"The Holiday Brunch"

"Cooking is like love, it must be entered into with abandon or not at all."

This is one of my favorite quotes and, in a sense, encapsulates who I am as a person and a Chef..

Now I'm sure that more then a few of you could agree that each and every year sees the holiday season come quicker and quicker; so that before you know it the kids have no sooner gone back to school then a crazy headlong rush to New Years Eve has begun, with decorations for Christmas competing with Halloween and Thanksgiving from the end of August onwards..

It becomes such a mad dash, and with the commercialized bombardment of each new holiday as it nears, an almost mind numbing onslaught..

It's truly times like these that I wish I could go back to when I thought things were simpler, warmer and more heartwarming..

To those days, as I kid, when the family's would gather around each new holiday and take their time, tell stories, hold grandchildren and relax in the warm glow of the holiday spirit..

To often it becomes about the gifts and the next big thing, instead of treasuring the time we have with those we love and cherish on this earth..
 
I think as I've gained in age, if not always in wisdom, I've come to regret not always remembering what truly should have mattered to me all along..

Now, with finally coming back to a place to call home and a community to share with, I've wanted to start some new but old traditions in me and my Baby's home..
 
The first one I'd like to talk to you about is the return of the "Holiday Brunch"

To me this idea reminds of early mornings at my Granny's house with the family gathered around talking, eating and opening presents slowly all morning long..

Nothing could feel better then the idea of having a large gathering of family in the house just spending time together, it's really what the Holiday's should be about after all..

As much as I love food, cooking and photography I could go on and on about each and every dish, from the tastes and aromas all the way to the lighting and display; but for today let me just say that a brunch is one of those meals that can truly run the gamut of tastes and flavors..

Being a mix of breakfast, lunch and dessert dishes gives you the freedom to truly get creative both in your presentation and choices. For me though, for this year, I wanted some simple, easy, warm and comforting dishes to choose from..

After a couple of trips to places like Pat's Marketplace and Gemelli's I got started on what would be my food fare for the family on Christmas morning..

Remember the choice is yours on what to make and the possibilities can be truly endless..

So this year I'm bringing it back, for my family and friends, and maybe with this for a little inspiration you might do it to..

Because it is, oh so, "Definitely Delish"

"Banana French Toast Bake"
This is one of my nieces personal favorites no matter what time of year, or time of day, it is...
I love it because it can be done a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated until you're ready to cook...

Ingredients:
French Toast:
4-5 small packages King's Hawaiian Rolls
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
2-3 Bananas, Sliced
6 Eggs
2 cups of Milk
2 cups of Half and Half
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

Maple Vanilla Sauce:
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
4 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Cut King's Hawaiian Rolls into 1 inch cubes and place on baking sheet..
2. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for several minutes, until buns dry and turn slightly golden
in color..
3. Place half the cubes into a Baking dish or foil wrapped spring-form pan..
4. Cut cream cheese into small cubes and place over bread in dish. Top with sliced Bananas, 
then cover with remaining bread cubes. (You can also mix in Chocolate chips if desired)

5. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, half & half, sugar, syrup and cinnamon-mix well..
6. Pour mixture over bread, cover and refrigerate 8 hours-or overnight..
7. Remove from refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before cooking and cover with foil.
8. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, then bake covered for 30 minutes..
9. Uncover and continue baking 25-30 minutes more, until a knife inserted into center comes
out clean..
10. To make the Maple Vanilla Sauce; combine all ingredients except Vanilla extract in a
saucepan and bring to a boil, lowering heat and simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat
and add vanilla..
11. Serve "French Toast Bake" warm with Maple Vanilla sauce drizzled over top and dusted with powdered sugar..

"No Fuss Eggs Benedict"
When cooking for a crowd it's always helpful when you can make multiple
dishes together or in the same pan. For this Brunch I did a mix of several of
these time saving techniques, such as store bought pie dough and using the
same pan for the candian bacon, bacon, sausage and chicken fried steaks.
The last trick used the pot I was cooking pasta in to help me with these
delish devils...

Ingredients:
English Muffins (as many or as few as you want to make)
Eggs (You'll need one for each Eggs Benedict)
Canadian Bacon (Again one for each sandwich)
Holandaise Sauce mix (I used Knorr's brand but any will do and home
made, time permitting, is always the best
)
1 cup of Milk
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
Freeze dried or Fresh chopped Parsley

Other:
Pam or other Non-stick cooking spray
Plastic Wrap

Directions:
1. Mix powdered Hollandaise sauce mix with milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat stirring over medium heat. Set aside till needed (if it thickens or cools to much, add a tablespoon of water and heat till smoothand creamy)
2. Using a separate pot of water on the stove; bring it to a low boil, then go on to step 3. (I used the pot of water I was making my Pasta in for the brunch I was preparing)
3. Using a small bowl (like a ice cream cup); take a 1 foot section of plastic wrap and place over the bowl in center pushing down making and
indentation. Spray the plastic wrap with the cooking spray, then crack an
egg into the center of the bowl. Wrap the sides of plastic wrap around the
raw egg creating a bag or pouch, then set aside and repeat with the
remaining eggs you are using (as many eggs for as many Eggs Benedict you
are making
)

4. Toss the plastic wrapped egg pouches into the boiling water for 4 minutes; meanwhile slice and toast your English muffin halves, while frying the Canadian bacon in a pan..
5. Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs from the water and set aside till
cool enough to touch while you finish toasting and frying..
6. Now arrange your muffin halves on a tray; set one piece of Canadian bacon on top of each, then carefully open the plastic wrap and place one perfectly poached egg on top..
7. Now using a spoon, drizzle the hollandaise sauce over each-followed by a pinch of parsley for garnish.. 

Since learning this trick I've yet to fail in poaching an egg for just about any dish I've wanted to use one in, where as before I almost never got it cooked right..

"Vodka Sauce with Pancetta and Peas"
—I love this one for any meal, Brunch or otherwise, because it is such a
simple sauce to make but is always full of a wonderful amount of flavor. It's
definitely a recipe that's sure to please any guests.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
1/4 cup of Vodka (I always keep a bottle of our LIV Vodka from our local Long Island distillery on hand for this recipe)
4-6 ounces thick cut chopped Pancetta
1/2 cup of Frozen Peas (more if desired)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved (extra on side for guests)
Sea Salt & Ground Pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Fresh chopped Italian Parsley
1 pound Penne Pasta

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add Penne pasta,
cooking til al dente-aproximately 11-13 minutes..
2. Meanwhile, in a large deep Skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add
Garlic and cook until golden, aproximately 2 minutes. Add Pancetta and
cook for 2 minutes more-remove to towle to drain..
3. Add Crushed Tomatoes and red pepper flakes and simmer for 5-6 minutes..
4. Stir in Heavy cream and, stirring well, for 1 minute..
5. Add Vodka and continue stirring for 2 minutes more, season with salt and pepper..
6. Toss drained pasta with sauce, pancetta, peas, parsley and cheese-mixing well..
7. Serve garnished with additional cheese and parsley on top..

"Apple Cinnamon Galette"
One of my favorite things in the world is apple pie; that is why for a Brunch (when time is limited) I love taking out this simple french pastry technique, the Galette, to wow my audience. Always looks so amazing, and the taste, it never disappoints...

Ingredients:
2 Rome, or other large Apples
1 Stick of unsalted Butter
2-3 tablespoons of Organic Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of Nutmeg
1/4 cup of Sliced Almonds
1 package Pillsbury pre-made pie dough (You can make your own, but when creating so many dishes it can be a life saver to use pre-made)
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Sugar (McCormick, or your preferred brand)
1 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado Sugar)
1 Egg +1 teaspoon of Water (for Egg wash)

Directions:
1. Set butter in dish and allow to soften at room temperature (do not microwave), when the butter has softened enough to work with; add cinnamon, nutmeg and organic sugar then mix together well-adjust cinnamon and sugar til it reaches desired taste..
2. Then take your sliced almonds and crush them using a food processor into smaller pieces, mix the almond pieces with the cinnamon sugar spread till well combined.. 
3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees f. Now core both apples; cutting them in half from top down afterwards, leaving you with two equal halves. Preferably using a mandolin slicer (but a sharp knife and steady hand will do), slice apples creating slices about 1/8 inch or more in thickness. Set aside til ready..
4. Take out one sheet of pie dough from package; roll it out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, then spread the Cinnamon Almond Sugar Spread onto the center of the dough leaving a border about one inch from the edge clean..

5. In a circular pattern arrange apple slices; start from either the outside in or a spiral from the center out, this is more personal preference but it'll create a lovely look when baked and served..
6. Mix egg and water in a glass and using a pastry brush (basting brush), brush down the edge of pie dough-folding it over top of the edge of the apples. After working all the way around the Galette, brush down the pie dough on top and then sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar..
7. Take a few dash of cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it over the exposed apple slices; then set it in the oven to cook for approximately 60-65 minutes, the dough will turn nicely golden brown and the apples will soften when finished. (It can be made quicker at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes if made by itself-to ensure several items for the brunch were done at the same time, I adjusted accordingly)
8. Serve alone or ala mode with Ice Cream, or homemade whipped cream..

“Vegetable Frittata with Pancetta and Cheese”
If you’ve never tried a frittata before, they are this incredibly versatile dish that is more than an omelet but less than a quiche. It’ll taste as good cold or room temperature as it does fresh from the oven; and luckily, it is also a dish you can prepare ahead of time. Thus making it a perfect accompaniment to your Holiday brunch..

