3.25.2020

Safari Dinner


As all know, we are in a global pandemic and life is a bit upside down for everybody. That being said, yesterday was day two of quarantine from work, but not for my husband. Kevin works for a local hospital and has been setting up triage and testing sites day and night with the help of the national guard. He will literally leave at 9 PM get home around 1 AM and head back to work by 8 AM. The kids and I really wanted to do something special for him so we planned a Safari dinner, as seen in the movie No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta Jones.


My kids faces were lit up the entire night. To sit on the floor, as a family and eat dinner under a tent, with string lights... it was the perfect evening. I chose an easy menu, one that could be made ahead.



Chicken taquitos are clean to grab and eat - no utensils needed! I sauteed two chicken breasts and then cut into bite size pieces. Next, added a 1/2 cup of corn chipotle salsa, 1/2 cup of Mexican four cheese, and 2 tbs of taco seasoning. It is important to warm the tortillas to prevent them from ripping - a minute and 20 seconds usually does the trick. We normally use corn tortillas, but the flour ones worked amazing this time! Once you spoon a few spoonfuls of the mixture onto the warm tortilla, you simply roll it up and place the open side face down on a baking sheet to prevent it from opening. Bake at 400 degrees, for 18 minutes.

Rice and beans - I am working on getting a recipe up for this one. The beans use my mom's homemade sofrito, which she makes for me, freezes it into cubes and I use a few cubes per can of beans. Sofrito can be store bought but it is incomparable to the real thing!

Steamed broccoli drizzled with garlic olive oil. I heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small pot with thinly sliced garlic cloves. Heating low and slow until the garlic just begins to turn golden in color. . Once the broccoli is steamed and drained, I drizzle the garlic oil right on top.

Lastly, the chili taco cheese dip in the middle, which is one of my most popular pins on pinterest! Find the recipe here.

What are some other themed dinner ideas you’ve done, or would like to do?

3.17.2020

Nancy's Pot Roast



This recipe is so delicious and super easy, too! A lot of recipes out there use beef broth, but my mom, Nancy, uses mushroom soup. The creamy mushroom flavor is a perfect addition to pot roast. Along with the ingredients below, all you'll need is an oven safe dutch oven (with cover) and five hours to spare.


6-8 servings

Ingredients:
4 lb boneless chuck
1 can cream of mushroom soup (10.5 oz)
1 can of red wine (use soup can)
1 can of water (yup, same can)
2 envelopes of lipton onion soup
Fresh basil, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (added in the last hour of cooking)
*optional - serve with roasted or mashed potatoes


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large dutch oven, mix soup, red wine, water, onion soup mix, basil and garlic. Mix to combine.

2. Place beef chuck into the pot and use a spoon to coat the top of the chuck.

3. Bake for 5 hours total, flipping the chuck halfway into cooking. Add in carrots for the last hour of cooking. Shred/cut the meat and allow to soak in sauce for 5 minutes before serving. Like most pot roasts, the juice will not be thick, but should be spooned over the meat when serving!

Enjoy!



3.09.2020

Corn Crab Cakes with Corn Succotash

The cake: What is your perfect crab cake? Do you like it bready? Meaty throughout? Baked, or fried?  Spicy sauce or tartar sauce? So many options when it comes to crab cakes! I prefer a meaty cake, with a crispy coating and spicy sauce on the side. This recipe has been one of my favorites for a long time. It was passed to me by my mom, and I have only made minimal changes like leaving out the celery and adding 1/2 cup of crushed saltines into the mixture, rather than 1/4 cup.

Find the recipe here: Corn Crab Cakes by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso

The sauce: This spicy cajun remoulade from Whole Foods is everything! I have tried many, but this one is definitely our favorite. Find the Cajun Remoulade here.






















