Everything Old is New Again!

Too many holiday leftovers?  Have you sworn you’ve eaten them for the last time?  Get creative and turn them into something new – with half the work already done for you!  Here are a couple of tasty treats I made after a 3-day food fest over Christmas weekend!

Chicken Pot Pie made with leftover chicken – 3 ways, a half bag of leftover fresh spinach leaves, a big bunch of carrots, some roasted potatoes, and a few other veggies (both cooked and uncooked) that rounded out the list of repurposed leftovers!

Picture of Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

I also had an extra pound (ball) of dough from a couple of pizza rolls I made over the Christmas weekend, so I decided to make a pizza with whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  I make my own pizzas at home all the time, but this was a first with only leftover ingredients I could find in the refrigerator.  I knew I had a little leftover red sauce and some mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on hand, but I wasn’t sure what else.  I served some delicious hard salami earlier in the week, so whatever I had left of that went on the pizza.  After a little more searching, I came across a container of spinach artichoke dip that I prepared a few nights earlier – and that became the perfect (last) topping before popping it in the oven.

Picture of fresh baked pizza

‘Anything Goes’ Pizza

I hope you all enjoyed this holiday season in whatever way you celebrate – and I hope it was filled with good food and fun!  Here’s to a delicious 2017!

Buon Appetito!

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Carnitas Hash!

Leftover pork roast from Easter?  Chopped up and waiting patiently in the freezer for an encore performance?  Today’s your day!  Carnitas Hash.

Picture of hash made from pork, potatoes, and spinach topped with fried eggs

Carnitas Hash and over-easy eggs!

What I love about making hash is that whatever you have on hand makes a great addition to your creation.  Today – leftover shredded/chopped pork (about 1.5 cups??), thinly sliced red  potatoes, and some frozen spinach!  I started with 3 medium red-skin potatoes.  Washed, dried, and cut into semi-thin half rounds.  Into a hot skillet with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss periodically to cook evenly.  When the potatoes start to brown on the edges, add in about 1/2 shallot finely chopped.  Cook for a few more minutes, tossing as the cooking continues, then add in the pre-cooked pork and about a cup of defrosted/drained frozen spinach.  Continue tossing, adding a drizzle more of olive oil as you go, continuing to sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper – all until your crispy delicious creation is to your liking!   You’ll notice no exact directions here – just add ingredients proportionally to your liking, and the key (to me) is tossing over med/high heat until everything is golden brown and you can’t wait any longer to eat it!  (I also add a few generous dashes of #respectthepepper for some added heat!)  Top with a couple of eggs of your choice – and you’ve got breakfast, brunch, or an anytime go-to delicious meal!  Enjoy.


Savory Tart – Ricotta and Carrot

This recipe (with slight revisions/omissions) came straight from April 2015 Bon Appetit magazine – Carrot and Ricotta Tart!

Carrot_Ricotta_Tart

Carrot_Ricotta_Tart

Start by washing and peeling 3-4 large carrots, then slice each carrot into thin coins.  Peel and thinly slice 2 large shallots (which I used instead of onion.)  Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallot (with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper) until lightly browned (about 5 minutes) then add the carrots and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, then set aside.

Defrost/thaw one sheet frozen Puff Pastry, lightly roll out on parchment paper (just to seal the creases,) and score a one-inch border around the pastry shell.  Transfer parchment paper to baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400F until puffy and light golden brown.  Meanwhile, whisk a 15-oz container of Ricotta Cheese with 1/2 cup Heavy Cream.  When tart comes out of the oven, spread the ricotta cheese mixture onto the tart, inside the one-inch border.  Then top with the carrot/shallot mixture – and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until pastry shell is a deep golden brown.  (Carrots will also be cooked through at this point.)  When the tart comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh chopped chives, and additional (Kosher or Sea) salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cool, cut, and serve!  (Note:  You end up with a thick layer of ricotta mixture on this tart.  If you prefer a thinner layer, you might be able to stretch these same ingredients into two pastry tarts.)

This served as an interesting, creative, and delicious start to our friend Christine’s birthday dinner!  Buon Appetito!


Sunday Prep Kitchen (and an Easter menu idea!)

Sunday was one of my typical days of prepping all that I brought home from shopping on Saturday, in less than 2 hours!   I didn’t set out for anything in particular as I went shopping, but found many great buys that will make their way to our dinner plates throughout the week ahead.

Sunday Prep

Sunday Prep

I couldn’t walk past 98 cent eggplant or asparagus at 98 cents per pound.  Whenever I find eggplant on sale, I typically make Eggplant Parmesan, but having a tray already in the freezer, I thought about a grilled vegetable pizza and knew I’d be stopping off at the Italian import store for some peppery panceetta and pizza dough.  As I continued my way around the store, the fennel flashed me back to a delicious Italian sausage and fennel sandwich I had a couple of weeks ago on crusty Italian bread.  My mouth literally started watering, so in the cart went the fennel as I headed for the sausage aisle.  Some of the best meals happen when you have no set plan in place!

