prosciutto around each bunch.  The cheese helps for the prosciutto to stick to the vegetables so toothpicks aren’t needed.

Once each ‘bundle’ has been created, place into a wire rack lined baking sheet.  *You can even lay a sheet of foil or parchment under the rack for super easy cleanup! 

 Now you can either loosely wrap the bundle filled sheet tray in foil and store in the refridgerator until dinner time or cook now!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the sheet tray of prosciutto wrapped asparagus UNCOVERED (you want that prosciutto to crisp slightly) onto the middle rack and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately, enjoy! 

 

Chili Blanco

I’ve never met a chili I didn’t like, seriously.  With beans, without beans (‘Bowl of Red’), smoked chipotle, turkey, molé style…I could go on and on and on..and I will.

Contrary to its pale appearance, the recipe below for Chili Blanco (blanco means white 😉) is hardly pale in flavor.  The roasted peppers add depth with a touch of heat, the Monterey Jack cheese and white beans add creaminess and the cumin, oregano, cayenne and garlic round out that south-of-the-border flavor.  This one here is a winner when you’re looking to branch out on your chili culinary adventure!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb white beans (Great White Northern), soaked overnight & rinsed OR 3 cans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 cups cooked shredded & chopped chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken if needed)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 (4oz) cans of chopped green chilis
  • 1 roasted poblano, skinned, seeded & chopped
  • 1 roasted jalapeño, skinned, seeded & chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 48oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
  • EVOO 

Garnish Ideas

  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Jack cheese, shredded  

Assuming your chicken is cooked, beans are soaked and rinsed (if using dried) and your poblano & Jalapeno have been roasted, etc…let’s begin!! Whew!… 

 In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add in about 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, toss in the onions and cook till translucent (about 10 minutes). 

 To the sweated down onions, add in the green chilis, poblano, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, mexican oregano & cayenne. Stir together for 1 minute. 
   Next add in the beans, chicken broth and the shredded & chopped chicken and bring to a low boil. 
 Once the bubbles start rolling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Stir about every hour or so for 2-3 hours (1 hour if using canned beans…but the longer the better either way really).
Finally, about 30 minutes before you plan to eat, mix in that cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Re-cover and allow to melt in! 
 Serve this complex flavored chili with a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado slices and a lime wedge…oh and don’t forget more cheese and a fresh tortilla for dunking!! Enjoy! xo 
 

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

Have you ever had homemade pumpkin pie?  No, I don’t mean the slice that you bought at Marie Callendars restaurant and brought home to eat.  I mean a pie that you whisked and creamed and baked in your own oven!  

Now I’m not saying you’re hand scraping and roasting the baking pumpkins from your glorious garden, there may even be a can or two of pumpkin purée, but this is the real deal!  It’s light, creamy and not overly sweet.  Once it’s time for dessert, just add some homemade whipped cream and marvel in all of the “mmms, yumms, oohs & ahhs” you’re about to receive!  This one will make a believer out your most finicky pumpkin pie eater, which used to be me. 😉 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pie crust (home made or store bought)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 4oz bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup candied yams, drained from can
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt  

Now I do prefer to make my own buttery pie crust and with this recipe I always parbake my crust so that it has some texture to the bottom and doesn’t get soggy.  That is a personal preference though..some people love the softer bottomed crust. 

 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a rimmed foil-covered baking sheet to heat up as well.

….To begin the filling!  In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, eggs & yolks, bourbon and vanilla extract.  Set aside. 

   In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the pumpkin purée, candied yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Bring to a simmer and mash and stir the mixture together continuously until thickened.  This will be nice and glossy after about 10-12 minutes of doing so. 

   Remove the purée from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture (slowly so the eggs do not scramble in the hot purée). 

   Next, strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl while pressing down the remaining chunks with a rubber spatula.  Once it’s all sieved through, re-whisk. 

       Pour this yummy, custard’y mixture into your prepared pie pan/crust.  Give a little jiggle to evenly distribute and place the pan directly onto the preheated baking sheet into the oven. 

