Friday, September 22, 2017

Berry Vodka Mojito

Because it's National Honey month, because it's Friday, and because it's still hot as heck at the end of September, I've got your weekend cocktail all ready.

When I'm heading out for some weekend fun, I'm really in love with all of the cool cocktails they have just about everywhere.  The complexity that goes into them is really just mind boggling at times.  Simple syrups, liquors that I've never heard of, creative combinations, frothy egg whites, the list goes on.

But when I'm being my own bartender, I just want simple and good! And often, simply and good makes the best cocktail.  But ingredients do matter when you're letting the alcohol shine through.  So start with a good vodka.  My go-to choices for this vodka mojito are Belvedere or Tito's, but feel free to use your favorite.

I'm not a fan of sweet drinks, and I also like to maximize my alcohol input whenever possible to get the most bang for the calorie consumption :).  So this mojito is sweetened with KAS Krupnikas.  It's a spiced honey liqueur that adds a delicious sweetness and subtle spice note to the cocktail.  If you can't find that, another honey or sweet liqueur will work, or just use a little honey instead.

So Happy Friday.  Here's to the weekend!

2 sprigs mint
1 half lime, cut into 2 or 3 wedges
1/4 cup assorted berries
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce KAS Krupnikas (spiced honey liqueur)
2 ounces club soda

Muddle mint, lime and berries in a glass.  Add vodka and Kas and stir.  Fill glass with ice and add club soda.  Garnish with fresh mint, lime and berries.


If you are a fan of muddled fruit drinks, it's worth investing in a good muddler.  The pictured muddler is a stainless muddler by OXO and makes easy work of muddling.  Wooden ones also work well, and in a pinch a wooden spoon does the trick.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chilled Avocado Soup

This chilled avocado soup is reminiscent of guacamole.  Just a bit of light seasoning lets the avocado and cucumber flavor shine through. It's so easy to whip up, it's perfect for everything from weeknight dinners to entertaining.   The flavor is creamy and rich, yet light and refreshing all at once. The pepitas on top give it a nice crunch.  Fabulous as a first course or light lunch or dinner. Top with crabmeat or diced cooked shrimp for a heartier dish.

Recipe developed for

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Beemster Sweet & Smokey Turkey Burgers

Nothing like sweet September days.  Not too hot, not too cold - perfect weather to be outdoors for anything and everything.  This time of year make it so easy to want to continue that fabulous grill season. Whether  you're planning a tailgate or need a new burger after months of ordinary beef burgers,  this turkey burger fits the bill. It gets a little sweetness from barbecue sauce and a whole lotta smokey from Beemster Smoked Gouda.  Adding the cheese and barbecue sauce to the ground turkey gives it a flavor boost and keeps it perfectly moist.  Topping these burgers with more sauce and cheese just seals in all of the great flavor.  Best of all,  you only need 5 ingredients and 30 minutes to get these burgers on your table.  

Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Makes 4 servings

1 pound lean ground turkey 
1 cup shredded Beemster Smoked, divided (about 4 oz.) 
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided 
4 1/2-inch-thick slices red onions, grilled if desired 
4 hamburger buns 

Combine turkey, ½ cup Beemster and ¼ cup barbecue sauce. Shape into 4 burgers.
Arrange burgers on grill and cook 6 minutes. Turn burgers over, then evenly top with remaining barbecue sauce. Cook 6 minutes then top with remaining Beemster. Grill 2 minutes or until Beemster is melted and burgers are thoroughly cooked.

Arrange red onion and burgers on hamburger buns.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Steak Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

I'm always looking for new Taco Tuesday ideas.  Honestly, I just love how you can take almost any combination of ingredients, wrap them up in a taco and they taste delicious! It's all about the flavor and textures coming together in every delicious bite.

This recipe seasons a tender skirt steak with taco seasoning, then tops it off with a spicy slaw and adds Crispy Onions for crunch. Easy and delicious!
Recipe developed for Ortega

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Serving size: 6

1 package ORTEGA® Taco Seasoning
4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, or sirloin steak
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
4 cups shredded cabbage or cole slaw
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
12 ORTEGA® Taco Shells, warmed
ORTEGA® Crispy Onion Taco Toppers

Combine Taco Seasoning, 2 tablespoons lime juice, vinegar and garlic. Coat steak with mixture and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 3 hours. Grill or broil steak to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, remaining lime juice, honey and chipotle chili powder in a large bowl. Add cabbage and cilantro and toss to coat.

