Monday, January 21, 2013

Spinach and Feta Puffs

I was looking for something new to make for football Sunday and checked my fridge and started pulling stuff out.  I always have puff pastry in my freezer and everything else just kind of fell into place.  Everyone else wanted to see these little numbers every Sunday from now on.  I happen to agree.
You could make these easily the morning of any get together and just pop them in your oven when your guests arrive...this is my kind of recipe!

Here's What You Need:

1 package Frozen Spinach, defrosted
1 cup Feta, crumbled
1 small Onion, small dice
3 cloves Garlic
½ teaspoon dried Rosemary
½ teaspoon dried Thyme
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
2 eggs, one for the filling and one for the egg wash
Puff Pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 400℉.
Let's get the filling taken care of first...caramelize your onions, garlic and spices with a tablespoon of butter and some olive oil.  Don't forget a little salt and pepper please.  Thank you.  This will take approximately 20 minutes on low.  Put this mixture aside to cool.
Squeeze the spinach of it's water with a dish towel and add it to a bowl with one egg, feta and the now cooled onion mixture.  Mix everything well.
Now take your puff pastry and roll it out a bit, keeping the rectangular shape.  Cut the pastry into 12 squares, trying to keep them as equal as possible.  Spray a muffin tin (regular sized if you please) and place a square of pastry in each tin.  Press the puff pastry up the sides as best you can and then fill each with about 2 tablespoons of your filling.
Pinch up the four corners and don't worry if some of your filling is will look nice once it's baked off.  Brush the "Puffs" with the egg wash and place it in the oven for  18-20 minutes.
Once they are golden brown place your pan on a cooling rack and let it be for 3-5 minutes to set up.  They should pop right out and in no time they will be devoured!

Bon's time to eat!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese

I have had this recipe for quite a few years now, all thanks to my friend Scottie.  He had been working on a M & C recipe and this was what he came up's amazing.  I cannot improve on it so I will share it with you as he did with me.  I will say,  I don't always have the exact amount of cheese.  In fact it's usually a wee bit over!  It's a wonderful recipe to make a day or two ahead and then all you need to do is pop it in the oven for a bit longer than usual.  I always, always, always double it.  Always.  It's that good.  Also, just as a side note, you're going to want to make sure you have a salad or veggie as a side to this meal.  The amount of cheese in it will stop a freight train from running on a regular schedule, never mind a human body.  Yes, I went there.  The family and I usually have roasted broccoli with lemon and it's fan-freaking-tastic!  This is a special occasion dish here...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and for pot lucks so don't start complaining about the high calorie count.  Celebrate and enjoy!  Stay on the treadmill for a few extra minutes, you'll be fine.
Uncle Scottie's Mac and Cheese!

Here's What You Need:

  • 5 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 2 ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 5 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 4 ounces Fontina, grated
  • ¼-½ teaspoon Cayenne or 1 Teaspoon Cajun Seasoning, or more to taste
  • 1 pound Rigatoni, I use "Mezzi Rigatoni" it's shorter and has lines!
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, grated

I find that having a large pot of water boiling and at the ready helps with the timing of this whole process and then bring it down to simmer while you're making your cheese sauce.  I also prep all of the cheese so that once the white sauce is ready you can toss the cheese in and voila!  Cheese sauce!
I always ask my husband to help with this part!  ♥

In another large pot melt the butter, then with a whisk add in the flour.  Whisk away for a minute or so and then slowly add in your milk.  I rarely use whole milk but in this dish it's imperative.  Trust me.  I've tried making a lower fat version and it did not go over well.  You are going to need to watch over your pot of almost goodness now, keep whisking so nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.  The sauce will thicken up in 20 minutes or so, a bit longer if your doubling (which again, I highly recommend).  You can call on your inner Julia Childs and do that fancy french trick of coating the back of a wooden spoon and run your finger through the sauce on it to see if the line stays formed, if you'd like.  Talk with a french accent if you so choose, I won't judge.

Once your white sauce is thickened I want you to add in the Gorgonzola and stir it all in with the whisk to help break it up further.  Then add in the fontina.  Things are going to start getting ooey and gooey really quickly now and you can start doing a subtle happy dance.  Turn your heat off and add in your seasonings.  You all know by now that I like spicy foods so adjust to your liking.  Now if you happen to have a nice loaf of bread laying about and you want to dunk a piece in the sauce, to check for seasoning of course, then go right on ahead.

