Friday, October 28, 2016

6 Sandwich Spreads That Are Way Better Than Mayo

If you're like, and you love sandwiches, you'll definitely be interested in these sandwich spreads as an alternative to mayo.

6 Sandwich Spreads That Are Way Better Than Mayo:

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Meatball Sub!

Meatball Sub
Meatball Sub
This past weekend, I had to house to myself. This typically allows me to just cook what sounds good in the moment, without having to worry it something that the kids will eat. I decided to take my meatball recipe and my quick tomato sauce recipe, and turn it in to a meatball sub! Be sure to check out the post on Spaghetti and Meatballs to find some ideas for the kiddos!

Here are the recipes!

For the Meatball Sub

One Recipe for Quick Tomato Sauce
One Recipe for Meatballs
Loaf of Italian Bread
Parmesan Cheese

Cut the bread to size and split down the middle. Cut the meatballs in half and line them up inside the bread. Top the meatballs with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Quick Tomato Sauce

Olive Oil
1/2 onion - diced
4 garlic cloves - minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sugar
Tsp oregano
Tsp parsley
salt and pepper
spinach (optional)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 Cup red wine (optional)

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil. Saute the onions and garlic with salt and pepper over medium-high heat. When the onions turn translucent, reduce the heat. Add the canned tomatoes, oregano, parsley, and sugar. The sugar will help to counteract the acidity in the tomatoes. I like to add it, but it is optional. I also like to shake in some crushed red pepper, but it depends on who is eating with me. Cook for about thirty minutes. To sneak in some extra vitamins for the kids, you can throw in a handful of spinach leaves. Put the sauce in a food processor, or use an immersion blender if you have one, and blend until smooth.

Italian Style Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I make my own. Look for the recipe below.)
1/2 cup Italian cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
salt and pepper

The meatballs are super easy to make. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Add in a few drops of water. Mix together with you hands. This is the most effective way. When the ingredients are well mixed, roll out the meatballs and place on a sheet pan. Make sure the meatballs are not any bigger than about 2 inches to make sure they will cook through. Please the sheet pan under the broiler and cook until the meatballs are browned. Flip the meatballs over and cook until brown.

Monday, October 24, 2016

6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try

I always talk about how happy they are that "grilling season" is here. When does it go away? The cold weather shouldn't serve as a deterrent. After, there is a fire to keep you warm while you cook!

6 Fall Grilling Recipes You Have to Try:

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread
Cheesy Garlic Bread

I've always loved garlic bread. The toasted bread. The butter. The garlic flavor! But the plain garlic bread can get boring, so I wanted to experiment with some flavors and ingredients to see what would make it better. I came up with the idea of adding lemon, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, and all of a sudden garlic bread was on a whole new level! Try serving it with Linguine and Red Clam Sauce!

The Recipe:
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Juice of Half a Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley - Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian or French Bread
Cheesy Garlic Bread Under the Broiler
Cheesy Garlic Bread Under the Broiler

Combine the butter, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Slice the Parmesan in to two halves. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread. Try to spread it as thick as possible. Place the bread under a broiler set to low. When the bread is toasted to a light brown, it is ready. The cheese and butter will likely not be melted.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Linguine and Red Clam Sauce

One of my favorite classic Italian dishes is Linguine and Clams, especially with red sauce. I'll settle with the white or cream sauce, but I definitely prefer the tomato based sauce.

The Recipe:
Linguine and Red Clam Sauce
Linguine and Red Clam Sauce Served with Cheesy Garlic Bread.