Slice steak and serve in Ortega Taco Shells. Top with slaw, Crispy Onion Toppers and your favorite taco toppings.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bruschetta Chicken over Pesto Cauliflower Mash

Summer's not done yet and this quick and easy dinner idea takes full advantage of the all the things that makes summer food special.  Fresh tomatoes, from your garden or the farmers' market don't need much enhancement to turn them into this delicious bruschetta topping.  Just a touch of balsamic, fresh basil and some salt and pepper.  Serve the bruschetta over grilled balsamic chicken and put the whole thing over some pesto cauliflower mash.   Green Giant's Cauliflower Mash is so creamy and rich, you just might think you're eating mashed potatoes.  Yet they're still light enough for a summer meal.  Stirring in some prepared pesto gives it a nice little flavor boost to complement the bruschetta topping.  Best part....this entire dinner is on the table in just 30 minutes.  Easy, delicious and healthy!

Recipe developed for Green Giant

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Makes 4 servings

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups) 
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, divided 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
2 tablespoons honey 
2 large garlic cloves, minced 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 
1 (20-ounce) package Green Giant Original with Olive Oil & Sea Salt Mashed Cauliflower 
2 - 3 tablespoons refrigerated prepared basil pesto *

Combine tomatoes, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.

Combine remaining vinegar, honey and garlic. Pour over chicken and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Cook Green Giant Mashed Cauliflower according to package directions. Stir in pesto.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill or broil chicken until done. Serve chicken over pesto cauliflower and top with tomato mixture.

*Summer's a great time to make your own pesto with the abundance of basil either from your garden or farmers' markets.  But if you don't have the time or the desire, use one of the refrigerated pestos that are readily available.  They really are almost as good as home-made.  Rana is my favorite followed by Buitoni and Costo.  I always have some on hand to add a boost of flavor to my recipes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Grilled Brats with Peppers, Onion & Gouda

The thing about summer food is that it's best kept simple, leaving you time to enjoy whatever it is that you love doing in the summer.  All you need to do for these hearty sandwiches is saute some veggies, grill some brats and grate some cheese.  Simple. Delicious. Satisfying.

If you prefer, the whole meal can be done on the grill.  Just place the peppers and onions in a foil pouch (use heavy duty aluminum foil to make the pouch) and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes turning occasionally.  And for added flavor, simmer the brats in beer for about 10 minutes before grilling.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

Serving size: 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 large red or green bell pepper, sliced
6 bratwurst
6 brat or Italian rolls split
4 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 cup shredded Beemster Paradiso

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 4 minutes or until softened. Add peppers and cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, grill brats until cooked and browned.

Arrange brats on rolls. Top with mustard, onions, peppers and Beemster.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Corn, Mango and Avocado Salsa

A little sweet, a little spicy, this easy and delicious corn salsa is perfect for summertime.  Bright, fresh flavors that taste fabulous together.  And it's so versatile!  Serve with chips for snacking or top grilled chicken, fish or pork with the salsa for an easy dinner idea.  Add some black beans and serve in wraps or over rice for a meat free meal.  The possibilities are endless!

I've used frozen corn here, but you can certainly take advantage of fresh corn-on-the-cob that's so plentiful right now. Grill the corn, then cut the kernels off the cob.  You'll need about 2 to 3 cups of kernels.
Recipe developed for Green Giant

Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 cups

1 (12-ounce) package Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Niblets Corn, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1 large avocado, peeled and chopped
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (optional)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine Green Giant Corn, avocado, mango, tomato and red onion in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill until ready to use. Serve with chips or over grilled fish, chicken or pork.

