Steakhouse Pie

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Ever since I came across this issue of Bon Appetit magazine, my homemade pizza world drastically changed. Never will I ever buy store bought pizza dough again. There just isn’t a comparison. From how easily the dough stretches, to its pan tossed texture, and how simple it is to make, store bought pizza dough is not welcome here no more. I hope you are encouraged to brave the world of rising yeast and join me in changing how you view homemade pizza! As epic as that sounds, nights that I make pizza are not that epic. I recently made this hearty Steakhouse pizza pie for friends and it was an immediate hit. Chris and I also take no shame in eating a pizza pie for date night, even if there are yummy leftovers to look forward to the next day. At this point, I know you probably scrolled down to the ingredients list and immediately cast off this recipe because of how long it looks. Don’t fret! I’m here to comfort you in saying you probably have most of those ingredients sitting in your pantry, just waiting to be used! For the sake of your overall happiness, I really hope you try this goody out! No room for disappointments!

Here is the link for the best pizza dough! Bon Appetit Grandma-Style Pizza Dough

The Killer Burger

I like to name burgers the same way I like to name my nonexistant children. I want to give them a name that sets them apart and makes them stick out from the other burgers that are mundanely named. Although I can’t take credit for the name of this burger, I do think it appropriate to keep the name because the name says it all! I have this habit, when I’m menu planning for the following week, to look up recipes that sound good and are the healthier option. Take ground turkey burgers for example, when I found <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/killer-turkey-burgers.html” target=”_blank”>Anne’s Killer Turkey Burger, I got all excited and proud of my choice of choosing white meat over red meat. But then reality struck and my desire for an all beef burger patty commandeered my desire to get the healthier meat. What I’m trying to say is I can’t stand ground turkey! Give it to me roasted and on a croissant sandwich with mayo but DO NOT give it to me in a form of a burger! That being said, I’m sure the turkey burger is outstanding in this recipe and don’t let my close-minded thinking deter you from trying the original recipe. (more…)

Don’t let the picture fool you. It may look like just the run of the mill burger but it’s so much more. This burger was so flavorful and perfect, I had dreams about it last night! I think it’s a great idea to throw these babies on the grill and add fresh toppings like ripe tomatoes, sweet red onion, and crisp, green lettuce. You really don’t need much embellishment for the amount of flavor you are going to get! Side note: Due to laziness and forgetfulness, I did not add the water chestnuts or the fresh ginger (I’m really disappointed with myself on that one!) but if you do, let me know what you think! This recipe also introduces us to Sriracha’s cousin, Sambal Oelek, a wonderful chili paste that you will be tempted to put on everything! Now, let us take a moment of thankfulness for Anne Burrell and her ingenious burger! Happy Burger making, guys!

Winter Stuffed Shells

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Saturday and Whole Foods are the only two words that will make Chris get out of his comfy sweatpants and brave the crowds with me to grocery shop. Whole Foods will have tons of samples out, I guess making his trip more enjoyable (and mine too! Who am I kidding?). Last year, they had this interesting Gouda titled, “Winter Gouda.” I didn’t need to know what was in it, I was already intrigued. The cheese was a salty and mellow Gouda, studded with flecks of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The combination was out of this world! It also inspired me to take those flavors to the next level. What could be better than a beef and tomato stuffed shell, bathing in a glorious spiced Gouda sauce? Not much. This recipe might be for a little more than two people but no one hates the idea of easy leftovers! Winter Stuffed Shells is warm, comforting with a spicy edge, and something you probably don’t normally have on your menu.

