"Fried Hot-Water Cornbread Bites"

It has been a busy few days or more of work on a cake for a baby shower along with all of the work me and my Sweetie are doing on the new Travel Business we started at "Superior Travel Destinations"

Everything has been coming along great but between the two projects, I haven't had the extra time or energy leftover after work for my regular cooking, let alone my blog..

So it's not every day that you have time to make some over intricate or "wow" meal; but sometimes, just sometimes, you get to wanting something simple and delicious..

When I think of that I think of Southern Comfort Style cuisine; ribs, pulled pork, red beans & rice, and cornbread..

Mmm, cornbread...

I don't know what it is about it but something in the taste of that buttery sweet goodness of cornbread makes it something I rarely pass up-no matter what kind of health or diet kick I might be on at the time..

It's really kind of funny if you think about it, but a boy from New York could live on southern comfort food for life-must've been New Orleans, the tastes, the sounds, the smells. I just can't get it out of my soul..

So enjoy these little bites of cornbread heaven and serve them next to your Jambalaya, Pulled Pork, Country Ribs or heat them up for breakfast with some Coffee & Chicory, Eggs and Andouille Sausage..

If you do, I'm sure that you'll find them "Definitely Delish"

 

"Fried Hot-Water Cornbread Bites"

Ingredients:
2 cups fine fresh Cornmeal
1/2 cup White Sugar
2 tablespoons of Baking Powder
1/3 cup of melted Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of fine Sea Salt or Himilayan Salt
2 cups, or more of Boiling Hot Water (as much as is needed to reach a batter like consistency)
Vegetable Oil for cooking

Directions:
1. In a large bowl combine the corn meal, baking powder, sugar, salt and stir to combine. Add melted butter and vanilla; then add boiling water, starting with about 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Carefully stirring to combine..
2. Continue adding additional boiling water until a batter like consistency is reached. It should be pour-able, like pancake batter. (Different corn meals will require different amounts of water. Start with less and add more if you need it.)
3. I used an ebeliskiver pan to make small rounded bites. Heat on medium to medium high, brush with vegetable oil and pour batter into the rounded circles, as it starts to set gently flip the individual bites and cook till done.. 4. Should only take 4 to 6 minutes cooking time total depending on stove-top. If needed start with one to test your timing to completion before making an entire batch. (See Notes for Options)

Notes:
1. If you do not own an ebelskiver pan, add approximately a 1/4 inch of vegetable oil to a pan and heat to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add about a 1/4 cup of batter to heated oil and cook till browning (3-4 minutes) then gently flip and cook and additional 3 minutes working in batches to retain oil temperature..
2. An option for the ebelskiver pan version is to cut out marble size squares of butter and freeze them for 30 minutes inside the freezer. Partially fill the ebelskiver pan with batter and as it cooks add frozen butter to center, gently pressing it into cooking batter--then covering with more batter before flipping, to add a kick of melty butter flavor to the center of each bite. (I did this myself, and it was delicious.)

"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!!

 

"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...

"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"

"Scrumptious Sides For Your Fall & Winter Holiday Table"

Summer's over and all the children are back in school; so you know what that means, that's right, the Holiday season is upon us. For the next several months the parties and dinners will almost be non-stop and though the big granddaddy of them all may be "Thanksgiving" in November, there will be more than enough other events both big and small to occupy our days in the meantime. So to help with that all important decision this year about what to bring, or serve, as a vegetable for family and friends at your next gathering. Let me suggest two that will serve you well…


A quick and simple side, full of the incredible flavor of Italian bacon and perfect to either make for your own, or bring to a, Thanksgiving Day celebration with family or friends…

"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. Begin by partially cooking the Brussel 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. Add the garlic and sauté until pale golden, about 2 minutes...
3. 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...


This is the most delicious cauliflower recipe you’ll eat and on top of that it’s such an easy addition to include a roasted cauliflower in your family’s dinner plan or for a dinner party with friends. I have also been told you can do it in an instant pot, and then brown in the oven for a few minutes.

"Whole Roasted Cauliflower"

Ingredients:
1 whole head of Cauliflower
½ cup of Greek Olive oil (premium EVOO available at The Crushed Olive, Babylon)
Clarified Butter or Ghee (available at North Shore Farms, or substitute butter)
Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
Cast Iron Skillet (or any oven safe pan)
1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan or Sea Salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Ground White Pepper, or more to taste
Aluminum/Tin Foil

Directions:
1. First, go and preheat your oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Then trim the bottom of the cauliflower and remove all the leaves and the hard stem – but without breaking apart the cauliflower...
2. Go ahead and give it a quick rinse, patting it to dry. Generously drizzle your extra virgin olive oil on top. It’s the key to a perfectly roasted cauliflower head. Then add salt and pepper...
3. Using your hands spread the oil and salt all around the cauliflower.  Place it in an oven-safe pan and cover tightly it with foil. I use a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t have one, anything that you use in the oven will work...
4. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower...
5. Now, remove foil and allow it to roast for an additional 60 minutes so it turns golden brown. Keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn...
6. After it’s finished; melt 3 Tbsps. of Ghee (clarified butter, available at North Shore Farms) and mix in the chopped parsley, then drizzle or brush it on the cauliflower while it’s still hot...
7. Once it’s sliced, it may need extra salt-season to taste…

"Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta"

"Roasted Cauliflower"

"Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts"

"Holiday dinner is perfect for these sides"

"Thanksgiving Dinner Or Anytime - You Can't Go Wrong With These Veggie Dishes"

"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...

"Sweet & Creamy Polenta" with "Roasted Vegetable Sauce"

"Polenta with Roasted Vegetable Sauce"

I can't believe it, but it's been only just a little over a year now since I started playing around with the idea of blogging online...

 

It certainly has felt like so much longer to me...

 

 

 

 

Now between all of the cooking, photographing and sharing of my recipes I've been blessed to have met some of the kindest, sweetest and most supportive "Foodies" from just about every corner on Earth...

