Thursday, February 9, 2017

Super Bowl Sliders! Grass-Fed Deliciousness for Every Team!

Atlanta Falcons Slider

No matter who you were rooting for, Super Bowl LI was legendary.  It can't be re-created.  But you CAN re-create the food that was served!

Our guests LOOVED that we had a True Aussie grass-fed beef slider for each team, with ingredients that are significant to that team's region.

We asked each of our guests which one they liked the best, and the winner was ATLANTA...hands down!  But the reason?  Because you could REALLY taste the great flavor of the BEEF!

If you haven't tried grass-fed beef, you're missing out on the incredible, rich flavor, the lean but juicy and tender texture, and all the health benefits of eating grain-free beef, like lower cholesterol and higher Omega-3 fatty acids!  Add the flavors of grilled balsamic peaches, or Boston baked bean hash browns and you've got a party!



Atlanta Falcons Grass-Fed Sliders with Grilled Balsamic Georgia Peaches

Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time: 10 minutes / Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
Atlanta Falcons Slider
  • 1 lb. True Aussie ground beef 
  • 16 oz. bag sliced frozen peaches 
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1 cup baby arugula 
  • 8 oz. burrata cheese, cut into 6-8 pieces 
  • olive oil spray 
  • salt and pepper 
  • 6-8 ciabatta slider rolls 
Steps:
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Whisk until combined. Stir in the peaches, cover, and set aside to allow them to marinate and thaw for about 15 minutes. 
  2. Form 6-8 small slider size patties with the beef. Handle the beef as little as possible to maintain tenderness. Sprinkle both sides of the sliders with salt and pepper and set aside to rest. 
  3. Spray a grill with olive oil spray and heat to high heat. 
  4. Remove the peaches from the marinade and place them in a wire grilling basket. Place the peaches and the sliders on the grill for about 6-8 minutes, flipping once during cooking. 
  5. In the last few minutes of cooking, spray the ciabatta buns with the olive oil spray and toast them for 1-2 minutes on the grill. Remove the sliders from the grill and allow them to rest for about 5 minutes before building and serving. 
  6. To build the sliders: Place the bottoms of the ciabatta buns on a serving dish. Place a slider on top of the ciabatta bun. Place some of the burrata cheese on top of the slider. Top each one with some of the baby arugula and place 2-3 pieces of the grilled peaches on top of the arugula. Serve immediately.


New England Patriots Grass-Fed Sliders with Bean Town Hash Browns

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes / Cook Time: 35 minutes / Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
New England Patriots Slider

  • 1 lb. True Aussie ground beef 
  • 26 oz. bag frozen hash browns 
  • 1 cup Boston style baked beans (your recipe or canned)
  • 12 oz. package bacon
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 pretzel slider rolls
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil spray
Steps:
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the frozen hash browns and the baked beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hands until combined and form 6-8 slider size patties.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and place it in the freezer for about 1 hour. 
  2. In a medium saucepan combine the shredded cheese, heavy cream and garlic powder.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir on medium heat until a thick, creamy cheese sauce is formed.  Keep warm until ready to serve.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the bacon on medium high heat until crispy.  Remove from the drippings with a slotted spoon and chop the bacon into small pieces. Reserve the drippings and set aside. Stir the bacon pieces into the cheese sauce just before serving to maintain crispiness.
  4. Keep the bacon drippings heated on medium high heat.  Add the hash brown patties 3-4 at a time and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and heated through.
  5. Form 6-8 small slider size patties with the beef. Handle the beef as little as possible to maintain tenderness. Sprinkle both sides of the sliders with salt and pepper. 
  6. Spray a grill with olive oil spray and heat to medium-high heat. Cook the sliders for about 3-4 minutes on each side, flipping only once and then allowing them to rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
  7. Remove the pretzel rolls and place them on a cookie sheet or place them in the toaster oven.  Heat on 300 degrees for about 5 minutes before serving. 
  8. To build the sliders: Place the bottoms of the warm pretzel rolls on a serving dish. Place a slider on top of the pretzel roll. Place a hash brown patty on top of each slider.  Stir the bacon into the cheese sauce and spoon some of the sauce on top of each of the hash brown patties.  Place the top of the pretzel rolls on the sliders and serve!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

3TV Phoenix: Turn Your Favorite Weekend Meals into Easy Weeknight Soups

Chicken Alfredo Soup


Well, the holidays are over, school's back in session, sports are starting back up and our normal, busy lives are back in full swing.  WAAAAAAHHH!!!!

It's back to weekend warrior meals and quick, easy fixes for the weeknights.  These are a few of my favorite weekend meals that usually take time to cook, layer, bake, etc. But I turned them into rich, hearty comfort food soups, that work PERFECTLY as a cure for the weeknight woes!



Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup

Prep Time: 10 mins. / Cook Time: 30 mins. / Servings:  6-8

Ingredients:
Green Chile Enchilada Soup

  • 2 cans (15.5 oz. each) white kidney beans (aka Cannellini beans)
  • 32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 16 oz. Del Real Shredded Chicken
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut in half, then sliced into 1/2” strips
  • 28 oz. green chile enchilada sauce (I use Las Palmas)

Steps:

  1. In a large pot, combine the beans, chicken broth, shredded chicken, green pepper, onion, garlic and enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft and flavors are combined.  
  2. Stir in the tortilla strips and cook for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Optional toppings include: sour cream, sliced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, crumbled queso fresco, or crispy tortilla strips!



Italian Sausage Lasagna Soup

Prep Time:10 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes / Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
Italian Sausage Lasagna Soup

  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 6-8 large lasagna noodles
  • 24oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh basil leaves (for garnish)

Steps:

  1. In a large dutch oven, add the sausage, chopped peppers, garlic, rosemary, onions and mushrooms.    Cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the sausage browns and the veggies are soft.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Pour in the red wine and beef broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Stir in the marinara sauce and brown sugar. 
  3. Break up the lasagna noodles into large and small pieces, add to the pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally until the noodles are soft.
  4. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese and garnish with fresh basil.



Chicken Alfredo Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
Chicken Alfredo Soup

  • 24 oz. Alfredo Sauce
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. chicken breast cubes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. penne noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 8 oz. cooked bacon crumbles
  • salt and pepper
Steps:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the chicken.  Brown the chicken on all sides and stir in the Alfredo sauce and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and stir in the penne noodles.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until noodles are soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  
  3. Allow the soup to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with broccoli florets, bacon crumbles and the remaining shredded cheese.






Tuesday, December 27, 2016

9 Quick and Easy Amazing Appetizers for your New Year's Eve Bash

Caprese and Olive Rosemary Skewers

Let's face it...for most of us, New Year's Eve is more about consuming a few (too many) cocktails.  If you're hosting a party, you're probably more concerned about what kind of bubbly to serve at midnight than you are about the appetizers being passed around on trays. 

Get some food in those bellies before the clock strikes!  Here are 9 quick and easy amazing appetizers for your New Years Eve Bash! Each of these is ready in just about 30 minutes or less, so you won't spend too much time at the store or stove!


Gorgonzola Stuffed Figs in a Blanket with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 15 minutes / Servings 20-24 pieces
Gorgonzola Stuffed Figs in a Blanket
with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:
  • 10-12 fresh, Black Mission figs
  • 4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced Prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
  • a pinch of garlic powder
  • a pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 bottle of your favorite red wine
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the hard tips off the figs and cut them in half lengthwise down the middle. 
  3. Stuff a large chunk of Gorgonzola cheese into the middle of each fig half. 
  4. Tear the prosciutto into thin, uneven strips and wrap it around the stuffed figs. Don't worry about being neat or even, some of them will have more than others.
  5. Place the figs on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Be careful not to over cook them, the cheese will melt and leak out if they're cooked for too long.  Just get the prosciutto warm and a little bit crisp.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. For the glaze, combine the honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth and combined.  Add in about 3/4 of the chopped scallions and stir.
  7. To serve: Transfer the figs to a serving dish and transfer the glaze to a small serving bowl.  Drizzle some of the glaze over the figs with a spoon and garnish the figs with the rest of the scallions. 



Raw Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 12 mushrooms
Raw Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms


Ingredients:
  • 10 oz. whole Crimini mushrooms, center stems removed 
  • 15-20 large basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews (plus a few for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste 
Steps:
  1. In a food processor or blender combine basil, parsley, scallion, garlic, lemon juice and cashews.  Season with salt and pepper and pulse food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Scrape ingredients down into the bottom of the food processor and blend the ingredients again, streaming the olive oil in slowly. Blend for about 30 seconds until the pesto is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place the mushroom caps open side up on a serving dish.  Spoon the pesto into the mushroom caps.  Top with lemon zest and garnish with a whole cashew.




Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Spread with Fresh Baked Pita Chips

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 15 minutes / Servings: 4

Ingredients:
Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Spread with
Fresh Baked Pita Chips
  • 3-4 slices pita bread
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • salt/pepper
  • cooking spray

Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use a pizza cutter to cut each of the pita bread pieces into 8 triangles.
  3. Place the triangles onto a cookie sheet.  Brush or drizzle each of the triangles with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until crispy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.
  4. While the chips are baking, combine the cream cheese and goat cheese in a large mixing bowl.  Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir to combine.  Stir in the dried cranberries and walnuts until combined.
  5. Spray a 4"x2" ramekin with cooking spray and spoon the cheese spread into the ramekin, flattening out the top.  Place the cheese spread in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool and set.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the raspberry jam and chipotle powder.  Add 1 tbsp. water and mix until smooth and combined.
  7. To Serve: Turn the ramekin with the cheese spread upside down on a serving platter, releasing the set cheese spread.  Spoon the raspberry chipotle sauce on top of the cheese spread and arrange the pita chips on the platter next to the cheese spread.


