appetizer

Garlic Butter Italian Sausage Sandwiches (slow-cooker)

Cooking Italian sausages right in your slow cooker equals the most tender, flavorful and simple supper!  Plus, since there is basically no prep work involved (besides slicing the bell peppers and onions), you simply add the minimal ingredients to your pot, cover and be about your day!  You can welcome yourself home to the delightful smell of a gourmet dinner and it’s also great for a crowd!

*serves about 10 people.  If wanting something other than sandwiches, or for leftovers, you can serve over al dente noodles or polenta.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packages Italian sausage links (appx 10 links, sweet, mild or spicy)
  • 24oz jarred Italian diced tomatoes (I love Racconto organic San Marzano’s)
  • 3 Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used red, orange and green)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini’s 
  • 1 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic
  • 10 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 10 hoagie rolls
  • 1 container garlic butter (often found in deli or bakery section)

To your slow cooker: add in the sausage links and top with the sliced bell peppers, onions, pepperoncini’s and the seasonings.  Pour the jarred Italian diced tomatoes over top and set to low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5.

On a baking sheet, split the hoagie rolls and generously slather on the garlic butter to each side.  Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until just golden brown.  Fill each roll with a sausage and your desired amount of sauce and veggies.  Top with the cheese and place under your broiler for another 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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French Onion Meatballs (slow cooker)

Meatballs!  You can never go wrong serving meatballs.  Whether it’s for an appetizer, a hot sandwich, atop a pizza, with lingonberry jam (I can go on and on), it is rarely served with creamy, dreamy, buttery mashed potatoes…and why not??

Given we are still in the middle of winter (those poor people in the 2019 polar vortex right now, I shouldn’t be complaining), I am craving a warm bowl of anything!  When you combine these ingredients together, along with the work of your slow cooker, you end up with tender meatballs and a rich, onion and mushroom gravy that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes.  I always like to add that extra touch of the melty Swiss cheese for a more authentic French Onion flare, but feel free to omit if desired.  Just don’t tell me or I’ll deem you crazy. 😉

 

*If you’d like, and have the time, sauté the onions on low with a couple of tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt until caramelized.  Add these to the slow cooker, along with the other ingredients, in the beginning versus rawEither way, it’s delicious! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 ( 30oz) bag homestyle meatballs, frozen
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thick
  • 12 oz container fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cans low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, plus 1-1/2 can milk
  • 1 packet dried onion soup mix, low-sodium if possible
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 1 package sliced swiss cheese
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Layer in half of the onions and mushrooms, followed by the frozen meatballs and then the remaining onions and mushrooms.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, dried onion soup mix, milk and pepper.  Pour overtop the meatballs.  Set to low for 6 hours, stirring once or twice.

30 minutes prior to eating, layer the swiss cheese overtop.  Recover and allow to melt.

Serve in a bowl with buttery mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles and a sprinkle of parsley, enjoy!

frenchonionmeatballs

Shrimp Scampi Fettuccine

This will appear as an impressive main dish to your guests, but it’s really a quick and easy 20-minute meal that works great for weeknights!  Simple ingredients, simple to prepare, but feels so indulgent!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb fettuccine noodles (can also use gluten free or even “zoodles”)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (i.e. pinot grigio) or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (to taste) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (plus extra wedges for serving)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Prepare noodles as directed, opting for more al dente texture.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Pour in the wine (or broth), red pepper flake, salt and pepper.  Allow to reduce by half (2-3 minutes).

Add in the shrimp and sauté until they turn a bright pink (3-4 minutes depending on size).  Stir in the lemon juice and parmesan and then add in the cooked noodles and chopped parsley; toss to coat.

Serve with a simple side salad or classic Caesar and warm crusty bread, enjoy!

shrimpscampifettuccine

Rockin’ NYE Ribeye Crostini

As always, the days are long, but the years go fast, and this one is just about up!  While even myself is just about ‘over’ cooking all of these extravagant holiday meals (kind of), I figure we opt for finger foods for our last hoorah!

Until next time, “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for the sake of auld lang syne.”  A very Happy New Year to you! xo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless ribeye steak
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bakery French baguette, 1/2″ slices. lightly toasted
  • Red onion, very thinly sliced
  • Chives, chopped, but kept a bit long
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, prepared horseradish, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard; season with salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high-heat until nice and hot.  Rub the steak with oil, salt and pepper till desired doness, making sure to rest about 10 minutes prior to slicing.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain and arrange on the toasted baguette slices.  Top with a dollop of the horseradish cream you made prior, a slice of red onion and a chives.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!!

RibeyeCrostini

Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

It’s that time again!!  Today is the first day of winter in 2018 and we could all use a cup of rich, velvety hot cocoa!  It does not matter if you’re in the northern blankets of snow or the southern “cold” 60-degree temperature.  A large mug of hot chocolate really brings the season to life!

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Marshmallows, peppermint candy canes, whipped cream (Garnish)

 

To your crockpot, add all the above ingredients, cover and set on low, stirring ever so often till combined, 2-3 hours.  Set on warm and serve with your favorite accompaniment’s.

This makes about 12 large mugs/24 smaller cups.  It can easily be doubled for a large party.  Enjoy!

HotCocoa

 

The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

RoastedPotatoes

 

 

GameDay Jalapeno Popper Piggies

Break out of your typical, grilled jalapeno-popper rut and try this out for size!  It has all of the flavors we love, fresh and spicy jalapenos, creamy cheeses and crisp bacon, BUT it also has another level of smokiness with the beef sausage while all wrapped in a warm, pretzel like pastry dough.

So whether your an avid football fan, need a new Thanksgiving appetizer or you just want to curl up on a cool day with a movie and snacks…these rock, my friend!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 package (36) Lil Smokies
  • 18 jalapeno peppers, halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Flour (for dusting); Kosher salt (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cut off each jalapeno pepper top; halve and discard the seeds.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon.  Fill the halved peppers with the cheese and bacon mixture.  Press a “Smokie” on top of the filling.
  4. Lightly flour a clean surface and unfold the thawed puff pastry dough.  Cut each dough rectangle into 6 equal strips vertically and then in half crosswise, to create 12 pieces.  *you may have to gently roll out each dough piece a bit to wrap around filled pepper.
  5. Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the cut puff pastry strips and seal with a bit of egg wash; seam on the bottom.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Once finished with all, brush the remaining egg wash overtop and sprinkle on a bit of the kosher salt.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till golden brown; serve warm.

 

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