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

I think one of the most difficult aspects of Winter is the lack of “fresh.” My windows have to stay shut from the months of December to March so I desperately try to avoid that stale smell by using the air freshener plug-ins. Man, are they a life-saver! But they are nothing like the crisp, clean air that is found outside of my doorstep. I also miss the produce that is offered so abundantly in the warmer months. As much as I love cozy, hearty food, sometimes it makes me feel like I’m stuck in a box. Whenever I get into a cold weather funk in the kitchen, I try to incorporate fresh as much as I can. For me, this means herb overload! Herbs are a great way to add a burst of fresh to any dish so you aren’t gasping for air after eating your 100th bowl of chili this Winter season. (more…)

Chicken Parmesan will forever be one of my favorite dishes. I don’t know if it’s the crispy, crunchy crust, or the ooey, gooey cheesy goodness, or the tart, sharp tomato sauce. All components seem to work double time, satisfying all the things I crave in one bite. But even Chicken Parm can get old or outdated. Inspired by recent posts by other food bloggers, I decided to give the Chicken Parmesan a wonderfully fresh face lift. Also, I think there is something romantic about having Italian food for Valentine’s Day (just an idea). I’m not selling this as the best Chicken Parmesan you will ever have (there are plenty of legit Italian restaurants that could put me to shame) but it’s pretty delicious for a home-cooked meal. Pesto is added to the delicious toppings of this classic, enhancing the flavor by offering a burst of herby freshness. I also swap out regular Mozzarella (no hurt feelings) with a delightfully smoked Mozzarella (the obsession is real). Salty parmesan isn’t only added to finish this masterpiece off but it is combined with Panko breadcrumbs to give you the crunchiest, cheesiest, Chicken Parmesan you will ever cook! Did I mention this great classic is a one pan plan? We flour, dredge, and bake! It doesn’t get any easier, friends! Also, I think I used my monthly quota of the word “fresh” in this one post. Let’s do this thang!

Our ingredient line up! It doesn’t take much to enhance your pantry items. Here, it’s all about easily accessible ingredients and the seasonings in your spice drawer. We have eggs, flour, chicken cutlets, smoked Mozzarella, pesto, marinara (the jarred stuff), then a delectable mixture of Panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper.

Our dredging station is complete with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs! It’s as easy as 1,2,3!!!

After the chicken is breaded, we generously grease a baking pan to ensure the crust gets, well, crusty. We also turn over our cutlets half-way through cooking so both sides get crispy! I’m pretty proud of this crispiness if I do say so!

Once the chicken cutlets are done, we get the topping party started. Each cutlet gets a healthy dose of marinara and smoked Mozzarella. The sky is the limit here. Don’t stop until it feels right.

Next, the chicken is dotted with the lovely pesto. Not to go there but it totally looks like Christmas here! Again, you can add as much pesto as you want! Don’t hold back! This amount was definitely not enough for my pesto-loving husband.

The only thing standing between you and a yummy chicken dinner is Parmesan cheese. It IS Chicken Parmesan so now isn’t the time to be frugal with your Parmesan use. It’s as if these cutlets got a little snow dusting (ugh, it’s been Winter for way too long!). These guys get baked until everything is melted. You need to emotionally prepare for the next picture. Your mind is going to explode by all of the deliciousness about to be pictured.

BAM! Now, who wouldn’t be ecstatic to have this made for them for Valentine’s Day, let alone any other day of the week! Enjoy, friends! Happy Chicken Parm making!

Fancy Sprouts

I need to get something off of my chest. I’m not a huge brussel sprout fan. Yes, I have tried cooking them smothered in bacon. Yes, I have tried braising them in a yummy mustard and white wine sauce. It doesn’t matter what yummy concoction brussel sprouts are a part of for me because I can always taste that bitter brussel sprout flavor. So I decided to amp up my sprout game, mainly because I need easy, pretty, yummy side dishes to serve in the winter time. Brussel sprouts are green so they trick me into thinking it’s Summer. Well played, brussels, well played… (more…)

At first, I wanted to call this dish Christmas Sprouts because they remind me of the perfect side dish to go with that Christmas beef tenderloin or honey-glazed ham. They also have green and red hues going on, making me feel extra Christmasy inside. Alas, I decided to keep it neutral. Not everyone is as obsessed with Christmas as me and I need to accept it’s only 11 short months away. So let me tell you about these sprouts. They are crispy, tangy, salty (in a very good way), briney, with a little bit of sweet. So much flavor going on but the sprouts aren’t being hidden, they are being elevated. Even if you aren’t a fan like me, try these! They won’t last long on your table! Onward!