Allow to bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes *I like to cover my crust in either the beginning or end to reduce over browning.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 30-35, or until the pie is set and jiggles only slightly.  *It will continue to cook and set once removed from the oven.  Allow to cool completely before serving or refrigerated.  *Keep in the refridgerator overnight if serving the next day. 

   Enjoy!!

Brown Sugar Bacon Greens

For whatever reason, greens have been a love of mine since a youngster AND a top pregnancy craving with my first child.  I couldn’t always make this exact recipe in a pinch when my hormones requested, so I’d often buy the most “quality” can, pry open and pour Tabasco sauce straight into it.  All I needed was a fork!  Well..my fingers would have sufficed, but that’s just uncivilized.. 😉

Now THIS recipe is light years better than ANY canned greens.  I know that sounds obvious, but I just can’t believe I force fed myself that stuff now.  I was a junkie!..

My recipe has a subtle sweetness from the brown sugar but a bit of heat with the hot sauce and chili flake…it’s divine!  Can you say “divine” regarding a greens side dish???  It’s true whatever the answer!

*I prefer a thicker Franks style vs a Tabasco style hot sauce in the cooking process.  There is already enough of a vinegar taste with the apple cider vinegar.  However, you can use Tabasco as a garnish if you’d like…just trust me here.

*For even more flavor, you can still add in a Tbsp of chicken bouillon even if you use the broth. 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large bunches greens from produce section (I used both collard and turnip)
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (to taste) hot sauce (I used Franks style flavor)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or water with 1 Tbsp chicken bouillon)
  • Pinch of red chili flake
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste  

To start this southern side dish staple, begin by rinsing the greens under water.  Make sure to rub any dirt off the leaves and then remove each side of the leaf from its ‘rib’ and give another rinse in the colander. 

Pat the leaves dry and then roll a bunch together (kind of ‘cigar’ like) and give a rough 1″ section chop to it.  You can also tear the leaves if you’d prefer and set aside.  You can now dice up the onion and mince that garlic!

 Next, dice the bacon into bite size pieces while heating up a large pot (I prefer my enameled cast-iron dutch oven) with a Tbsp of oil.  Add the bacon to the oil and cook until just browned on the edges.  *TIP:  You do not want your bacon crispy in this dish and it will continue to cook later in the recipe. 
 In that same pot with the warm bacon & fat, add in the onions and cook till just translucent on medium heat (about 5 minutes). 

Then add in the garlic, brown sugar, Franks hot sauce, red chili flake, salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute while stirring.  Next, pour in the 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and simmer until reduced by half. 

   Finally add the chicken broth (or water with bouillon) to the mix along with the cut up greens.  Give a good toss in the hot flavorful liquid.  They’ll start wilting quick! 

 Bring the pot to a low simmer, cover this savory side dish with a lid and walk away (stirring occasionally) until supper time!!  Serve with extra vinegar or hot sauce if desired, enjoy! 

 

Spicy Pimiento Cheese Bacon Burgers

So you may think that you don’t care for pimiento cheese…but you haven’t tried mine yet.  I, myself, was a skeptic forever on this southern delight.  I now know it was because I always just bought it from the grocery store in those plastic tubs in the deli section.  I’ve tried the ‘cheap’ store brands to the overpriced ‘gourmet’ varieties.  Yuck everytime (personally).  Now if you don’t live in the south, you may not have those tubs in your deli section available to purchase.  So, again, make mine! 😉  It is also FANTASTIC on crackers, toasted bread rounds, crudités (cut veggies, fancy schmancy word 😉 ) or even a spoon in the middle of a late night!

So why did I wake up one morning craving it on a burger??  Beats me…but I’m sure glad I did!!  This flavorful cheese melts so perfectly over a hot REAL hand-pressed burger…slightly tangy, a bit of heat, smooth and creamy. Plus it pairs so very well with crisp bacon and the crunch and sharpness of the white onion that helps to cut through the indulgence!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground chuck
  • Bacon, cooked to preference (I prefer peppered)
  • 1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse 
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz chopped pimientos, drained
  • 1 jalapeño, stem off – keep seeds in
  • Dash or two of hot sauce (prefer a Franks style flavor)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt & Fresh ground pepper

Garnish

  • Quality bakery hamburger buns
  • White onions, sliced
  • Mayonaisse  

I like to start this best-burger-ever by preparing the above mentioned pimiento cheese.  Start by grating the extra sharp cheddar cheese and then add it to a food processor.  Next, add in the mayo, cream cheese, pimiento, whole jalapeño (stem removed), garlic powder and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Blend till smooth and creamy!  I then take that cheese filled container and pop it in the refridgerator to chill while I finish the meal. 

