Crispy Kale Caesar

(more…)

Doesn’t food taste so much better when it’s pretty? This curly kale caesar kept making bedroom eyes at me with its adorable little curves and crannies that were just begging to be filled with a smoky, tangy caesar dressing and delicately topped with fresh parmesan curls. Placing this delicacy underneath the hot broiler was the least I could do and in return, it gave me a perfectly charred, slightly salty, cheesy appetizer with no fuss. Kale is perfect for this recipe because it holds up while being broiled. Romaine would have been nice too, but would need a different approach when preparing, such as cut into quarters instead of separating the individual leaves. I like to add a light sprinkling of smoked paprika to my dressing for an extra flavor element. We loved this “salad” as an introduction to our pizza dinner and cannot wait to give it another go! A fun little hint: instead of broiling your kale, you could also grill it after brushing it with the dressing. ‘Tis the season!

Look at those webs of cheese!

Ham and Gruyere Panini with Rosemary Onions

Is anyone else up to their elbows in Thanksgiving leftovers? My creativity to reinvent them is running thin and I don’t know if my stomach can accept anymore stuffing. But before I get entirely tired of the ham I made (my husband hates turkey), I always make this sandwich. Ham and I got off on the wrong foot 20 years ago when my parents made me eat some ham before I could be excused from the dinner table. It was the longest night of my life and I swore never to humor ham like that again. But as the years passed and my emotional scars from ham started to heal, I thought I would give it another shot. Ham ain’t so bad! It’s all about how you make it (brown sugar and Cognac glaze, anyone?). Plus, I do love having leftover ham sandwiches and when you adorn them with onions and rosemary, you’re in for a real treat! It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal and it’s oh so comforting. It also gives you an excuse to dust of that panini maker you asked for on your wedding registry but barely use. The sweet, mustardy onions paired with the smokey ham and nutty Gruyere makes for the best panini. It just feels like the holidays all wrapped up in a sandwich. I’m sure this wouldn’t be so bad with turkey either. There’s only so many turkey pot pies you can make, ya know? Let’s get moving on our Ham and Gruyere Panini! (more…)

Our leftover ingredient line up:

Crusty bread, butter, fresh rosemary, gruyere, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ham, onions, and brown sugar.

Our onions are cooked until a luscious golden brown then we add more butter (surprise, surprise), brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and dijon.

The mixture is finished with a little chopped rosemary. If you have some thyme left over from Thanksgiving, feel free to add that instead.

Now, we layer! If you are at all a professional sandwich maker like myself, you know the layering process is incredibly important and should be taken very seriously. Grab your bread and out some ham on it. See what I mean? Precision is key! We top the ham with that delicious onion mixture.

Then, just as you thought things couldn’t get anymore complicated, we take grated gruyere and using all of the strength within us, sprinkle on top of the onion mixture. I know, I know. I’m asking too much of you but we will persevere!

Finally, our sandwiches are topped with a buttered slice of bread and some more rosemary is sprinkled on top. Whether you use a panini maker or a stovetop skillet, make sure there is some butter melted so the bottom of the sandwich gets plenty of love.

Wait for it…money shot! Just kidding. Sandwiches are a little camera shy but I wanted you to see the magic that is happening inside this sandwich. It’s buttery, it’s rich in flavor, and it’s the perfect way to use up your holiday leftovers. Happy panini making!

Mustard Maple Chicken Stuffed Delicata Squash

When Chris and I lived in LA, we swore there was Fall. Yes, we may have been swimming in sweat and yes, we may have been abusing our window unit air conditioner but we pretended. We visited a pumpkin patch off of Sunset Blvd that had huge (fake) pumpkins you could stand in. I remember eating a midnight snack at Fred 62, who festively placed a pumpkin sign on top of the restaurant. Eating fish tacos and an ice cold margarita only days before Halloween isn’t exactly the way to celebrate the season for a Marylander. So the Fallish recipes began in our very small kitchen. Roasted pumpkin with rosemary and slow cooked short ribs braised in a deep, red wine sauce were only a few I became mildly obsessed with. I do remember a pumpkin ice cream pie in there somewhere, too. Can I just say something? As much as California rocks, I never want to miss a Maryland Fall ever…ever. (more…)

