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Scallion Pigs in a Blanket

Scallion Pigs in a Blanket

A slight fancy pig in a blanket. You can’t eat just one and you don’t miss the cheese. These are super simple to make, oh so satisfying & even better they are just as delicious room temperature.

Scallion Pigs in a Blanket – Serves 10-12
*adapted from eatchofood.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 hot dogs – I like HEB beef brisket hotdogs – but use anything you like
  • 1 box frozen puff pastry – 2 sheets – thawed
  • 6 green onions chopped (green parts only)
  • flour for dusting countertop
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • sesame seeds – black and white

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a cast iron skillet (or any saute pan) sear your hot dogs to get some color on them. Set aside to cool and then cut in 1/2 so you have 24 total.

Sprinkle counter with a little flour and unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry dough. Scatter 1/2 of the green onions on top of the dough and with a rolling pin lightly press them in. Don’t go crazy, you do not want to roll the dough out very much. Just enough to press them in.  Cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter or knife. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry.

Take a hot dog and wrap it in a strip of scallion puff pastry. Place the wrapped hot dog on a parchment paper lines baking sheet. Repeat with remaining hot dogs. Pop them in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes to give them a quick chill.

Whisk egg with sesame oil and brush the tops of all the dogs with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. I like to serve with a hot/sweet mustard.

 

My favorite Tomato Pie

Being a family of one, my habit of stopping at farm stands and buying a ridiculous amount of tomatoes is silly and indulgent. Tomato pie is always the answer.

My favorite Tomato Pie – Serves 8-10
*adapted from Saveur

INGREDIENTS

THE CRUST:

  • 1 box frozen pre-made pie crusts, you will need both crusts in the box  (Pillsbury is my fav)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • flour for dusting countertop

THE FILLING AND TOPPING:

  • 3 1⁄2 lb. vine-ripe tomatoes (about 12), cored, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice, divided into 2 halves
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 13 cup packed whole basil leaves
  • 12 cup mayonnaise
  • 13 cup grated fontina
  • 13 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 medium or heirloom tomato, thinly sliced and blotted dry with paper towels

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crust: Bring the crust to room temperature and lightly butter a 10-inch metal pie pan. Preheat the oven to 400°. Dust your counter with a little flour and unroll one pie crust. Sprinkle the chopped thyme evenly over the top of crust. Place 2nd pie crust on top of the bottom one. Roll these 2 crust togther to seal and create 1 pie crust that is thicker*. Roll the crust slightly larger than your pan. Lay the crust in the pan and press gently into its edges. Roll over the dough that hands over the edges. *You want a thicker crust to keep the bottom from getting soggy.

Lay foil or parchment paper on top of the crust and weigh that down with dried beans or rice. Blind-bake the shell for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil or parchment and bake 5 minutes more. Set the cooked crust aside as you prepare the filling. If edges begin to get dark, cover edges with foil.

Make the filling: Toss half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander to drain while you get everything else ready, at least an hour.

Lower your oven to 375°. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter and then add the onion and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat until caramelized. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

Toss the other half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray with as much room separating the individual pieces as possible. Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 30-35 minutes. You’re looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.

Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onion, the fresh and roasted diced tomatoes, the remaining salt, sugar, black pepper, and basil.

Make the topping and finish the pie: In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, fontina, and Parmigiano. Spoon the tomato filling into your blind-baked crust. Top with the cheese mixture and tomato slices. Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

Loaded Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Nothing better than a pasta salad full of vegetables and NO MAYO for a pool party. The peppadew peppers are the best sweet and spicy addition, don’t skip them!

Loaded Lemon Pasta Salad – Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

THE SALAD:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al detnte
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 can black olives hearts, cut in 1/2
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2
  • 4-5 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 10-15 peppadew peppers
  • 6 green onions, chopped green & white parts
  • Feta Cheese, crumbled

THE DRESSING:

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or red/white wine vinegar can be used)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Make Dressing: Put all ingredients (except olive oil) in a blender. Turn blender on low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside.

Cook Pasta: Cook pasta according to directions, making sure not to overcook. Drain immediately and add to large bowl. While warm, toss with a little of the dressing to coat so it will absorb the flavors. Add spinach to warm pasta to wilt slightly. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients, toss with more dressing (to your liking) and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Place in the refrigerator  for a few hours for the flavors to develop. Serve cold or room temperature.