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot -  Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Can Whole Clams
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Clam Juice
  • 1/4 Dry Chardonnay
  • Juice of 1 Large Lemon
  • 1 Package Linguine
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley to Garnish
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Sauté the garlic, shallot, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper in the butter and olive oil. Add in the clams and tomatoes. Stir until heated. Add in the the lemon juice, chardonnay, and clam juice. Cook until the liquid reduces by half. Stir into linguine and garnish with chopped parsley. You can top the pasta with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese as well. Sometimes I like to get fancy and  add some shrimp, scallops, or fresh clams. If you go this route, add them at the very end. They will cook very quickly. For the fresh clams, add a lid to the pan. Once the clams open, they are done. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

7 Filling Italian Recipes That Won’t Put a Dent in Your Diet

I've got some Italian ancestry, so it only makes sense that I am drawn to Italian foods. But let's be honest, some of the old Italian recipes are loaded with extras that we don't need in our diets. I've made oven fried chicken before and it turns out great, so I'm going to have to try out the Baked Chicken Parmesan. The Skinny Shrimp Scampi caught my attention too. My version has always had some extra butter, possibly some cream, and definitely some cheese added in. I'll have to try out this healthier option.

7 Filling Italian Recipes That Won’t Put a Dent in Your Diet:

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend
A Mason Jar is great for storing extra
Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend!

Growing up, one of my favorite parts about going to eat at an Italian restaurant was the oil for dipping the bread in. Sure other restaurants had bread and butter, but there was something about the olive oil with herbs and spices that made those Italian places something to look forward too! As I got older, I decided to try my hand at making my own spice mix to add to the olive oil. Sometimes I'll make a big batch and store it in a jar to add olive oil to later. I don't add salt to mine. I have found that the olive oil does not need any salt added. It can be added as an option.

The Recipe:

  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Minced Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt (optional)
Italian Bread with Italian Bread Dipping Oil Spice Blend
Italian Bread with Italian Bread
Dipping Oil Spice Blend

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add a spoonful to a small plate and drizzle enough olive oil to cover. Sometimes I'll add some fresh grated Parmesan to the mix. I found that the best way to make it is to have equal parts of each ingredient. The bread is meant to the be the star and shouldn't be overpowered by the spices.

Essential Books for the Food Lover

I am beginning to assemble this page to talk about some essential books for the food lover. These are all books that helped shape who I am as a cook and as a food lover.
Marcella Hazan - Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Julia Child - Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Matt Moore - A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen
Sharon Tyler Hurst and Ron Hurst - Food Lover's Companion
Anthony Bourdain - Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain - A Cook's Tour
Anthony Bourdain - Medium Raw
Jeffery Steingarten - The Man Who Ate Everything
Ina Garten - Barefoot in Paris
Gary Vaynerchuck - 101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire Delight and Bring Thunder to Your World

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sopa de Lima

Continuing with the idea of fall being soup, stew, and chili season, I wanted to share my recipe for Sopa de Lima. It is a soup full of big flavors, with plenty of spice and saltiness and some tanginess and acidity from the lime juice.
Sopa de Lima
Sopa de Lima simmering on the stove

The Recipe:
  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - Minced 
  • 3 Celery Stalks - Diced
  • 3 Carrots - Peeled and Diced
  • 1 Yellow Squash - Quartered and Chopped
  • 1 Zucchini - Quartered and Chopped 
  • 4 Chicken Thighs - Browned, Deboned, and Chopped
  • 2 Quarts Chicken Broth
  • 4 Tomatoes - Diced 
  • Fresh Cilantro - Chopped 
  • 1 Teaspoon Mexican Oregano 
  • 3 Jalapeños - Seeded and Diced
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Queso Fresco or a Mexican style cheese blend
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 limes - Juiced

Sopa de Lima
Sopa de Lima - I left the chips out of it this time and used a
Mexican cheese blend instead of the queso fresco. 

In a heavy bottom pot, I prefer a porcelain enameled Dutch over for this, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook about 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add in the jalapeños, squash, and zucchini and cook another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, chicken, chicken broth, bay leaves, cilantro, Mexican oregano, and lime juice. Simmer for about an hour. Serve over a bed of tortilla chips, topped with the queso fresco and cilantro.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This one tool will save your favorite cast iron pan | Fox News

I've written in the past about cleaning cast iron skillets. I use course salt to clean mine. I think I am going to have to try this tool out. From the first glance, it looks like it is course enough to help get the really hard cooked on food off, but delicate enough not to rid your pan of the perfect season you've taken years to create. I think I just might have to get one for myself!