This! This is Fall all rolled up into a cute squash package. Mustard maple chicken stuffed squash. Need I say more? I was first introduced to delicata squash last year. I heard you don’t have to peel its skin and actually, after it has been cooked, you can eat it! Sounds like an easy dinner to me! This delightful squash is stuffed with a chicken, mushroom (sorry if you hate ’em!), and leek mixture that is doused with a mustard maple sauce. Serving everything in a squash shell makes a great presentation. I am totally tempted to make just the filling and eat it as is, but the squash really makes it feel like a meal and extra Fall-like.

Let’s meet our ingredient line up!

From Top Left to Right: Delicata squash (nice to meet you!), walnuts, chicken, maple syrup (this is not Aunt Jemima’s time to shine), leeks, a mustard combo of ground mustard and Dijon, breadcrumbs, fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, and mushrooms (sorry I’m not sorry).

The leeks and mushrooms are sauteed before added to the mixture. Almost everything is thrown into a bowl. I made my mustard sauce first then added it in. I like to taste for seasoning and make sure I don’t need more mustard or maple syrup.

Our precious squash is cooked first then filled with the stuffing. It’s mustardy, sweet, crunchy, herby, yummy? I got carried away with the y’s. Look at those colors. Don’t you just wanna?
1411941094.759110.48

Just top those pretty thangs with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Use a couple of thyme stems for garnish if you like. I need this…again. It’s so simple and stunning to throw together, this could even grace your Thanksgiving table. Maybe just take out the chicken and add more veggies (chicken on turkey action? no thanks!). Happy squash making! ‘Tis the season!

Late Summer Salad

I like to think that at the end of a season, a better one awaits. There shouldn’t be mourning from one season to another, for we don’t know what the new season might bring. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way but transitions can be tough. Along with a new season, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear are close behind. Luckily, for me, the only major transitions right now are the seasons changing and the company I work for is moving to a new location. Both transitions are very much welcomed but I know that’s a gift. Here’s to making the best of transitions. (more…)

Ok, enough with my philosophical rant. I guess that’s what happens when I blog right before bedtime. But seriously, I love the Autumn and all that it brings. Lately, it feels like Summer doesn’t want to let go and Autumn isn’t telling her she should. With that stubborn attitude comes confusion in the kitchen. Do I roast a chicken or make a fresh salad? Do I grill or throw together that pumpkin pasta I couldn’t resist just leaving alone on the shelf? I’m very confused but one thing I know is that it’s definitely not the time for chili just yet. This salad is for those of you, like me, who love the vibrant flavors of the Summer but long for the coziness of Fall. The fennel and apple make this salad super fresh and help balance the acidity of the vinaigrette. Plus, did I mention honeyed goat cheese? No? Honeyed goat cheese.

Here is our late harvest ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Extra virgin olive oil, red onion, apple, (I used Honeycrisp for a sweeter flavor but if tart is more your thing, Granny Smith will do just fine), fennel, lemon juice, arugula, dried cherries, shaved brussels sprouts, rosemary, Dijon, honeyed goat cheese, and apple cider vinegar.

I call this piece Controlled Chaos. We throw all of our ingredients that are not being used for the vinaigrette into a bowl. Save the goat cheese for last because it will dissolve if added in too soon. We admire this beauty and then move onto our vinaigrette.

Our vinaigrette is all sass. It’s tangy and with the rosemary, it has that subtle lemony herb flavor. We pour it over our greens and toss. Don’t add the goat cheese yet!

Sprinkle the goat cheese over individual servings or better yet, crumble the goat cheese and let your guests add it to their salad. It adds a wonderful sweetness that brings it all together. Side note: If you can’t find honeyed goat cheese, just add honey to your non-honeyed goat cheese. This isn’t a “good bye Summer” salad; it’s more of a “it’s been real Summer, now I’m going to hang with your friend Fall” kind of salad. Happy salad making!