 

Cannoli cheesecake with Pistachio Crust

On a recent trip to Sicily, I was introduced to a real cannoli (“cannolo” they politely corrected me) and I was forever ruined. The hint of orange from the orange water, the tang of the sheep milk ricotta and the warmth of the cinnamon –  even the best Italian bakeries in America don’t come close to what an authentic cannoli should be.

I’m not making cannoli shells and the ones you buy, well they are only good for 1 thing –  pulverizing into a crust. Add some pistachios, cinnamon & orange peel  and you have all of the flavor profiles of a authentic Sicilian cannolo. Whole milk cow ricotta will work, but you will not get that tang from the traditional sheep milk ricotta. The Mozzarella Company in Dallas makes a 50% cow and 50% goat ricotta – and it worked perfectly in this recipe.

Quite possibly the best dessert I’ve ever made.  It can be made several days ahead and kept covered in refrigerator (keep in springform pan until day of serving).

Cannoli shells can be found at many grocery stores – Central Market, Jimmy’s Italian Market in Dallas, World market and Amazon.

Cannoli cheesecake with Pistachio Crust – Serves 8-12

INGREDIENTS

THE CRUST:

  • 8 ounces shelled pistachios – unsalted and roasted
  • 6 large cannoli shells or 12 mini
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
  • ⅛  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5  tablespoons sugar
  • 8  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To make the crust, place cannoli shells, pistachios, orange zest, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are ground. Put in a bowl and stir in the melted butter.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan & line bottom with a circle of parchment paper (butter on top of the parchment too). Press the pistachio mixture into the bottom.

Bake for 15 minutes at 325˚. Let cool.  Mix 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of sugar flour together and sprinkle over top of crust. (This prevents crust from getting soggy)

FILLING (all room temperature ingredients)

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese (50% cow/50% sheep or goat)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream – COLD
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare your water bath: Use a slow cooker liner as they are made to stand up to liquid and high heat in your slow cooker. It’s the best ever and NEVER lets water through. Place springform pan (no filling added) inside the plastic bag. Gather the extra and knot off right below the rim. Then cover with foil going all the way up the sides and fold over along the top edge or the springform pan. Place the springform pan into a roasting pan and set aside.

For the filling: Beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Mix in eggs one at a time. Pour cheesecake mixture into springform pan on top of the crust layer. It will be thicker than most cheesecake batters.

Fill your roasting pan with hot water, half way up the side of the springform pan.  Bake for around 1 hour.

Cool one hour on the counter, and at least 3 hours in the fridge.

Before serving, make whipped cream. Pour heavy whipping cream and sugar vanilla into a bowl and whisk on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. Spread on top of cheese cake and sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Salted Butterscotch Pots de Crème

Salted Butterscotch Pots de Crème

Pots de Crème is a beautiful French dessert dating to the 17th century. It quite literally translates  to “pot of cream”.  With 3 basic ingredients – eggs, sugar & cream –  this dessert can be transformed into so many flavors. Salted butterscotch is  addictive and perfectly complex with the smoky caramel, creamy custard and that lovely bite of sea salt. My second favorite is this version with lime and dark chocolate.

Salted Butterscotch Pots de Crème – Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Arrange eight ramekins or custard pots with a ¾-cup capacity in a large, shallow baking pan. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook the brown sugar and butter, without stir¬ring, until the sugar turns a deep amber color and develops a nutty smell, about 10 minutes. Use you nose and don’t let it burn. Pour the heavy cream into the mixture gradually, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the sea salt and vanilla into the mixture. Stir to combine.

Slowly pour the hot butterscotch mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Strain the custard through the sieve into the measuring cup. Pour into the ramekins, dividing the custard evenly. Pour hot water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue to bake for 15 minutes more, or just until the custard has set and doesn’t jiggle with you shake the pan. Remove the pan from the oven, uncover, and, using tongs, carefully lift the custards from the water bath and set on a cooling rack.

The custards can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving or serve slightly chilled.