Bacon and Avocado Wrapped Mozzarella Sticks

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Servings: 12 

Ingredients:
Bacon and Avocado Wrapped Mozzarella Sticks
  • 12 frozen, pre-cooked Mozzarella Sticks
  • 1 large, ripe avocado, sliced into 12 pieces
  • 12 slices of pre-cooked bacon
  • 12 tbsp. black bean and corn salsa
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Allow the cheese stick to sit out and thaw for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Lay the strips of bacon out horizontally onto a cookie sheet.  Place a frozen mozzarella stick vertically on top of each piece of bacon.  Lay a slice of avocado on top of each mozzarella stick.
  4. Wrap the bacon around the mozzarella sticks and bacon.  Push a toothpick through the center to secure 
  5. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes
  6. To Serve:  Spoon a tablespoon of the black bean salsa into a 2 oz. shot glass.  Place one of the bacon wrapped cheese sticks in each shot glass with the salsa.




Balsamic Peach, Baby Arugula and Burrata Crostini
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes / Servings: 12 crostini

Ingredients:
Balsamic Peach, Baby Arugula
and Burrata Crostini

  • 1 loaf freshly baked Italian bread, cut into 12, 1" thick slices 
  • 16oz. bag of frozen peaches 
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 cups baby arugula 
  • 8 oz. Burrata cheese 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • salt and pepper 

Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. In a large skillet, combine the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat on medium heat until sugar is melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peaches and allow the mixture to simmer and reduce, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving. 
  3. Brush both sides of the bread with extra virgin olive oil. Season one side with a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  4. Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until toasted and golden. Allow them to cool slightly before handling. 
  5. Spread about a tbsp. of the burrata cheese onto each of the toasted bread slices. Top with a few leaves of the baby arugula and place 2-3 of the balsamic peach slices on top of the arugula. Serve with white wine and enjoy! 



Caprese & Olive Rosemary Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 12

Ingredients:
Caprese & Olive Rosemary Skewers

  • 12 rosemary sticks 
  • 24 cherry tomatoes 
  • 24 small mozzarella balls 
  • 12 large, pitted kalamata olives 
  • 24 small basil leaves 

Steps:
  1. Peel leaves off each rosemary stick, leaving about 1/2 " of the leaves on the top. 
  2. Cut the base of the stick so that it comes to a point. 
  3. Use the stick as a skewer and place a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, a mozzarella ball and an olive onto the stick. If there's still room on the stick, follow up with a final cherry tomato, basil leaf and a mozzarella ball. 
  4. Place on a tray and serve! 


Mini Bacon & Avocado Nacho Cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 5 minutes / Servings: 12

Ingredients:
Mini Bacon & Avocado Nacho Cups
  • 12 Tostitos Scoops chips
  • 3 slices pre-cooked bacon
  • 1/2 fresh avocado, chopped
  • 12 tsp. spicy nacho cheese dip
  • 6 tsp. black bean and corn salsa
Steps:
  1. Heat the bacon in a small skillet on high heat for 3-5 minutes, turning once.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool  Chop into small bits and set aside.
  2. Place a tsp. of the nacho cheese dip into the center of each of the chips (you can heat it for about 30 seconds if you wish).
  3. Place a couple of pieces of the chopped avocado into each of the cups.  Sprinkle with the chopped bacon and top with 1/2 tsp. of the salsa.  Serve immediately.


Mediterranean Phyllo Cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 5 minutes / Servings: 12

Ingredients:
Mediterranean Phyllo Cups
  • 12 frozen mini Phyllo cups
  • 12 tsp. spinach dip
  • 2-3 artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2-3 black or green olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. dry Italian salami, chopped

Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Place a tsp. of the spinach dip into the center of each of the phyllo cups and place them on a cookie sheet.  Heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the dip is warm and the cups are golden brown.
  2. Chop all the other ingredients and combine them in a mixing bowl.  Spoon a bit of the mixture into the center of each of the warm Phyllo cups.  Serve immediately.


Caramel Pecan Donut Pops

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 12

Ingredients:
Caramel Pecan Donut Pops
  • 12 plain or glazed donut holes
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup praline pecans, finely chopped or crushed

Steps:
  1. Roll the donut holes in the caramel sauce one at a time, then roll them in the crushed pralines.
  2. Place them on a serving tray and push a lollipop stick into each of the donut holes.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.









Monday, November 28, 2016

Bakers vs. Fakers Bacon Apple Mini Pies!

Bacon Apple Mini Pies

These are the little winners that brought home $15,000 on Bakers vs. Fakers!  They're easy to make, look fantastic and taste even better!

Don't let your holiday pies get BO-RING!!!!!