Cheddar Crab Sliders with Old Bay

Summers on the East Coast and more specifically in Maryland, are quite a special thing. There are more traditions than just the usual cookouts with burgers and hot dogs. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a long, rectangle table with newspaper rustically draped to keep it covered. The table is studded with paper towel rolls, non strategically placed and are accompanied by little wooden hammers. Ice cold beer bottles, little bowls of melted butter, and a spice in a red and yellow can are the finishing touches. There aren’t any plates or utensils laid out. Just crabs, paper, and two hands are all you need. Oh and good conversation because you might be sitting there for a long time. (more…)

1410733617.627072.46

Since it’s National Burger Day, I figured I should have another burger on here other than this gem. Also, my husband is allergic to shellfish (a crime, I know), so I don’t cook with it much. But to keep my “I’m from Maryland” badge, I wanted to put up a recipe that involved crab in some way. These sliders are topped with a fresh crab salad then drizzled with a cheddar, Old Bay sauce. The burger is seasoned perfectly, the sweet crab salad adds a bite of freshness, and the cheddar sauce is sharp with a little bit of spice. They are the perfect balance of surf and turf but they will make you miss Summer a little bit more than you already do. And just in crab eating fashion, all you need are your two hands, and if you have any common decency, a paper towel to enjoy.

Our Surf ‘n Turf ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, cheddar, milk, garlic, Dijon mustard, red onion, red bell pepper, dried oregano, Worchestire sauce, rolls, flour, lump crab meat, and that purdy little can is Old Bay. I totally forgot the butter in this pic. Sorry! Also, if you don’t have access to Old Bay in your supermarket (it’s our God given right!), Amazon sells it.

That may look like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are thrown into a bowl with the beef and most of them are probably in your pantry. They make for a very tasty burger! We make little patties that match the size of our buns! Aren’t they cute?

The crab, red onion, and red bell pepper are tossed in a bowl together. They get a healthy sprinkling of Old Bay. Perfect! Make sure you taste for seasoning here. I don’t know how much Old Bay you like to get down with.

Now, what should be here is a picture of the cheddar Old Bay sauce. But it’s not and I’m sorry I forgot to take a pic by itself. Just a quick encouragement about mornay sauce aka the cheese sauce. Stir that milk until it’s thick. About 3 minutes in, you might start doubting yourself. Stick with it and keep stirring. It WILL thicken.
Our delicious sliders are assembled. Bottom bun, patty, crab, cheese drizzle, top bun. These sliders are incredibly flavorful but make you hardly work for it. EAT THESE TONIGHT! If you don’t, you know you will be thinking about them until you do. Happy sliders making!

Mini Niçoise Tuna Melts

These are your childhood meets elegant. I love taking a classic and making it new. Not totally new where you can’t recognize it anymore. Just new enough that you taste the classic flavors but in a new way. That’s what gets me going. Tuna melts have my heart. They’re part of that special group of meals that you forget about until you eat them and then furiously wonder why it’s taken you so long to get here. Why don’t I make these more often?! That’s what goes through my head when I eat a tuna melt. And I bet I’m not the only one…or am I? Queue in the X-Files theme song. (more…)

Have you ever had a niçoise salad? It’s a salad composed of tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. Usually, fresh tuna is also added to make it a complete meal. In these melts, I make some changes from the usual: sun dried tomatoes instead of fresh, no anchovies (not because I don’t like them but because I didn’t want to get my blender dirty), and the biggest change of all: no mayonnaise. Yup. I’m sorry. But that is what takes these to the next level. Instead of a mayo based dressing, we make a vinaigrette that would normally be paired with the niçoise salad. BUT the creaminess of the gruyere and eggs make up for the lack of creaminess from the lack of mayo. Not confusing at all.

