Monthly Archives: August 2017

Chowder Fries

Besides the scents, visuals and tastes of pumpkin, nothing says Fall more than a warm bowl of soup!  Especially a creamy bowl of New England’s favorite, the clam chowder!  Now yes, I know I live in the south, but I’ve had reoccurring dreams of visiting the east coast to watch the leaves change while sipping on hot cider and bobbing for apples.  Maybe sneak in a visit to ‘creepy’ Salem too…basically every east coast Fall cliché IS on my bucket-list.  One day….

So for now, I light a spiced candle and get out my candy apple red Dutch oven to reinvent the classic into our family favorite, Chowder Fries!  …quick toying with me Fall and just get here already!!

*You can absolutely use vegetable broth instead, but I find that the chicken stock brings a richer flavor.

The Starting Lineup

  • French fries (frozen or scratch made), Old Bay seasoning optional for tossing with
  • 5 Strips bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried/ or ground thyme
  • 3 Tbsp flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock/ or vegetable broth
  • 1 10oz can clams, juices reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) or green onions (sliced), garnish

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Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven to med-high heat and add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until crispy.  Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Keep the bacon grease in the pot.

Next, melt the butter into that bacon grease and then add in the onions, stirring often, followed by the garlic.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and finally sprinkle in the thyme and stir together.

*Meanwhile, if making a bag of frozen fries, preheat the oven and line a baking tray with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.  Whether frozen or not, I like to lightly coat my fries in a bit of oil and dusting of cornstarch, toss together.  This creates a great crispy exterior!

To the sautéed butter, onions and garlic, whisk in the flour for about 1 minute till everything ‘clumps up’ and is lightly browned.  To that, slowly whisk in the chicken stock/ or broth, milk, the juice from the clams and toss in the bay leaf.  After a couple minutes of whisking to incorporate, stir in the diced potatoes.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes; potatoes are tender.

**Fry or bake your fries during this time.

Once time is up, stir in the half & half, the clams and add in your salt & pepper to taste (I am pretty heavy-handed with that myself).

If eating family style, season the French fries with salt or even better, Old Bay, and transfer to a serving platter.  Ladle the warm and creamy clam chowder over top the hot fries and top with the crisp bacon crumbles and parsley and/or scallions!  Sooooo good!  Enjoy!

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Grilled Brie, Bacon, Arugula and Fig Sandwich (The Figgy Piggy)

This “gourmet” bistro style sandwich will wow your guests, yet is simple and quick for you to whip up!
The unique flavors of the peppery arugula, salty bacon and sweet figs go soooooo wonderfully together.  They stay held together by the mild, creamy melted brie and your last taste bud gets love from the crunchy, slightly sour note of the grilled bread.  So basically, this awakens all your senses, have I sold you yet? 😉
…and if sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can absolutely pile these same toppings onto pizza dough or flatbread!
The Starting Lineup
Loaf of quality sourdough or ciabatta bread (8, 1/2″ slices)
1 pckg bacon, cooked till crisp
1 round brie cheese (1/4″ slices)
2 cups arugula
1 jar Fig Jam/Preserves (i.e. Bonne Maman brand)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise 
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat.
On one side of your bread slices, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (this will create a perfect golden brown crust).  Turn slices over and spread a layer of the fig preserves on each slice.  Next layer on the brie cheese slices, crisp bacon and the arugula.  Top with the remaining bread, fig side down.
Add the butter to your hot pan or griddle and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the brie has melted.
Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with a small salad or soup.  Enjoy!

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German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

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Glazed Cinnamon Sugar Apple Fritter Bread

I do not think that this needs a hefty introduction.  I mean, heck, entire candle lines were built around the scent that will come from your oven…

The above being said, this will make your family happy and your neighbor’s jealous on the smell alone.  Really, what says comfort and Fall more than apples, cinnamon and brown sugar?  Exactly.

So, on your next breezy, crisp and possibly rainy day, bake up a batch of this apple bread and take in the praises from your loved ones. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
    2 eggs 
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 3/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup milk
    2 apples, peeled and chopped , mixed with another 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon *I used both green and red apples, but feel free to use what you prefer.

Glaze Topping

  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
    1-3 Tbsp of milk, depending on thickness of glaze desired

*Chopped walnuts or pecans, optional and encouraged!

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray roughly a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Prepare your peeled and chopped apples tossed in the cinnamon-sugar according to the above listed ingredients (2T/1T/2t).

In a small bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (or a KitchenAide mixer), beat the granulated sugar and softened butter together until creamy with an electric mixer.  Next beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla extract.

Next, whisk together the flour and baking powder and add in to the creamed butter and stir will well combined.  Finally, mix in the milk till the batter reaches a smooth consistency.

To your prepared loaf pan: pour 1/2 of the batter to the base of the pan, followed by 1/2 of your spiced and chopped apples and lastly, 1/2 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

REPEAT with the remaining half of ingredients.  With the tip of a butter knife, insert straight down into loaf pan, without scraping the bottom, and give a slight swirl throughout. *This will not only make it “pretty” but will incorporate the flavors throughout.

Place the pan into your preheated oven for at least 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  *In one of my oven’s, this needed to bake for closer to 80 minutes before toothpick was clean, FYI.

Allow to sit out for about 20 minutes, transfer to a serving platter, then drizzle the prepared glaze overtop!

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Pan Seared Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Bacon Cream Sauce

I know this is hard to believe with a recipe title as such, but this meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table.  Yes, I tell no tale, less than a half of an hour.