Ham Bone Soup

Ham Bone Soup

Not many options to use a big old ham bone if you don’t want to make a pot of beans. Which I definitely don’t. Thank you New York Times for this amazing soup recipe so I didn’t toss it.

I made a few changes, of course. I found really cooking the heck out of the ham bone is the way to get the marrow to release into the broth, which is stunning. The cabbage turns into something deliciously unrecognizable and silky.

I didn’t add the beans and didn’t miss them. Admittedly, they would add a little more heartiness if you so desire.

Ham Bone Soup – Serves 10

INGREDIENTS

4  strips bacon, thick cut, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3  large carrots, peeled and sliced
2  celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
1  large onion, peeled and diced
3  garlic cloves, finely chopped
1  ham bone, most extra meat trimmed off, but keep it and add it to the soup at the end
1  bay leaf
8-10 springs of thyme, tied up into a bundle
2 ½  teaspoons salt
head green cabbage, cut into 1/2 pieces
1 box chicken stock
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
1  small bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces, 6 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce or sherry | balsamic | apple cider vinegar, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cabbage and cook 3-4 more minutes. Drop in the ham bone, bay leaf and thyme. Cover with 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the bay leaf, thyme bundle and ham bone.  Your liquid should be reduced quite a bit. Add the chicken stock, beans, lemon juice, any extra ham meat from the bone and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer until soft, but vibrantly green, about 15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce or sherry, balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Serve with crumbled bacon on top.

Dad’s chicken pot pie

My dad claims he “finally found a chicken pot pie that came out perfect”.  No idea where he found this recipe, but if I had to guess it was the Lake Fork Fishing Forum… his most visited website. I adapted a few things (call me a food snob but canned mushrooms aren’t in my life) to get the ingredients,  seasonings and consistency just right. It’s really good and so much better than the one in the little tin I grew up eating!

When I was in Prague last year I found this beautiful dish. It’s not perfectly round and the blue painted design is flawed… and it weights a small ton.  It’s perfect imperfections couldn’t be passed on… I had to have it. I padded it up and carried it on my 15 hour flight home.

I’ve made only 2 dishes in this Bohemian beauty… tiramisu and this chicken pot pie. My next challenge will be a proper British meat pie… I need to some more research and tasting in jolly old London in 2018.

Some tips on selecting the right dish:

  1. To make this full recipe your baking dish needs to hold 8-10 cups. A large cast iron skillet or large round/oval baking dish will work. I measured out water in mine to see the volume… it was 8 cups with room to spare and this recipe filled it to the top.
  2. The bottom crust had to be rolled out to fit up the sides of my dish. The top crust is perfect size with extra to fold over the edges.
  3. If you want to 1/2 the recipe, it’s easy to 1/2 the ingredients. Then you could use a regular pie plate or even a square glass baking dish (get creative with the crust to make it fit). Reduce the baking time to 30 minutes and check to see it it’s bubbling at the edges.

Dad’s Chicken Pot Pie – Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
15 crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (2 large bone-in, skin on chicken breasts, baked 425 for 45 minutes – meat removed and into large cubes)
12 ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 cups frozen diced hash brown potatoes (not shredded)
½ cup milk to thin mixture
2 flat sheets of refrigerated pie crust (2 rolled per box)
Egg wash: 1 egg + 2 Tablespoons of water, beaten in small bowl

INSTRUCTIONS

Baking dish needs to hold 8 -10 cups –  deep dish pie plate or cast-iron skillet

Prepare crust:
Unfold 1 refrigerated pie crust. Place one crust in bottom of buttered/nonstick sprayed deep-dish pie plate or large cast iron skillet.  I had to roll mine out to reach up the sides. Place in refrigerator until done with filling below. Keep 2nd crust in fridge, unrolled.

Prepare filling:
In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add onion, celery, mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt & pepper and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and place into a bowl. Set aside to use later. Wipe out skillet to use in next steps.

