10.25.2017

Infused Olive Oil & Vinegars


Recently, I took a second job at an olive oil and vinegar shop. The oils and vinegars are infused with different flavors, and the store is set up as a tasting room. Customers come in, filling small tasting cups with infused flavors that intrigue their taste buds, and dip a piece of fresh cut bread into the oils and vinegars to taste. Flavors range from spicy, to sweet, to earthy - about 50 of them! My top three favorite flavors are the garlic infused olive oil, raspberry balsamic and black truffle oil. Talk about a dream job, guys!


I've tried about 95% of the infused oils and vinegars so far, with the exception of dark chocolate, espresso and a couple of others. I will get around to trying them eventually but I am not a fan of real dark chocolate at all, so I am a bit hesitant! A lot of people do like the dark chocolate balsamic, and peach and fig are amongst other popular flavors. 

In addition to the oils and vinegars, we sell pastas, pickles, jellies and jams, local honey, stuffed olives, shampoo & conditioners, and much more!



My love for this job stems from my love of cooking and pairing flavors. I can't tell you how many times I've brought an undressed salad with me to work, just to experiment with mixing the oil and balsamic together (basil olive oil with black cherry balsamic was dynamite)! I have used the garlic oil for sautéing my veggies quick, raspberry balsamic on bruschetta or the truffle oils in my risotto/mashed potatoes/mac and cheese. Just the other day, I drizzled my Mexican mac n cheese with the chipotle oil, and it added the perfect kick!  When customers come in and discuss how they used the Tahitian Vanilla on brussels sporuts, it inspires me to try different things. 

Do you have this type of store near you? If so, it is a must try! Feel free to comment below and tell me what your favorite infused flavor is. What do you use it in?

Annmarie's Reese's Peanut Butter Cake


When it comes to my coworker, Annmarie, she is arguably one of the biggest peanut butter lovers of all time! Since Ann's 51st birthday was coming up, I decided to plan a few weeks ahead and make the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake. I came across this one from I say Nomato and decided to use it as decoration inspiration! I am not into baking, as much as I used to be.. so I took the easy route and used a chocolate cake mix from Betty Crocker. See below on how I made this cake, and I promise if you try making it too, you won't be sorry!


What I did:
For the cake, I used Betty Crocker's Chocolate cake mix and baked according to box. I used two 8" cake pans, and let them cool for about 45 minutes (in the pan). Once cooled, I flipped over one pan onto my cake stand (bottom facing up). * see note - The other pan, i flipped onto a plate, then flipped it back over onto the other cake (this is so that both bottoms of the cakes are touching each other which gives it the best shape for icing). * Don't forget to ice between the cakes!


For the Icing: Grandma's cream cheese frosting recipe and added 2 heaping tbs of creamy peanut butter (I use the peter pan brand). Once the icing is mixed, I followed advice from the original inspiration cake, and iced a very thin layer onto the cake and placed the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once removed from the freezer, the cake was much easier to ice, without clumps and crumbs flaking off.
Once the cake was fully and smoothly iced with the peanut butter frosting, I used about 1/3 cup of reese's pieces and decorated the bottom rim of the cake, with a few scattered on the sides.


Next is the Chocolate Peanut butter ganache: Recipe here from Fearless Fresh. I had tons leftover so halving the recipe would probably be helpful. It is important to pour the ganache on the cake as soon as possible, because it starts to thicken rather quickly. Again following the advice from I say Nomato, I poured some of the ganache on the center top of the cake, and used a spoon to "spread" it to the edges, giving the drip look.
Finally, I topped the cake with about a cup of chopped mini Reese's peanut butter cups (some cut into halves, and some into quarters).


My coworkers mouths were watering from the moment I uncovered this cake. There was moaning, and "oohs" and "ahhs" with overwhelming compliments on taste. Wishing Annmarie a happy birthday and a wonderful year ahead! Looking forward to making another cake next year!