Bacon Apple Mini Pies

Ingredients for the Apples: 
  • 3 Red Delicious Apples 
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 3 tbsp. dark brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp. flour 
  • 3 tbsp. butter 
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 3 mint sprigs for garnish 
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Heat a skillet to high heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon, dry on a paper towel and transfer to a large mixing bowl. RESERVE ABOUT 1 TBSP. OF THE BACON FOR PLATING. 
  3. Cut the apples in half vertically and cut out the core and the insides with a melon baller (leave about 1/4” around the sides). Discard the core, but reserve the rest of the insides, chop and transfer to the mixing bowl with the bacon. Add the chopped pecans, cinnamon, sugar, flour and salt. Stir to combine and spoon the mixture into the hollowed out apples. Top each filled apple with 1/2 tbsp. butter (two 1/4tbsp. cubes). Place the apples on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
Ingredients for the Pie Crust Leaves:
Bacon Apple Mini Pies,
photo courtesy of Food Network

  • 5 oz. All Purpose Flour 
  • 3.5 oz lard 
  • 1.5 oz. cold water 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1 tbsp. milk 
Steps:
  1. Add the salt to the cold water to dissolve. 
  2. Add the lard and flour in a large bowl and mix with your hands until the lard is the size of peas or hazlenuts. 
  3. Add the water and mix just until the water is absorbed. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. 
  4. Remove the dough from the freezer and lightly flour a flat surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4” thickness and use a small, leaf shaped cookie cutter to shape small leaves. Coat with an egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp. milk) and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes until golden. 
Ingredients for the Vanilla Swiss Meringue:
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste 
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 
Steps:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whisk on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. 
  2. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Add in the vanilla bean paste, and mix again to combine. 
To build and plate the dish:

Place a stuffed apple pie into the center of a serving dish. Pipe or spoon about 1/4 cup of the meringue on top of the apples. Quickly toast the meringue with a butane torch. Place 1-2 of the pie crust leaves in the meringue. Sprinkle with a bit of the remaining bacon. Garnish the top of each apple with a mint sprig and serve.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

3TV Phoenix: Easy Dinners for Busy Nights!


Creamy Pesto and Sausage Penne

Getting the kids ready for back to school can be a struggle with school supply purchases, schedule adjustments and sports activities starting up again.  Dinner sometimes tends to take a back seat to microwaves and take out!  Don't do that!  Keep a few pre-made ingredients on hand and find some good, wholesome brands of pre-cooked items that can help you get through the next few weeks!

I always keep some par-boiled pasta on hand and a BIG bowl of pre-cooked brown rice in the refrigerator. These can be super easy side dishes in a pinch, or they can be the base for a quick and easy recipe!


Creamy Pesto and Sausage Penne


Ingredients:
Creamy Pesto and Sausage Penne

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 16 oz. pre-cooked Penne noodles
  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, pine nuts, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice and zest.  Pulse all ingredients until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the heavy cream and mix until combined.
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the sausage.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage as it cooks for about 7 minutes, until sausage is browned and cooked through.
  4. In a large casserole dish combine the pre-cooked pasta, cooked sausage, remaining Parmesan cheese and creamy pesto.  Stir with a large spoon until combined.  
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


Spicy Chicken Tacos

Del Real Shredded Chicken is a STAPLE in my house!  We love to go camping, so this stuff REALLY comes in handy while traveling, for dinners in a pinch, or if my kiddo is just craving his FAVORITE meal!  You can find this stuff at any grocery store, and Costco carries it in a double pack.


Ingredients:
Optional toppings:
  • Salsa Fresca
  • Avocado Slices
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour Cream
Steps:
  1. Combine chicken, rice, taco seasoning and beans in a large skillet.  Stir until combined and heat on medium heat until all ingredients are hot.
  2. Warm the tortillas in the microwave and place them on a serving dish.  Spoon the chicken mixture evenly into the center of the tacos.  Top with any and/or all of the optional toppings and serve immediately.


Garlic Bread Meatball Sliders

I don't know about you, but I am LOVING all the cute little one minute videos that feature delicious and easy looking recipes!  This one is one of my favorites...who doesn't LOVE a good meatball slider?!  To simplify, you can use pre-mixed and shaped, raw meatballs (Kroger stores carry these), or use your favorite frozen meatballs that are just re-heated with the marinara (they can also easily be microwaved).  For the garlic butter, Kerrygold makes a really tasty pre-mixed garlic & herb butter that can be easily melted and brushed on top of the slider buns!







Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Good Morning Arizona: Traditional Tuscan Fare!

Traditional Tuscan Schiacciata

I love re-living my memories of our Tuscan adventure through food!  I can't believe how simple and delicious our meals were, and I NEVER left a restaurant or a dinner table hungry!

Traditional Tuscan fare is rustic, fresh, and comforting.  Carefully made salamis and cheeses are served morning, noon and night. Chianti practically flows from the faucets, and desserts like biscotti and gelato leave nothing to be desired!

