Strawberry Tiramisu

A perfect summer dessert treat!  So fresh-tasting and delicious.  The recipe is straight from Giada – and I’ve been making it for years.  You can check out the full recipe at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Strawberry-Tiramisu-234447.  You won’t be disappointed!

Strawberry Tiramisu

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Pollo Pesto Pastry Puffs

Elegant, delicious, and oh so good!  Puffed Pastry can make most anything extra special, and the chicken, cheese, and a few extras wrapped up in this little package of deliciousness are no exception!

Pollo Pesto Pastry Puffs

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I’ll tell you how I made this dish, but what you put inside is entirely up to you!  Start by taking the frozen puffed pastry out of the freezer to defrost (according to package directions).  Prepare the chicken:  Flatten or filet a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut into “tender” size pieces.  Season with kosher salt and pepper and lightly fry on the stove top in 2 TBSP olive oil – about 2-3 minutes per side, until just done!  While the chicken rests, lightly flour each pastry square, roll out a bit in each direction to make larger square, and cut each diagonally-making 4 triangles.  Spread 2 TBSP softened mascarpone (or cream cheese) in the center of each triange, 1 tsp pesto, a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or other shredded cheese), and a several julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes around the center of the triangle. Place one large or two small cooked chicken breast pieces to fit on top of the cheese and pesto, top the chicken with a strip of cooked bacon, then fold up the pastry dough around the chicken.  Use an egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 TBSP water) on each of the “packages” and bake on parchment paper at 425F for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to rest for a few minutes before digging in!  Beautiful presentation and oh so good!

The “packages” freeze very nicely.  Place them in a freezer bag after wrapping, but before the egg wash stage.  Once defrosted, wash with egg and then bake according to directions above.  Take them out of the freezer on the way out the door, and dinner will be ready in no time once you’re home!


Summer Pasta – (Almost) No Cooking!

This recipe is all Ina (except for the addition of some feta cheese), and naturally it’s easy, fresh, and delicious!  It’s Ina’s Summer Garden Pasta.  You can check out the complete recipe on the Food Network website, and the best part on a hot summer day – no cooking (except to boil the pasta water)!

I started with a pint of mixed cherry tomatoes (halved) in a large bowl, 1/4 cup olive oil, about 10 basil leaves (chopped), a pinch of salt, a pinch of red hot chili flakes, and some fresh ground black pepper.  Mix all that up and cover at room temperature for about 3 hours or so, and you’ve got the easiest and freshest pasta sauce!

Summer Pasta

Cook any kind of pasta you’d like in boiling salted water.  (Angel Hair is nice and light and only takes 3 minutes to cook.)  When pasta is ready, drain and toss together with the fresh tomato sauce.  Add in a large handful of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and an equally large handful of Feta cheese, cubed.  Mix all that up and serve topped with a little more fresh basil and/or Italian parsley.  (As with any recipe, adjust the seasoning to your liking!)  Enjoy!


Mashed Potato Pancakes

Left over mashed potatoes?  Are they doomed to a life of being reheated in the microwave or thrown in the trash after a week or two?  No need!  You can turn yesterday’s mashed potatoes into tomorrow’s tasty side dish!

Potato Pancakes

The amount of potatoes you have left over will dictate the recipe, but here’s the recipe I used for small container (20 oz.) full.  You can adjust the recipe up or down accordingly, and remember, the potatoes were already well seasoned the first time they made an appearance!

Mix together (with a fork) the potatoes, one egg, about ¼ cup (small handful) grated Parmesan cheese, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt.   (The potatoes I used had already been mixed with some chopped chives, so feel free to add herbs/seasoning, as you like.)
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a skillet – be generous) over medium heat.  Form the potato mixture into small patties; press them on both sides in Panko breadcrumbs, and sauté (fry) until golden brown on both sides!  (I prepared the pancakes an hour or so before cooking and popped them in the refrigerator, seaparated by wax paper, and that helped them firm up/chill nicely.)  As you make them, you can keep them warm on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven at 225F.  Enjoy with a dab of sour cream (and a shot of hot sauce, to make them even more special)!


July 4th = Ribs!!!

Nothing says the 4th of July (to me, anyway) like (baby back pork) ribs!  You can ask 100 people how they make the perfect ribs and you’ll get 100 different answers.  I’ve tried a variety of recipes over time, but my favorite is not only the easiest, it’s also the most fool-proof and delicious!  Warning:  What you’re about to read will make a true grilling professional shudder, but trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

Baby Back Pork Ribs!

This recipe came to me after several attempts at making ribs that were just ‘okay’.  I’d tried grilling low and slow, I’d tried boiling then grilling, baking then grilling – all with marginal success, but nothing that made me say, OMG, until my latest method!  It couldn’t be easier:  Baby back pork ribs, coated with a dry rub (recipe follows) in a baking dish (13×9) covered tightly with aluminum foil, in a 375F oven for one hour – then remove foil and continue cooking for 10 more minutes to get them crisp and golden brown.  (I increase the temp to 400F for the last uncovered 10 minutes.)  Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes lightly covered with foil.  (If using the same cooking foil, turn it over to avoid cross-contamination.)

The dry rub I use is from an Emeril recipe for Baked Jalapeno Poppers (look for that post to come sometime soon),  Essence of Emeril.  I made the Essence and only used it for the poppers, but then I thought about using it in/on a variety of dishes – and it adds a great kick (or BAM, I guess)!  I’ve used it on salmon, in the coating for chicken tenders, and it’s a must for my ribs!  Here’s the recipe that I double and keep on hand in an air-tight container:

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
* 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
* 2 tablespoons salt
* 2 tablespoons garlic powder
* 1-tablespoon black pepper
* 1-tablespoon onion powder
* 1-tablespoon cayenne pepper
* 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
* 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.