     Next, start forming those patties with the ground chuck.  When doing so, do not press and work it too hard or you’ll just toughen up the meat.  Also, make sure that your patties are slightly larger than the diameter of your bun.  The meat WILL shrink up and who likes a hockey puck burger with excess bread??  No one. 

 I add a pinch of salt & pepper to the ground chuck, but I MAINLY season the meat AFTER I form the patties!  Sprinkle a liberal amount of S&P on the OUTSIDE of your patties.  It will make a great ‘crust’ when searing the burgers.  Once formed and seasoned, set aside.

Now in a large skillet, saute pan, griddle (cast iron preferred) etc. add in the bacon and cook till crisp.  Remove the yummy pork to a paper towl lined plate and reserve the bacon grease friends! 

While the grease is heating back up, I like to slice my rolls and spread mayonaisse on each cut side.  Then I either put them in my toaster oven, cut side up, on lowest setting OR I’ll sear the cut side in a pan (do this step at the same time your burger is about ready, so it stays soft and warm.  I like to make them to order if you will. 😉

In that same pan, heat the grease up to medium-high and place your patties down (I can typically cook about 3 at an time).  Please do not flip the patty more than one time (nor press down…you don’t want to squeeze out that flavor do you?), let that patty gain its ‘crust’ (about 4-5 minutes), THEN flip and let cook and crust for another 3 minutes.

Once your meat is cooked to your liking (I sure hope that’s not well-done), you can immediately place the burger on the bottom bun, top with a gooooodd amount of the pimiento cheese (which will start to melt & ooze immediately), a slice of onion and that top bun.  Give a little smash, grab a beer and many napkins and dig in!!  Enjoy! 

 

Green Chilé Turkey Meatballs

Here is an insanely flavorful and healthy recipe that will give the normal hum-drum appetizer or hot meatball sandwich a run for its money!  That’s right..these baked turkey meatballs can be used in a multitude of ways (a spin on the traditional albondigas soup anyone??)!  Plus, they are NOT dry or crumbling once browned and ready to eat.  It is really such a yummy alternative to the classic recipe.

Today though, I show you the above mentioned, a fun holiday appetizer and a filling hot hoagie sandwich!  …and BOTH don’t hurt your waistline too bad either 😉 Win!!

*I have a favorite green sauce from my favorite grocer, HEB, literally called ‘That Green Sauce’.  It’s a semi-thick, creamy roasted green chile sauce.  Feel free to use your favorite (even a tomatillo sauce)..or order from HEB online 😉

*For all my fellow ‘railroad wives’, prepare the sandwich as instructed below.  Wrap in foil and your spouse can heat them up on the trains engine as my hubby does!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3lbs ground turkey (85/15)
  • 1 poblano pepper (2 if making hoagies)
  • 1 Anaheim pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (divided 1:1)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs 
  • 3 eggs
  • Hefty pinch each of salt, pepper & cayenne pepper
  • Spicy green sauce, for garnish

If making the delish toasted hoagie:

  • Bakery quality sub/Bolillo rolls
  • Pepper jack cheese slices 
  • Roasted poblano pepper slices
  • Cilantro
  • Spicy green sauce
  • Mayonaisse   

We’ll start this bursting with flavor recipe by placing our 4-5 chilé peppers onto a foil lined baking sheet, then pop it into the oven on broil (just inches under broiler).  Make sure to turn the peppers ever so often to blacken all of the sides.  You can also do this over an open flame (gas stove or grill).  Once blackened immediately place into a large bowl covered with Saran Wrap and set aside to steam. 