The secret?  FRESH ingredients.  Before any cooking lesson, we always went and bought meat from the butcher, produce from the farmer's shop, and bread from the baker.  They all take GREAT pride in their products, they know their patrons and they aim to please.  Needless to say, I knew that every bite I took in Tuscany was made with nothing but LOVE!



Schiacciata (Tuscan Flat Bread)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 5 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling at the end
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling at the end
Steps:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast in the water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and mix on low speed for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough comes away from the bowl and forms a ball. Spray a mixing bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the mixing bowl. 
  3. Cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rise for about one hour.
  4. Generously coat a cookie sheet with about 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the cookie sheet and spread the dough out on the cookie sheet, until it is about 1/2" thick.  Poke holes in the dough with your fingertips.  Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the dough.
  5. Allow the dough to rise a second time for about another 30 minutes, until it has almost doubled in size.  
  6. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Turn off the oven and allow the bread to rest for another 10 minutes before removing it from the oven.
  7. Remove from the heat and drizzle with additional olive oil and another sprinkle of salt.  


Traditional Tuscan Ragu Sauce

Traditional Tuscan Ragu Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork sausage or turkey (I use a Sweet Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1/2 can Cento peeled tomatoes
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup red wine (Chianti)
  • 1 cup milk
Steps:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the vegetables and brown, adding a bit of vegetable stock periodically to avoid burning and to deglaze the pan.
  2. When the veggies are cooked down, add the meat and brown it on all sides until cooked through.
  3. Stir in the red wine and allow it to cook down for about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and milk.  Stir until combined. Add a little more broth if necessary to avoid sticking to the pan. Simmer on low heat for about an hour until reduced, thick and chunky!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good Morning Arizona! 3TV Phoenix: Lettuce-Free Salads



Right about this time in the summer, I have two choices: 1) Eat a salad and look good(ish) in my swimsuit, or; 2) Cover my booty up and chow down!  I'd say it's about a 50/50 chance that either one happens.  It's all about balance, right?!

So, here are a few alternatives to that lettuce-laden beast that we all dread this time of year, featuring some of my favorite ingredients and some hassle-free methods!



Mexican Street Corn Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 6 minutes / Servings: 6-8

 Ingredients:
Mexican Street Corn Salad
  • 3 ears of white or yellow corn (or 3 cups of frozen corn)
  • 1/4 chopped Red Onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco (cotija works too)
  • 1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • 1/2 chopped jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Poblano Ranch Dressing
Steps:
  1. Grill the corn on high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and remove the husks. Remove the kernels by placing the ear upright in a large bowl and run a sharp knife down the side of the ear. If you're working with frozen corn, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil on high heat and add the corn. Allow it to blacken for about 2 minutes on each side, remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the chopped red onion, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, lime juice and chopped jalapeño (optional).
  3. Drizzle in the dressing, toss combine and serve. 
Alternative Dressing: 1/4 cup sour cream or Crema Mexicana and 1/2 tsp. chili powder



Mediterranean Pearl Cous Cous Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 15 minutes / Servings: 6-8
Mediterranean Pearl Cous Cous Salad

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked Israeli or Pearl cous cous
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped or sliced Kalamata Olives 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1 chopped large Tomato 
  • 1/2 cup chopped Red Onion
  • 1 cup chopped, raw asparagus
  • 1/4 cup Honey Dijon Dressing
  • salt and pepper to taste
Steps:
  1. Cook the pearl cous cous according to the package directions and allow it to cool completely (I usually rinse it in cold water to cool it quickly).  Transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the chopped cucumber, Kalamata olives, Feta cheese, chopped tomato and chopped red onion.
  3. Drizzle in the dressing, season with salt and pepper to taste, toss to combine and serve.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pancetta, Cranberries and Praline 
Pecans

 Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 10 minutes / Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pancetta,
Cranberries and Praline Pecans
  • 3 cups thinly sliced or "shaved" brussels sprouts (about 24 brussels sprouts)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta
  • 1/4 cup Praline pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
Steps:
  1. Heat the olive oil on high heat in a large skillet.  Add the brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and stir to brown/wilt them for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and transfer them to a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes to stop the cooking process.  Remove and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  
  2. In the same skillet, add the pancetta and continue to cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, until the pancetta is browned on all sides.  Remove from the heat and transfer to the mixing bowl with the brussels sprouts.  Allow the mixture to cool before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  3. When the mixture is cooled, add the praline pecans and dried cranberries.  
  4. Drizzle in the dressing, toss to combine and serve.


Hassleback Caprese Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 4

Ingredients:
Hassleback Caprese Salad
Steps:
  1. Lay each of the tomatoes on their side and cut four slices about 3/4 of the way through each tomato. 
  2. Stuff each of the slices with a slice of mozzarella, then with a large basil leaf.
  3. Drizzle each tomato with the dressing, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and serve. 