We start with simple, yet stunning ingredients! Red bell pepper, minced garlic, capers, brussel sprouts, salami, and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. I think we are ready to start the easiest yet most beautiful side dish ever. Don’t you think?

Our sprouts are tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. We roast them to bring out their natural sweetness. A little sweetness never hurt nobody! I like to cut off the bottom stems altogether when I quarter them. Some leaves will fall but I like it that way!

As our brussels are cooking, we can move on to the other ingredients for a bit. We sauté the red pepper until soft then add our fragrant garlic and briney capers. You could totally pile this on a steak and call it a night but I promised you a side dish so a side dish you shall receive. Let’s keep moving!

Beautiful! These sprouts are ready to be spruced up another notch! You could collect the leaves and eat them as chips but I like the flavor and crunch they add to this dish! Rule number 1 of the kitchen: DO WHAT YOU WANT!

The salami strips are lightly fried in olive oil to make them crunchy! Also, pan frying them makes their flavor deepen past the saltiness we all know and love. These make a great snack, FYI! Set these aside to be used as the topping. Oh and don’t burn yourself!

And always serve your brussels on a pretty plate. Pretty plates make the world go round. You can quote me on that. Make these! Enjoy these! Happy sprouts making!

Sweet and Spicy Chili

Everyone has their favorite chili recipe and I won’t try to convince you this is the best chili you will ever have. First thing, I’m not from a place that I can earn the title of “best chili ever”. Secondly, I think chili is a personal thing: you make it how you like it. This is how I like my chili. Just a little bit of beans, a nice smokey, spicy kick, and a hint of sweetness. When my mom would make chili growing up, I would raid the cabinets for that Heinz chili sauce that was slightly sweet. When it came time for me to start making my own chili, I felt like a new world had just appeared before my eyes. I could make my chili any way I wanted to. Don’t want kidney beans? No big deal. Need a little more cumin? Done. Want to use ground turkey instead? Perfect. Among being very versatile and forgiving to particular tastes, chili is also a great make ahead meal, a freezer friendly meal, perfect for a crowd or for leftovers, and a great meal if you are on a budget. The cold weather is coming in full throttle so let’s embrace a bowl of chili! (more…)

Our chili ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, black and pinto beans, tomato sauce, a spice mixture of cumin, chili powder, paprika, and oregano, brown sugar, and fresh garlic. The perfect blank slate.

Now, before we dive into making our chili, I have this picture here to serve as both a lesson and a reminder. Every 6 months, change out your spices! I made an example of myself when I made this chili. Once I added everything into the chili, I tasted it to see where the spice was. After 3 tablespoons of chili powder, there still wasn’t any kick to the chili. I then tasted my chili powder and do you want to know what it tasted like? Nothing. I had to grab the Sriracha bottle to give the chili some heat. That is pitiful friends. Don’t let this happen to you. On a more positive note, Sriracha in chili is awesome.

Moving on to the reason we are all here: chili! Our meat is browned, our spices are added, our tomato sauce poured. This baby is checked for seasoning and is ready to simmer. If you don’t like beans in your chili, your labor ends here.

But, if you want some bean action, our beans are added after the chili has been simmering for a little while.

I always forget how good and comforting chili can be until I make a batch. I love having leftover chili because (say it with me): IT’S ALWAYS BETTER THE NEXT DAY.

Sour cream, red onion, and sharp cheddar are a must topping for my chili. How do you take your chili? Happy chili 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…)

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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!