Tip:  For added flavor, roast the corn before adding to the salsa.  Pan roast in dry nonstick skillet until lightly charred or roast in the oven at 425 degrees with a little olive oil until corn begins to char.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Grilled Gouda with Tomato and Spinach

Grilled cheese is comfort food at its finest.  Make yours even better with sweet, juicy summer tomatoes, 2 layers of melty Gouda, fresh spinach and whole grain bread.  Make this for lunch or even for a quick dinner on summer nights when you don't want to be a slave to your stove.
Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

4 slices 12-grain bread
2 cups grated Beemster Vlaskaas
4 slices tomatoes
1/2 cup baby spinach
2 tablespoons butter

Arrange ½ cup grated Beemster on one bread slice. Top with 2 slices tomato, ¼ cup spinach, and an additional ½ cup Beemster. Place bread slice on top and press firmly.

Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook, covered, 8 minutes until golden brown and Cheese is melted, turning once.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gouda & Caramelized Onion Stuffed Burgers

This beautiful, delicious, mess of a burger, could very well be one of the best things that you ever bite into!  They take a little more time to make than a regular burger, but are so worth it.  Loaded with cheese, inside and out, stuffed with sweet caramelized onions and topped with bacon...they pretty much have it all goin' on!

You can make them early in the day, or even they day before - they actually cook up better if made ahead of time. It keeps the cheese from getting too oozey (as if oozey cheese were a bad thing!)  Just keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook.  Don't use lean beef for these beauties, you'll want to make your burgers with 80 to 85% lean beef for maximum juiciness.

Serve with an ice cold beer and you have the perfect summer meal!
Recipe developed for Beemster
Makes 4 Servings

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
1 1/4 cups shredded Beemster Vlaskaas (Gouda), divided
8 slices bacon, cooked
4 hamburger buns

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion and salt for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions very tender and become a deep caramel color.

Form ground beef into 8 4-inch patties. On center of 4 patties, arrange 1½ tablespoons onions and 3 tablespoons Beemster. Place remaining patties on top and press to seal edges.

Place burgers on hot grill and cook over medium heat turning once, until burgers are cooked to desired doneness.

Top with bacon and remaining Beemster and grill until cheese is melted.

Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and any remaining caramelized onions.

Monday, July 24, 2017

“Un-Fried” Ice Cream

Fried ice cream is a fun and delicious dessert, but a little difficult to make at home.  Here's a shortcut version of this classic Mexican dessert.  It's made with (surprise!) toasted Cream of Wheat that gives you the flavor of fried ice cream complete with the crunch.  An easy ice cream dessert that is a perfect partner for all of the beautiful summer berries that are so plentiful right now.  So simple to make you don't even need to wait for a special occasion...go ahead and make it tonight!
Recipe developed for Cream of Wheat

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Freeze Time: 1 hour
Makes: 6 servings

1 cup uncooked Cream of Wheat Maple Brown Sugar Hot Cereal
3 cups vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
Caramel sauce
Fresh berries

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spread Cream of Wheat in an even layer on baking sheet and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until golden, stirring twice.  Remove from baking sheet and cool completely.

Shape ice cream into 12 1/4-cup balls, then freeze 1 hour or until firm.  Roll ice cream balls in Cream of Wheat until evenly coated.  Freeze until ready to serve.

Arrange ice cream on serving plates. Drizzle with caramel sauce, and arrange berries on the plate. Garnish, if desired, with whipped cream.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Grilled Steak Sandwich with Smoked Gouda and Red Onion

Summertime means lazy days and nights.  We have to eat, but who wants to spend tons of time on dinner, when you could be dipping your toes in the water?!  This simple steak sandwich uses just a few ingredients, but they're flavor packed to make this sandwich extra delicious. Smoked Gouda adds that creamy cheesiness that we all love plus delicious smoky flavor.  Garlic ciabatta takes it up a notch with yummy hunks of roasted garlic nestled into the bread. All you need to do is spend a few minutes at the grill to cook the steak and onion to perfection!
Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
salt and pepper
1 large red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 loaf garlic ciabatta
2 cups grated Beemster Smoked

Season steak with salt and pepper. Brush onion with oil. Grill steak to desired doneness. Grill onion until tender.

Cut ciabatta lengthwise in half. Evenly arrange Beemster on both sides of ciabatta. Place on top rack of grill and grill until Beemster is melted.