 

"Venice" by R.Fisher

 

They really have been beyond wonderful and I've cherished the friendships I've made with each of them...

One of the very first good friends within the "Foodie" community that I made was Lizzy, from A Tasty Mess...

 

 

"Farm Fresh and Organic"

"Farm Fresh and Organic"

 

An at home Chef, much like myself, from Houston Texas—who beyond just the incredible encouragement she always gave me, and my early endeavors, was also kind enough to invite me to write, and create, a guest post on her blog—a post that amazingly enough even made it onto the The Daily Meal...

"Sweet Polenta with Sauce"

 

For someone like myself who hadn't ever even shared a recipe, let alone write & photograph for a website, this was an opportunity that I've always been grateful for...

So in honor of the recipe that started it all, I've decided to take most of the same wonderful ingredients to create this dish—a mix of farm fresh and organic, brought together to give you a scrumptious "Sweet & Creamy Polenta" with a "Roasted Vegetable Sauce"

Try it out for yourself. I'll think you'll find it, oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

"Freshest Ingredients"

"Freshest Ingredients"

"Sweet & Creamy Polenta" with "Roasted Vegetable Sauce
(serves about 4)

Roasted Vegetable Sauce:
Ingredients:
1/3 cup Kalamata Olive oil
1-2 Japanese eggplants, cut into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces
1 medium Zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine (Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio)
1 cup chopped fire roasted tomatoes (fresh or canned)
6 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon organic sugar
1/2 tablespoon Shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped 

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large deep sided sauté pan on medium heat—add the various sliced vegetables (zucchini, eggplant & squash) and pan roast for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned...
2. Now add the shallots and cook for one minute more before draining off any excess oil if necessary...
3. Follow by adding the tomato paste to the pan and stir, cooking for 2 minutes, before then adding the wine and cooking for 1 more minute...
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, sea salt, organic sugar and fresh oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside or save; warm it up when ready to serve...

"The Grand Canal" by R.Fisher

Polenta:
Ingredients:
6 ears of Farm Fresh Corn
2 cups Water
3 tablespoons unsalted Irish Butter, diced
7 ounces Bulgarian Feta, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Fresh ground White Pepper

 

 

"Polenta with Roasted Vegetables"

"Polenta with Roasted Vegetables"

Directions:
1. Remove the leaves and "silk" from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Using a sharp knife to shave off the kernels by either standing each ear upright on its base and shaving downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels...
2. You want to have about 1 pound of corn kernels...
3. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Add one tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes on low heat simmering...
4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the kernels from the water and place them into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid...
5. Process them for several minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process...
6. Now return the processed corn to the pan with the reserved cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to an almost mashed potato consistency. (If you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take longer to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter)
7. Fold in the remaining butter, the feta, sea salt and some pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and add more sea salt & white pepper if needed...

"Porto'Fino At Night" by R.Fisher

"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"

"Dark Chocolate Popcorn Granola Bars"

"Dark Chocolate Granola Bars"

I'm always fiddling around the kitchen playing with this or that recipe and though not everything is a home run the first time out, more often than not, I will still make something worthwhile and delicious to nosh on...

This one though was a definite hit; mixing the slightly buttery & salty taste of fresh made popcorn with the crunch of granola, the sweet tang of dried cranberries and nuttiness of chopped pecans enrobed in dark chocolate and honey to create something not unlike but so much better than a rice crispy treat...

"Streets of Salem in Fall"

Decadent, Delectable & Delicious—truly this on the go snack, or late night treat, tastes almost to sinful to eat—but it's full of so much organic, healthy and natural goodness that you can most definitely give yourself a pass and enjoy it no matter whether you're in full on fit mode or not...

I know I'm going to love snacking on this in the days ahead and I think you would too; because it is, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Dark Chocolate Granola Bars"


"Dark Chocolate Popcorn Granola Bars"

Ingredients:
7 cups Organic Popcorn, popped
1 cup Organic Pecans, chopped
1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Cinnamon Granola (I used an Organic fresh mix from a Organic Market, but Bare Naked and other brands are good too)
3/4 cup Dried Cranberries (natural no sugar added)
2/3 cup natural, unfiltered & organic Raw Honey
1/2 cup fresh made ground Almond Butter (Natural Almond Butter is okay as well)
2 teaspoons natural Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt, finely ground

"Dark Chocolate Granola Bars"

Directions:
1. Make the popcorn fresh and then mix together with the pecans, chocolate chips, granola and cranberries in a large bowl. Stir, then set aside...
2. Place a generous amount of raw honey in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring it to a gentle boil, adjusting heat if necessary... 
3. After the honey is boiling then stir in your almond butter, and let it bubble for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, ground cloves and cinnamon...
4. Carefully pour the hot mixture over top of the popcorn and other ingredients, then mix together thoroughly...
5. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with a nonstick butter spray, then scoop out and evenly press the mixture into the pan...
6. Let it cool in the fridge for 15 minutes or more (loosely covered); then, when ready, remove it from the pan and slice it into squares  or bars to serve...
7. Store in a covered container for up to 5 days—or up to a week, or more, when refrigerated... 

"NOLA at Night"

"The Cubano-A Southeastern Sandwich Classic"

"Cuban Sandwich"

As you can see, the love of sandwiches has continued this week—from the deliciousness of "Pulled Pork" to the incredible merging of sweet and savory with the "Monte Cristo"

Now though I bring you that most delectable of Miami favorites, the "Cubano" or "Cuban Sandwich"

 

"Cubano"

As with Cuban bread, the origin of the Cuban sandwich (sometimes called a "Cuban mix," a "mixto," a "Cuban pressed sandwich," or a "Cubano") is murky and somewhat intriguing...

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, travel between Cuba and Florida was easy, especially from Key West and Tampa, and Cubans frequently sailed back and forth for employment, pleasure, and family visits...

"Cuban Pressed Sandwich"

Because of this constant and largely undocumented movement of people, culture and ideas, it is impossible to say exactly when or where the Cuban sandwich originated.—it's rumored, though, to have originated in Cuba or Key West before spreading in popularity from Tampa to Miami...