The side: As for the succotash.. it is such a refreshing and colorful side. I think it is one of the most underrated sides out there, to be honest! You can pack so much flavor, yet it is low in sodium and cholesterol. The beans are packed with fiber, and zucchini is a great source of vitamin C. When you are looking for something light, but delicious, succotash is a great option! Here is how I made mine:

Ingredients:
Half of a red pepper, chopped
Half of an orange pepper, chopped,
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow (or white) onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped into cubes
1 11 oz can of sweet corn, drained
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1 can of small white beans
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Rinse and drain beans. Pour into small sauce pan with one can full of water added to the pan. Simmer on low for about 8 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and 1 tbs of butter on medium low heat. Add in peppers, garlic, onion, and zucchini. Allow them to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Lower heat, mix in the corn, and beans and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, being sure the zucchini is tender. Add in the butter, salt and pepper and stir until combined. Lastly, remove pan from heat, stir in pineapple and place into a serving bowl.







As for Everett, he certainly approved of this dish. As discussed in one of my previous posts, I started giving both of my kids everything that we eat, starting at a young age. He devoured this crab cake and succotash (no spicy sauce for him lol). Seriously, his plate was empty by the time we all finished! I love seeing them enjoy food, real food!

Flower Apple Pie


I am not a baker. There, I said it. I have baked about 6 pies in my life, all apple. On my third attempt, I tried a new recipe online and have not turned back. It was the only recipe that I saw at the time that precooks the apples. That is HUGE advice when making an apple pie! There is nothing worse than crisp apples in a soft crusty pie - those little babes have to be tender and gooey!

Here is the perfect recipe: https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/homemade-apple-pie/
I did not make any substitutes or changes - it really is perfect as is!

Now, although I don't bake often, I always wanted to try and design a nice looking pie. You see bakers braid lattice, make beautiful roses, leaves and other flowers. I had purchased a mini cookie cutter set to use for my kids lunch boxes, that would be perfect to decorate our pie!

My 3 year old daughter took the store bought pie dough and cut out each flower one by one using 5 different cutters. She kept them close together, but managed to not cut any edges off. It was the most mind boggled I've ever been.. to see how naturally this came to her. It was a very proud moment!


So in making this pie, I learned a few things:
1. Check off each step as you go. I was so excited about the flowers, I forgot the whole step of putting dots of butter on top of the pie before the dough went on.
2. Once decorated, it is very hard to brush milk on without pieces flying all over the place. It will be necessary to brush each flower and lattice strip BEFORE they go on the pie.
3. Have strips of foil ready to cover the edges of the pie, as they will cook faster than the center. This will allow you to continue cooking full time, without the edges getting much more brown.The center of my pictured pie could've used more time. Thankfully with precooked apples it didn't affect much.
4. Take notice if your oven bakes unevenly. The back of my oven gets hotter than the front so I have to turn my pie throughout.

That's it for now! Looking forward to trying again and again with more designs to come!



2.10.2020

Steak with Truffle Smashed Potatoes


Last month, Kevin and I went to a very elegant restaurant with my parents. We were served the most incredible truffle smashed potatoes. I had to go home and find a recipe that came close, and I did just that! I came across My Gourmet Connection and read through Lynne's potato recipe. It was so simple, that my hopes were not high. I followed the recipe exact, and served the potatoes with the rest of our meal. I topped with scallions because, you know, adding green to any dish makes it complete!


One bite... that is all it took. These truffle potatoes had me melting with happiness into my chair.  I was hooked... If they weren't as fattening as they are, I would truly want to make them everyday! I know in about 6-8 weeks I will be drooling for them again, and I plan to fulfill my craving! If you are a fan of truffle, please try them! Recipe here: https://www.mygourmetconnection.com/crispy-smashed-truffled-potatoes/

Ok, now that my dream potatoes are out of the way, let's talk steak. Kevin picked up a pound and a half of filet mignon, on sale at the local butcher. They were on the thicker side, so Kevin jaccard the steak with this tenderizer. It uses a lot of thin blades to tenderize the steak, and allows a marinade to soak in more quickly. Our seasoning preference for filet mignon, is salt, pepper and a bit of yoshida sauce (found at Costco or on amazon).