Slice steak and arrange on bottom ciabatta and top with onion ciabatta top. Slice and serve.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Cauliflower Rice Salad

There are so many things that I love about summer, it's hard to know where to start.   Long days that end in gorgeous sunsets, moonlit nights with soft warm breezes.   Chill time with family and friends. And then there's the summer food.  If you're lucky enough to live in New Jersey like I do, there's no end to great summer food, whether it's sausage sandwiches on the boardwalk, crabs and clams that you've pulled from the bay or fresh fruits and veggies from the local farmers market.  But one thing summer food shouldn't be, is fussy.

Here's a side salad that takes full advantage of the great produce showing up a farmers markets and farm stands right now, yet it's light and fresh and so easy to pull together.  It's a great recipe to make in the morning, so it's ready to go alongside whatever you're grilling after the beach.  You can add some cut up cooked chicken or shrimp to make this a main dish too.
Recipe developed for Green Giant

Prep time: 20 minutes
6 servings

1 (12-ounce) package Green Giant® Riced Cauliflower, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1 (9-ounce) package Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Niblets Corn, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Combine Green Giant Riced Cauliflower, Green Giant Corn, tomatoes, zucchini and red onion in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately or chill until ready to use. Garnish with additional basil and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sriracha Maple Glazed Bacon

Everything's better with bacon - including Father's Day!  And this bacon recipe is nothing short of amazing.    So you're gonna want to make this bacon and serve it with literally everything.  With only 3 ingredients and a 5 minute prep time, there's no excuse not to.  A little sweet, a little spicy and a little savory, it's a great add to a brunch menu or simply for snacking alongside a cold beer.  Make some for Father's Day tomorrow. I'm sure dad will love it!
Recipe developed for Frank's RedHot
photography by Paul Gelsobello Studio

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes 12 slices

1/4 cup Frank’s RedHot Slammin’ Sriracha Sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 pound thick cut bacon

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Combine Sriracha and maple syrup and brush evenly on both sides of bacon.

Arrange bacon on baking sheet.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until desired doneness.

Chef's note:
Be careful not to over bake the bacon.  You want it to be chewy with a slight crispness to it.

Food Stylist: Cathy Paukner

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Individual Taco Salads

Here's a twist on your typical taco for Taco Tuesday.  Ortega Fiesta Flats are just perfect for making individual taco salads.  They're just the right size to hold everything you need.  This recipe is super easy for weeknights  and makes dinnertime just a little more fun.  Be sure to put out lots of toppings so everyone can make their own and make it just the way they like it. We like to add sliced black olives, queso fresco and avocado to ours!

Be sure to heat the Fiesta Flats before serving so they don't fall apart when you bite into them!  To keep this simple there are plenty of options at the supermarket to keep prep time to a minimum.  Purchase items like pre shredded lettuce or cabbage, tiny grape tomatoes, canned corn or olives, pre shredded cheese.  You can even find good quality prepared guac if you don't want to slice avocados.

recipe developed for Ortega

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Serving size: 4

1 pound ground beef 
1 pouch ORTEGA® Taco Skillet Sauce 
1/4 cup ORTEGA® Salsa 
1/4 cup sour cream 
8 ORTEGA® Fiesta Flats, heated according to package directions 
4 cups shredded Romaine lettuce 
1 cup halved grape tomatoes 
1 cup corn 
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese 


Brown ground beef in large skillet; drain. Add ORTEGA Taco Skillet Sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

Combine ORTEGA Salsa and sour cream; set aside.

Arrange lettuce in warmed ORTEGA Fiesta Flats. Top with ground beef, tomatoes, corn and cheese. Drizzle with salsa mixture.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grilled Pesto Chicken with Gouda & Roasted Red Pepper

Memorial Day is right around the corner and if you're hosting you should be in full menu planning mode.   Keeping the menu simple is key to feeling like a guest at your own party.  Choose recipes with few ingredients that are simple to prepare.   So you're not a slave to the grill, have a mix of recipes for the grill and recipes that can be prepared ahead of time.  

This grilled chicken recipe has only 4 ingredients, but looks - and tastes - impressive.  Prepared pesto gives this recipe a big flavor punch and makes it easy for you to get dinner on the table in no time.
Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  15 minutes
4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons refrigerated prepared pesto, divided
4 ounces roasted red pepper (about 3/4 cup)
4 ounces Beemster Paradiso Gouda, thinly sliced

Coat chicken all over with 2 tablespoons pesto.   Grill chicken 12 minutes, turning once and brushing with remaining pesto until thoroughly cooked.  Top each piece of chicken with roasted peppers and Beemster.  Grill 2 minutes or until Beemster is melted.