So your sauce is done, now just boil your noodles and you are in the home stretch.  You will want to cook them for a minute or two less than what the package says since they will be going into the oven for a bit of time too.  Drain and add them right back to the large pot I told you to get in the first place.  Now comes the cheese sauce, add it in with the noodles, combine well and then add in your Mozzarella.   Stir it.
See those little cubes of Mozzarella?  Oh happy day!!!

Your happy dance can get a little less subtle.  Grab a casserole dish and transfer your cheesy noodle goodness to it and use a scraper to get every last bit of sauce out of the pot.  Hell you can grab another hunk of bread and get it all.  Again, I won't judge.  Just don't.  Leave.  It.  In.  The.  Pot.

Now top it all with your grated Parmesan and cover it with tin foil.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly then uncover for 15-20 to get the top nice and browned.  Don't forget that if you are making this ahead of time just stop short of baking it.  Put it in the fridge until you are ready.  It will need to bake for more like 45-50 minutes to get all bubbly and fabulous before browning the top.

Bon's time to eat!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Minestrone Soup

I have a friend named Bianca who I am so lucky to have in my life.  I met her when we moved here in 2010 and we are so happy that both of our families adore each as well.  Her oldest and my middle and her middle and my youngest are BFF's.  Her baby and my oldest are inseparable.  Our husbands have a great time together when we have "family play dates" and enjoy making fun of Bianca and I every chance they get.  Basically B is my person.  You have one of those right?  I hope so.
So last winter (I can't believe it was last winter already!) we were having a family play date complete with dinner, dessert, popcorn and a movie...let's not forget pajamas for everyone and cocktails for the grown ups.  My husband thought I was out of my mind when we all had to get into jammies before they arrived, but thankfully he humors me 9 times out of 10.  He's very serious and conservative (much like me right?  HA!) so when I said he had to get in his lounge pants he pushed back for a second.  Thank god Bianca's husband, Keith, came in his too!  LMAO!
B was bringing her minestrone soup and amazing rolls.  I forgot what I had made because the soup was so outstanding.  No joke.  Part of her secret was making it the day before.  Genius.
I ended up getting the recipe the next day but hadn't made it again until just last week, and made it again today.  I'm still not sure what the hell happened but I can assure you I will be making up for lost time.  Now that we are coming into cooler weather, soups are the first thing I am thinking when meal planning.
What I love about this soup is that I can make it on the stove or in the crock pot, I will explain to you how to make it both ways.  You can also freeze the leftovers (since it does make a ton!) and it's even better at a later date...dare I say!  The most time consuming part is chopping, and even then it's not that big of a deal, but turn on some good music and pour a glass of wine, grab a cutting board and knife and get to it!

Here's What You Need
  • ½ Large Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 4 Zucchini, quartered and chopped
  • 2 Yellow Squash, quartered and chopped
  • 4-5 Celery Hearts (with tops, even better!), chopped
  • 2 large Russet Potatoes (skin on), small cube
  • ¼-½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 cans Tomato Paste
  • Vegetable Bouillon, 4 cubes or equivalent
  • 12 cups Water
  • 2 cups Cannelini Beans (or 1 can, rinsed)
  • 2 cups Red Kidney Beans (or 1 can, rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Basil
  • Immersion blender, regular blender or food processor
At the end add in:
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Basil
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar

Stove Top Version:
I take the onion, garlic, zucchini and squash and throw them on a baking sheet with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 400℉ for 30 minutes or until they are to your liking.  Make sure you move things around at the halfway mark so nothing gets too done.
Chopped goodness!

While the veggies are getting delicious you can add everything else to a large stock pot and get things started.  Trust me...get a LARGE pot, it makes a ton!  Once the roasted vegetables are done just add them into your pot of goodness and once it comes to a boil, turn the fire down to simmer and let it go for 20-30 minutes or until your potatoes are done.
Clearly I just made it with this pot!  