Our French ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Baguette, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, gruyere cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, olives, tuna, hard boiled eggs (look at those yellows), and shallots.
*Just a little tip when buying canned tuna. Make sure the can says dolphin safe or pole caught. It’s a better way to fish for tuna that won’t hurt dolphins in the process. Fishing can be a tricky thing!

We first make our vinaigrette. Can you guess how many times I had to google vinaigrette for spelling? Don’t. Just Don’t.

Then, we begin our niçoise madness. If I had a dollar for every can of tuna I have opened in my life, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Does that saying ever go anywhere? Am I missing something or just not witty enough? I dunno. Our vinaigrette meets our tuna niçoise ingredients.

Time to top our cute little bread slices with some niçoise love. Oooo lala.

The gruyere is sprinkled on top. These are tuna melts afterall.

All we do is place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Easiest appetizer ever. This would also be a great tuna salad if you don’t do the cheese thing.

I love these. I really do. These would be great to kick start any football season. Oh and if you don’t like olives, I would encourage you to still add them. I don’t like them at all but loved them in this. The amount I have added makes then barely noticeable but essential! Happy melts making!

Almond Apricot Chicken Salad

Chicken salad. It’s been around since before our parents were parents and their parents were parents. It’s constantly being reinvented into many different delicious combinations. Tarragon, apples, pecans, curry, and mayo-less are just a few of the newer renditions of the classic. Chicken salad appeals to the old and young; older people are reminded of their childhood, eating it between 2 slices of Wonderbread. Younger foodies are appealed by it’s inexpensive price tag and it’s endless options. I, for one, love chicken salad. I like to make a batch on Sunday and enjoy it for the next couple of days. I like it on toast, with crackers and apples, in lettuce wraps, and sometimes, straight out of the bowl with a fork (when no one is looking). (more…)

I was at a party a few months back and someone brought chicken salad as a snack. I couldn’t get over how genius and refreshingly vintage that was. For my house warming party last weekend, I decided to add it to my repertoire. I am always looking for new pairings for my beloved chicken salad and when I get the chance, I like to add fresh fruit. Apricots add a pleasant sweet note, while the almonds add a crunch and the dill is a good reminder it’s Summer. This salad is great with chips, in a lettuce wrap, or on your favorite sandwich bread. In this recipe, I show what kind of chicken I used but really use whatever you like. Rotisserie chicken is a great foundation for a stellar chicken salad!

Let’s check out our exhaustive ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Sliced almonds, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, crushed garlic (fresh or jarred), cubed or shredded chicken, red onion, sugar, fresh apricots (have you tried these?), fresh dill, and white wine vinegar (not pictured but always in our hearts?).

This recipe might be hard for you. Just have patience with it. Ok, ready? Throw everything into a large mixing bowl and, um, mix! Taste for seasoning. A bit of salt and pepper are key here.

Chicken salad is light, easy, and great for the hot summer months (when are those coming, again?) I need to go rest after this tiresome and long post. Happy salad making!

Steakhouse Potato Salad

I’m that person at a cookout who has a plate completely piled high with carby sides. Potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, and mac and cheese all make the cut with a measly hot dog clinging to the edge of my plate, begging for its life. Of course, the whole focus of a cookout is the protein because, duh, we’re at a cookout. But no one gets excited for a cookout if there isn’t a plastic cloth covered table, displaying the endless possibilities of sides. Mac and cheese dog anyone? I’ll save that for another day. This gem has been a “must make” for any cookout I go to for the last couple of years. I make it and I know I will be coming home with an empty bowl. This recipe is broken down into 3 easy steps: roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and cheese. Don’t you wish all of life was this simple?

(more…)

Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: We got olive oil, butter, garlic, yellow onion, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, red and white small potatoes, blue cheese, and parsley.

We will start with our potatoes. Depending on their size, quarter or halve them so they are all close to the same size. Place on a sheet pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix so everything is evenly covered and arrange them cut side down. Make sure they are all in one layer so they roast evenly. If your pan seems crowded, move the party to another sheet pan so the potatoes can roast and not steam. Put them in the hot oven and cook until fork tender; turning once during the cooking time.