Ingredients: 
6 ounces diced Pancetta (you can use boars head brand diced pancetta available at Pat’s market as well as Stop and Shop’s in your neighborhood-optionally you can use 4 slices chopped cooked bacon)
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
Several baby Bell mushrooms, sliced
7-8 Eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Cream
2-3 tablespoons Butter, just barely melted
2 teaspoons Olive Oil, plus additional butter for sautéing vegetables
6-8 Fingerling potatoes, sliced (I used a mix of gold and purple potatoes)
Asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces
Grape tomatoes, a handful sliced in half (I used mini Marzano tomatoes available at Pat’s marketplace)
2-3 tablespoons Bel Gioioso Asiago, thinly shaved (though regular Asiago is also fine to use)
1-2 tablespoons Locatelli Romano (regular Romano cheese is also fine to use)
Fresh chopped Italian parsley
Sea Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Dash of Cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, wrap a tart pan (if it one with a removable base) in foil and spray with cooking spray..
2. In a separate skillet, cook diced pancetta until it begins to crisp and place on paper towels to drain..
3. In same skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the onions and mushrooms until they begin to brown, 10-20 minutes. (Add a teaspoon of butter if necessary)
4. Meanwhile slice and chop all other vegetables as needed, then crack eggs into a bowl and continue to let them reach room temperature. (cold eggs take longer to cook)

5. Remove Onion and Mushroom from skillet and set aside, then add a touch of butter to pan and cook thin sliced potatoes for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside, then finish by cooking the Asparagus in the same skillet for 5 minutes, till crisp tender..
6. Add half or more of the various vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) and pancetta to the tart pan, then sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of the cheeses..
7. Now prepare the eggs by just barely melting the room temperature butter and adding it to the eggs along with 2-3 tablespoons of cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Whisk gently, but be careful not to over-beat the eggs-then pour into your tart pan..
8. Finish by adding more of your cooked ingredients, as well as a few sliced tomatoes and a last sprinkling of cheese-then place into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes (or until just set, but be careful not to overcook). Let the frittata cool for a few minutes before unwrapping foil and removing it from the pan..

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy..

"Post Thanksgiving Hangover"

I want to say that I just love entertaining for family and friends. I mean, truly love it.
So much so that I can be a little much for my beautiful Baby to handle, because I want everything to be perfect and go exactly as I envisioned especially with how it all looks and tastes..

 

So for this past Thanksgiving holiday, here in the US, I most definitely was more then a little anxiety ridden. I say this because not only was I doing a decent amount of cooking myself, but it was also going to be one of the first Thanksgiving dinner in our new home in quite a while..

Well I have to say that things most assuredly did not go perfect (as far as my vision) but in the end were perfect despite me and my worry. (I can be more then a little silly)

 

You see, after waking early (after doing even more dessert and dinner preparation the night before) I got started on prepping my turkey for cooking—cleaning, buttering, seasoning and covering my bird with cheesecloth (I always use a cheesecloth, it traps the moisture in the breast meat and you're able to baste right through it till ready). Next I set the table with plates, bowls, napkins, utensils and decorations. (some chocolate turkeys at each place setting was a nice touch)

Finally after beginning the roasting and basting of the bird I brought out everything else I had pre-prepared all week, which included a delicious "Roasted Butternut Squash Soup" and
"Ratatouille"

The house was so cozy, warm and smelling of all these incredible aromas; and as everyone began arriving I started serving up some starters while cooking, cooking and cooking some more..                       

It was such a great day, and I loved it so much having everyone over to enjoy the various dishes and desserts I had worked so hard on...

Everything tasted so good that I can't help but share at least a few of the recipes from that day with you, my followers (here and on Facebook & Instagram), which includes one of my new favorite side dishes as well as something wonderful to help you stretch out those incredible Thanksgiving leftovers we all enjoy so much...

The first dish is an oh so yummy "Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta" followed by my "Personal Turkey Recipe" and finally the delectable dish that is an incredible alternative to the turkey sammies, which we all love, and which I'll be calling my "Thanksgiving Leftover Soup"

It's so good and so simple; and just the thought of sausage stuffing matzoh balls in soup with carrots, corn and turkey—Mmm, I can't even, I may have to make a turkey and stuffing just to make this soup again sooner rather than later...

In the end everything looked beautiful, felt wonderful and tasted great. So why not try some of these for you and your family next year or any time; because they are, oh so, "Definitely Delish"

"Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta"

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick cut pancetta, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Pinch of fresh Thyme and Sage, finely minced (1/4 teaspoon)

Directions:
1. Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes... (Or you can lightly steam in the microwave until slightly cooked)
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until beginning to crisp, about 3 minutes...
3. Add the garlic and sauté until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Then add the herbs and red pepper flakes, followed by the Brussels sprouts, to the same skillet and sauté until heated through and beginning to brown—about 5 minutes...
4. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Then add the broth and cook until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes...
Serve and enjoy...

“Herb-Roasted Turkey"

Ingredients:
1 fresh turkey (weight will affect cooking time)
Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
4 tbs. Turkey Herb blend (see below)
1 bay leaf
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room  temperature
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/2 cup Madeira wine
1 cheesecloth 

Directions:
1. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. 
2. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit..
3. Remove the giblets and neck, if included, and reserve for making gravy, if desired.
4. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off and discard excess fat. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper, and place 2 Tbs. of the herbs and the bay leaf inside the body cavity.
5. Spread 2 Tbs. of the butter over the turkey breast and evenly coat the outside of the turkey with the remaining 2 Tbs. herbs. 
6. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Fold a 3-foot square piece of cheesecloth into quarters, dampen with water and drape it over the breast, leaving the drumsticks exposed. Transfer to the oven. 
7. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 6 Tbs. butter with the stock and Madeira. After 30 minutes of roasting, begin basting the turkey with the butter mixture through the cheesecloth.
8. Continue roasting, basting every 20 minutes, for 1 1/2 hours more.
9. Then baste every 30 minutes with the butter mixture and the pan juices until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165 degrees F—total cooking time will vary by weight...
10. Baste and gently remove cheesecloth and then baste Turkey again for a final 20 minutes in the oven to nicely brown the skin on breasts.
11. Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

"Turkey Herb Blend"

Ingredients:
1 tbs. dried sage
1 tbs. dried basil
1 tbs. dried marjoram
1 tbs. dried thyme
1 tsp. parsley flakes
Pinch of dried mint

Directions:
1. Mix together evenly (double, triple or quadruple the amounts and save excess in a tin for future use)

"Thanksgiving Leftover Soup"

Ingredients:
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 peeled Carrots, sliced
2 stalks Celery, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat, torn or shredded
1 cup leftover corn kernels
4-6 cups of low sodium Chicken Broth

Directions:
1. In a small bowl; whisk the eggs, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper together until smooth...
2. Add the stuffing and mix until well combined—cover and reserve in the refrigerator until needed...
3. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes...
4. Add the sliced carrots and celery, thyme sprigs, and broth and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer...
5. Cook the vegetables until just soft, about 10 minutes...
6. Roll level tablespoons of the dumpling mixture into balls with wet hands (see note) and drop into the simmering soup; cook until dumplings float, approximately 4 to 5 minutes...
7. Gently stir in the turkey meat, corn, and season with salt and pepper (to taste), and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy..

Note: Moistness of stuffing can vary; if the dumpling dough is too soft to roll, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it is firm enough to hold its shape while rolling...
 

"Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna"

This "Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna" was inspired by a post a friend made on Facebook as I sat scrolling one night..

Immediately upon seeing it the light-bulb went off and I started scribbling out ideas for ingredients and options..

 

I love when a recipe comes about that way, with just the slightest nudge and prodding by my imagination..

I love it even better when it’s successful and delicious, like this fusion of Mexican & Italian inspired cuisine using low fat, low carb, high protein ingredients that still pack so much flavor that you’re kids will never know the difference..

This is one your family is sure to love, so take "Taco Tuesday" to the next level and try this one out for you and your family—because it is, oh so  "Definitely Delish"

 

"Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna"

Ingredients:
1 pound ground Beef, 90% lean
1 pound ground Turkey, 93% lean
2 (16 oz.) jars Chunky Salsa (homemade or favorite brand choice)
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Colby Jack, shredded
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Mexican Mix Cheese, shredded
2 (14 oz.) cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/2  teaspoon Onion powder
1 to 2 packages of low sodium Taco seasoning mix (use more or less to taste)
2 packages "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Flatbread, Whole Grain with Flax (low-carb)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
1 (16 oz.) container Low fat Sour Cream
4 to 6 ounces low fat Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh chopped Cilantro, plus more for garnish
Fresh sliced Jalapeno pepper for garnish

Directions:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and take out a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish and grease the insides with butter or a non-stick baking spray..
2. Take ground beef and turkey and saute until browned. Season with taco mix blend, onion powder, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste, until evenly coated.. 
3. Add half a can of fire roasted tomatoes, two teaspoons of chopped parsley and a 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro. Mix together, then set aside till ready to use..
4. Next take the Lavash flatbread wraps and separate or cut them into even strips to fit your pan or baking dish (The Lavash Flatbread I buy comes in 2 serving sheets with a perforation in the center—3 servings fit my pan perfectly but you may need to cut or slice depending on brand), these will make up your "lasagna" noodle substitutes. You should end up with 9 pieces if using my brand otherwise it could range up depending on how you slice the Lavash wraps to make your noodle substitutes..
5. Now, in a bowl, mix together the 2 jars of chunky salsa with 1 1/2 cans of drained fire roasted tomatoes. In another bowl, mix the bags of low fat shredded cheese together in preparation—and finally mix 12 ounces of sour cream and 4 to 6 ounces of low fat cream cheese together until blended smooth..

6. To begin layering, start by ladling out 2/3 of a cup of salsa mix evenly into the bottom of your baking dish (I'll usually give the tray a few shakes back and forth to help spread the salsa). Then cover it with strips of the cut Lavash flax roll ups..
7. Cover the strips of Lavash flax roll ups with about 1/3 of the taco meat mixture, spreading it evenly. Follow that with some of the cream cheese and sour cream mixture. Cover that with a 2/3 of a cup of the salsa and tomatoes, then 1/4 of the total amount of shredded cheese..
8. Repeat with another layer of Lavash bread strips, taco meat, sour cream mixture, salsa and shredded cheese until only salsa and cheese remain..
9. After laying down the last Lavash flatbread strips, cover them with 2/3's of a cup of salsa and the remaining cheese-then garnish with sliced jalapeno and some of the chopped parsley and cilantro..
10. Place into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until warmed through and the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with low fat sour cream, avocado slices, torn cilantro leaves and additional salsa or picante sauce, if desired..