Sunday, May 1, 2016

3TV Phoenix: The Right Oils for he Right Recipes


Sweet & Savory Lemon and Thyme Olive Oil Cakes

Sweet & Savory Lemon and Thyme Olive Oil Cakes

Ingredients:

Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and spray a 12 qty. mini bundt pan with Bertolli Extra Light Flavor Olive Oil Cooking Spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. 
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar together on medium speed for 4 minutes. 
  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, sour cream, lemon bakery emulsion and thyme. Whisk until combined. 
  5. Add the olive oil mixture to the sugar and eggs. Mix just until combined. 
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches, mixing only until combined. 
  7. Spoon the batter into the mini bundt tins, until 2/3 full. Bake at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool before removing them from the tins. 



Jalapeno Lime Infused Avocado Oil

Jalapeno Lime Infused Avocado Oil 

Ingredients:
  • Zest of 2 large limes 
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup Avocado Oil 
Directions:
  1. Place the lime zest and chopped jalapeños into a mortar and grind with a pestle to release oils. Pour the avocado oil over and stir until combined. 
  2. Transfer the mixture to a jar and refrigerate for about 2 hours. After the mixture chills and infuses, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Run the oil through a strainer to remove the lime and jalapeño bits. Return the oil to the jar for use and storage. Refrigerate and store for up to a week.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

3TV PHOENIX: SUPER BOWL SIDE DISHES!



Superbowl Game Day Food.  It's the one thing that can bring all the fans together, regardless of who's jersey they're wearing.  It's the one day we forget just how cold it is outside, what our New Year's fitness resolutions are and what time we have to be to work on Monday.  All food bets are off, the grill is fired up and the drinks are pouring.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite entree or meat dish ready for the grill, but when it comes to side dishes, I find that people often end up scratching their heads and opting for the store bought macaroni salad.  At a potluck, being the side dish supplier always takes a bit more thought than a salad, entree or dessert contributor.  Look and think no further my friends...here are the answers!


Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:
Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped (green ends only)
  • 1 lb. prepared boneless buffalo chicken tenders or nuggets, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup hot wing sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper, 
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional garnish)
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a large pot with generously salted water and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and par-boil it for about 6 minutes until al dente.  Drain and transfer to a large baking dish.
  3. Chop the chicken tenders and add them to the dish with the pasta.  Mix until combined.
    1. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the heavy cream, marinara sauce and hot wing sauce. Stir until combined.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Adjust the ingredients to your liking, stir until warm, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the sauce and 1 cup of the cheese evenly into the mixture with the pasta and chicken.  Top the dish with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  5. While the pasta is baking, fry the bacon in a large skillet on high heat until extra crispy.  Remove from the drippings with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel and allow the bits to cool.
  6. Chop the scallions and mix them together with the cooled bacon bits.
  7. Remove the dish from the oven after baking, uncover, and sprinkle the bacon/scallion mixture on top. Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Finish with bleu cheese crumbles if desired.

Southwest Stuffed Avocados
 
Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 4 minutes / Servings: 8
Southwest Stuffed Avocados

Ingredients: 
Steps
  1. Place the frozen vegetables in the microwave (in the bag) and microwave on high heat for about 4 minutes. Allow the bag to cool before handling and transfer veggies to a large mixing bowl.
  2. With a large knife, cut the avocados in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. With a spoon, hollow out the avocados a bit more by running the spoon in a circle around the pit, leaving about 1/2 the fruit in the shells.
  3. Add the salad dressing, chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice to the mixing bowl with the veggies.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Fill the hollowed avocados with the veggie mixture. Top or garnish with chopped more cilantro and sliced limes. Serve immediately.

Roasted Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 12 mushrooms
Raw Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz. whole Crimini or white mushrooms, center stems removed
  • 15-20 large basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon (plus more zest for garnish)
  • 2/3 cup roasted cashews (plus a few more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • cracker black pepper to taste

Steps:
  1. In a food processor or blender combine basil, parsley, scallion, garlic, lemon juice and cashews.  Season with pepper and pulse food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Scrape ingredients down into the bottom of the food processor and blend the ingredients again, streaming the olive oil in slowly. Blend for about 30 seconds until the pesto is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place the mushroom caps open side up on a serving dish.  Spoon the pesto into the mushroom caps.  Top with lemon zest and garnish with a whole cashew.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Game Day Grub Match: Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Rib Kickers!


Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Rib Kickers

 Game day is NOTHING without a few sliders, and these babies are so fun to make and eat!  I love how the pretzel rolls look like little footballs!  These Chipotle Cherry Short Rib Kickers have such a great balance of flavor and texture, they'll please even the pickiest of your foodie friends on Super Bowl Sunday!