As the potatoes cook, let’s start on the onions. Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. We’re layering our seasoning, people! Cook onions until golden brown. Make sure you stir those onions every couple of minutes so they don’t burn! After onions are caramelized, add garlic and cook one more minute. Just a minute!

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced and thickened. about 2-3 minutes.

The last thing we need to assemble here is the blue cheese dressing. We take the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, dijon, blue cheese, parsley, and black pepper. They are placed in a bowl and simply stirred. Black pepper is key in this recipe since there is a lot of saltiness going on (I’m definitely not complaining). Let’s gather everything!

Grab a large serving bowl and combine potatoes, onions, and blue cheese dressing. Mix and taste for seasoning. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! Sprinkle parsley as the garnish.

Don’t you just want to plunge your face into that? Also, this potato salad is best served right away or at room temp. Once you put it in the fridge, it all goes downhill from there; the potatoes get weird. Trust me. Enjoy!

Old Faithful Cheeseburger

1404067031.347675.69

It was a Friday night and as usual, all four of us kids were huddled around the televison. Every friday, we would grab blankets and our favorite snacks in anticipation of watching our favorite TV shows. Depending on the season, my mom would either make buttery popcorn for us to enjoy or cheesy parmesan pumpkin seeds but tonight was different. We didn’t see any delicious snacks coming our way any time soon so we just settled for those wax candies that look like soda bottles. Then it happened. My father came through the front door and the house was immediately filled with the familiar aroma of the double arches. My dad brought us cheeseburgers from McDonald’s! They were special in that instead of being doused in ketchup and mustard, they were plain. I never had a plain one before and as I opened my snack deprived mouth, the pure flavors of beef and cheese were on my tongue. No distractions, just delightfully simple. Cheeseburgers are one of my favorite meals to this day and yes, I have come very far from McDonald’s finest. To me, it’s extremely important to have a flavorful patty that if need be, could be eaten without any condiment and still be delicious. So add on your favorite toppings or not, but enjoy my rendition of the classic.

(more…)

Let’s start with our ingredients!


From Left to Right: fresh thyme, dried oregano, garlic, hamburger buns, ground beef, hot sauce, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, and american cheese.

We put the ground beef, dried oregano, hot sauce, dijon, and worcestershire sauce in a
mixing bowl. Then, we mince our garlic and thyme and add those into the bowl as well. If you use dried thyme, use about 1/2 a teaspoon. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper!

Instead of using our pretty paws to mix these ingredients up, we will use a fork! A fork is working triple duty: mixing the ingredients, keeping our meat fluffy (not dense), and saving our manicures (not mine, yours?). Either way, use the fork until everything is mixed. I forgot to season until the last minute. Forgive me?

Now, we make 4 meatballs, using all of the meat. From these meatballs, you can make patties, whatever thickness you want. I like thin burgers so I do this extra step. If you like them thick, you are more than welcome to skip this step. We lay them on a surface, evenly spaced apart.

Cover the meat with plastic wrap and grab a heavy, cylindrical object i.e. a rolling pin or a Christmas wine bottle. We use the heavy object to roll the meat to about 1/4 inch patties. They ain’t perfect, but they are good.

Heat up a skillet to medium high heat with a tad bit of olive oil. Season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add the patties. Since they are so thin, they only need about 2 minutes per side to cook. Also, you might need 2 spatulas to flip them. After they are flipped, immediately add your cheese of choice so it gets nice and melted!

Here comes the fun part! If you do 1 patty cheeseburgers, then this recipe serves 4. If you want to do the double decker I show in my pictures, then this recipe serves 2. Just place cheeseburgers on your bun of choice and enjoy the juicy, cheesy goodness of a classic cheeseburger! Cook these up for 4th of July or any other night of the week! They definitely satisfy any good burger craving.