Notes:
1. The "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Flatbread I buy comes in 2 serving sheets with a perforation in the center--3 servings fit my pan perfectly but you may need to cut or slice depending on brand..
2. I use the "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Plus with Whole Grain & Flax for this dish because of the higher protein and fiber, with low calories. (Each serving is 80 cals, 3 g fat, 13 g carbs, 5 g fiber & 6 g protein) This helps to keep the overall fat and carbs low while raising the fiber and protein a nice amount without affecting the taste..
3. You can add a small can of sauce to the ground beef if you feel its to thick, a 6 to 8 ounce can of plain low sodium sauce is preferable..
4. You can use completely fat free cheese (though that's not my preference) or all ground turkey instead of beef & turkey mixed..
5. You could also use different Flax roll ups or wraps; Damascus Bakery makes a high protein low carb flax wrap that would work great in this dish..

 


 

"GK Skinny Pasta Spaghetti Pie" with "Coconut Flour Crust"

I love trying new things, especially taking a recipe that might be a little on the decadent side or that would send you into carb overload and making it healthier..

One of the things I love and almost rarely ever ate over the past several years was pasta..

Getting older isn't easy, and needing to change up your eating habits can be difficult but luckily for a lot of us there are a few companies who have heard our cry for a healthy pasta alternative that doesn't involve zucchini..

This particular brand is "GK Skinny Pasta"

Gabriella's Kitchen has been making pasta alternatives, gluten free and teff pastas for a while now, but my favorites by far are the high protein low carb pastas they've created..

An that's where this comes in..

This recipe was one I made years ago but it's so filling, and so carb and fat heavy, that I just couldn't bring myself to make it again..

Now taking my new discovery of skinny pasta, and a pie crust I've been experimenting with, I went about making a healthy version of an incredibly scrumptious dinner dish..

Using part skim, low fat, low carb ingredients with a minimum of oil and turkey sausage—I've gone about creating a meal that is anything but bad for you no matter how gluttonous you might feel enjoying it..

 

Full of tons of protein, vegetables and fiber—you'll definitely feel satiated after a piece of this..

So give it a try yourself, and give "GK Skinny Pasta" a try to—I know that you'll find them both "Definitely Delish"

 

"Baked Spaghetti Pie" with GK SkinnyPasta and "Coconut Flour Crust"

Ingredients:
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, large dice
1 yellow Squash, large dice
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup red wine
3 cups tomato sauce (plus 2 more cups for serving on the side
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 pound GK SkinnyPasta, Spaghetti
1 pound part skim mozzarella, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup Parmesan, Asiago & Romano cheese, shredded
1/2 cup or more part skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon Fresh chopped parsley
Coconut Flour Pie Crust (see recipe below)

Directions:
1. Heat  2 tablespoons cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat in the oil..
2. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Saute the veggies until it is lightly golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium. Add the garlic and saute until it is tender, about 2 minutes longer..
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl..
4. Add the sausage and wine to the same frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine evaporates and the sausage is brown, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces, about 8 minutes..
5. Add the sausage, parsley, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper to the veggie mixture, and toss to combine..
6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the GK Skinny Pasta and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly..
Drain. Toss the spaghetti with the mixture. Cool completely. Add the mozzarella and shredded cheeses and toss to combine..
7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Follow the "Coconut Flour Pie Crust" directions and transfer to a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan (I used a double recipe and 10 inch spring-form)
8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared bottom crust till full adding spoonfuls of part skim ricotta cheese here and there (more or less to preference)
9. Roll out a 10 inch circle of coconut flour pie crust on parchment paper, brush the exposed edges of the pie crust in the spring-form pan with egg wash and transfer the circle of dough on top sealing it by pressing the edges..
10. Lightly brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle a pinch or two of coarse salt on top—then cut small slots for the inside to vent..
11. Place in middle rack of the oven. Bake until the pastry is golden brown on top, about 30 minutes..
12. Use foil around the edges if they begin to darken to quickly..
13. When done let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan sides and serve with some reserved tomato sauce on the side..

Notes:
1. You can pre-bake the bottom shell of pie crust till just beginning to lightly golden, to avoid the chance of it remaining to soggy, before filling. Just be careful not to overcook..
2. You can also switch up the vegetables if you wish, I added a small amount of eggplant to mine. You can use all yellow or all green squash, all eggplant-it's personal preference really..

"Low Carb High Protein Coconut Flour Pie Crust"

Ingredients:
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
2-3 teaspoons peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon butter extract
1/4 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut flour (Bob's Red Mill or preferred brand)
1/4 cup Vital Wheat Gluten (24g protein per serving)
1/2 cup light butter, softened & added in spoonfuls (or cubes)

Options:
1 tsp vanilla extract (only for dessert pies)
3 teaspoons Truvia (for dessert pies)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Whisk the eggs, oil & butter (vanilla extract & Truvia added here for a dessert pie recipe) into a stand mixer..
3. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together until combined..
4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a mixer and combine on low speed..
5. Add the cubed light butter. Process until it looks like crumbles..
6. Squeeze the crumbles together with your hands until you form a ball of dough..
7. Roll out the needed dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into pie plate or spring-form pan (will want to break, just use your hands to fill and form the dough inside)
8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust using the tines..
9. Loosely ring the top edges of your dough with aluminum foil if you're going to do additional baking after filling..
10. Pre-Bake the crust 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden..
11. Once cooled out of the oven, add your filling. Or if you're doing additional baking, fill and add your additional layer of pie crust on top before baking again..

Notes:
1. For Gluten Free version you can try switching out the Vital Wheat gluten for unflavored brown rice protein..

2. You can also increase the sweetness of the crust by adding additional Truvia (or your preferred sugar substitute), Vanilla extract or other flavors depending on what you plan to fill the crust with. (Sweet or Savory works great with this crust)

"Gluten-Free Copycat Nabisco Chocolate Snaps"

Every once in a while, I'll have this—I don't know, this deep seeded sense of nostalgia..

 

It doesn't happen too much, I'm not that old yet, but when it does I can get to reminiscing about the things of my youth—when things seemed fresh, new and so much simpler by far..

Often it'll be food that gets me to dreaming about days gone by—when TV Dinners were in aluminum trays you heated in the oven, Ring Dings came in foil wrappers and Nabisco made their Snap cookies..

It was this last one that hit me recently. First, I wistfully thought of the cute little box with the tiger on the cookie and then it was trying to remember that taste—there was really no other cookie like it and I can remember eating them for years growing up..

Sadly, like so many things from my childhood, these had disappeared long ago from store shelves..

Being somewhat handy in the kitchen and after imagining the wonderful simple plain chocolate cookie taste with just the tiniest bit of snap to it—I decided I could wait no longer, so I set about attempting to discover again that sweet memory of flavor..

 

As I gathered myself to bake, and after tweaking a few ideas to fit my thought of what it would take to create this long gone snack, I decided that since I have been on such a Gluten-Free cooking kick lately—well, I would just try and continue with this recipe..

 

I'm not exactly sure why, I don't have Celiacs or a gluten intolerance, but I know some who do—so I guess I've been wanting to see what I can make for them that isn't out there like it should be..

A few ingredients, just a little bit of work and before you know it they started flying out of the oven needing a quick squish—then set aside to cool till done..

They were perfect..

Just like I remember..

Thin, chocolatey and with just a little snappy bite to them..

So if you, like me, remember that tiny rectangular box with the tiger face drawn on the cookie from the 70's and 80's then you will fall in love with these simple, plain, wafer'ish cookies—because without a doubt they are "Definitely Delish"

 

"Gluten-Free Copycat Nabisco Chocolate Snaps"

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups Light Brown Sugar
1 cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Cocoa
1/4 cup Special Dark Cocoa
1/3 cup Milk
3 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. fine Pink Himalayan Salt
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
4 cups Gluten Free Baking Flour (I use King Arthur Brand)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream 1 1/2 cup shortening, 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar. Add 2 eggs and beat..
3. Add 3/4 cup cocoa, 1/3 cup milk and 3 tsp. vanilla and beat.
4. Add remaining ingredients of 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 teaspoons of Himalayan salt, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. soda and 4 cups of gluten free baking flour..
5. Form in balls size of walnut and place about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet..
6. Bake 12 minutes. Smash flat when they come out of the oven while still warm. 
7. Repeat until all dough is used up. Makes about 100 cookies, or more, depending on how big you make them..
 

"Gluten-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza"

 I'm always seeing all of these wonderful healthy crust pizzas, that people share, all of the time..

Makes me so hungry for something I generally don't eat anymore, but do so definitely love..

So taking a little inspiration from those who have posted before me, I decided to go all in and create a couple of "healthy" pizzas of my very own..

This first one is made up of a deliciously flavorful crust of Roasted Cauliflower, Coconut flour, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses, and some spices..

It was actually much easier to do then expected and using parchment paper to help move it on and off the Pizza stone, during cooking, made all the difference in the world..

So, literally, after 10 minutes of baking it was time to take it out and slide my other crust into the oven and decide what I should top this one with..

I made sure to have more than a few options available for me, and my Baby, and then left it up to her to decide..

 

After looking over everything, she went with the fresh mozzarella and basil..

So slathering the top with pizza sauce, placing some medallions of mozz' and scattering a couple of pinches of fresh cut basil—it was time to go back on the stone in the oven to finish cooking..

A handful of minutes later it was done and all ready to be devoured, added just a smidgen of shaved Parmesan for good measure and began cutting into this one to give it a try..

Yum, it was so good and the crust was so tasty—it even held together just enough to be picked up just like a regular slice of pizza..

So very good and so very healthy with all of those natural ingredients with the gluten free, low carb crust..

So going to make this again because it was so—"Definitely Delish"

 

 

"Gluten-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza"

Ingredients:
1 small to medium sized head of roasted cauliflower - should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried oregano (crush it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh Garlic
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup 2% mozzarella cheese
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons coconut flour
Toppings:
Pizza sauce-homemade or store bought
Cheese fresh or pre shredded mozzarella
Toppings, whatever you enjoy.....

Directions:
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees..
2. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil..
3. Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower..
4. Cut off the florets, you don't need much stem. Place in baking dish and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle a touch of salt..
5. Place in oven and roast for 20-30 minutes. Remove, and when cool enough to touch, place into food processor..
6. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should have about 2 cups of cauliflower..
7. Scoop out cauliflower and place into a dish towel or cheesecloth and squeeze. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a nice chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.. 
8. Dump cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), minced fresh garlic and a dash of red pepper if you want..
9. I also added 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour at this time. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best, I'll wear those throw away gloves sometimes so as to be able too have clean hands again when needed..

10. Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down throughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don't make it too thick or thin either. (I used the outer ring of a spring-form pan to ensure a nice circular crust..
11. Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 - 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven... (Just eye the crust the last few minutes to ensure you don't under or over cook it)
12. Add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want. I'm not gonna give you measurements for this. You should know how you like your pizza - this is your personal taste that matters..
13. Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly golden....
14. Test your patience and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Probably closer to two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula serve up your delicious gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza!

Notes:
1. It makes a big difference oiling the parchment paper before forming the crust on it and using a pizza stone in the oven..
2. You'll want to have the oven pre-heated well ahead to allow the stone to be heated completely..
3. An average size head of cauliflower is fine, you don't want to have much more then 2 cups of processed cauliflower after roasting..
4. Can use un-roasted cauliflower as well— just rinse, remove florets, process into snow and microwave for 4 minutes on a plate before squeezing liquid out with cheese cloth..

"Gluten Free Quinoa Coconut Flour Crust Pizza"

Who doesn't love pizza, I know I do—and when I get to craving, especially now that I'm older, I try my hardest to figure out ways to enjoy it without regretting it almost immediately..

This is one of them, and one of my favorite fit and healthy alternatives to the oh so tasty pizza crust—and I think you'll find that you enjoy it to..

Deciding, though, that I missed pizza was only the first hurdle and then after seeing so many of those cauliflower, and other, crusts floating around out there —well I just had to give it a try myself..

So after messing around with a recipe or two, I decided to try a completely different take on the pizza crust myself..

 

So after a quick mixing together of all the various ingredients; I dumped it all out onto oiled parchment paper, and using the ring of the spring form pan, formed it into a circular shape..

Into the oven, for a few minutes, on the paper till just golden brown and then time to slather with sauce and cover with toppings..

I decided to go with one of my favorite pizza styles, the "Hawaiian Pizza"—fresh cut pineapple, sliced prosciutto, shredded and fresh mozzarella with a few torn fresh basil leaves..

Back in for five or so minutes more, until the cheese has melted and then it's almost time to dig in..

Just let it sit for a minute or two; sprinkle it with shaved Parmesan if desired and some extra basil, a little salt & pepper or red pepper flakes—if that's suits your tastes..

Now time to jump in and start eating; cut up a few slices for me and my Baby—then devoured this terrifically tasty treat..

So very good and healthier for you as well..

Will be playing around more with this one in the future, from toppings to sauce—you should too..

"Definitely Delish" and definitely a dish to make again and again..


"Quinoa and Coconut Flour Pizza Crust"

Ingredients:
Crust:
1/2 cup Quinoa Flakes
1/4 cup +2 tablespoons Coconut Flour
3 Eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons of Water
2/3 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dried Oregano and Basil, crushed between fingers
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded 2% Mozzarella

For Toppings:
Pizza sauce, homemade or store bought
Shredded or fresh Mozzarella, or mix
2-3 fresh torn Basil leaves
Any other toppings you enjoy (I did prosciutto and pineapple with fresh basil)

Directions:
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees..
2. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil..
3. Dump quinoa flakes and coconut flour into a bowl. Now add Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 2/3 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), minced fresh garlic, baking soda, baking powder and a dash of red pepper if you want..
4. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best, I'll wear those throw away gloves sometimes so as to be able too have clean hands again when needed..

5. Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don't make it too thick or thin either. (I used the outer ring of a spring-form pan to ensure a nice circular crust)
6. Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven... (Just eye the crust the last few minutes to ensure you don't under or over cook it)
7. Add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want. I'm not gonna give you measurements for this. You should know how you like your pizza - this is your personal taste that matters.!
8. Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly golden..
9. Test your patience and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Probably closer to two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula serve up your delicious gluten-free quinoa coconut flour crust pizza!

Notes:
1. It makes a big difference oiling the parchment paper before forming the crust on it and using a pizza stone in the oven..

2. You'll want to have the oven pre-heated well ahead to allow the stone to be heated completely..

"Skinny Orange Chicken"

I love finding fun ways to create low calorie healthier alternatives to some of my favorite dishes..

 

Through experience, and experimentation, I've gotten pretty good at it with some recipes—such as this incredibly tasty "Skinny Orange Chicken"

 

Using "Tamari" lite Japanese soy sauce, natural coconut oil spray and my favorite brown sugar substitute by Truvia—I'm able to create these wonderful skinny dishes that are amazingly flavorful and with near none of the regret..

For this one, this time, I used a mix of quinoa and low glycemic rice—but I'm just as likely to serve it with roasted riced cauliflower or Shirataki rice by "Miracle Noodle" to cut the carb calories even more..

The depth of citrus orange taste along with spicy tang of red pepper and ginger gives this dish a wonderfully sweet and zesty taste that's sure to please the people in your home..

Add in the fact that you can't tell the difference between this and the high calorie, high sodium version, for me anyway, and this is a win-win as far as I'm concerned..

Tasty, filling, healthy and guilt free—this is another dish that's sure to help you fulfill your desire for a healthier you; and it is, most assuredly, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Skinny Orange Chicken"

Ingredients:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
1 cup fresh Orange Juice (low sugar, no pulp, pulp-up to personal taste)
2 tablespoons fresh Lemon juice
2 tablespoons Sushi Vinegar (rice wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons Tamari lite soy sauce
4 tablespoons of Truvia Brown Sugar Blend (equal to 1/3 cup of brown sugar)
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Ginger
1 Orange, zested (aprox. 1 tablespoon or more)
1/4 tsp. crushed Red Pepper
1/2 c. Water
1 1/2 tablespoons Corn Starch (according to desired thickness)
3 Green Onions, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian Parsley
Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper (for sprinkling on chicken before browning)
3 to 4 cups cooked Rice, Quinoa, blend or low carb alternative..

Directions:
1. Rinse off and pat dry chicken; slice into smaller pieces and season with salt & pepper, then set aside till ready. (Begin cooking your rice or substitute at this time)
2. Pre-heat your skillet, wok or deep sided saute pan on medium high heat. Spray the inside with coconut oil spray and add chicken pieces, browning until lightly golden on all sides—about 10 minutes..
3. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. It will not be finished cooking yet..
4. Lower heat to medium and add the sauce ingredients by combining the orange juice, lemon juice, sushi vinegar, Tamari soy sauce, Truvia brown sugar, minced garlic, ginger, orange zest, and crushed red pepper flakes..

5. Cook, stirring regularly, over medium heat until very slightly thickened and bubbly—about 5 minutes..
6. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan with juices and mix together to coat and then covering to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes more—adjusting cooking temperature if necessary..
7. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine water and corn starch and stir until corn starch is dissolved..
8. Add corn starch mixture to skillet and continue cooking, stirring regularly, until sauce is thickens completely—about 2 minutes..
9. When ready to serve spoon chicken over your rice, quinoa or substitute and garnish with sliced green onions, chopped parsley, additional orange zest, and red pepper flakes as desired..

Eat Hot and Enjoy!!

 

"Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli & Brussel Sprout Soup"

I love roasting and eating vegetables..

I mean, if I can throw it onto sheet pan and drizzle it with oil—I will..

This recipe takes a simple side dish at dinner and adds in a few ingredients to create a perfect lunchtime or supper meal that's wonderful during these cold northeastern winters..

One of the first things I started with here is deciding on a mix of vegetables—so taking two recipes from my Thanksgiving side dish post, back in October, I got to work on what would become this delish soup recipe..

Going almost half Brussels sprouts and half cauliflower, with some broccoli thrown in for good measure—I tossed it all down onto my sheet pan and drizzled it with quality extra virgin olive oil with a little fine sea salt & pepper to finish. Then into the oven it went..

Truly I love simple recipes like this with just a few dishes needed; one pan, one pot a knife and a spoon—what could be simpler and leave less work for you afterwards then that. Well a skillet meal like my frittatas, and mexi-skillet recipe, but I digress..

While my veggies went about becoming all roasty browned and tasty; I prepped the base for my soup which included some lean prosciutto, shallots, garlic & chicken stock..

 

Quicker than you'd think it was time to pull my roasty toasty vegetables out of the oven and spoon them into the pot with the soup base and bring it up to a nice low simmer for about 10 minutes..

Here is where an immersion blender is key if you want to save on spatters, dribbles, spills and sloshing as you attempt to blend a little of the soup at a time and then dumping into another dish—you're guaranteed to add to your after cooking clean up; and really, who wants that, right!

 

A few minutes of immersion blending later and you have a supremely thick soup that just needs a little seasoning for taste before it's ready to serve..

Garnish each bowl with some reserved roasted veggies, the slightly crispy cooked prosciutto and some shredded Manchego cheese an you'll have a beautiful dish that's sure to please..

I loved it and I'm sure if you try it for yourself that you will to; because it is, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli & Brussels Sprout Soup" 

Ingredients:
16 oz cauliflower florets
16 oz Brussels sprouts, halved
8 oz. Broccoli florets
4 oz. lean Prosciutto, cut into small pieces (see notes for vegan options)
3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter (see notes)
1/4 cup Shallots, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups low sodium Chicken Stock (see notes)
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1/2 teaspoon fine Sea Salt, plus more to taste
White Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian Parsley
Natural Olive Oil Spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit..
2. Spray a large baking sheet with the Olive Oil Spray. Place the cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts cut side down on the baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt—then roast on the bottom third of the oven 25 minutes, tossing half way until slightly browned..
3. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of oil to your soup pot on medium heat and add your pieces of prosciutto—cooking until browned, then remove from the pot and reserve for later..
4. Now lower the temperature of the pot to low heat and melt the butter, then add the shallots & garlic. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes..
5. Add the chicken stock and simmer 5 minutes..

6. Shut the oven, reserve about 1 cup or more of the roasted vegetables and keep warm on the baking sheet..
7. Transfer the rest to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes, covered..
8. Now, using an immersion blender, blend until a thick even consistency is reached. You may also enjoy it chunkier, so can stop when it reaches the style you enjoy..
9. Now simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 1 cup of vegetable broth if thinning of the soup is needed. As well as adding sea salt and white pepper to taste. (Any last minute additions such as fresh herbs, rubbed sage, etc can be added to enhance the flavor if you desire)

 

Notes:
1. Serve in bowls topped with the some of the roasted vegetables, cooked prosciutto, chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil..
2. You can also add a bit of fresh shredded 8 month Manchego cheese, which I did. (Optionally Romano or another cheese could be substituted) Serve immediately..