I started with some beef short ribs and seared them before adding them to the slow cooker with some red wine, tart cherries, beef broth and LOTS of Wild Cherry Pepsi!  I added just a touch of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a hint of smoky heat to balance out the sweetness of the Pepsi.  After about 4 hours, I had a colorful, juicy and tender meat that just fell off the bone and shredded easily with a fork.

For some acidity, I chopped green and red cabbage and mixed it with a few tablespoons of lime juice and Mountain Dew.  Some chopped avocado bits gave it just a hint of creamy texture and balanced out my slider.  But I didn't stop there!

For an extra kick and crunch I decided to roll some thinly sliced onion in a crushed bag of Tostitos Cantina Traditional Chips and fry them up to crispy perfection.  Voila!  The perfect game day dish is served!

Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Rib Kickers

For the Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Ribs:
Ingredients:
Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Rib Kickers

  • 2 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs (6-7 ribs)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16.9oz. Wild Cherry Pepsi (1 medium bottle) 
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used a California blend)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 cup tart cherries in water
  • salt and pepper
Steps:
  1. Heat the olive oil to high heat in a large skillet.  Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and sear them in the oil for about 1 minute on all sides, until well browned.  Transfer to a slow-cooker or crock pot.
  2. Add the Wild Cherry Pepsi, beef broth, red wine, minced garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo and tart cherries to the slow cooker and still until all ingredients to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  
  3. Cover and cook in the slow cooker on high heat for about 4 hours, until the meat easily falls away from the bone.  Shred the meat with a fork and return to the slow cooker.  Turn the heat down to warm and allow the meat to soak up the juices for an additional 15 minutes before serving.
For the Mountain Dew Avocado Citrus Slaw:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups shredded fresh cabbage (about 1/4 head of cabbage)
  • 1 cup shredded fresh red cabbage (about 1/8 head of cabbage)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped 
  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 2 tbsp. Mountain Dew
  • salt and pepper
Steps:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the green and red cabbage and tomato.  Toss to combine.  
  2. Stir in the avocado, lime juice and Mountain Dew.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Rib Kickers
For the Tostitos Crusted Crispy Onions:
Ingredients:
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 egg whites
  • 12 oz. Tostitos Cantina Traditional Chips
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
Steps:
  1. Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large frying pan. 
  2. Crush the Tostitos Cantina Traditional Chips in their bag with a mallet, or pulse them in a food processor for 30 seconds until finely ground.
  3. Dip the sliced onions in the egg whites, then toss them in the crushed chips.
  4. Place them in the heated oil in batches, and fry them in the oil for about 30 seconds, until the onions are transparent and the chips are dark golden brown.
To build the sliders:
  1. Cut the pretzel rolls in half and place the bottom half on a serving dish. 
  2. Place about 2 tbsp. of the Mountain Dew Avocado Citrus Slaw on the bottom half of the pretzel rolls.
  3. Place about 2 tbsp. of the Chipotle Wild Cherry Pepsi Short Ribs on top of the slaw.
  4. Place about 2 tbsp. of the Tostitos Crusted Crispy Onions on top of the short ribs. 
  5. Place the top half of the bun on top of the onions and serve immediately.





Monday, January 18, 2016

Thyme & Honey Butter Berliners with Sangria Poached Cherry Compote


Thyme & Honey Butter Berliners
with Sangria Poached Cherry Compote
I have a new obsession.  Making my own donuts.  My growing hips and shrinking clothes aren't too excited about the idea, but my dutch oven (which is now my deep fryer) is thrilled.  Today I made a basic "Berliner."  These are a lighter, airier version of the "cake" donut, which is what we're mostly used to in donut shops across America. But, we all know that donuts are more about what's inside or on top...or both.  Today's beautiful Berliner is no exception.

This dish is REALLY all about the sangria poached cherry compote.  Today I had three different types of Melissa's dried cherries.  I couldn't decide which one to use, so I used them all!  Personally, I think this cherry compote should be on EVERYTHING.  It would be great on brownies, it would make a great filling for a cake, or even as a "betty" recipe with crumbles and butter!  Even if you don't make the donuts and the butter from this recipe...you MUST give the sangria poached cherry compote a whirl!

You can find Melissa's dried cherries and the fresh thyme I used today in the produce section of your grocery store.  They've got a great variety of products from fresh herbs, to vegetables, to exotic and freaky fruits!  Plus, they're pretty cool people, so I don't mind giving them a shout out.