9.14.2017

Bacon Crusted Cheeseburgers

Since perfecting this burger, my husband has rightfully earned the title of Grill Master. This monstrous, juicy bacon burger was a dream come true. After trying it a couple times, until we got it exactly the way we wanted, I told my husband that I could never leave him now (not that I was ever planning to lol). I need this burger weekly!



Servings: 2 burgers
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooktime: 8-9 minutes

Ingredients:
12 oz chop meat, 90/10 lean
Salt & pepper
2 tbs Yoshida Sauce (Found at Costco or Amazon - see link at bottom)
3 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
2 slices of cheese (we use velveeta)
1 cast iron pan, to be used on BBQ
Circular burger ring/mold (or you can use a large lid, or your hands)
Cast iron grill press
Optional:Buns, Burger toppings


Directions:

1. Preheat BBQ, with cast iron pan on it, on high heat.

2. Season the ground beef with salt, pepper, yoshida sauce, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

3. If using a burger ring/mold, place it over parchment paper or foil. Using half of the chopped bacon, fill the bottom of your ring/mold with a flat layer. Place half of the meat mixture in the mold, over the bacon and firmly pack down. Remove the burger ring and repeat this step with the remaining bacon and meat until two patties are formed.

4. Place the burgers, bacon side down, on the cast iron pan (it will be hot). BBQ them for 4 1/2 minutes, then flip. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add cheese and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes for medium well (cook less if you prefer).

The bacon fat cooks into the meat which makes them so juicy and delicious! Absolute flavor bombs! We hope you enjoy!










Yoshida is a great marinade for burgers, chicken and more!
Available at Costco, or buy it here on Amazon:

9.05.2017

Grill Your Caesar Salad!




I hadn't heard of a grilled salad until I visited The Frisky Oyster in Greenport, NY a few years ago. Frisky makes a grilled caesar salad that is out of this world, and probably contributes to the reason that they are in the top 5 fine dining restaurants on Long Island.

This is really easy to throw together, and you'll impress any guests you make it for! I love the warm lettuce, with the char flavor, added to your typical caesar salad favorites.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Servings: 4


Ingredients:
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, cutting in half, (longways) thru the stem (see as pictured)
1-2 tbs Olive Oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Caesar dressing
Shaved parmesan
Croutons
Optional: Grilled chicken, red onion


Directions:

Preheat grill

1. Drizzle olive oil on the flat side of each romaine half, and spread with basting brush. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Grill romaine, flat side down on the BBQ, on Medium/High heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from grill.

3. Serve each half (whole or chopped) immediately, topped with dressing, parmesan and croutons.





8.20.2017

Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - 1770 House Meatloaf


I decided to post this recipe a little late, as today is not Thursday, but it is a special edition of my cookbook collections. Each week *I try* to make a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks, and review it here on my blog. I had been waiting months for yesterday to come, the day I met Ina Garten. East Hampton Historical Society held an exclusive event to honor Mrs. Garten for all of the help and work she puts into their town. I was lucky enough to purchase two tickets in time to be apart of the 80-100 people that came.


East Hampton is about 75 minutes east of where I live. We left around 4pm, dropped our daughter at the babysitter's house and headed on our way. When we arrived to main street, we were way earlier than expected! Actually, we were the first ones to arrive, besides the help that was setting up! At the front of the historical center, two ladies sat outside checking tickets. Since Ina was not going to be there for another 45 minutes, we went next door (at the ladies recommendation) to a restaurant called the 1770 house. The restaurant was quaint, with a very narrow and dark staircase leading us to a bar and seating downstairs.

My husband and I spoke to the bartender/waiter for a bit, where he shared the news that Ina comes to the restaurant really often, heck, she was just there three nights ago! We heard many of the staff gush over how nice of a person Ina is, which got my excitement at peak. My always hungry husband ordered the Tavern Burger ($25) which was 80/20 and a mix of different meats including kobe beef and short rib. It's not easy finding a perfect burger, but this was nothing short of amazing! Cooked precisely to medium as requested, with plenty of juices and a homemade seasoned bun (that was almost the best part)! Their homemade rosemary & sea salt bread to start was also divine.