3. You can remove the prosciutto (or use vegan/vegetarian friendly option if available), substitute the butter for a non dairy version (Olio olive oil spread, or another) and replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth to make this soup Vegetarian or Vegan friendly....

"Herb and Cheese Frittata with Vegetables"

"Herb & Cheese Frittata with Veggies"

It's been a little bit of a skillet meal kick that I've been on recently, but who doesn't love the ease and variety of simple one pan dishes such as these—now let's get down to business..

Last night I decided to make me and my Baby some "Brinner"

You know, a little "Breakfast for Dinner"

What I ended up throwing together was a wonderfully yummy "Frittata"

Had to do a bit of scrounging, the cupboards were a little more bare then usual..

"Asparagus Cheese & Herb Frittata"

 

First I wanted to have some cheese to add, but lacking any beyond some Parmesan, I ended up having to make my own from scratch..

A little heavy cream, milk and lemon juice later and I had my homemade "Ricotta" draining thru some cloth..

Next I prepped some garlic, shallots, grated Parmesan, fresh herbs and grape tomatoes; along with some leftover steamed broccoli I had..

"Zucchini, Squash & Ricotta Cheese Frittata"

A little sautéing later; followed by pouring in the eggs and egg whites, then it was time to add a few dollops of fresh cheese and the seeded an halved tomatoes..

Under the broiler it went; and a few minutes later we had this wonderfully tasty and beautifully golden "Herb and Cheese Frittata" with vegetables...

I sprinkled on a pinch of pink salt and black pepper and then it was all ready to serve..

So very good with just the right amount of each ingredient and with nothing overpowering anything else..

"Definitely Delish" and definitely a dish to be had for dinner, for breakfast, or for both...


"Herb and Cheese Frittata with Vegetables"

"Herb & Cheese Frittata with Tomato"

Ingredients:
8 Eggs (Or a mix of Eggs and Egg Whites-more egg or whites may be needed depending on pan size)
Fresh Herbs—Rosemary, Thyme, etc...
Tablespoon Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Homemade or Store bought Ricotta Cheese (Goat Cheese, Feta, Fontina, etc)
Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Grape Tomatoes, halved and seeded (Other Vegetables can be used)
Broccoli or Asparagus or other Vegetable

"Zucchini, Squash & Ricotta Cheese Frittata"

 

Directions:
1. Mix eggs (plus egg whites if cutting down on whole eggs) with whisk in bowl with pinch of pink salt...
2. Turn broiler on to 500 degrees..
3. Heat Oven Proof Pan on stove on just below medium heat. (I like using an oven proof oval pan)
4. Add Coconut Oil and Sauté Vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper till tender. (You can add some herbs at this point if desired)

"Herb & Cheese Frittata with Tomato"

 

5. Pour Eggs over top the veggies and cook on medium low, till eggs begin to set—will vary depending on size of pan, depth and whether eggs are at room temperature, check with spatula if needed. (You want them to be at least halfway cooked through or more but be careful not to burn the bottom, adjust temp if needed)
6. Add Tomatoes, a few dollops of Cheese and some of the fresh Herbs...
7. Transfer pan under broiler on middle wrack of oven; cook till nice and golden with eggs being completely set. (Careful not to burn by checking often)

 

Notes:
There are so many options and changes available that it is not even worth listing them. Suffice it to say, pick a mix of cheeses, herbs, seasonings, vegetables and go with it—experimentation and imagination is all you need for a delicious meal the entire family will love, whether its for Brinner or Dinner...

"Mexican Skillet Dinner"

"Mexican Skillet Dinner" with "Spanish Rice"

I am kind of in love with Skillet dinners lately...

They are so quick and easy to make and
you can change them up in so many different ways...

From "Frittatas" galore, to "Skillet Pizzas" and on to the recent "Oatmeal Bake"  I've concocted—I just can't get enough of them..

Now with the stress of holiday cooking, presents and parties temporarily abated till this weekends New Years revelry; what better way to simplify your evening then a "Mexican Skillet Dinner"

Skillet dinners are great because you generally only get one pan dirty, and dinner can be ready in about a half an hour..

On busy weeknights when getting dinner on the table, for me and my baby, can be a struggle you don't want to have a lot of excess clean up to do afterwards—leaves more time for snuggling watching Netflix..

So, one pan dinners can be ideal and keeping a few easily customized ones that everyone likes is nice and can make for an easy night for the cook..

                                                                                                This "Mexican Skillet Dinner" is easy to play around with; from adding or changing the beans, type of meat, additional vegetables or variety of spices..

This one here is a pretty basic recipe for everyone but remember to be imaginative and creative in your own preparation because a meal should always be made to your own tastes..

Suffice it to say, there's an unending supply of alternatives for you to try out for yourself—to start, for the other night, I added an extra pot and cooked up some brown rice and quinoa into a healthy Spanish style rice mix separately as well as used a mix of black, pinto and dark red kidney beans in the skillet..

After a little cooking, then a sprinkling of cheese—it was under the broiler for all of two minutes and then time to dig in..

Me and my Baby loved it, and I especially love that I can change it up so easily to make an entirely different meal out of it each time..

"Definitely Delish" and definitely a dish to make again and again..

"Mexican Skillet Dinner"

Ingredients:
12 ounces Chorizo or Spicy Pork Sausage (I used lean spicy turkey sausage)
1 cup frozen Corn
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced Tomatoes, un-drained
1 cup uncooked Rice
1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Lime juice
1/2 small Red Onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 (15 oz.) can Pinto beans, rinsed and drained (I used a mix of beans)
3/4 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheeses or Colby and Monterey Jack cheese 

Directions:
1. If present, remove casing from sausage. In a large skillet cook sausage over medium  to medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until brown..
2. Drain in a colander; set aside..
3. Add corn, tomatoes, uncooked rice, the water, chili powder, paprika and cumin to skillet..
4. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 to 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender..
5. Stir in beans, onion, lime juice and cooked sausage; heat through for several minutes..
6. Sprinkle with your cheese choices; cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes or slide under the broiler until cheese is nice and melted..

Notes
1. I changed my skillet to spicy turkey sausage, as well as adding a variety of beans (Red Kidney, Pinto and Black). Also I added onion and a few flavorful ingredients to liven things up..
2. I cooked my rice separately, so drained the tomatoes and didn't add the water to skillet..
3. You can slide the skillet under a broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese quickly and lightly brown, I've done this myself..
4. Experiment, changing up spices, beans, meats, cheeses, vegetaables to make whole different varieties of skillets—from shredded chicken to short ribs, use your imagination..
There's so much you can do with a little experimentation and imagination...

"Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bake For Breakfast"

Have you ever baked your oatmeal? If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat. Up until just the other day, my only experience with oatmeal was either in a powdery packet or over a simmering stove-top...

But it turns out, throw some oats in a cast-iron skillet with milk, eggs, and a few other ingredients, and what you get is an oatmeal that is almost completely hands-off (with no risk of bubbling over!) but also completely delicious...

 

What's really appealing to me about baked oatmeal is its texture — unlike the traditional version, baked oatmeal is sturdy and dense more like a sweet breakfast casserole or a giant soft cookie than a porridge...

Plus, this makes it perfect for dressing up with a multitude of various cookie flavors...

 

Like I did this time; just throw in some chocolate chips and a hefty dose of vanilla for a chocolate chip oatmeal “cookie” for breakfast, dried cranberries, orange zest, and almond extract for a holiday take, or a few teaspoons of cinnamon and some plump raisins for an oatmeal raisin cookie version...

You're only restricted by your imagination when it comes to this dish. I'll be trying a mix a vanilla chips and toasted nuts (perhaps macadamia) next time I cook this one up for me and my Baby...

It really is a quick and simple dish that's easy to prepare; a few minutes of prep toasting the oats and mixing up the eggs and cream, then into the oven it goes...

What's great too is that all the leftovers can be saved in Tupperware containers for a quick meal on the way to work, or even a late night snack-it kind of really is like a giant breakfast cookie, Yum...

"Definitely Delish" and definitely a dish to try again and again...


"Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Baked Oatmeal"

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter (optional)
2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if needed)
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2-3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk (or non-dairy milk of choice — any will work!)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup raisins (or more or less, to taste)

For serving:
Yogurt
Honey or pure maple syrup (I used a low sugar syrup)
Cinnamon
Homemade Whipped Cream 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Optional: Toast your oats first. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oats and stir to coat evenly, then continue to cook, stirring every few seconds to prevent burning, until oats smell toasty, like popcorn. This should take only 2-4 minutes, but gives the oatmeal a deeper flavor and makes it taste a little more cookie-like, in my opinion.
2. Mix together oats, both sugars, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. You can also use an 8×8-inch baking dish — in that case, you may want to line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
3. In a bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, and eggs. If you didn’t toast your oats, you can add a tablespoon or two of melted butter here, if you’d like. 
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and give the dish a shake or stir it to evenly moisten. 
5. Scatter the raisins (or chips if doing optional recipe, which I made this time) evenly across the mixture and stir again to incorporate.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the edges. Oatmeal should still be soft in the center when removed but will set as it cools.
7. Serve while warm with whipped cream, syrup or whatever various toppings you enjoy....

Recipe options:
For a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie version:
Up the vanilla to 2 tsp, omit the cinnamon, and swap out the raisins for chocolate chips.
(This is the recipe I did, using a dash of cinnamon sugar and mini semi-sweet chips with the extra vanilla extract)

For a Cranberry Orange version:
Add one to two tablespoons of orange zest, half a teaspoon of almond extract, and swap out the raisins for dried cranberries.


Notes:
Serve with homemade whipped cream, syrup, vanilla ice cream or whatever else you think might go good alongside or on top if desired..

"Hoisin Pork Loin"

Recently while with my Mom, I had the opportunity to look through some of the old recipes and newspaper clippings she had put together over the years..

Some were family favorites I remember from childhood, some from friends of my parents, others were from cookbooks or articles from yesteryear and one was created by my Dad..