Now I want you to take 4 cups of the vegetables and beans out of the pot and put them aside, try and get as little of the liquid as possible.  You heard me, just do it.  At this point bust out your immersion blender, regular blender or food processor and blend the hell out of the remainder of the soup.  Add in your fresh herbs and sugar and blend once more.  I'm going to ask you to trust me again on the sugar thing, I thought Bianca was nuts when I read her recipe but it really does add the perfect touch.  Once you are done blending happily away, add in the veggie goodness that you had set aside.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper...much more than you think!

Crock Pot Version:
It's the same process as the stove top version except you add to a crock pot instead of a stock pot!  8 hours on low.  Wicked hard huh?  ☺

I serve this with a salad and/or some sort of bread.  B makes these rolls that are insane and may be one day she will let me share them with you but for now they are a guarded secret.  Today I had an amazing multi-grain artisan loaf that I cut thick and grilled with olive oil.  We were dunking it right in that soup and loving it!  This recipe was perfect for the cold and rainy day we had today.
Thanks again B for sharing your delicious recipe with me!  ❤
Bon's time to eat!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Broccoli and Arugula "Cupcakes"

So it was a fairly normal Thursday at my house except for the nasty ragweed allergy season that has struck, oh and the poison ivy.  Yeah.  Poison freaking ivy.  I had gone to pick up the children from school and stopped by my favorite farm for my last load of veggies before Elizabeth went on vacation ***insert sadness***.

Anyways!  I went home, washed everything and started cooking my face off.  Not sure what the hell phase the moon was in but I started making 1 new dish that turned into 3 new dishes.  Alright, it could be the undiagnosed ADHD that I probably have but, whatever.  That's when it happened.  A knock at the back door, my dog going nuts and my neighbor, Kim, standing there with an enormous basket of veggies!  Obviously I welcomed her, and all the kale a girl could possibly want, into the house...and poured her a glass of wine.  I may or may not have then poured myself a vodka tonic but let me not get sidetracked.  Elizabeth, the best farmer on the planet, had sent her to me bearing gifts!  And what gifts they were!  I usually like going with one new recipe at a time but with everything staring me in the face I couldn't resist.  I had seen an intriguing recipe on Pinterest (shocker) for these baked cheddar broccoli rice cups and while I didn't have all the ingredients, it did get me thinking.  Love that!  This is my version of what came of it and I must say, it's amaze-balls!
This photo could totally be better but Kim insisted this needed to be my next post!  LOL!

Here's what you need:

  • 1½ cups Brown Jasmin Rice, cooked
  • 10 oz Broccoli, frozen or roughly 2 cups fresh, blanched.  I used fresh and chopped it.
  • 1½ cups Arugula, chopped
  • ¾ cup Cheese, ½ cup Monterey Jack and ¼ Parmesan
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant, trust need this in your life.
  • 6-8 sprigs Thyme
  • Muffin tin, regular or large
Preheat your oven to 350℉.
Sooo, throw all of it (except the Parmesan!) in a bowl large enough to get a good mix on things.  Seriously. All I ask is that you do spend the time to really incorporate the ingredients.  Then once the ingredients are all mixed thoroughly, divide your batter into your muffin tin.  They won't be rising so just fill those buggers to the tipity top.  Then top the "cupcakes" with your Parmesan.

Now, I used the large muffin tin and this made six FULL "cupcakes".  Next time I won't be so short sighted and I will double the recipe.  It was that big of a hit.  You all know how I feel about recipes that all 3 of my lovelies enjoy!  Once they are filled, pop them in the oven for 30 minutes or so.  I would start checking them at 20 minutes since the old cooker can vary dramatically from one to another.  I served them with some sauteed trombocino squash and onions but a salad and nice bread would work great here as well.  I liked that the Parmesan was nice and golden and...damn, now I want to make these again!

And don't you worry...the other two recipes will be coming your way soon!  ❤

Bon's time to eat!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frittata with Goat Cheese

As I've said before, having a frittata in my "bag of Mommy tricks" makes life a little bit easier for me.  Of course you don't have to be a Mommy to have a bag of tricks...everyone should have said bag and an amazing frittata is a good item to included in it!  Let's also remember that a frittata can be eaten for any meal, as a main or side dish. V.  You can put any fillings and cheeses that you wish as well in it.  I always use the base of onion, garlic, 10 eggs and milk.  The rest is all up to you really.  I love that!  This was a dish I had made for some of my favorites (non-family favorites that is!).  It was a huge hit and it does my heart good to cook for people I adore.  It's a win-win in my book.
I love serving the frittata right on the cutting board!