Melt butter in the same large pot over low heat. Add flour stirring until smooth. Add chicken broth and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Add half & half, seasonings, frozen vegetables, frozen potatoes, chicken and onion/celery/mushroom mixture. Add milk (or water or stock) and turn heat up to medium-high.  Stir until mixed thoroughly heated through, about 10 minutes. Taste mixture for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed. Transfer to your baking dish (place on a cookie sheet in case the sauce leaks over the edges). Top with 2nd crust and crimp edges.  Cut slits in top crust. Brush top crust with egg wash to create a nice golden crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 -60 minutes until bubbly and crust is starting to brown. I covered mine after 45 minutes so the crust didn’t over brown. Let sit for 20 minutes to cool slightly and let sauce set up.

Chicken with shallots, white wine and dijon

Wow, this was better than expected. 

With only a few ingredients. this one pot wonder didn’t disappoint. The only chopping required was halving a few cherry tomatoes. Thanks Andrew Zimmern!

The recipe is simple to double or triple, but as written is perfect for a cozy dinner for 2.

Chicken with shallots, white wine and dijon – Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS

boneless skin-on chicken thighs or 2 boneless skin-on chicken breasts cut into 4 pieces
tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
tablespoons unsalted butter
6 to 8 whole medium shallots, peeled
cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
tablespoon Dijon mustard
sprigs tarragon
cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 package egg noodles

INSTRUCTIONS

Pat chicken thighs very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set chicken aside on a plate.

In the same pot, add the whole shallots to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Skim off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, whisk any brown bits off the bottom, then whisk in the mustard and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the sprigs of tarragon and the chicken thighs to the pot. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is finishing, cook the egg noodles according to the the package directions.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Remove the lid from the chicken, turn the heat to high and add cornstarch mixture.  Bring to a boil until thickened and then turn to low heat.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately on top of the egg noodles.

 

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart

The best thing about this recipe… I was able to get every last ingredient at Trader Joe’s. The onions take some patience, but well worth the wait. It’s impossible for anything topped with cheese & crème fraîche to be anything but delicious.

It’s rich, decadent and perfect as an unexpected Thanksgiving side.

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart – Serves 8
adapted from Vanessa Larson, Food52

INGREDIENTS

1 pie crust – rolled out slightly larger to fit an 11″ tart pan
medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed small (about the size of a chicklet)
tablespoon olive oil
large yellow onions, halved and sliced
tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
eggs
7.5 ounces crème fraîche
ounces Gruyère, grated
ounces Parmesan, grated
teaspoon sea salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sprigs thyme – leaves removed

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring to mix. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dark golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook an additional 5 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450° F. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and spread out on baking sheet. Bake until browned and very soft, stirring once, about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 375°. On a lightly floured surface roll out store bought pie crust into a 12-inch round. Fit dough into an 11” tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Prick all over with a fork. Freeze pastry shell 20 minutes.

Line pastry shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake shell in middle of oven until edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake shell 10 minutes more, or until bottom is golden. Leave oven on. Cool shell in pan on a rack.

Reduce oven heat to 350° F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, crème fraîche, gruyère, Parmesan, and black pepper.

Spread caramelized onions in bottom of tart and top with butternut squash. Pour gruyère mixture over the squash, making sure to spread it evenly over the tart.

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Pumpkin jam bruschetta

On a recent trip to Porto, Portugal I frequented a 16th century chapel turned into a beautiful wine bar, Capela Incomum. The name means “uncommon chapel”.  It’s perfectly situated at the bottom of a hill on a cobblestone street in the Cedofeita neighborhood. They have a wide selection of Portuguese wines and ports by the bottle or glass. On the menu of small plates to enjoy with your wine, was pumpkin bruschetta. Intrigued, I ordered and have been obsessed since.

Doce de Abóbora (Pumpkin Preserve) is plentiful across Portugal and traditionally eaten on toast with cream cheese for breakfast. They also pair it often with walnuts and queijo de cabra, a hard goat milks cheese from the region.

You can’t find this jam in the US and I needed a fix, so I made some. If I shared  a jar with you keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 months. See recipe below for how to prepare the bruschetta. Open a nice bottle of red wine and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

Rustic bread –  1/2 inch slices
Olive oil
Manchego cheese, or any goat/sheeps milk cheese, sliced
Pumpkin Jam
Walnuts, toasted
Arugula

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush bread slices with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until toasted. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Top the slices of bread with the sliced cheese, plenty of pumpkin jam and sprinkle toasted walnuts on top. Garnish with arugula.