Wherever it came from, and whatever it's origins, you almost have to stop to try one in "Versailles" or another eatery in "Little Havana" just to indulge in some of the local flavor...

"Crashing Waves along the Keys"

If traveling to the sandy shores of Florida is out of the question though, why not sit back comfortably in your own home and try my very own tasty take on this Southeastern classic...

I think you'll find it to be oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

 

"Cuban Sammie"

"Classic Cuban Sandwich"

Ingredients:
8 oz. Brown Sugar Baked Pit Ham, sliced (see recipe section)
12 oz. Roasted Marinated Pork Shoulder, sliced (see recipe section)
8 oz. Emmentaler Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced
6 Half-Sour Dill Pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup Sweet Cream Butter, softened
3 tablespoons Yellow Mustard, for brushing
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise, for brushing
6 (six to 9 inches long) soft Baguettes or Club rolls, split
lengthwise (If Cuban bread is unavailable)

"Cubano Sandwich"

Directions:
1. Heat a large cast-iron griddle or panini press. Add the ham slices to the griddle and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned in spots, about 1 minute. Transfer ham to a plate...
2. Generously butter the cut sides of each baguette(roll) and toast on the griddle over moderate heat until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes...
3. Transfer the baguettes to a work surface and generously brush the top cut sides with 2 teaspoons of mustard, and the bottom cut sides with 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise...
4. Layer the ham, emmentaler Swiss cheese, pickles  and pork on to each baguette and close the sandwiches...
5. Generously brush the outside of the sandwiches with more butter and set them on the griddle or press; if using a griddle, top the sandwiches with a large baking sheet and weigh it down with heavy cans or a cast-iron skillet...
6. Now cook the sandwiches over moderate heat until they’re browned and crisp on the outside and the cheese is melted, 3 minutes per side on a griddle or 3 minutes total in a press. Cut the "Cubanos" in half and serve while hot with some Yucca fries with banana ketchup or chips...

Notes:
Additional Recipes:

"Yucca Fries with Banana Ketchup"

"Yucca Fries with Banana Ketchup"

Ingredients:
Ketchup:
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
4 whole pickled jalapeños, stems discarded, plus 2 tablespoon pickling liquid from the jar
1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 cup ketchup
1 cup lightly packed Basil
Sea Salt and Pepper

Fries:
3 pounds yucca (about 4 yucca)
Peanut oil, for frying
Sea Salt
Lime wedges, for serving

"Yucca Fries"

Directions:
Ketchup:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the bananas with the vegetable stock, onion, water, pickled jalapeño, garlic and ginger and bring to a boil...
2. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until the bananas and onion are very tender, 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender and let cool slightly. Add the ketchup, basil and the jalapeño pickling liquid and puree until smooth...
3. Scrape the banana ketchup into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes...
Fries:
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Peel the yucca and cut into 3-inch lengths. Cut the lengths into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Cook the yucca in the boiling water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes...
2. Drain well and spread on a baking sheet to cool and dry; discard any stringy pieces of yucca...
3. In a large saucepan, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil to 360 degrees. Set a rack over a baking sheet. Working in batches, fry the yucca, stirring gently to separate the wedges, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes...
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the wedges to the rack and season generously with salt. Serve right away with the banana ketchup and lime wedges...

"Waves Breaking Along the Florida Gulf"

"The Monte Cristo-A Sandwich Classic"

"Monte Cristo"

Recently I've found myself greatly desiring sandwiches for dinner; I don't know what it is, perhaps I've just had an overwhelming hankering for bread—which I don't nearly eat as often as I used too...

Regardless of the reasoning behind my latest creation; you, my dear friends, get to enjoy the fruits of both my desires and labors—which this time have brought forth that delectable mix of sweet and savory ingredients, the "Monte Cristo"

"Porto'fino by Night"

Thought to have it's origins in a Paris cafés offering of a "Croque Monsieur"—which was gruyere cheese and lean ham between slices of crust-less bread, fried in clarified butter.

This sandwich is still a popular snack or casual meal throughout France and Switzerland in most bars and cafés. It is usually made in a special sandwich grilling iron consisting of two hinged metal plates, each with two shell-shaped indentations...

"Classic Monte Cristo"

At some point though in America, in the 30's and 40's, the sandwich began to pop up in cookbooks across the country as a "French Toasted Cheese" sandwich or "Toasted Ham" sandwich—shortly followed by it's appearances all across southern California and finally Disneyland in the 60's...

During this deliciously desirable sandwiches travels from the quaint riverside cafés of Paris to the restaurants of Disney and beyond it finally achieved the form we are all familiar with today...

"NOLA on my Mind"

So, for this "Monte Cristo" I took my tried and true traditional French Toast recipe, aged gruyere cheese, fresh roasted turkey, honey baked ham and a variety of accompaniments to create this wonderfully scrumptious and incredibly satisfying merging of the very best of both sweet and savory ingredients—I think if you try it you'll find that it is, most assuredly, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Sweet & Savory Monte Cristo"


"Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich"

Ingredients:
8 slices firm bread, sliced 1 inch thick (I use Challah bread)
6 large Eggs
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted Sweet Cream Butter
2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Dijon or Deli Mustard
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
12 ounces Baked Ham, sliced
8 ounces roasted Turkey, sliced
8 ounces Aged Gruyère cheese, shaved
Powdered Sugar for dusting

"Delish Monte Cristo Sandwich"