 After about 10-15 minutes, the peppers skins will loosen up and peel off the peppers easily.  Then slice open each pepper and scrape out the seeds and chop up.  *if making the hoagie, then reserve one of the roasted poblanos and cut into long strips after scraping out seeds and removing the blackened skin.  Set aside. 

 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with foil.

In a small bowl, combine the panko and the milk, allow to soak together.  

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, the 4 roasted and chopped peppers, onion, garlic, parsely, 1/2 of the cilantro and the spices, followed by the eggs and the panko-milk mixture.  With you hands (natures best tools!), mix together until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

  

this picture makes me horribly dizzy…


Now, again, with your hands or an ice scream scoop, make the turkey meatballs (about large golf ball size) and place onto the prepared baking sheets.  Once you have them all finished, place the sheets into the oven for 40-60 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle and nicely browned on the outside.  *depending, you may have to alternate racks once or twice during baking for even cooking. 

 Once they are finished, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes…

——————————————————————————————————————

NOW…if you’re making these for an appetizer, then place on a pretty platter alongside a spicy green sauce for dipping and garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro overtop.  Gorgeous and fun!! 

 OR….if you’re making a meal out of these flavorful meatballs then try this on for size!!  Slice your hoagie rolls in half and apply 1 Tbsp of mayonaisse to each side.  On the bottom slice, lay down a few meatballs and a nice slice of pepper jack cheese and put this into your oven (on broil) for just a couple minutes (until bread is toasted/cheese melted).  Remove from oven and garnish with the reserved chopped cilantro, roasted & sliced poblanos and a drizzle of your spicy green sauce!  Soooo gooooddd!!!! 

 Enjoy!! xo

Mile High Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This is a holiday favorite in my home!  Whether it be the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas…or even my birthday, yes please!!!  You have a buttery, flakey crust combined with tart apples, sweet caramel and a touch of salt.  Excuse me why I wipe the drool on my chin.

Hey, do you think a scoop of vanilla ice cream could make this any better??  Let’s try!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten + 1tbsp water for egg wash
  • **1 jar caramel sauce
  • **1/2-1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 homemade OR store bought pie crusts 

Start this recipe by preparing your favorite pie dough recipe or thawing out your store bought dough (i.e. Pillsbury).

Now onto the apples!!  In a large bowl put in the lemon zest and the juice.  Follow that with the peeled and sliced apples and toss to coat. 

  

you can use a mandoline (be careful) or a sharp knife

       In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and sugar.  Pour this over top the apples and gently toss together. 

   With the pie dough:  roll one out in a circular shape on a floured surface until it would easily fit in a 9″ pie pan.  With the dough that overhangs, gently tuck under and give scalloped edges or trim off with a very sharp knife. 

  

look at those chunks of butter in that crust…oh my!!

 Here is when we now pour in that massive, mile-high amount of seasoned apples into the dish!  Go slow to pack them in tightly because there’s a lot!! 

 **Caramel Sauce:  following the package directions, take off the lid of the caramel jar and heat for 20-30 seconds till softened.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at a time and taste until you get your perfect sweet & salty flavor!

Pour about 1/2 cup of this now salted caramel sauce overtop the stacked apples.  Reserve the rest of the sauce for garnish when serving. 

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  *Also, place a baking sheet in the oven as well to preheat.

Top crust!!  Again, roll out your dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until your form a rough 12″ circle.  Using a butter knife, pastry cutter OR pizza cutter, cut into 1/2″ wide strips.  Carefully weave the delicate dough overtop the stacked salted caramel apples to form that iconic lattice crust.  Brush the top of the lattice crust with a thin layer of the egg wash. 

 Once your pie is ready to go, place in the preheated oven ON the preheated baking sheet for.  Let bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375 degrees.  Continue baking the pie for another 45 minutes till crust is golden.  If the pie seems to be browning too fast, just loosely cover with a some tin foil.

Once your dessert has finished cooking, allow to cool on a wire rack for 2-3 hours.  Cut into slices and serve with the remaining warm salted caramel sauce drizzled overtop.  Enjoy!!! 

 

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