Thyme & Honey Butter Berliners with Sangria Poached Cherry Compote

For the Berliner Donuts
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees, or lowest possible setting. Place 1/2 cup water in an oven proof bowl and set it on the bottom shelf of the oven to create some humidity. After the oven hits its temperature, turn the oven off.  My oven has a bread proofing function, so if yours does, use that setting with the bowl of water and keep the oven on.
  2. Sift and whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the yeast and milk in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes.  Slowly add the dry ingredients, egg, vanilla and butter and mix just until combined. 
  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and let the dough work for about 8 minutes, until it pulls completely away from the bowl, and sticks to the paddle.  It should come away easily from the paddle, but still be a little sticky.
  5. Transfer the dough to a greased, stainless steel bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until it triples in size.
  6. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or deep fryer to about 350 degrees while the dough is rising.
  7. Remove the dough from the oven and spread it out onto a floured surface.  Roll it out to about 3/4" thick.  Cut out 3" rounds with a glass or biscuit cutter and fry in the oil for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown.  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet or dish lined with a paper towel.  Dust with powdered sugar immediately.

Thyme & Honey Butter Berliners
with Sangria Poached Cherry Compote
For the Sangria Poached Cherry Compote
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Melissa's Dried Tart Cherries
  • 1/2 cup Melissa's Dried Ranier Cherries
  • 1/2 cup Melissa's Dried Bing Cherries
  • 1 cup citrus sangria (I used Madria Sangria Tradicional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch, dissolved in 1 tbsp. cold water
Steps:
  1. In a medium saucepan combine the dried cherries, sangria, vanilla bean paste and sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, until the cherries are reconstituted, puffy and soft. 
  2. Whisk in the corn starch and mix until the sauce thickens, another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
For the Thyme & Honey Butter
Ingredients:
  • 10 tbsp. of room temperature butter
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Melissa's fresh thyme (leaves only), chopped
Steps:
  1. Combine all ingredients and stir with a spoon until smooth and combined.  Set aside until ready to use.
To Serve
Ingredients:

  • 6 Berliner Donuts
  • 1 recipe cherry compote, divided in half
  • 6 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 recipe thyme & honey butter
  • 6 thyme sprigs for garnish
Steps:
  1. Spoon half of the cherry compote into a food processor and mix for about 10 seconds, until the mixture is smooth.  Place it into a pastry bag with a long tip.
  2. Make a small cut into the sides of the donuts with a paring knife, insert the pastry bag and fill the donuts with 1-2 tbsp. of the cherry compote.  Place each of the filled donuts on a small serving dish.
  3. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the thyme & honey butter on top of the donuts.
  4. Place a scoop of ice cream on top of the honey butter.
  5. Drizzle some of the remaining cherry compote on top of the ice cream. Garnish with a thyme sprig and serve immediately.


**Recipes adapted from Stephen Collucci's Book, "Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped**






Friday, January 15, 2016

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Superbowl Game Day Food.  It's the one thing that can bring all the fans together, regardless of who's jersey they're wearing.  It's the one day we forget just how cold it is outside, what our New Year's fitness resolutions are and what time we have to be to work on Monday.  All food bets are off, the grill is fired up and the drinks are pouring.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite entree or meat dish ready for the grill, but when it comes to side dishes, I find that people often end up scratching their heads and opting for the store bought macaroni salad.  At a potluck, being the side dish supplier always takes a bit more thought than a salad, entree or dessert contributor.  Look and think no further my friends...this is the answer!

This Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta doesn't have too many ingredients or involve too much effort.  I purchased some prepared, boneless buffalo chicken tenders from the deli bar at my local grocery store, which made the recipe pretty seamless.  I'm sure the frozen kind would work as well, I just feel like the fresh ones were crispier and juicier.  You could also buy and/or make actual buffalo wings and drummies and remove the meat.

Rigatoni is a great pasta, but penne or ziti would work just as well.  You want something tubular or cylindrical, so the sauce and cheese got inside the centers and gave the dish great flavor and texture.

You can play with the flavors and measurements in the sauce, whatever your favorite wing sauce is would be just fine!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:
Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
(topped here with Bleu Cheese crumbles)

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped (green ends only)
  • 1 lb. prepared boneless buffalo chicken tenders or nuggets, chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup Marinara (I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara)
  • 2/3 cup hot wing sauce
  • 2 cups shredded 3 cheese Italian blend
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper, 
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional garnish)
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a large pot with generously salted water and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and par-boil it for about 5 minutes until al dente.  Drain and transfer to a large baking dish.
  3. Chop the chicken tenders and add them to the dish with the pasta.
  4. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the heavy cream, marinara sauce and hot wing sauce. Stir until combined.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Adjust the ingredients and flavors to your liking with the hot sauce and marinara.  Stir until thickened, warm and bubbly, about 7 minutes.
  5. Stir the sauce and 1 cup of the cheese evenly into the mixture with the pasta and chicken.  Top the dish with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  6. While the pasta is baking, fry the bacon in a large skillet on high heat until extra crispy.  Remove from the drippings with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel and allow the bits to cool.
  7. Chop the scallions and mix them together with the cooled bacon bits.
  8. Remove the dish from the oven after baking, uncover, and sprinkle the bacon/scallion mixture on top. Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Finish with bleu cheese crumbles if desired.