Directions:
1. Slice your bread into 8 pieces and then put them on the top rack of your oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes to dry them out—you want to avoid toasting the bread beyond a light golden color...
2. Whisk together the heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves and sea salt in a medium bowl. Pour the mix into a 9x13-inch baking pan for easy dipping...
3. Allow the butter to soften at room temperature then preheat a large skillet or grill plate at medium temperature...
4. Take 2 slices at a time and place them into the egg mixture for 20 seconds, then flip them over for another 20 seconds—add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet and your dipped bread then cook until golden brown (approx. 2 minutes to each side)
5. Repeat this process with the remaining bread slices, then set the skillet aside till ready to use again...
6. Now to assemble the sandwiches. Begin by spreading softened butter on the inside of each slice of French Toast; follow that with a thin layer (2 teaspoons) of mustard on 4 slices of toast, and a layer (2 teaspoons) of mayonnaise on the remaining 4 slices...
7. Top the 4 slices with mayonnaise with an equal amount of shaved Gruyere cheese, followed by roast turkey and then the baked ham—top with the final 4 slices of French toast, pressing them together gently...
8. Set your skillet back over medium-low heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter...
9. Brush the tops of your Monte Cristo sandwiches with a small amount of the remaining butter and place butter side down, two at a time, for two minutes
10. While cooking brush the top of the sandwiches with butter and when ready flip them over gently, and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes more...
11. Repeat with the final two sandwiches, slicing them in half and dusting with a small amount of powdered sugar...

"The Perfect Monte Cristo"

Notes:
1. Serve with real maple syrup or your favorite replacement...
2. Also can be served with Homemade Strawberry preserves (or small batch, farm stand quality) on the side, for a deliciously sweet addition. (Raspberry & Red Currant are also good choices)

"Pasta e Fagioli-An Amazing Italian Tradition"

"Pasta e Fagioli"

 "Pasta e Fagioli" is a typical Italian dish, which has its origins in the countryside tradition, and of which there are an endless supply of regional variations...

Indeed there is no actual "official" recipe for Italian pasta and beans, but there's practically a recipe for almost every area...

Maybe, in the end, it's the most "national" dish of Italy; present in all regions, from the Alps to the Mediterranean...

"Venice Canals by Gondola"

 

This is just my version, created over time and taking influences and ideas from a variety of sources and regions—in no way is this the definitive version...

Even so, though my "Pasta e Fagioli" recipe has a few personal touches outside of what you might consider the norm (the addition of arugula) - I still love it and any well made pasta and beans soup recipe...

"Italian Pasta & Bean Soup"

I hope that you'll give it a try—you may just find you enjoy it as much as me and my family does; because it is, oh so "Definitely Delish"


"Pasta e Fagioli"

Ingredients:
1 (32 oz.) can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 small can of Tomato sauce (14 oz.)
1 Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped
9 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
1 can (14 oz.) of Cannellini Beans
1 can (14 oz.) of Butter Beans
1 can (14 oz.) of Dark Red Kidney
1 can (14 oz.) of Chick Peas
10 oz. of thick cut lean Prosciutto, diced
1 pound Ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups low sodium Chicken Broth
1-2 cups of Arugula
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh chopped Parsley
Fresh Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

"Pot of Pasta e Fagioli cooking"

Directions:
1. Sauté onion, garlic and prosciutto in the olive oil for 4-5 minutes on medium heat, till onion begins to soften and prosciutto begins to brown...
2. Add crushed tomatoes and sauce and cover, reducing heat to a simmer...
3. Meanwhile rinse off canned beans in a colander, then add to the pot—simmering for 20 minutes...
4. While the soup simmers; bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta till al dente, follow the box directions...
5. Reserve 1 cup of pasta liquid and drain; then add pasta & reserved cooking liquid to the beans and sauce mixture, stirring on low heat...
6. Add salt, pepper, parsley and arugula to the pot; adjusting the salt or pepper to personal tastes, also add 2-3 tablespoons grated cheese at this time and mix well...
7. Let stand on low heat for 5-10 minutes to meld flavors; if it's too thick you may add some Chicken broth, a little at a time, to reach your desired consistency...
8. Serve while hot with crusty Italian bread and butter...

"Bean Soup just as good the next day"

Notes:
1. I like to mix and match beans, sometimes using Roman or pink, small or large white etc—use what you enjoy best and be creative...
2. When I make Pasta e Fagioli; I prefer it nice & thick, then watery like a soup—an usually serve it as my main meal with hot crusty buttered bread and more grated cheese on the side...
3. Greens are optional, I'll occasionally add Arugula or fresh chopped Escarole for color and flavor—you could also mix the two, or add some chard or kale even but be careful it doesn't change the flavor to much...

"Portofino At Dawn"

"Minestrone Soup-An Old Italian Favorite"

"Minestrone Soup"

Minestrone soup has a really rich history. It is known in Italy as "cucina povera" or literally poor mans soup, a peasant soup. It shows up in cook books as far back as 30 AD...

However, at its beginnings, the ingredients were pooled from ingredients for other dishes, often side dishes or "contorni" plus whatever was left over from meals...

"Flowers before a Monastery" 

 

Eventually over time, as the Roman Empire spread, more ingredients became available throughout Italy—though it wasn't till the 1600's that tomatoes first began appearing in Minestrone soups all over the the Italian countryside...

Then, at some point in time, it suddenly became a dish made for its own sake and not using the leavings of other dishes or the remainders of vegetables soon to spoil...

"Hearty Italian Soup"

Now every region of Italy has there own version of this wonderful winter soup. (Actually a wonderful anytime soup)

I should warn you though; this recipe is not a 30-Minute Meal, a One Pot Wonder, a Five Ingredient Dinner, a Set-it-and-Forget-it Dish or any of the other cute little titles you can think of dished up daily in foodie mags and, um, blogs kind of like this one...

"Looking out on the Mediterranean" 

 

This minestrone, is not cute. It is a tad bit messy and just a little demanding...

It involves planning as well as some mincing, chopping, shredding, rinsing and blending. Oh, And time. A nice bit of time. The kind of time you once had on a Sunday afternoon before you got too busy either running your kids all over creation or just trying to recover from a weeks worth of work...