Brie and Beef Puff Pastry with Mango BBQ Sauce

I recently watched a video on how to make puff pastry. Did you know that there are 729 layers of dough and butter in puff pastry? Makes you respect it a little bit more, right? Let’s begin with layer 1! Just kidding. As much as I would love to make my own puff pastry and as much as I know I will when I get all of the free time in the world someday, let’s take a moment of gratitude for store bought puff pastry. Did you also know you can make the easiest but most impressive desserts and apps just by using puff pastry? It really is a lifesaver. Go out and buy yourself some. (more…)

This puff pastry snack is hearty and elegant all at the same time. It’s easy finger food with barbecue sauce. Make a pot roast or beef brisket for dinner the night before and use the leftover meat for this. Or you could use a good deli roast beef. Or you could cook a small pot roast, shred it, and use it just for this. The beef is rich, the brie is creamy, the puff pastry flaky, the barbecue sauce is tangy. Not much more needs to be said.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: puff pastry, egg, mango chutney, garlic, brie, shredded beef, worchestire, soy sauce, fresh thyme, and ketchup.

We first make our mango barbcue sauce. Let that baby simmer.

Our puff pastry dough is rolled out to become thinner. I need to tell you something. I don’t own a rolling pin. I own an empty Prosecco bottle with a sweet Christmas design on it. That bottle has rolled out many a pie dough just fine. Plus, it gives you an excuse to drink a bottle of wine…with friends, of course!

We top the pastry with sauce, beef, and brie. Notice the imperfect edges. I left them just like that and you should to. No one judges appearance when it’s puff pastry in front of you. When it bakes up, it looks less imperfect. Just trying to keep it easy peasy for ya.

The top sheet of puff pastry is placed on top and is given the egg wash treatment. Cut a few slits in the dough for steam to release.

It bakes up nice and brown. Look at that beauty. We cut this up into squares for serving. Oh, and don’t forget to pour the rest of the sauce in a bowl for dipping!

Wanna take a look inside? Perfection. I hope you try this and even make your own version. Happy snack making!

Canadian Cheddar Poutine with a Red Wine Reduction

I know you. You probably don’t think so but I do and I know why you’re here. You saw the word “poutine” in the title of this recipe and you were curious. I’ll just cut to the chase: poutine is a Canadian dish usually involving fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Now, I have never actually been to Canada so I can’t vouch for authentic poutine from the natives. Does a trip to Disney World’s Epcot count? When Chris and I went there for our anniversary last year, we ate at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse in Epcot. They had different poutine combos like lobster and butter poutine, a BBQ pork poutine, and this gloriousness of canadian cheddar, truffles, and a thick red wine reduction. We ordered two poutines BEFORE our steaks came out! We know how to party. (more…)

You probably are aware football season is upon us and before you jump up and down for chili cheese fries (you might see them here, you might not), hear me out. I think your friends would be thrilled to eat these fries on any given day. Plus, these require much less work than chili cheese fries so there’s that!

Our fancy ingredient line up:

From Left to Right: Frozen fries (I used shoe string but choose what you like!), Truffle cheddar, red wine, shallots, Canadian cheddar, and rosemary.

We start with our red wine reduction, as our fries are baking in the oven (healthy choices here!). You can obviously make your own fries from scratch if you aren’t lazy like me. Look at that rosemary making googly eyes at you. Let it simmer until it’s thick and drizzle worthy.

Once the fries are cooked, sprinkle on your cheeses. You could also use an English cheddar or even an Irish cheddar if you can’t find Canadian cheddar. Heck, you could use white cheddar really. Cheese on fries equals bliss. That’s an old adage.

Broil the cheese fries until cheese has melted then drizzle the red wine reduction. Serve these hot, right in the sheet pan! If you are feeling fancy, eat ’em with a fork. Otherwise, take those clean paws of yours and dig in! My sister-in-law, Lauren, and I went to town so we could expertly report to you how these turned out. See the kind of sacrifices I’m willing to make for you?

These were cheesy with a herb sweetness from the reduction. The truffle and Canadian cheddar were key and really made this savory and hearty. Give ’em a try! Happy poutine 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!

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