I, on the other hand, saw the words "saffron risotto" on the menu and knew that was all mine. The side portion was 9$, and I wish I had ordered three of them to go. This risotto was executed flawlessly, not mushy but not too hard. It was creamy and flavorful, served in a small cast iron ramekin. I was in heaven, to say the least. The 1770 house restaurant & inn was spectacular and we cannot wait to visit for a full sit down dinner next time! Knowing it is one of Ina's favorite places (she told me herself) made it that more special in anticipation of the night to come!

Saffron Risotto from the 1770 House Restaurant & Inn

Right at 6pm, we hurried out of there to go back to the historical center (Clinton Academy). We walked in to the house, where there was a small showcase of the late Jackie Kennedy. My husband said, "there she is! there is Ina!" ... my heart took a nose dive into my belly. She was standing there with her tall friend that is sometimes on the show, and it was the four of us in the room. I suddenly got too nervous and scurried out into the backyard of the house, where the wine was being poured. A few minutes later while indulging in my glass of sauvignon blanc, Ina walked out into the back with her long time friend, Frank Newbold. It was incredible to me how small the space was, as it seemed like only a few of us were there. The grounds of the Clinton Academy were exceptional, with gorgeous flowers all around, a jazz band playing, and a big carousel-like tent. Being passed around were hor d'oeuvres, including filet of beef on a stick, shrimp, cauliflower bites with a pea pesto, feta and grape pastry cups, and more. The weather was a tad humid, but a breeze came through ever so often, and the sun stayed shining.

EHHS presented a unique, engraved gift to Ina. When they asked her to come up, we were next in line to say hi. She looked at Frank and us and said "do I have to?" I was surprised to see her shy, but it was comforting at the same time. She quickly came back and said, "you guys were next, I didn't forget."

Ina was dressed in her typical get up, black pants and an overly spacious black collared button up. She had a gentle smile, and greeted everyone like she knew them. It took my husband about 10 minutes of nudging me to go up to her. I introduced myself and told her I am apart of almost 100,000 people from an Ina fan club Facebook group. Exclaiming how much love our group has for her, she was pleasantly surprised and happy to hear about it. My husband asked Ina if he ate on the north fork (where we live) and she said "of course!" We continued to talk about a few things, including the meal we just had next door, snapped a picture and happily walked to another area in disbelief that I just met my favorite chef. Kevin pulled Ina's cookbook from my bag reminding me that I forgot to ask her to sign it! How could i?! To the back of the line we went (about 12 people), and I told her I was so nervous that I forgot to have her sign my book, and she obliged with no second thoughts. "To Kim, xxxIna." This was my second cookbook to have her sign, although I didn't get to meet her face to face the first time.

In this photo, we were sharing a laugh about my comment "you should see page 158, it is the messiest page in the cookbook because I make your penne all vecchia all too often" Frank continued to say what a compliment dirty cookbook pages are!


The rest of the evening was lovely, and to hear and see how happy she made everyone was so pleasing. She is a kind and gracious woman, and it was an honor to experience this event!

**

Because of our impressive dining experience at 1770 house, the recipe I chose for this weeks trial was Ina Garten's 1770 House Meatloaf. This is out of the very book she signed, Foolproof.

FOOLPROOF
Ina Garten
Page 130-132
1770 House Meatloaf


After having this meal, it's almost unfair that the restaurant gave the recipe out, as I would've traveled the distance to order it at their restaurant! Kev said hands down the best meatloaf he's ever had. It was tender, juicy and exploding with fresh herb flavors. The garlic sauce tied together the entire meal, although mine didn't get quite thick enough. I am not really sure why, being it was broth, butter and the sautéed garlic and I let it full boil for the allocated time - but it was still tasty and soaked into the meat. We even drizzled it on our roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.
Bring on the cooler weather so we could make this meatloaf more often!