"Cooking up the soup base"

"Cooking up the soup base"

 

Trust me though, in the end, you'll be left with one amazingly wonderfully deliciously layered soup just chock full of Italian flavor, Italian history and oh so "Definitely Delish"


"Minestrone Soup"

Ingredients:
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery ribs, chopped
1 medium Vidalia Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 can Crushed Tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can dice Stewed Tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 can Roman beans, rinsed & drained (15 oz.)
1 can Garbanzo beans or Chickpeas, rinsed & drained (15 oz.
1 can Beef Broth (14.5 oz.)
2 cans Low Sodium-Fat Free Chicken Broth (14.5 oz. each can)
1 cup of Vegetable Stock (8 oz.)
3 cups of Savoy Cabbage, chopped/shredded (or more if desired-see Notes for additional options)
4 Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced (see Notes)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Bay Leaf
2 tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
Parmesan Cheese Rind (Optional Ingredient, see Notes)
3-4 oz. diced Pancetta (Optional-see Notes)
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
1-2 cups dry Pasta (see Notes)

"Pasta mixed into the Minestrone"

Directions:
1. Heat a large stock pot on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil—then add Pancetta to pot. (if using this option-see Notes) Cook for two minutes...
2. Add Garlic and Red Pepper flakes then cook for one minute, lower temperature to medium low if needed to avoid over cooking...
3. Now add the Onion, Celery and Carrots to the pot and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes—until vegetables soften slightly...
4. At this time add the dried herbs and bay leaf (I prefer freeze dried Herbs, but regular dried herbs are good as well)
5. Now add the Potato and cabbage (see Notes for what I prefer and used in this dish); stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, till cabbage just starts to soften...
6. Add the Tomato Paste to the pot, mix well and cook for 1 minute before adding the crushed and diced Tomatoes. Now add all of the Broths (Beef, Chicken & Veggie) and Parmesan Cheese Rind (If Using), cover and simmer after stirring...
7. Meanwhile rinse and drain the Beans you will be using (see Notes for options), now take 1 cup of mixed beans and purée it in a food processor (you can also mash them in a bowl if needed)—now add Beans and puréed beans to the pot and stir, cover and continue simmering for 15-20 minutes...
8. At this time you can either cook the Pasta in the soup or separately (see Notes) if desired; if you decide to cook it in the soup, raise the temperature to medium and add your Pasta—cook till al dente, about 6-8 minutes depending on pasta size and type...
9. Stir in 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, then season with Sea Salt & Pepper to taste...

"Minestrone-so filling and delicious"

Notes:
1. Option to start this soup is either 3-4 oz. of finely diced pancetta or crumbled cooked sweet Italian sausage. If you decide not to use meat, skip step 1 and immediately add garlic and red pepper then continue with the recipe...
2. For my greens I used a mix of both Savoy Cabbage and Green Swiss Chard, for the texture, taste and color of each...
3. I chose to mix Roman beans and Garbanzo beans, mixing two versions of this dish (one being Minestrone Di San Giuseppe, and a version from the Roma region of Italy), you could of course use any variation you desire for this and you would not be wrong (some even come with peas, green beans and Lentils)
4. I always use Parmesan cheese that I grate myself, which eventually leaves me with the rind (the end that has the cheese-makers marks on it), I add this to the soup for the wonderful depth of flavor it can add, but this is entirely optional for you...
5. Pasta choices—for this I used a mix of medium size pasta shells and Fusco Fiori pasta (which has a wonderful shape and texture), you of course can add any types you prefer but smaller with a nice shape (to hold onto the soup) is best I feel...
6. Not everyone likes their pasta cooked inside the soup (can get soft on re-heating); if cooking separately, add salt and a handful of semolina flour to a pot of water and cook till al dente (see your pastas package instructions). The flour will give the pasta that nice starchy flavor you get in good restaurants (they use the same pot of pasta water repeatedly without changing it, adding all that extra pasta starch taste/texture to the water over time)
7. One optional seasoning ingredient is the addition of a sprig of fresh Rosemary when you add the broth, I love the flavor it adds but not everyone enjoys it...
8. A nice hot loaf of sesame semolina is perfect with this, just love dunking it in this soup—delish....

"Venezia, Italia"

"Italian Wedding Soup To Cure What Ails You"

"Italian Wedding Soup"

A bit of folklore says that what has come to be known to us as "Italian Wedding Soup" began as a dish traditionally served to the bride and groom at wedding reception to give the couple the extra strength to see them through the wedding night...

Unfortunately that origin, like many old folktales, is nothing but invention...

"Piazza San Marco Venezia"

 

Italian wedding soup gained its name not from the occasion that might bring it to the table but rather from the wonderful harmony enjoyed by its ingredients...

See, to say two things go well together in Italian, one can say "si sposano bene" (they're well married) -- or, more to the south, that they're maritati, i.e. married...

 

So you can see how a dish called in parts of Italy "Minestra Maritata" or "Married Soup" could over time become "Wedding Soup" to us here in America—plus who doesn't love a good story to go along with their meal.

I know I do; and even though meats and green vegetables are quite different, they truly go well together, leaving us with a wonderfully married mix of ingredients whether you use spinach and meatballs, sausage and broccoli rabe or some other combination.

"Italian Soup with little Meatballs"

 

"Italian Wedding Soup"

Ingredients:
For the meatballs:
1/2 small vidalia onion, chopped finely
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 lb. of ground beef, pork & veal mixed 

For soup:
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
11 oz. fresh Baby Spinach, chopped
1/2 cup of white wine (optional
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, sliced and chopped
1 small Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
8 oz. of "Acini de Pepe" or other tiny pasta
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley

Directions:
For the Meatballs:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; then stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend...
2. Then add the cheese, beef, pork and veal; mix well, then shape the meat mixture into small meatballs, and place them onto a baking sheet. (I prefer the meatballs to be on the smaller size, but you can make them any size you'd like)
3. Place the meatballs in the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, till cooked thru and just slightly browned (alternatively you can cook them in the soup, but baking is my personal preference-see notes)

"Perfect for when you're under the weather"

For the Soup:
1. In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot...
2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally...
3. Add the wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil...
4. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender...
5. Then add the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute...
6. Taste and season with Sea salt and fresh ground pepper if necessary. At this time stir in the fresh chopped spinach, and parsley, then cook for 2 minutes until the spinach is just wilted...
7. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan if desired...