Tip: If you're not a fan of roasted peppers, used sliced tomatoes instead.  Tastes just as delicious, especially when they're summer Jersey tomatoes.

Serving suggestion:  Serve on Italian rolls for a hearty sandwich.

My new favorite refrigerated pesto is Rana Basil Pesto.  While it's nice to make your own, there's really no need since this pesto tastes as good as home-made.  I keep it in the fridge for a quick flavor boost in everything from pizza to pasta.  

If you can't find Rana, Buitoni is a good second choice.

are a perfect first course or accompaniment to the Pesto Chicken

Friday, May 12, 2017

Caesar Chicken Salad with Parmesan Crisps

Whether you're doing brunch, lunch or dinner for Mother's Day, this recipes fits the bill. Parmesan Cheese Crisps take this chicken salad to the next level.  They're surprisingly easy to prepare, yet they make an impressive presentation. Not to mention, they're so delicious, you're going to want to make extra for snacking!  

Equally impressive is the 15 minute prep time so you can have a delicious meal ready in no time - which leaves more time to spend with mom!
Photography by Paul Gelsobello Studio
Recipe developed for Chef's Joy

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1 can Chef’s Joy Extra Virgin Olive Oil Non-Stick Cooking Spray
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups torn Romaine lettuce 

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Spray baking sheet with Chef's Joy spray.  Divide 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese into 4 2-inch circles on prepared baking sheet.  Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until cheese melts and turns golden brown.  Immediately remove from oven and cool for 1 minute.  Gently remove crisps using metal spatula and place on wire rack to cool completely.   Can be made 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature in a closed container.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, garlic and lemon zest in small bowl.  Remove 2 tablespoons of mixture and toss with chicken.  Stir remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into remaining mayonnaise mixture and toss with romaine.

Spray 12-inch skillet with Chef's Joy spray and heat skillet over medium heat.  Cook chicken 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally. 

Arrange lettuce on serving platter, top with chicken and Parmesan crisps.

Tip: Make extra Parmesan crisps by doubling or even tripling the recipe.  Store in an airtight container until ready to use.  You can vary the size of the crisps as well.  Make them mini with 1/4 cup cheese and reduce baking time to 3 to 6 minutes.

food stylist: Cathy Paukner
prop stylist: Heather Bean
food stylist assistant: Lauren Dellabella

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cranberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast

It doesn't get better than starting the day off with a home cooked breakfast, preferably in bed...with a mimosa!  Anyway, that would be the perfect start to my Mother's Day.  So if you want to show mom some love, start off her day with this fabulous French Toast for breakfast or brunch.   The cranberry goat cheese makes this French Toast a little sweet and a little savory at the same time.  Drizzle with real maple syrup for the perfect finishing touch.
Recipe developed for Celebrity

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Serving size: 4

4 slices challah bread 
1 (4.5-ounce) package Celebrity Cranberry Goat Cheese, crumbled 
1 large egg 
3 tablespoons half and half or milk 
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest 
2 tablespoons butter 

Arrange crumbled Goat Cheese evenly over 2 slices challah. Cover with remaining bread slices to make 2 sandwiches.

Beat egg, half ‘n half and orange zest in shallow bowl until well blended. Dip sandwiches, one at a time, into egg mixture, allowing egg to soak into sandwich.

Melt butter in large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Slice each sandwich in half and serve with syrup, if desired.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Roasted Asparagus with Gouda

If you're not eating asparagus right now, you should be.  Spring is when asparagus is at its prime. Look for spears with a purplish hue as they are likely to be sweeter and more tender.  Spring asparagus is so good on its own, the less you do to it the better.  A quick saute or roast is all that's needed.  Be careful not to overcook it.  Here I've roasted it for a short time at high temperature (you can also cook it on the grill) and then a simple finish with balsamic and grated Beemster is the perfect finish.

Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes

Serving size: 4

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup balsamic glaze
1/2 cup shredded Beemster XO

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Arrange asparagus on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 6 to 8 minutes until tender-crisp. Remove from oven and arrange on a serving platter.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with Beemster.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Beet, Orange & Quinoa Salad

I love salad.  But not your ordinary, garden variety, lettuce and tomato salad.  The kind with interesting ingredients and lots of flavors and textures going on.  Really, I think I would choose a fabulous salad over a big ol' piece of chocolate cake.  Well...maybe.....

When I do make salad, I like to find ways to add protein to it, just so it's a bit more satisfying.  I'm always adding nuts, cheese (of course), and sometimes grains, which can be a great source of protein, but also makes the salad a little more filling.  The quinoa in this salad adds protein, flavor and a great little crunch.  I like to use the tricolor quinoa as I feel it adds a little more flavor and crunch.

The secret to this salad...fresh roasted beets.  You can use canned, if you must.  A better choice would be the Love Beets that you find ready to go in the produce section of the supermarket.  But really, if you've never roasted a beet, you should.  The flavor is wonderful and earthy and just plain delicious. I'll roast a bunch (which is typically 2 or 3 beets) on the weekend, then I have them on hand to use during the week.  You'll be surprised just how far one bunch of roasted beets will go.

I've also used oranges in this recipe, but if you're short on time, you can used canned or jarred mandarin oranges packed in juice.  You can also top this salad with a little crumbled goat cheese, but if you're watching your calories (after all, summer is just around the corner)  skip the cheese or just use a small amount.

3 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups sliced, roasted beets
2 oranges, sectioned (reserve juice)
2 green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons reserved orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted if desired

Combine quinoa, beets, orange sections and green onion in a large bowl.

Combine reserved orange juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.  Pour over quinoa mixture and stir gently until combined.

Serve salad over spinach and top with walnuts.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Smoked Gouda and Asparagus Flatbread

Move over pizza, there's a new flatbread in town!  When making pizza or flatbreads at home, there were limited options available if you didn't want to make your own crust.  And face it, who has time to make their own crust?! Basically, your choices, not that they were bad ones, were Boboli (ready to bake), Pillsbury (unroll and bake) or a store brand version.  But I like a little more variety in life so I'm happy to see some new players in the mix.   I recently discovered Brooklyn Bred Pizza Crusts. Rectangular in shape, rather than the tradition circle, makes them seem a bit more contemporary and less like your typical pizza.  I like the fact that there are 2 in a pack - use them both or freeze one for later.  With my empty nest, one crust is the perfect size for just the two of us.

This flatbread takes advantage of beautiful spring asparagus that's coming into season right now. The classic combo of honey and mustard gives the perfect savory base to this flatbread and enhances the smokiness of the Gouda.  And speaking of smoked there any better cheese on the planet? I don't think so!  Truly, one of my favorite cheeses (if i have to choose),  it makes almost any dish just a little more special.  And, with its intense flavor, a little goes a long way.

recipe developed for Beemster

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

12 ounces asparagus spears, cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 Brooklyn Bred Pizza Crust or flatbread
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup grated Beemster Smoked Gouda

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange asparagus on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake 5 minutes or until tender crisp.

Combine honey and mustard and brush over crust.  Evenly top crust with asparagus and tomato then sprinkle with Beemster Smoked Gouda.

Place directly on baking rack and bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Grill Method:  This is a perfect recipe to throw on the grill.  Toss asparagus with olive oil and place on preheated grill.  Grill about 5 minutes or until tender crisp.  Arrange as above.

Place the prepared flatbread directly on the preheated grill rack.  Grill over low heat about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tip:  To prepare asparagus: rinse the spears under cool water to remove any dirt or grit. Snap off the bottom inch or so using your fingers; the stems will naturally snap at the point of resistance where the tough woody part ends and the tender stem begins.  It's actually kind of fun, great job for kids who want to help out in the kitchen.