I had completely forgotten, and it was probably from fifteen or twenty years ago, but at one point my Pops had a recipe of his own published in a local New York newspaper—I thought that was beyond cool, especially since I have had the chance to be published too. Definitely shows how much we had in common..

So taking a trip down memory lane I try my hand at a recipe my Dad created decades ago; though I made a few tweaks of my own, considering that I would be feeding just two..

The flavor was amazing and I think you'll find it well worth the time and effort; and just in case, I'll be adding both my altered version and his original here for you..

 

Because no matter what I do believe that you will find them both, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Hoisin Pork Loin"

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Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 pounds Pork Tenderloin, room temperature
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 Scallions, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon whole Pink Peppercorns, hand crushed
2 Carrots, chopped
4 ounces fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Scotch Whiskey (amber single malt)
1/4 cup Water
3 Green Onions (Scallions), sliced for garnish
Fresh chopped Parsley, for garnish
Sea Salt and Pepper, plus more to taste
 

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and season all sides of your pork with fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper after sitting it out on the counter to come to room temperature..
2. Heat a cast iron skillet for 2 minutes on high heat, drizzle with olive oil and place tenderloin into skillet turning to brown on all sides-approximately 3 to 4 minutes..

3. Mince your garlic and mix into the Hoisin sauce; remove skillet from heat and then coat the pork with your Hoisin sauce mixture on all sides. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and crushed peppercorns, then place inside the top third of your oven to bake uncovered for 20 minutes until cooked through..
4. Quick steam cook your carrots in a microwave safe dish for 3 minutes in the microwave, then in a separate dish microwave the sliced mushrooms and green onion for 45 seconds..
5. When the pork is done; remove from skillet and tent with foil on a cutting board till ready..
6. Using protective oven mitts, return the skillet to the stove-top and add the Scotch Whiskey, 1/4 cup of water, carrots, mushrooms and scallion pieces—bring mixture to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. (Add water by the tablespoonful if too thick, or boil longer if to thin)
7. Remove sauce from heat. Slice the pork into one inch pieces, season with salt and pepper if desired, then pour over with sauce and vegetables—garnish with chopped parsley, sliced green onion and enjoy immediately...


"Pops Hoisin Pork Shoulder"

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 (6 1/2 pound) Pork Shoulder
3/4 cup Hoisin sauce
3 bunches of Green Onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon whole Peppercorns
3 medium Carrots, chopped
1/4 cup Scotch Whiskey
3/4 cup Water
1 (4 oz) can sliced Mushrooms
sliced Green Onions, for garnish

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat oil in a heavy, ovenproof pot over high heat. Add pork shoulder, fat side down, and brown all sides, turning often, about 12 minutes..
3. Remove pot from heat. Spread Hoisin sauce over pork. Sprinkle with green onion pieces, carrots and peppercorns..
4. Cover and place in oven. Cook until pork is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 3/4 hours. Add water to pot by the 1/4 cup fills if mixture is dry while cooking..
5. Remove pot from oven. Transfer pork to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let stand for 20 minutes..

6. Spoon off fat from pan juices. Stir in mushrooms and whiskey, along with 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add water by tablespoons if sauce is to thick, or boil longer to reduce sauce if to thin..
7. Cut pork into 1 inch thick slices. Garnish with green onion slices. Pour sauce over pork and serve..

"Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie" With "Cheesy Beer Bread Biscuits"

It being such a cold and wet day in New York, with the damp chill soaking into my bones and making it one of the ickier days this month so far—I decided that what was needed here was some good old comfort food...

Taking out an oldie but goody of a recipe, I decided to play around and see what I could do to liven it up a little and truly make it a "stick your bones" dish to warm the soul on a blustery winters day...

 

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Grabbing an armful of staples floating in fridge and freezer, I got down to work; from the rotisserie chicken (always try to keep one on hand) and the variety of fresh and frozen vegetables, I proceeded to shred, chop, slice and dice to my hearts content...

Making a simple gravy, I tossed it all together with some seasonings and poured it into my trusty cast iron skillet...

Time for the all important top to my take on the classic chicken pot pie. For this I decided on a cheesy beer bread biscuit dough, full of ale and yummy cheddar cheese...

Taking the basics of a beer bread mix, throwing in the cheese, beer and seasonings—I then scooped it into little biscuit shapes and dropped it on to the filling inside the skillet...

In the oven to bake and before long the wonderful smells start to permeate the house and then—lunch...

Definitely a perfect, quick and easy meal to make and serve on a cold day using what's on hand—and, oh so, "Definitely Delish

 

"Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie" with "Cheesy Beer Bread Biscuits"

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed & shredded
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions, more if desired
1 cup frozen peas & carrots (can mix and match vegetables, add corn, etc.)
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup low fat milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning blend
1 teaspoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon of olive oil

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Biscuit:
2 1/4 cups Bisquick mix (If you have beer bread mix, then use)
2/3 cup brown ale (I used Newcastle ale)
1/2 teaspoon fine minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 stick of softened butter
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream, as needed (optional)
1 tablespoon of melted butter, separate

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit...
2. To make the filling; whisk together broth, milk, cornstarch, sea salt, poultry seasoning and pepper...
3. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sauce thickens. Stir in your shredded chicken and mixed vegetables—return to a boil, then remove from heat...
4. To make the biscuits add all of the ingredients to a bowl except for the milk and ale. Mix together well, then slowly add the ale until fully incorporated. If mix is to dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk or cream at a time till desired consistency is reached...
5. Take a cast iron skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and using a brush or paper towel coat the inside of the skillet...
6. Add the fresh parsley to the filling and stir, then pour the heated filling ingredients inside your prepared skillet (or baking dish)
7. Next drop small biscuit sized amounts of the dough on top of the chicken mixture, making around 12 biscuits (I did slightly more, you can do slightly less as well)
8. Using a basting brush, brush tops of biscuit dough with the melted butter—and then place into the oven to bake...
9. Bake for approximately 18 to 22 minutes, until tops of the biscuits are a nice golden brown color and the filling is bubbly...
10. Remove for the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving...

Notes:
1. Any leftover biscuit dough can be dropped onto a parchment lined baking pan and cooked separately and saved in the fridge for up to 5 days...
2. You can mix and match vegetables, add corn, green beans, more onions, fresh or frozen—truly whatever you desire, or find in your fridge, freezer or cupboards...

"Pan Fried Gnocchi In Brown Butter Sage Sauce With Pumpkin"

Not quite ready to let go of the Fall season after the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.

I know, I know. We all look forward to those Winter holidays; whether it's for the presents, the snow or the camaraderie—me though, I love Fall and this year it seemed to pass all to quickly...

So as the months prepare to change and all the craziness of December shopping, cooking and running around gets prepared to start—I decided to treat myself to one more dish full of pumpkin, an spice and everything nice...

Hope you'll enjoy it and hope as well that you all have a very blessed and happy holiday season whatever you and yours may celebrate...

 

"Pan Fried Gnocchi" in a "Brown Butter Sage Sauce" with "Pumpkin"

Ingredients:
For the Gnocchi:
1 pound Gnocchi (Store bought or see Recipe in Notes)
3 Tbs. unsalted Butter, cut into 3 even pieces
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
For the Sauce:
12 Tbs. unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 large fresh Sage leaves, half of them minced
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Pumpkin Spice
Fine Sea salt & freshly ground White Pepper to taste
For the Garnish:
Fresh Pumpkin Seeds
1 tablespoon of Cinnamon Sugar
1-2 teaspoons of butter or oil-optional
Fresh chopped parsley or sage for garnish-optional

Directions:
Cook the Gnocchi:
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add about one-third of the gnocchi..
2. To get the gnocchi into the boiling water, fold the parchment ends to form a chute and gently shake the gnocchi out, taking care not to clump them together as you drop them in..
3. Give one gentle stir, wait until the gnocchi all float to the surface of the water, and then cook them for 1 minute..
4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter, and 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat..
5. When the butter is completely melted, use a large slotted spoon or a strainer to transfer the cooked gnocchi from the boiling water to the skillet, shaking off as much water as possible first. The gnocchi should form a single layer in the skillet. (If the butter is melted before the gnocchi cook, take it off the heat; if the gnocchi cook before the butter is fully melted, it’s fine to add the gnocchi.) Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the gnocchi, until they’re lightly browned, about 2 minutes..
6. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi..
Make the Sauce:
1. Wipe the skillet clean if necessary. Put it over medium-high heat and add the butter..
2. When the butter has almost completely melted, stir in the sage leaves. 3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a light brown color (be careful not to let it burn) and the sage leaves darken and crisp up slightly, 2 to 3 minutes..
4. Stir in pumpkin, pumpkin spice and brown sugar then remove from heat..
5. Add the reserved gnocchi and toss to coat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Garnish:
1. Toast pumpkin seeds in a skillet over medium heat for several minutes, toss with cinnamon sugar and allow to cool on a piece of parchment paper till ready to use. (May add a small amount of butter or oil with the seeds when toasting to allow the cinnamon sugar to stick more, but seeds will be tacky to the touch)

Notes: "For Gnocchi Recipe"
Ingredients:
3 large baking (Idaho) Potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds), scrubbed
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground White Pepper
Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour, or as needed

Directions:
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer but the skins are not split, about 35 minutes. (Alternatively, the potatoes can be baked in a preheated 400 degree oven until tender, about 40 minutes.)
2. Drain the potatoes and let them stand just until cool enough to handle. (The hotter the potatoes are when they are peeled and riced, the lighter the gnocchi will be.)
3. Working quickly and protecting the hand that holds the potatoes with a folded kitchen towel or oven mitt, scrape the skin from the potato with a paring knife..
4. Press the peeled potatoes through a potato ricer. Alternatively, the potatoes can be passed through a food mill fitted with the fine disc, but a ricer makes fluffier potatoes and therefore lighter gnocchi..
5. Spread the riced potatoes into a thin, even layer on the work surface, without pressing them or compacting them. Let them cool completely.
6. In a small bowl, beat the egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together. Gather the cold potatoes into a mound and form a well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well..
7. Knead the potato and egg mixtures together with both hands, gradually adding the grated cheese and enough of the flour, about 1 1/2 cups, to form a smooth but slightly sticky dough..
8. It should take no longer than 3 minutes to work the flour into the potato mixture; remember, the longer the dough is kneaded, the more flour it will require and the heavier it will become..
9. As you knead the dough, it will stick to your hands and to the work surface: Repeatedly rub this rough dough from your hands and scrape it with a knife or dough scraper from the work surface back into the dough as you knead..
10. Wash and dry your hands. Dust the dough, your hands, and the work surface lightly with some of the remaining flour. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and set off to one side of the work surface. Place one piece of dough in front of you and pat it into a rough oblong..
11. Using both hands, in a smooth back-and-forth motion and exerting light downward pressure, roll the dough into a rope 1/2 inch thick, flouring the dough if necessary as you roll to keep it from sticking. (When you first begin making gnocchi, until your hands get the feel of the dough, you may find it easier to cut each piece of dough in half to roll it.)
12. Slice the ropes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle the rounds lightly with flour and roll each piece quickly between your palms into a rough ball, flouring the dough and your hands as needed to prevent sticking..
13. Hold the tines of a fork at a 45-degree angle to the table with the concave part facing up. Dip the tip of your thumb in flour. Take one ball of dough and with the tip of your thumb, press the dough lightly against the tines of the fork as you roll it downward toward the tips of the tines. As the dough wraps around the tip of your thumb, it will form into a dumpling with a deep indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other..
14. Set on a baking sheet lined with a floured kitchen towel and continue forming gnocchi from the remaining dough balls. Repeat the whole process with the remaining pieces of dough. At this point the gnocchi must be cooked immediately or frozen..