What’s also great about this quick, and arguably almost healthy meal, is that since it’s so quick to cook up, it can be in your weeknight dinner rotation.  Plus, since it’s flavors are so “high-end”, it is also a no-hassle recipe for a dinner party or perhaps even an at home date with your loved one.  *One extra thing, my five year old son ate this up TWICE and even proclaimed, “I just love this stuff”.  Again, I tell no tales…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, sliced (Plus 2 Tbsp of the oil)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular will work as well)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan Cheese, shredded (garnish)
  • Penne pasta, for serving

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Let the Salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Gather all of the ingredients and bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta) while you begin to sauté the diced bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  Remove the rendered, slightly crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Also (if needed) drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.  *When the stockpot of water is boiling, add in the penne pasta and cook to the package directions.  Drain and set aside till plating.

Bring the skillet with the bacon grease to medium heat and sear the salmon fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

To that same skillet, add in the onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes + oil, paprika, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.  Sauté together for about 2 minutes.

Add in the vegetable/or chicken stock over to deglaze the pan and let simmer for a couple minutes.  Pour in the half & half along with the 1/4 cup parmesan and stir together, salt & pepper to taste.  Add the seared salmon back into the creamy, fragrant sauce to bring back up to temp.

Serve this delightful dinner individually plated or family style…Coat the cooked penne in the creamy sauce, place the salmon overtop and sprinkle the freshly torn basil, parmesan and crisped bacon overtop!  Enjoy!!

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Texas Style Jalapeno Sausage Kolaches

If you live in the great state of Texas, you can now forgo your local (albeit delish) donut shop drive-thru and make your own southern state staple!

Now yes, I am quite aware that these are also referred to as klobasnek’s/klobasniky’s and were brought to our beautiful USA from equally wonderful Czech immigrants.   I am also grateful that once they settled here, they turned the traditionally sweet pastry into a savory one…and eventually we added that kick of jalapeno!

Lastly, friends, let’s not confuse these with the so-so, flavorless aspects of a “pig-in-a-blanket”…oh no, no, noooo.  No matter where I have purchased one: many a donut shop, a gas station, a quaint mom & pop restaurant or even in West, Texas (THE self-proclaimed “Kolache Capitol” of the state) they are so much more!  The dough is baked with the most pillowy interior, the sausages are just that..sausage..no Oscar Myer hot dogs here and then a layer of gooey cheese and slightly spicy, pickled jalapenos.  Get.In.My.Mouth.  THIS is the (my) breakfast of champions!

*Feel free to omit the jalapenos for your little ones.  I usually make my batch half & half!

** Line your baking sheets with foil, parchment paper or a silpat sheet.  The cheese will inevitably ooze some of its way out and this will help with clean-up! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg highly active yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups  AP flour
  • 1 pckg of Lil Smokies sausages
  • Cheddar or American cheese slices, cut in half
  • Jalapeno slices, pickled 
  • 1 egg + splash water, beaten

    I like to prepare the dough the night before we’ll  be enjoying these for breakfast.

    So we’ll start this by mixing the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter with the milk in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, to the slightly cooled milk, careful not to scramble.  Add this milk mixture to the yeast.  Add in the flour and salt.  Mix it together with a dough hook until it forms a ball. Put this mixture into a large greased bowl and let it rise, covered, for an hour in a warm spot.  Finally, place in the refrigerator, still covered, overnight.

    Rise and shine!!!   The next morning, set the dough out on the counter for at least 30 minutes.  Once it is no longer cold to the touch, turn it out onto a well floured countertop and roll the dough out (using more flour if necessary) to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 14 equal pieces (I use my pizza cutter or bench scraper).  Lay a few jalapeno slices down the center lengthwise of each rectangular piece of dough and then a thin slice of your preferred cheese.  Lay 2 of the sausages down the center.  Fold the sides of the dough over the filling (you may have to press the dough out a bit with your fingers..it’s easy, really).  Place them seam side down on a sheet pan. Lay additional jalapeno slices on top to show which Kolaches are “spicy”.  Let them rise in a warm spot, covered loosely with a tea-towel for 30-45 minutes.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the egg with some water and brush the tops of each kolache with the egg wash. Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough is done all the way through and the tops are browned.  *My previous oven’s temperature was always off and this took more like 45 minutes, so just watch for the golden brown hue/toothpic test if needed. 

    Kolache6Kolache7

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pie

This longtime recipe, Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pie (also known as Amish Oatmeal Pie), is quite similar to everyone’s favorite, the Pecan Pie.  As a matter of fact, this dessert has often been referred to as “Poor Man’s Pecan Pie” since the famed nut can run up your grocery bill, but oats are a fairly inexpensive item.

There are several family variations of this classic mid-western dessert, but I happily bring you mine.  The sugars, cinnamon and vanilla mixed with the eggs and milk form almost a custard that when baked lets the rolled oats caramelize and create an almost crème brulee style crunch on top.  I typically serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, but I have to tell you…it has been known to be quite the breakfast treat, better than a donut, right?? 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 store-bought pie crust, unbaked
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
  • Vanill ice cream (optional for serving)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pull out your pie crust (if frozen) or line your pie dish with the refrigerated unbaked pie crust dough.

In a large bowl, add in the 3 eggs and beat together.  To that same bowl, whisk in both the brown and granulated sugar, oats, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and butter.  Stir till completely combined.  *The mixture may seem a bit “loose”… that’s ok!

Simply pour this mixture straight into the unbaked pie shell and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until pie is baked through..it won’t jiggle too much.

Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before cutting into and serve with vanilla ice cream…or even for breakfast at that!  Enjoy! 🙂

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