This one tool will save your favorite cast iron pan | Fox News:

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo

In some parts of the world, it is starting to cool off, as summer gives way to fall. Fall signals the time to dust of the soup, stew, and chili recipes, and start enjoying those comforting, warming, delicious bowls of brothy goodness. One of my favorites is gumbo, in all of its varieties. Gumbo is great to make on a Sunday night to leave in the fridge until Monday night. I make several different gumbos, that all play off of the same base. which is a combination of the Creole and Cajun styles. Today I am sharing a recipe for a Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo. This particular gumbo was one we threw together based off of ingredients we had in the fridge and freezer.

The Recipe: 
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper - Diced
  • 3 Celery Stalks - Diced
  • 1 Onion - Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
  • 1 Cup Chopped Okra
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken - Chopped
  • 3 Links Sausage - Sliced
  • 1 lb Crawfish Tails
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 2 Quarts Chicken Broth
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cup Rice - Cooked
  • 1 Teaspoon Filé powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hot Sauce
In a heavy bottom pot, I prefer a porcelain enameled cast iron dutch oven, brown the sliced sausage over medium heat. I like to use a kielbasa style sausage or a beef or pork sausage. Once browned, remove the sausage to a bowl for later. Add some olive oil and the bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic. The Cajuns call this the holy trinity. 

This roux is on the light side. The roux should be at
least this dark. I like to get it as dark as I can
 without burning it. 
While the holy trinity is sautéing, melt the butter in a small cast iron pan over low heat. Stir in the flour. This is going to make the roux to thicken the gumbo. Don't rush this process. It can burn very easily. I like to get the roux to at least a golden brown, but it's even better at a dark walnut.

Back to the holy trinity. Keep stirring it while the roux is going. When the onions start to brown, add in the okra, chicken, broth, bay leaves, and stewed tomatoes. Remember the sausage waiting in the bowl? Time to add it back in too. Bring everything to a simmer. Now is the time to season with salt and pepper. If the gumbo cooks too long, the seasoning won't be absorbed and will sit on top of the rest of the flavors. Season to taste.

Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo
Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo
By now, the roux should be ready. Add it to the pot. Keep the gumbo simmering. To qualify as gumbo, it has to cook for at least three hours, if not longer. The crawfish tails are going to cook quickly. If they cook too quick they will turn rubbery and chewy, which is not something anybody wants to find in their food. Put the crawfish tails in right before serving. They just need to warm up and will cook through in a few minutes. 

The okra will act as thickening agent, but I grew up adding filé powder to my gumbo in addition to the okra. It is optional. Serve the gumbo over rice. I like my gumbo spicy. Hot sauce is key here. Tabasco. Cholula. Lousiana. It really depends on what I have in the pantry and how I feel. It goes great with buttered French bread.

Gumbo is like jambalaya. A recipe can exist, but it is forever evolving. It typically doesn't taste the same each time and I always find new ways to make it or new flavor profiles to get out of it. I look forward to hearing how yours turns out. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Notable Blogs to Follow

If you haven't seen it yet, I have been assembling and curating a page with notable blogs to follow. I encourage you to stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

6 Healthy Snacks That Are Perfect For Eating at Work

If you're anything like me, you sit at a desk more than half the day. It goes without saying that all of that sitting is not great for us. Here are some healthy snacks you can make to eat throughout the day to keep away from the bag of chips in the vending machine.

6 Healthy Snacks That Are Perfect For Eating at Work:

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We're on Pinterest

Hello everyone! I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that I am on Pinterest now! New content coming soon!


Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed Mushrooms with Steak and Loaded Mashed Potatoes It's no secret I like to grill. Steaks, chicken, pork, seafood, vegetables, ...