Kevin has really perfected his cooking technique for steak. It does help that we have an amazing weber grill, with a grate and a griddle. If you have a griddle also, here is what he does:
Heat grill on high - both the grate and griddle side.
Steaks placed on grate, high heat, and grilled for 4 minutes on the one side only. Lower heat to medium on grate side.
Flip steaks onto the griddle with butter, 2 minutes on each side (griddle only). This will lock in the juice and moisture.
Flip steaks (side down that hasn’t been on grate yet) back on to the grate, medium heat, for an additional 4 minutes.
This will give the beautiful medium rare as shown below for that size/thickness.
Is that perfection or what? Medium rare is where it is at!

On medium heat, I sauteed the asparagus in olive oil for about 6 minutes, tossing around halfway. Seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic herb powder.

Chili board

Have you ever wondered what the best way to serve chili is? No? Me either... until I saw the Reluctant Entertainer's epic chili board! This is a smaller board from Pier 1, the largest being 28.5"! The boards are great for serving families, or to groups of friends. It makes the experience unique and fun, and avoids people from having to reach over if served on top of a lazy susan!

My chili recipe is fast and gives texture by using carrots. You can find my recipe here.
On the board: Corn bread, sliced red onions, oven baked bacon, cheese, fritos, scallions, and sour cream. On the side is a pot of white rice to serve the chili over.








Here is another board that I tried from Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer:
Spicy beef tacos, bang bang shrimp with soft shells, Mexican corn with peppers, tostones, Kev's homemade guacamole, chips and all the toppings! On the side I served rice and beans.


Check out some other boards I have made on my previous posts:

Mimosa Board

Good morning, friends! How awesome is this mimosa board? When I saw the original idea, posted by The Baker Mama (book link posted below), I knew I had to eventually host a girls day and serve this to them. What better way to celebrate Galentine's Day, right? I had a few of my lifelong girlfriends over, and we all indulged with excitement!


The serving tray used was purchased at Home Goods and had a high edge, which helps keep the champagne bottles safe. I used a cheaper brand of champagne (Andres, around ~$7) to mix with orange juice, ruby red or cran-raspberry juice. Mini bagels were served on an onion ring holder (space saver), with butter and cream cheese on the side. A variety of fruit lay throughout the board, and I used cookie cutters to fill candy, and yogurt covered raisins.

It's important to cut some of the fruit up small enough to place into the champagne glasses, or use small drink skewers, as shown for the blueberries. A blood orange makes a gorgeous addition with it's vibrant color.


After devouring the mimosas and bagels, we all headed to a cupcake and sparkling wine tasting event at a local winery. Sparkling Pointe is one of my favorite wineries out on the north fork, and they often hold very cool events like this! As a member, I am able to get reservations quickly and discounted prices! We all split a case of their carnaval rose - it is the best!

A fun day for sure, and looking forward to serving this mimosa board again for the next brunch gathering we have! 



1.23.2020

Children vs Food - My personal experience and advice

The following information is my personal experience and advice, and not all may agree. And that is okay :)

Parents,

I receive comments about my children's eating daily (especially Kora). From family and friends, to followers from my food blog, I often hear, "how do you get [Kora] to be such a good eater?"

I found that this article shared a lot of good info and although I've never studied how to raise good eaters, I find myself doing a lot of advice shared here. I highlighted some of my favorite blubs below, but urge you to read the article in full.


It is often heard, "if you have a picky child, it's because you allow them to be picky." I do believe that, to a point. I also do not judge, and do understand that each child is different. The other day, Kora didn't want to try my quiche... it was filled with shallots, fresh spinach (green is evil in kids minds lol), and gruyere cheese. I knew she would like it, but it was so unfamiliar to her, as I just started making quiche recently. I offered her a "prize" if she tried *two* decent bites. Her mouth opened one second later, and then she requested more... Some may see this as bribery, but I see it as rewarding them for doing something good, rather than threatening for not doing what you requested.