Here's What You Need:
  • 1 Large Shallot, sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Small Zucchini, sliced
  • 2 Small yellow Squash, sliced
  • 2 Portabello Mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ Cup Arugula, chopped
  • ¼ Cup (total) Basil and Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Ounces Goat Cheese
  • 10 Large Eggs
  • ½ Cup Milk, whatever "strength" you like
  • Oven proof pan (mine is a 12")
  • Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic, optional

Preheat your oven to 350℉

I find myself not even bothering to put Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper on the ingredient list because really, in my opinion it's just a given that you will need them to cook any savory dish well.  So with that said, get  2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil in your pan and saute the shallot for a few minutes on medium to medium high, then add in the garlic and S & P.  Once you can smell the garlic (about 45 seconds) it's time to get the zucchini and squash in your pan.  A little more S & P here again.  Give them 2-3 minutes and then add in your mushrooms and cook it all for a good 7-10 minutes.  The times will be different if you like less color on your veggies.  I caramelize mine quite a bit.  While the vegetables are happily sauteing away in your pan you can get your eggs and milk prepared in a bowl.  Whisk them together and add a little bit of S & P.  See what I mean about salt and pepper?  The arugula won't take any time at all to cook so add it once you're happy with where your other fillings are at and then go ahead and toss in your herbs.  Thyme would also be good or tarragon or...let me stop now.

So now you are ready to add in the eggs but here's the thing...spread out your filling in the pan as evenly as you can, you shouldn't be able to see the bottom of the pan, and turn your fire down to medium low.  Now take the egg/milk mixture and slowly pour it over the veggies so they aren't disturbed.  You want to have vegetables and egg in every delicious bite.  So your eggs are in the pan and while you are waiting for them to set along the edges you can add in your goat cheese.  I get my goat cheese in log form, not crumbled.  I prefer to crumble it myself...don't ask why.  It's just another one of those OCD quirky things about me.  There are many.  ❤

Once the edges of your eggs start to set and the middle is still very "soupy" put your pan of goodness into the oven on the middle rack.  Let it bake for 13-15 minutes, the egg should now be set in the middle.  The pie will come right out of the pan, I always just slide it out onto a cutting board and serve it like that at the table.
Along with a salad this is a perfect dinner!

Oh and let me tell you...the TJ's Red Pepper Spread is so good alongside the frittata but not necessary.  I really also enjoy it with some grilled bread.  I have a love affair with all things Trader Joe...don't get me started on their Pinot Grigio that goes for a whopping $3.50 tee hee hee!
This is what you would look for!

Bon's time to eat!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

So there I was socializing minding my own business last week at Fat Moon Farm and Elizabeth (my dear farmer friend) mentions her first zucchini bread cook off on the farm.  WHAT?!?!?!  How did I miss this bit of information in her newsletter?  Oh, that's right, I have 3 amazing kids, a dog named Finnegan, a guinea pig named Big Papi, a husband that's wonderful...ahem, most of the time, and my day was just mayhem.   I left that farm so excited and to top it off she was having an "under 18" category as well.  I was already planning what I would do before I left the driveway and the girls would have to agree on what version they wanted to bake.  Then it came.  An email from Elizabeth.  She wanted little ole me to be one of the judges for "Bloggers Choice".  Me?  What?  Well of course I was honored and said yes!  There were two other judges there with me yesterday, Andy from My Untangled Life and Sally from How Does YOUR Garden Grow.  We needed to agree on 2 different entries, one from the "under 18" and the other from the "over 18" categories.  There were 3 breads in the kids division and about 6 or 7 in the adult division...and I am here to tell you that they were all delicious.  We ended up choosing 2 incredible breads that I will make in my very own kitchen and serve proudly.

My babies worked great as a team and made their version of this Blueberry Zucchini Bread.  It was a big hit here and at the bake off, and they won PEOPLE'S CHOICE!!!  I did have to help with a few things and I did monitor the mixing so they didn't go overboard.  I am so proud of my cherubs, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as everyone else has!