"The Grand Canal, Venice Italy"

Notes:
1. If cooking the meatballs in the soup instead of the oven, add them at step 3 and simmer for 12 minutes, then add pasta at step 4 and cook for another 8 minutes...
2. I use about 8 oz. of pasta, but we like a lot of pasta in our soup—so use less if you'd prefer it to be broth'ier...
3. If you decide to use frozen spinach, add it between steps 2 and 3 so that it thaws and cooks adequately...
4. For a "gluten free" version use gluten free panko style breadcrumbs...
5. If you can't eat beef or don't like using beef, pork or veal-you can substitute ground turkey if desired (there's some good hormone free & free range brands out there
6. I use Sauvignon Blanc wine but you can use a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay as well... 
7. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan on the side and crusty Italian bread hot from the oven with butter...

"A Rose Tart by any other name would smell as Sweet"

"Vegetable Rose Tart"

Last night, as is my usual modus operandi, I decided to mess around in the kitchen...

Now it's not every day that I make a new dish, and a lot of times I'll make the same thing again and again-because, well, it's good an I liked it enough too...

Sometimes, if I'm trying something different with a dish I've done before, I might post it-like with the Caramelized Apple Almond Galette recently...

"Beauty in the petals of a Rose"

But mostly this week I've been doing various dishes that I've done plenty before-like last nights Lemon Chicken de Provence...

Though for a tasty visual treat I did decide to make for me and my Beautiful baby last night a "Vegetable Rose Tart" with a fresh mozzarella and herb'ed cream base.
Slicing up my Zucchini, Squash and Carrots with a vegetable peeler; I began wrapping them into my Roses...

Then inside the tart pan filled with puff pastry I added my mozzarella, sour cream and some fresh herbs-followed by all of my beautiful Roses...

"Roasted vegetables almost to pretty to eat"

 

Drizzled a little olive oil, with chopped fresh herbs and garlic, over top it to finish-then into the oven to bake...

Finally while it was cooking, I played around with setting up for the picture; which I got done just as it finished baking...

A couple of pretty pics later and it was finally time to dig in and eat..

Such a beautiful dish in it's presentation and oh so—"Definitely Delish"

"All ready for roasting"

 

"Vegetable Rose Tart"

Ingredients:
For Pastry Shell:
1 package Dufour all butter Puff Pastry (or your own puff pastry recipe)

"Just one perfect Rose"

For the Filling:
1/2 cup fresh Mozzarella
1/2 Sour Cream
1 tsp Sea salt
1 clove minced garlic
Fresh cracked Pepper to taste
1 tsp mixed Herbes de Provence (2 tsps if using fresh Herbes instead of dry)

For the Vegetable Roses:
1-2 medium Zucchinis
1-2 medium Yellow Squash's
2-4 Carrots (purple and other carrot colors if available)
Quality Olive Oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon Fresh thyme and parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
For the tart shell:
1. Lightly grease a 8-9 inch loose base tart tin.
2. Roll the pastry out until you have a circle approximately 11 inches and lay it over the tart tin and press into the sides. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrunch up a piece of baking paper and open it back up. Place on the tart shell and fill with baking beads.
4. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove the beads and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the base is cooked through.
5. Set aside to cool.

"Vegetable Rose Tart" 

"A beautiful Rose"

For the filling:
1. Chop the mozzarella into small pieces and place in a bowl.
2. Add the sour cream, garlic and mixed herbs then stir until combined.
3. Spread the filling over the base of the tart shell.

For the vegetable Roses:
1. Slice the vegetables into 1/8 inch or thinner slices. (Strips)
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. On a chopping board, start with a piece of carrot and begin rolling it into a tight curl. Then wrap the Carrot with a piece of Zucchini and then a piece of Yellow Squash. Roll together the 3 vegetables into a rose shape. Place into prepared Tart shell with filling.
4. Continue this process until you have filled the tart with vegetable roses of various sizes.
5. Drizzle the top lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs, finely minced garlic, sea salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the tart into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and lightly golden. (Alternatively, you could partially pre-roast the vegetable strips before rolling into roses-adjust cooking time accordingly)
7. Serve with a salad for a main course or as a side dish with a main entree of your choice...

"Sunrise"

"Irish Coffee Fudge And St. Patrick's Day - A Match Made In Heaven"

"Irish Coffee Fudge"

St. Patrick's Day is Thursday and that means corned beef and cabbage will soon be boiling up, in pots, in homes and homesteads from one side of the Atlantic to the other...

So besides this classic staple of culinary corned beef perfection, green beers and soda bread what other Irish inspired indulgences might you partake of...

For me, a connoisseur of all things coffee, I turn to that wonderful staple the "Irish Coffee"

"Whiskey and Fudge"-what a combination...

This hot drink has long been a favorite in Irish pubs with a popularity that could be said to rival a great stout (as tough as that may be).

"Decadent Whiskey Fudge"

Joe Sheridan, it's creator, had the right idea when he first combined a robust Irish whiskey with rich, black coffee and created the original Irish Coffee Cocktail...

Despite some common shortcuts that have been taken in the past, a great Irish Coffee is not as simple as adding a shot of whiskey to a cup of coffee. No, this is a well-planned, carefully constructed coffee drink that should be mixed with the care of any modern latte or cappuccino...

For this sweet and indulgent recipe I took the incredible essence of my favorite Coffee Cocktail and worked it into a wonderfully decadent, mildly intoxicating, batch of deliciously sweet fudge...

Truly Saint Patrick and my wild Irish ancestors were with me on the day I decided to play around in my kitchen creating this...

"Irish Eyes Are Smiling"

 

So in honor of my Ó Céileachair (anglicized to Kelleher) ancestors, who immigrated here during one of the many famines to strike the heart of that beautiful Emerald Isle, I give you this addition to your next St. Paddy's celebration...