Brooklyn Bred Pizza crusts are available at most supermarkets and are a nice alternative to a traditional pizza crust

Thursday, April 13, 2017

White Cheddar, Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Baby Bellas

Your guests will never guess the secret ingredient in these stuffed Baby Bellas... It's White Cheddar Pirate's Booty...shhhhh, don't tell, it's our secret.  Crush up some Pirates Booty to add flavor, texture and crunch to this perfect party appetizer.  Cheddar flavor from the Booty pairs perfectly with bacon, garlic and spinach.  Stuffing the mixture into baby bellas makes this appetizer extra special.
recipe developed for Pirate's Booty

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yield: 16 mushrooms

2 (8-ounce) packages baby bella mushrooms (about 16 mushrooms)
8 ounces bacon, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3 cups Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 375°. Remove and finely chop mushroom stems only; reserve 1/2 cup.

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon. Add onion to drippings and cook 3 minutes or until softened. Add reserved mushroom stems and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and spinach and cook 2 minutes.

Reserve ¼ cup Pirate’s Booty; stir remaining Pirate’s Booty into spinach mixture.

Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheet; stuff with spinach mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle with reserved Pirate's Booty and bake 2 minutes or until golden.

Tip:  For a great first course, stuff the spinach mixture into 4 large portobello mushroom caps and bake as above.

Baked Brie & Fig Spread in Puff Pastry

Want to add a little elegance to this year's' Easter menu?  Whether you're hosting brunch, lunch or dinner, or need to bring a dish with you, this elegant baked brie appetizer in puff pastry is sure to be a hit.   Not only does it taste amazing and look impressive, it's super easy to pull together.  

Delicious, gooey baked brie melts inside a shell of golden brown puff pastry. Fig spread adds just the right amount of sweetness and pecans give a little crunch.   Seriously, this recipe is so good, you may just want to put a slice on top of salad and call it dinner!

Be sure to leave enough prep time to thaw the puff pastry, so it's easy to roll.  If you're feeding a larger crowd  you can use a 10 to 12 ounce wheel of Brie.  Just roll the pastry out a little larger so it fits around the the Brie and increase the amount of fig spread and pecans.  The baking time will be the same.  You can bake this ahead of time and warm up slightly in the oven before serving.  Be sure it's not too hot when you serve it. The Brie should be slightly melty but not too runny.
Recipe developed for Dalmatia
Prep time: 
Cook time: 

1 egg 
1 tablespoon water 
all-purpose flour 
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed 
1/2 cup Dalmatia Fig Spread - Original or Dalmatia Fig Spread with Orange 
1/2 cup chopped pecans 
1 (7 oz.) Eiffel Tower Brie Cheese Round 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Beat egg and water in small bowl. Sprinkle flour on work surface. Unfold pastry sheet on work surface. Roll pastry into a 10-inch square. Spread Fig Spread in a 6-inch circle in center of pastry. Top with pecans.

Place Brie in center of pastry. Fold pastry up over Brie to cover, pressing gently to seal seams. Brush seams with egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto baking sheet. Brush pastry with egg mixture.

Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with crackers and fruit if desired.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Red Wine Oven Braised Short Ribs

It may be a little late in the season for slow cooked comfort food, but since winter just doesn't seem to want to disappear, I'm going to do all I can to make it bearable.  Wine and good food usually fit the bill.  Now don't let the long ingredient and cook time deter you from making these ribs.  This type of recipe is truly a labor of love in my eyes.  And really, all good things are worth waiting for, and these short ribs are definitely worth the wait.  They key to great short ribs, is making sure to get them nice and brown before they go into the oven.  All of the caramelization happening in the bottom of the pot adds to the rich, complex flavor of the dish.  Be sure to scrape up all of the brown bits when adding the wine. Once the short ribs go into the oven, you have a good 2 hours to relax by a fire, or shovel some snow, while the flavors do their magic in the oven.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Makes 8 servings

8 ounces bacon, chopped
5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs cut crosswise into 2" pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large sweet onions, chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine (preferably cabernet sauvignon)
4 cups beef stock
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
12 cloves garlic
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving bacon drippings. Toss short ribs with flour and season with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs in bacon drippings on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, 5 minutes or until onions begin to brown. Add brown sugar and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in wine, scraping up all brown bits from the bottom of the pot, then add short ribs with any
accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer 25 minutes or until wine is reduced by half. Add stock, tomatoes with their juice, garlic, herbs and reserved bacon and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and transfer to oven.

Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours until short ribs are very tender. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Remove herbs and bay leaf from sauce; spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard. Serve in shallow bowls over creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.