"Fall Colors"

"Frosted Pumpkin Nutella Pop-Tarts"

It's fall, the leaves are finally changing colors and Halloween is almost upon us—and with that, also, there has been the kids return to school and everything that entails...

After school activities, sports, tournaments, projects, homework and a million other little things to keep the parents as busy as the kids—especially when you take into account work, family dinners and packed lunches...

 

With that in mind I wanted to make a recipe with a few easy over the counter items, that could be made ahead of time and saved for when you need it for the little crumbsnatchers gallivanting about your homes...

What better snack could fit this than a Fall take on a toaster classic—the "Pop-Tart"

 

Using pre-made store bought pie crusts, canned pumpkin, Nutella and some tubs of buttercream frosting—an what you end up with is an incredibly delicious treat that can be fridged or frozen for days or weeks in advance...

Heat it in a toaster oven, frost it and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar on top for good measure and yum, just yum...

 

 

Truly can't beat it for a quick fix before your kids youth tournament or for that next play date...

Try it out for yourself one day; I truly think you'll find it, like me, oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

 

"Frosted Pumpkin Nutella Pop-Tarts" with "Cinnamon Sugar"

Ingredients:
Pies:
4 packages raw pie crust
1 cup pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie mix)
1 egg
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (use 1/3 cup if you want it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light cream
1 cup Nutella, melted
2 tubs store-bought Buttercream Frosting

Glaze: (If using glaze, follow glaze directions)
1/4 cup butter  
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light cream, if needed
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F...
2. In a bowl beat together the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and milk until smooth...
3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles, roughly about 4 x 3 inches. Place a heaping tablespoon of the pumpkin filling on one of the rectangles, smoothing the pumpkin out to just before the edge of the dough...
4. Drizzle the melted Nutella over the pumpkin and use a toothpick or knife to lightly swirl the Nutella into the pumpkin...
5. Lay the another rectangle of dough over the filling and seal the edges by crimping with the back of a fork. Repeat until all the dough has been used, saving the scraps and re-rolling to make more rectangles...
6. Bake the pop tarts for 20 to 25 minutes, then let cool completely on the counter...

Glaze: (If freezing leave un-glazed and use frosting instead after reheating-see Notes)
1. While the pop-tarts cool make the frosting. Melt the butter on medium heat until frothy and then whisk in the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla...
2. If needed, whisk in the milk to thin. If the frosting seems too thin, add 1 tablespoon powdered sugar at a time until the frosting is thick, but pour-able...
3. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled pop-tarts and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. The glaze will harden after 5-10 minutes...

Note:
1. Store in an airtight container for up to 4-6 days in the fridge. If desired these can be heated in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes to warm them before eating, BUT the glaze will melt slightly on the pop-tart.
2. Un-glazed pop-tarts can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and then heat in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes..
3. If saving Pop-Tarts for later, after reheating, frost with pre-made store bought buttercream frosting and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (I used Pillsbury but any brand is as good)

"Skinny Bourbon Chicken"

I love food that's bad for you...

  I mean who doesn't, right?

  But as I've gotten older I've found that I just can't eat like I used, not on a regular basis anyway...

  Though I'll still on occasion make something sinfully delicious as you can plainly see from some of my other posts...

  This, though, just happens to be one of those happy creations where I discover a way to create that unbelievably delectable experience without the sin...

 

  Taking the wonderful flavors of a "New Orleans Style Bourbon Chicken" and tweaking the ingredients, measurements and cooking to create something that tastes, in essence, so incredibly close to the original but with less than half the calories amazes me...

"Blues on Bourbon" by R.Fisher

 

  That is what we have here; a scrumptious melding of Southern Comfort and other ingredients brought together in harmony to compose a sweet and slightly spiced melody that'll have you singing the Blues when it's all gone...

  I served mine with a sticky risotto rice this time but next time for an even healthier version I think I'll be using some riced cauliflower instead; either way I think you'll find this dish is perfect—because it is, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Skinny Bourbon Chicken"

Ingredients:
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 lbs boneless, skinless Chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup Water
1 cup brown sugar, packed (less using Truvia brown sugar blend-6 tblsp's)
3/4 cup low-sodium Chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce (Tamari-lite Japanese Soy)
1/4 cup Ketchup (low sugar)
1/4 cup Southern Comfort
2 tbsp Apple Cider vinegar
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 sweet Onion, minced
1 Shallot minced
1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated Ginger
1/2 cup Apple Cider
1 tbsp Corn Starch
Fresh Chives, Scallions and Parsley for garnish
White Rice (I used 1 cup Risotto Rice cooked with 3 cups of water till done and sticky)

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot. Add the chicken pieces and brown until lightly golden on all sides. This will take about ten minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. It will not be fully cooked yet...

2. In the now empty pot, add the water, sugar, chicken broth, soy sauce, ketchup, Southern Comfort, apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and ginger. Bring to a boil, and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan...

3. Add the chicken pieces back into the pan with the sauce, along with any accumulated juice on the plate. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and the sauce has started to thicken...

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the apple juice and corn starch. Stir into the pot with a wooden spoon, then turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, to thicken up the sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of Southern Comfort at the end before serving...

Serve while hot, and remember, this goes great with rice (and a glass of bourbon)

"Easy like a NOLA morning" by R.Fisher

Notes:
1. Slow Cooker Directions: Whisk together everything except for the chicken, apple juice, and corn starch. Pour into the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the chicken pieces, toss with a wooden spoon to coat, then cook over low for 6-7 hours, or high for 3 hours. Stir in the apple juice and cornstarch mixture at the very end to thicken up the sauce more if needed...

2. I used sticky white risotto rice this time but to cut the calories even more you could use riced Cauliflower or another alternative. (I'll be trying this next time I make it)

"BLT Sandwich Casserole"

"BLT Sandwich Casserole"

I always enjoy finding or creating recipes that can be made to fit any day or occasion...

This is one of those...

Whether it's breakfast or brunch, dinner or lunch—this "BLT Casserole" is just perfect for serving for family or friends...

Mine was made with a mix of homemade and locally sourced ingredients; but, of course, you could save yourself time by just going to your local supermarket for the bread and other ingredients—absolutely nothing wrong with that, I do it myself when I need too...

"Sourdough BLT Casserole"

 

 

This time though I decided to go the extra mile by making my own Sourdough from scratch (see the recipe in the Recipe Redux section of the Blog) as well as going to local farms for the fresh eggs, lettuce, tomatoes and bacon—nothing quite like farm fresh if you ask me...

After taking out some of my frozen chicken stock to thaw, I then whipped up some of Julia Child's foolproof mayonnaise—then it was time to work...

 

Cutting, toasting, slicing, chopping and then oven baking some bacon later—it was time to toss everything together and dump it into my oval roaster to bake for Brunch...

Already the house was smelling divine from all of the various parts involved in creating this dish; but after 45 minutes more of it all in the oven, my mouth was truly salivating at the thought of digging in...

 

 

A last couple of minutes under the broiler after brushing it down with some bacon fat (Mmm, bacon) and it was finally time to eat...

So good and so filling; truly a scrumptious, salty, savory dish for anytime of day or night and oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

 

"Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich Bake"

"BLT Casserole

Ingredients:
12-16 ounces crusty Sourdough bread cut into 1" cubes (about 8 cups)
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1" pieces
3 large farm fresh eggs
1 1/4 cups low-sodium organic chicken stock
1/2 cup organic Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or Sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pint grape sized heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 head local farmed butter lettuce, washed, dried very well, cut into 1" slices
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped Parsley, for garnish 

"Great For Anytime, Day Or Night"

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing once, until dry to the touch and slightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly....
2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat starts to render and bacon browns, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a small bowl, reserving 3 Tbsp. fat.
3. Whisk eggs, stock, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp. bacon fat in a large bowl...
4. Add bread and gently toss to combine. Add bacon and tomatoes and stir to combine. Let sit until bread has absorbed most of the liquid, about 15 minutes...
5. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add lettuce to bread mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake until top is golden brown, about 45 minutes...
6. Brush surface with remaining 1 Tbsp. bacon fat, turn broiler on, and continue baking until tops of bread are glistening and well toasted, 3–5 minutes more...
7. Garnish with parsley & chives, if using, and serve immediately...

"BLT Sammie Casserole"

Notes:
1. For the Bacon I used the oven cooking method; place bacon inside of a baking dish or on a rack inside of one and cook in a pre-heated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes-or until nicely browned. (Alternatively you can cook inside of a pan on the stove top)
2. If you want you can use any bakery bread you prefer, from wheat to pumpernickel- it's up to your own personal preference...

"Spiced French Toast Bake"

"Spiced French Toast Bake"

I find that creating breakfast recipes can be some of the toughest to do...

I mean there's only so many ways to scramble an egg or make an omelette, waffle or French toast...