Trust me; just as Ó Céileachair means a "lover of company", your friends will be feelin' the luck of the Irish and loving you too after enjoying a few of these sinfully tasty little devils- because they are, oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Cutting up something yummy for Family"

"Irish Coffee Fudge"

Ingredients:
Coffee layer:
2 bags Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips (12 oz. each bag)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz.)
8 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey (½ cup)
2 tablespoons Espresso Powder (Nescafé Instant coffee is also a good alternative)
1 tablespoon Cornstarch

 

Irish Cream Layer:
1 ½ bags of Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips (11 oz.)
1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream
2 teaspoons Cornstarch

Other:
Nescafé Instant Coffee, for dusting (2 teaspoons)
11x7 or 8x8 deep sided pan lined with plastic wrap

 

"Sweet, decadent and delicious"

Directions:
1. Mix Jameson Whiskey, Cornstarch and Espresso powder in a microwave safe measuring cup. Then heat in the microwave for 40 seconds, stirring halfway through...
2. Set aside in fridge to thicken; then in a separate cup repeat with Bailey's Irish Cream and Cornstarch, also setting it in fridge to thicken slightly...
3. Meanwhile in 2 separate (large) Microwave safe bowls add the chocolate chips; both bags of dark chocolate to one, and the white chocolate in the other...
4. Add a full 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk to the dark chocolate chips, and a 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk to the white chocolate...
5. At this time pour the Jameson and Espresso mixture into the bowl of Dark Chocolate and heat in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between heating’s until the chocolate has just melted—set aside and stir until a thick consistency is reached...
6. Pour and evenly spread the chocolate mixture into the plastic wrap lined baking dish or pan-then dust sparingly with Nescafe instant coffee...
7. Now add Bailey's Cream mixture to the white chocolate and heat in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring, until chocolate just melts...
8. Continue stirring on the counter till smooth and then pour into prepared dish, overtop the dark chocolate—then spread smoothly covering the dark chocolate...
9. Dust sparingly with Nescafe Espresso powder, cover and cool in the refrigerator overnight—cut into 1 inch squares the next day and serve cool…
Note: Keep refrigerated until ready to serve; depending on pan size, makes between 60 and 80 pieces...

"Perfect for the holiday or that Irish Coffee lover in your life"

"Veal Bolognese Balls with Pasta & Garlic in Oil"

"Veal Bolognese Meatballs"

I love coming home, or getting up on a weekend and throwing a huge pot of sauce on to simmer the whole day. Especially when it's my "Sunday Gravy" or "Bolognese Sauce" recipes; which are just full of a ton of yummy, delicious flavors & meats...

Time, though, is not always on my side. So not to long back I worked out a way of cutting the time down on my personal "Bolognese Sauce" recipe from 6 or 7 hours of slow cooking, simmering, goodness to a more manageable 3 hours or less - which has been nothing short of incredible if you ask me...

Now after years of doing certain things a certain way; my "Bolognese" perfected, my meatball recipe for my "Sunday Gravy" set - I decided it was high time to try to play around with everything and make something new out of thin air...

"Baked Meatballs & Pasta"

 

So taking up some of my very best, tried and true recipes; I then force-ably smashed them together, and from the scattered remnants I started picking through the fragments of tasty puzzle pieces left hither & thither across the length & breadth of my kitchen island...

 

From these bits and pieces of culinary invention I began to cobble together a new, imaginative, culinary creation for me and the family to enjoy - and that's where this delicious dish first sparked to life...

"Venice, bella Venezia"

So fitting some of the tastes and ingredients of my "Bolognese" with my recipe for "Meatballs" and throwing that in with a slightly altered version of my "Capellini Aglio e Olio" I ended up with this extremely tasty dinner treat; which, for want of a better name, I am calling for now "Veal Bolognese Balls with Pasta & Garlic in Oil" or "Vitello Bolognesi Sfere con Capellini & Aglio e Olio"

I know, I know; I definitely need to figure a better name down the road for this tasty pasta dish but for now it'll do, because regardless of what it's called - it is, oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

"Veal Meatballs & Pasta"

  "Veal Bolognese Style Meatballs with Pasta & Garlic in Oil"
  (Vitello Bolognesi Sfere con Capellini & Aglio e Olio)

Ingredients:
For Meatballs:
1 pound ground Veal
4 ounces lean Pancetta (or Prosciutto), thick cut & diced
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan, Asiago & Romano cheese, grated & mixed
1/4 White Wine
1/4 Red Wine
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 cloves fresh Garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 sweet Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon each of Sea Salt and Black Pepper

"The Grand Canal in Venice"

For Pasta:
1 lb dried Capellini pasta
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Butter
9 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
3/4 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 teaspoon fresh Basil, minced
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano, minced
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 cup Parmesan, Romano & Asiago cheeses, freshly grated & mixed together
1 teaspoon Pink (or Sea) Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced 

Directions:
For Meatballs:
1. Place ground Veal (Beef or Beef substitute if desired) in a bowl and then add both the red and white wine; mix them together, then allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes...
2. Meanwhile grate your cheese, chop your parsley and mince your onion and garlic in preparation...
3. At this time heat a small frying pan over medium to medium high heat and cook your pancetta (or proscioutto) till it just begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat. (Do not overcook, it will cook more in oven)
4. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (see Notes for options); then add all of your meatball ingredients to the bowl containing your meat, and mix extremely well using your hands...
5. Take out a cookie sheet or baking tray with a lip and begin rolling your meatballs; I try not to pack them overly tightly, and stick to medium and small sizes so that you make a good amount of meatballs from the bowl of mix...
6. Place each meatball onto the baking tray, and once you've used up all of the meat, place them into the oven to bake for 30 minutes or cooked through. (Do not overcook to avoid drying them out) While they bake, prepare your pasta...