8.17.2017

Giveaway: Sabatier Kitchenware


I am elated to host this giveaway to my loyal followers! When I was given the opportunity to try out some Sabatier products, my excitement was hardly contained. I have seen this name brand in Costco (I pretty much live in Costco), so it is trustworthy to me. Below you can find my reviews on cutting boards, knives, a cast iron grill pan, and some spoons, including my favorite item... the risotto spoon! Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win a chef knife, pairing knife and a 3 piece cutting board set!




Sabatier Chef Knife with self sharpening cover:
This 6" chef knife is sharp, and comfortable to handle. You may be mocking me, thinking, "wow Kim, a knife that is sharp? Duh" but seriously, this thing effortlessly cuts like butter. The blade has an angled arch that enforces proper cutting, which took me a little while to get used to. It handles more professionally than other knives I have worked with. Sabatier made their knives very lightweight and let's be honest... is there anything cooler than a self sharpening knife cover? Not many people have time to sit there sharpening cooking knives, so this feature is an awesome must have. You don't need to spend a lot of money to acquire a quality knife in your drawer, but it must be noted that like most quality knives, it is not dishwasher safe. Proper care includes washing by hand, and drying quickly which will guarantee a long lasting relationship!

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!




Sabatier Pairing Knife with self sharpening cover:
I am going to make a horrible confession right now! Ready? BEFORE using this knife, I could count on my hand how many times I've used a pairing knife. I usually take whatever is right in my face (steak knives) and cut whatever easily chopped veggies or fruits I need done. Not anymore! This pairing knife was so easy to maneuver because of it's short length (3.5") and lightweight body. It is nice and sharp (my DUH moment again), and like the chef knife, it needs to be hand washed only. And this too has a self sharpening cover, yay!


Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!












Sabatier Spoons:
My spoon review will mainly be for the risotto spoon, because it was my favorite! All the sabatier spoons shown above were used with ease. They are sleek, slender and heat resistant up to 495 degrees, not to mention dishwasher safe! I love that they aren't made of wood (because all my wood ones end up cracking), and they are long in length which makes them great for large pots. The corner spoon allowed mixing in those hard to reach spots, which is always helpful!
If you're going to be cooking risotto, you need this spoon. What I loved most about the risotto spoon was the lack of effort it took to mix my rice! Risotto is one of those love hate relationships... it takes hard work making, and you hate every minute, but then you take that first bite and "Ahhhh," every dying minute was worth it. With the hole in the center of the spoon, it promised the rice to mix evenly and easier. I'm honest when I say this was the first time my arm wasn't tired by the time the risotto was finished, ha! I'm also confident to say, this was the best darn risotto ever!

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!







Sabatier Cutting Boards
These cutting boards are the best ones I've owned thus far! They are durable and have non slip edging. The smooth poly material will not dull your knife blades, which is a major win. The smallest cutting board has a fun design that reminds me of a kitchen backsplash, like one that I desperately need ;) Someone is going to be lucky to win these!

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!






Sabatier Cast Iron Grill Pan:
Cast iron pans stole my heart a long time ago. Burgers, chicken, veggies, steak, heck, I even use them for brownies. Sabatier's grill pan was the first cast iron pan that I used on my BBQ (not pictured). It was much easier on the grill, as all the smoke stayed outside! Our chicken was cooked evenly, with a delectable char and taste. Finding a pre-seasoned, rust resistant cast iron grill pan is not always an easy task, but sabatier has accomplished just that.

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!



Below is a rafflecopter open to US residents, 18+. A random winner will be chosen on Friday, August 25. Actual prizes pictured below, and will be shipped directly to winner. Good luck to you all!



a Rafflecopter giveaway