Here's What You Need:
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Applesauce
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Honey (we used Big Buzz Apiary honey)
  • 2 cups Zucchini, grated
  • 1 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cups Blueberries
Preheat your oven to 325℉.  Spray two loaf pans with a non-stick spray.
Add eggs, applesauce, vanilla, sugar and honey to your mixer and combine well.  Next you'll want to incorporate the zucchini.  I've come to the realization that doing this step now helps blend it more evenly and you don't have to worry about the potential for over mixing after the flour is added in.  If you forget this step it's not a deal breaker, add it at the end (before the blueberries) and mix for 10 seconds.  Problem solved.

In a separate bowl combine your flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  This should get added in two parts to the wet ingredients and each addition should be just combined.

The blueberries get folded in to the batter then divide the batter between your loaf pans.  Bake them for 55-65 minutes until the toothpick you stick in the middle comes out clean.  I did lay a piece of tin foil over the pans after about 45 minutes so the tops didn't brown too much.  Let them cool in their pans for 15-20 minutes and then turn them out onto a cooling rack.  I suggest you give them a good bit of time to cool before you taste it...those blueberries are like molten lava when hot!  

Bon's time to eat!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

Let me start off by saying the beauty of this post is that you can use whatever you have on hand.  It's not so much a recipe, as it is an idea to work off of.  With that said...the pizza we (my husband  and I) made tonight was the best we have ever made.  Oh, did I mention another beauty of this post is that the husband and I cook this together?  If he's not home, the children and I don't make it.

I love grilled pizza night for many reasons.  It means the man is home, and while I always joke about loving my own space when he travels, I do miss him when he is away.  Quite a bit.  Just a little.  The second reason is because I can open up my fridge and see what I have and what needs to be used.  This is perfect for using up a little of this and a little of that.  The third reason is that the man and I most often times work in sync for this meal.  It's the little things that I can appreciate.  ☺ Another reason is that I won't get take out pizza this good or this fresh here.  Don't get me wrong, we have a few really great pizza joints, and I am not afraid of ordering from them.  They just aren't as good as what can come off of our grill.  There.  I said it.  Now go try this!

Here's What You Need...for what we made tonight:
  • Pizza Dough, make it yourself or buy it
  • Sauce, My version or a good jarred version are fine
  • Mozzarella, grated
  • Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler 
  • Ricotta, the homemade version I do or a store bought version are fine
  • Onions, caramelized
  • Mushrooms, sauteed
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Basil, torn
There are a few tricks that The Husband has perfected with this whole process.  Take your dough out and let it sit on the counter for at least an hour, it will make it easier to stretch and work with.  Get your grill screaming hot.  Last, cook one side first and then put the toppings on that cooked side.  Yes.  Just continue reading.

My part in this whole process is to have all the toppings prepared.  That means I see what will work from the fridge, chop them and then cook them.  All toppings should be cooked because they aren't on the grill long enough to cook through.  I also am the one that gets the "pizza topping buffet" set up.  I clear off everything from our island and set the toppings out in bowls.  When we have company over and make these it is always inevitability a huge hit and it's easy for the children to make their own (which is the best part don't you know?).  The ricotta that I make is from Jennifer Perrilo on Food 52.  It is so completely wonderful, delicious and incredibly easy.  Did I mention delicious?

So once your grill is squawking and your dough is stretched out, oil both sides and throw it on the grates, then shut the hood.  Don't go anywhere because it will take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to cook on this first side.  Once the first side is done take it off the grill and bring it to the topping bar.  

You want to top the side that has been cooked!  The raw side should be on the bottom.  For this pizza I put sauce first then red pepper flakes, ricotta, mushrooms, onions, Mozzarella, Parmesan and finally basil. 

 Once all the toppings are on, then the pizza goes back on the grill and the gas gets turned to low...put the hood down immediately.  This second turn on the grill will take a little bit more time than the first,  about 2-3 minutes.  Don't go anywhere and check it after 2 minutes so it doesn't burn.  What you are trying to accomplish here is cooking the dough and melting the cheeses.  Our pizza's usually turn out large so we take them off the grill with cookie sheets or cutting boards.

Once they come off the grill let them sit for a minute or two to cool.  If you try cutting into the pizza with the smoldering cheese it will just pool into the middle.  Let it set up and try to be as patient as you possibly can...not an easy feat for me.

A simple salad with this makes everyone happy but I have to admit, tonight it was just pizza...and a vodka tonic each for The Husband and I ❤
Bon's time to eat!