An though I've still attempted it by tweaking an "Eggs Benedict" using "English" crumpets and "Kobe-Wagyu" sirloin burgers or by layering a "Frittata" with potatoes, pancetta, mushrooms, asparagus and cheese—I still find it tough to find a technique or addition to make a breakfast recipe truly my own...

"Farm Fresh, Organic & Homemade"

"Farm Fresh, Organic & Homemade"

This is one of those...

Taking a personal love of all things bread related; I took buttered toast for breakfast, along with my French Toast recipe and decided to combine the two together with a twist...

Taking cues from a "New Orleans" style Bread Pudding (which has been much on my mind as me and my Baby plan our return trip); I played around with the ingredients and after a night at rest, me and my Baby were blessed to have this beautiful symphony of sweet and spicy ingredients slowly baking in the oven...

"Sweet, Spicy & Buttery"

Once done, and dusted with powdered sugar, it was ready to be served up with some pure organic maple syrup...

Such a serendipitously satisfying selection to soothe both your hunger and your sweet tooth at the same time...

So try out my "Spiced French Toast Bake" yourself; I think you'll find that it is,
oh so "Definitely Delish

"Sweet & Spicy Sliced French Toast" 

"Spiced French Toast Bake"

Ingredients:
1 loaf of fresh made Whole Wheat Bread, cut into 14 slices
3 tablespoons unsalted Irish Butter, softened
6 tablespoons granulated organic Sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
6 farm fresh Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Light Cream
1 tablespoon Amber Rum
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground Cloves, Allspice & Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Organic Maple syrup to finish (optional)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice your bread into 14 slices and then diagonally into triangles. Arrange them on a large baking tray and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until firm to the touch but not yet browned. You can flip halfway through baking...
2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or other 3-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Melt the remaining butter in a dish and using a silicone basting brush, brush each slice of bread after they're done in the oven...
3. Fan your bread slices out into the pan. Now place sugar and lemon zest in the bottom of a small dish and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar, so it breaks up a bit and also releases the most flavor. Sprinkle half of lemon sugar over bread inside your casserole dish...
4. Whisk eggs in a large bowl; then slowly whisk in the cream and milk, followed by the ground spices...
5. Stir in vanilla, rum and salt. Pour custard slowly and evenly over bread and sugar, then sprinkle with the remaining lemon sugar... 
6. Let mixture soak covered overnight in the fridge. If pressed for time you can let it sit for 30 minutes on the counter instead before baking, but overnight is better...

"French Toast Bread Pudding"

7. When ready, heat oven to 365 degrees. Loosely cover the "French Toast Bake" with foil and bake for 15 minutes on the middle (or just below middle) rack of the oven. Remove foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes more, until a knife inserted into the center of the casserole and turned slightly causes no liquid custard to spill into the crack. (This can vary by the density of your bread; it can sometimes take longer to finish. Check regularly till done every couple of minutes)
8. Let cool slightly before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup on the side, if desired...

"Spiced French Toast"

"Sweet, Spicy & Delicious"

"Buttered Toast, French Toast And Bread Pudding Together At Last"

"Perfect on a Sunday Morning"

"Oia, Santorini - Somber Shades by R.Fisher"

"Kobe-Wagyu Burger Benedict with Avocado"

"Kobe-Wagyu Sirloin Burger Eggs Benedict" with "Avocado" and "Peppered Asiago" on top of a buttered & toasted "English Crumpet"

It's been a rough couple of weeks for cooking; between my birthday, the holiday, doctors and other things—just hasn't seemed like I had it in me to do much in the kitchen...
Now, though, after a week or so of abject laziness on my part, or so it might have appeared, I've decided to jump back in with a simple "Sunday Brunch" style dish with a tiny twist all my own...
So feast your eyes on the yummy pictures because this week we're pretty much heading straight to the recipes; give it a try yourself, all or in parts, I think you'll find it to be oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

"English Crumpet"

"English Crumpet"

"Warm Crumpets"

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups plain flour (all purpose)
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon dried yeast
1 level teaspoon caster sugar (regular sugar will also work)
1/2 pint milk (just over 1 cup. You may need a little more.)
6 Tablespoons cold water

Note:
You need some egg rings or metal rings to shape the crumpets when they are cooking. If you don’t have, use a clean shallow can with both ends removed...

"Eggs Benedict"

Directions:
1. In a jug measure out the milk and place in the microwave for 80 seconds. It needs to be warm to touch and NOT hot. Then add the 6 tablespoons of cold water, stir and then stir in the sugar and dried yeast and leave it in a warm place for 10-15 minutes till there is a good frothy head on it...
2. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, make a well in the center then, when the yeast mixture is frothy, pour it all in. Next use a wooden spoon or hand whisk, to work the flour into the liquid gradually and beat well at the end to make a perfectly smooth batter. The batter should be like pouring consistency, a bit like drinking yogurt. Not thick. If it is too thick, add more milk until it is loose enough...
3. Cover the basin with a tea-towel and leave to stand in a warm place for about 45 minutes - by which time, the batter will have become light and frothy...
4. Then we cook the crumpets: grease the insides of the egg rings well, and grease the frying pan as well before placing it over a LOW heat. I put some vegetable oil in a bowl and keep it handy to brush the pan & rings...
5. Arrange the rings in the frying pan and, when the pan is hot, spoon 2 tablespoons of the crumpet batter into each ring. Depending on the size of your rings, the batter should be 1 inch high...
6. Let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes: First tiny bubbles will appear on the surface and then, suddenly, they will burst, leaving the traditional holes...
7. When your crumpets look like they're beginning to set, this is when you need to take a knife and go around the inside to release the crumpet (it might have stuck to the ring) and carefully push the crumpet through onto the pan and then they are ready to carefully turn over. It is only when you see the holes and the surface begin to set, you need to release the crumpet from the ring and turn them...
8. Please be careful when touching the rings..they will be hot! So use a cloth...
9. Now take a large spoon and fork, lift off the rings and turn the crumpets over. Cook the crumpets on the second side for about 1 minute only. Re-grease and reheat the rings and pan before cooking the next batch of crumpets...
10. Serve the crumpets while still warm, generously buttered. If you are making crumpets in advance, then reheat them by toasting lightly on both sides before serving...

"Creamy  Hollandaise  Sauce"

"Creamy Hollandaise Sauce"


"Hollandaise Sauce"

Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cream
1 cup (1/2 pound) melted butter, cooled to room temperature
2/3 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
 
Directions:
1. Use a small, thick ceramic bowl set in a heavy-bottomed pan, or a heavyweight double boiler. Off the heat, put the egg yolks and cream in the bowl or upper section of the double boiler and stir with a wire whisk until well-blended — the mixture should never be beaten but stirred, evenly, vigorously and continually...
2. Place the container over hot water (if you are setting the bowl in water, there should be about 1 1/2 inches of water in the pan; in a double boiler, the water should not touch the top section)...
3. Stirring eggs continuously, bring the water slowly to a simmer. Do not let it boil. Stir, incorporating the entire mixture so there is no film at the bottom...
4. When the eggs have thickened to consistency of very heavy cream, begin to add the cooled melted butter with one hand, stirring vigorously with the other...
5. Pour extremely slowly so that each addition is blended into the egg mixture before more is added...
6. When all the butter has been added, add the lemon juice or vinegar a drop at a time and immediately remove from heat. Add salt and a mere dash of cayenne...

Note:
If you proceed with care your Hollandaise should not curdle. If it does, however, don't despair. Finish adding the butter as best you can. Remove sauce to a small bowl, clean the pot and put a fresh egg yolk in it. Start over again, using the curdled sauce as if it were the butter...

"Plastic Wrap for the Win"

"Plastic Wrap for the Win"


"Poached Eggs Easy"

Ingredients:
Eggs
Plastic wrap
Nonstick Spray

"Poached Perfection"

"Poached Perfection"

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to just under a simmer. It should be steaming, but not boiling or simmering at all...
2. Working with one egg at a time, line a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap about 8 inches long...
3. Spray the plastic wrap very lightly with nonstick spray...
4. Crack an egg into the center of the bowl. Pull the edges of the plastic wrap up to form a little packet with the egg in the center...
5. Twist the plastic so it seals at the top and make sure to keep it secure. Do as many eggs as you want this way!
6. When you're ready to cook the eggs, just dangle them in the water and make sure they aren't touching the bottom of the pan. Move them around slowly so the water circulates around the eggs. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of your egg. At any point you can lift the eggs out of the water and feel them, they should be firm and white around the outside but give a bit in the center...
7. When they are done, move all the eggs to an ice bath to stop the cooking...
8. When you're ready to serve the eggs, just dunk them back in the hot water or about 15 seconds to reheat them. Then cut off the top of the plastic and the plastic will fall away and you'll be left with a perfect soft cooked egg...


"Kobe-Wagyu Sirloin Burger"

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of Wagyu Beef Sirloin (I ground it myself, but you could find pre-ground)
1 teaspoon Sea Salt

"Benedict with a Twist"

 

Directions:
1. Mix together and form into patties and then cook in a fry pan or on a grill at medium to medium high heat until cooked to liking, aprox. 3 to 5 minutes....

 

 

 

 

"Delish Brunch"

"Kobe-Wagyu Sirloin Burger Eggs Benedict" with "Avocado" and "Peppered Asiago"

Ingredients:
Pre-made Crumpets (from above recipes)
Pre-made Burgers (from above recipes)
Pre-made Hollandaise (from above recipes)
Poached Eggs (from above recipes)
1 ripe Avocado, seeded and sliced
1 chunk peppered Asiago cheese, shaved/grated
Fresh chopped Chives for garnish
Fresh chopped Italian Parsley for garnish
Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper to taste
Butter for Crumpets

"Like my Burger on the rare side but you can cook to liking"

Directions:
1. Make above recipes in amounts needed for the amount of people you plan to serve, saving extras in the fridge if not needed...
2. Toast and butter a crumpet, place a cooked kobe-wagyu burger on top and follow that with one poached egg...
3. Place 3 slices of avocado on top followed by several spoonfuls of Hollandaise sauce, then a teaspoon or two of grated cheese...
4. Garnish with chives, parsley, salt and pepper to taste...

Serve and Enjoy........

"Sunday Brunch Benedict"