"Baked Meatballs with Pasta and Garlic"

For Pasta:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta, cooking until al dente, about 3 minutes (for Capellini); reserve 3 cups of cooking liquid from the pot on the side, then run the pasta itself under cool water to stop the cooking process....
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat...
3. Add garlic and stir frequently until the garlic is nice and golden...
4. Then add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper...
5. Next add 4 tablespoons of butter and melt, stirring...
6. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more, then add in the 3/4 cup of white wine and cook for an additional minute or two before adding the pinch of basil and dash of paprika...
7. Add the Al dente cooked Pasta directly to the pan. Toss until it is thoroughly coated with the garlic oil, add reserved cooking liquid (1/2 cup at a time) as needed to thin the butter/wine/garlic/oil sauce on the pasta...
8. Add several pinches of parsley and a couple of tablespoons of fresh grated Parmesan, Romano & Asiago cheeses along with the juice from 1 lemon and stir...
9. Now add the baked Veal Meatballs to the pot, mix in and cook - stirring to meld flavors for a couple minutes more.... 
10. Remove pan from heat; add the remaining parsley, grated cheeses and then toss well. Check for flavor and adjust the salt & pepper if necessary. (If needed add additional reserved cooking liquid
11. Garnish with more Parsley and Parmesan if desired—then serve and enjoy....

"Saint Mark's Square, Venice"

Notes:
1. Serve with a nice white wine; such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Also, hot crusty Italian bread with plenty of softened butter as well as extra grated cheese is a must in our home when serving this up...
2. Alternatively you can cook the Meatballs in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until cooked through...
3. If you are against veal, or dislike beef or pork you can also try this with ground turkey or chicken - though the taste will be different depending on the meat or meat mix you use...

                                 

                                

"Pastelitos for all Occasions"

"Sweet & Savory Pastries"

"Sweet & Savory Pastries"

 

So recently I played around with this wonderful pastry recipe that had been floating around in my head for more than a little bit...

So good and so tasty"

So good and so tasty"

This of course was the "Pastelitos" or Cuban Pastries I made and posted not so long ago...

 

Of course, at the time, I had only done the one version (Inspired by the movie "Chef" in no small part—definitely watch it if you haven't yet); it was a sort of mini Cubanos sandwich pastry which I just loved for it's scrumptious mix of savory and sweet...

This time, though, I decided to go all out and create a veritable multitude of "Pastelitos Pastries" to bring in to work. (As well as a few for friends & family to enjoy at home)

"Hard at work making some Good Eats"

"Hard at work making some Good Eats"

 

 

So to get down to the details, and without any further ado, I give you my four delectable and delicious Cuban Puff Pastries....

Pastelitos de Carne, Queso, Cubanos and Nutella Queso...

Each different but equally wonderful; from the sweetened cream cheese filling off the one to the savory meaty picadillo filling off another. (Love the capers and pimento stuffed olives mixed in–Yum)

"Love the sweet outer shell of puff pastry"

"Love the sweet outer shell of puff pastry"

Everyone ate them up lickety-split and now are constantly asking when I'm bringing in more for them. (I think it's the sugary syrup coating on top of each–I could eat that all day)

 

 

Such a wonderful, easy and enjoyable dish to make and share and oh so—
"Definitely Delish"

 

 

"Cubanos style"

"Cubanos style"

 

 

 

"Pastelitos"

Ingredients:
For Puff Pastry:
10 ounces unsalted Butter
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon fine Sea Salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water

"Various fillings-from meat to sweet"

"Various fillings-from meat to sweet"

For Egg Wash:
3 eggs, beaten
2 ounces water

For Filling:
Nutella
2 (8 ounce) packages Cream Cheese
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
1/4 cup white Sugar
2 tablespoons Milk
(see notes for other options)

Boxing them up as I go"

Boxing them up as I go"

Directions:
For Puff Pastry:
1. Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into 1/2 to 1/4-inch dice, place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients.Measure water and add salt; stir to dissolve and set aside...
2. Coarsely dice remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Place flour in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade; add 4 tablespoons butter and pulse until butter is absorbed -- about ten to twelve 1-second pulses...
3. Add remaining butter and pulse once or twice to distribute. Add water and pulse 3 or 4 times, just until dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-process...
4. Flour work surface and scrape dough from work bowl. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press dough with rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with rolling pin to make a 12 by 18 inch rectangle of dough...
5. Peel away plastic wrap and invert dough to floured work surface. Peel away second piece of wrap. Fold dough in thirds in the width, folding the top third down and the bottom third up, to make a 6 by 18-inch rectangle, then roll up the dough from one of the 6-inch ends, making sure to roll end under dough...
6. Press the dough into a square, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm...

"So yummy and delicious"

"So yummy and delicious"

For Pastelitos:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; then prepare simple syrup by mixing water and sugar in a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil, then lowering the temperature to low and simmering for 5 minutes-afterwards remove from heat and allow to cool...
2. For the Cream Cheese mixture; take two packages of cream cheese at room temperature. Then with an electric mixer, mix in two tablespoons milk and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing until fluffy...
3. Now take the sheet of puff pastry you've constructed and cut it into shapes; circles, triangles, squares or whatever you like...
4. For cream cheese filled add a small amount of the cream cheese mixture to the center of each piece of puff pastry...
5. For the Nutella and sweetened cream cheese filled; add a small amount of nutella (best if you've pre-measured onto wax paper in heaping teaspoons and frozen in freezer), followed by a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese mixture...
6. Moisten the edges of the dough strips with a little water. Cover each filling covered piece of dough with the remaining two dough pieces. Seal the edges on all sides of the dough by pressing and smoothing gently with your hands...
7. Brush the top with an egg wash (3 eggs beaten with 2 ounces of water), then bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes -- pastry should be crisp on top and lightly browning...
8. Remove the pastries from the oven and brush with the simple syrup (recipe above). Return to oven and bake an additional five or six minutes...
9. Let cool slightly, and then enjoy...

"Definitely can not get enough of that deliciously sweet dough"

"Definitely can not get enough of that deliciously sweet dough"

Notes:
1. You can make all sorts of other filling types for  meat filled, cuban sandwich style (which I've done) and any and all sorts of other interesting ideas-be creative and have fun with it...