The most important and treasured advice I have received: My uncle said to me, before I had kids, "at six months old, feed them everything and don't stop." My aunt said, "make them try food 3-5 times before they convince you they don't like it." I've lived by both of their advice and it's really made a huge difference in our lives regarding the food we give our kids. * It goes without saying to always be aware of food allergies and what food is ok and not ok to give at specific ages.


My husband, Kevin, and I hate tomatoes, yet we still buy them and present them to both kids, who by the way lvoe tomatoes. Kevin finds salmon revolting, but we still encourage both kids that salmon is "mmmm good." Doing your part in guiding your child's palate is a priceless gift for their future, and quite gfrankly will allow you to take your kids to any type of restaurant, and not just somewhere that serves chicken nuggets.


I am no expert, let me repeat that... I am no expert! Anyone that knows me, knows I was the absolute worst eater growing up. I was often "punished" if I didn't have my plate finished by the time the oven timer went off. It makes sense that the article states that kids will associate certain food with punishment or making parents upset. Try to avoid "forcing" it, and be more of a cheerleader for them.

I hope that some fellow parents and future parents find this information helpful. Happy eating!

Pics highlighted from: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kids-picky-eaters_n_2339119

12.26.2019

Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas! This was our best year yet! With a 2 and 1 year old, it only continues to get more exciting each year. Little Kora finally understands the story of Santa, and woke up running down the hallway. We left cookies, milk and a carrot by the tree and, of course, saw that Santa took a big bite! She begged to leave Santa tacos, and we may just do that next year if Taco Bell is open on our way home LOL.



CHRISTMAS EVE BREAKFAST: we started with grinch pancakes. Kora loves "pan pans" and I wanted to make them a bit special. For the coloring, a drop of green food coloring, or pistachio mix will do. Bananas for the eyes, with chocolate chips for the evil smile and pupils. Raspberries and whipped cream to create a Santa hat. She thought eating the grinch was very fun!




CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER: 60-65 people gather at my grandmother's house. We all bring a staple dish, but this year I decided to change mine up a bit. Instead of this amazing sweet potato au gratin, I brought two of Sharon's pistachio cakes (one in the shape of santa), and a snowman appetizer board. I saw the snowman board in The Baker Mama's newest book, Beautiful Boards (highly recommend getting this if you like to make cheese and charcuterie boards)! It was a huge hit, with tons of happy comments at the party.
As for dinner, we had salad, eggplant rollitini, penne alla vodka, broccoli, beef meatballs & chicken meatballs, roasted potatoes, sausage and peppers, rice and beans, cauliflower au gratin, and chicken fantasy.



*Powdered sugar filled Santa's beard and hat, but I don't sprinkle that on until just before serving


CHRISTMAS DAY BREAKFAST: we usually head to my in-laws house. With our young kids being out so late the night before, I offered to host breakfast so we wouldn't be running around so early. It was nice to wake up, enjoy time with the babies, and then make an easy breakfast board for all to feast on. We had 14 people join us, and the board was a very convenient way to serve.
The Christmas morning breakfast board was originated by The Reluctant Entertainer


A large 28.5" diameter board is used (This one from Pier 1: Large round tray)

I served Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries, scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage links, two lbs of bacon, Pillsbury cinnamon buns with homemade cream cheese frosting, Christmas sprinkles, mini broccoli quiches,  more fresh berries, grapes, fresh rosemary to garnish, a bowl of candy and a reindeer prop.
We had an array of juices to choose from as well. It was fantastic and I look forward to making more boards!


Wishing all my Kiss My Apron readers a very happy holiday season, and wishing nothing but health and joy in the new 2020 year to come!