As I was in the midst of prepping, cooking, and storing, I came across the leftover mashed potatoes from a few nights ago – and they quickly became my go-to potato pancakes.  That was Sunday – and we’ll be sinking our teeth into delicious meals all week long!

What are you having for Easter dinner?  I’ve made a ham for every Easter I can remember, and I just don’t feel like a ham this year.  I started thinking about what to have, and although I’m still thinking, I might use that grilled eggplant in a vegetable lasagna (grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, and spinach, topped with goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella.)  I’m thinking of grilling some chicken basil sausage on the side (for a little Easter je ne sais quoi,) make some garlic bread, a salad – and we’ve got Easter dinner.

Whatever you’re having, you’ll want to make the most delicious Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake for dessert!

Lemon Blueberry CakeI made this for our friend Christine’s birthday on Friday night – and it’s the perfect spring/Easter dessert.  You won’t be disappointed.  Mike came across this recipe a week or so ago (Sally’s Baking Addiction website,) and I’ll be making it again real soon.

Here’s wishing you a week filled with good food and happiness!  Buon appetito!


International Bacon Day – Who knew???

Did you know August 31 is International Bacon Day?  It took me by (PLEASANT) surprise!  To all of my vegetarian and/or non bacon-loving followers, thanks for allowing me to indulge!  I came home on Saturday (August 31) afternoon to find a bowl of jalapenos on the counter, the last of our container crop this year.  I had a little of the cream cheese filling left for some of them (to make more poppers [previous post],) but not enough for all of them.  What to do????

As I pondered what to do with the rest of the jalapenos, Mike asked if I knew it was International Bacon Day.  That triggered some bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with leftover Spinach-Quinoa [previous post.]  (I had added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to this batch of Spinach-Quinoa for a little something extra.)  And there you have it!

Bacon-Jalapeno

Carefully cut the end off each jalapeno.  With a sharp pairing knife, hollow out the inside of each pepper.  Stuff with quinoa mixture, wrap an entire piece of bacon around all sides, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, bake in a 375-400F oven until crispy and caramelized.  (25-30 minutes ???)  As the bacon cooks, it seals itself around the pepper.  You’ll know when they’re ready.  Let them rest for a few minutes – then enjoy!  Mmmm….. BACON!


Baked Jalapeno Poppers – Emeril

I’ve been making these Baked Jalapeno Poppers for so long, I was sure they were already on this blog.  After being asked for the recipe (thanks, Lynne,) I realized it wasn’t there.  Here you go.  This recipe is right off the Food Network website, compliments of Emeril Lagasse (with a few tips of my own written below.)  He’s not my go-to chef for inspiration or ideas, but this one’s a winner – enjoy!

The following picture is of the prepared poppers before baking.  Since I had about 36 jalapenos, I tripled the recipe.  (It’s a bit labor intensive, so if you’re going to go for it, make it worth your time.)  My (hopefully helpful) tips follow the picture and recipe.

Image(I see a few words got cut off the recipe:  spread “1” tablespoon of cream cheese mixture in each half jalapeno, place poppers “cut” side up on baking sheet, and the sugar content is 1 gm.)Image

After filling about 1/3 of the jalapenos with cream cheese mixture, place them on a tray and pop them in the freezer for a few minutes.  This will help them stay firm while you’re tossing them through flour, egg, and bread crumb mixtures.  (As one bunch is in the freezer, you can start filling another bunch – then switch out and move on.)

Once prepared, I freeze them in bags of about 10 each – the perfect amount for 2 (or 3) people to enjoy as an appetizer.  Before baking, drizzle a little bit of olive oil on each – very little.  Just helps with the extra crispy factor.  (After all, isn’t always about the crunch?)  Naturally, you can skip the “drizzle” if you want.

Finally, I make the “Essence” on a regular basis and keep it on hand to add to a variety of breaded foods.  When making, do yourself another favor by doubling or tripling the recipe.  Store in an airtight container (I use a glass mason jar) and you’ll find many uses for it.

Until next time, Buon Appetito!


Ready, Set, Grill…..Pizza!

Who doesn’t love pizza?  It’s even more fun (and delicious) when you design your own pizza!  Tonight we had “personalized” pizzas on the grill!  If you haven’t tried grilling pizza yet, don’t wait any longer.  It’s easy and the result is a fresh tasting pizza with a toasty grilled flavor!  Delicious!  I put together an assortment of topping choices:  Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, of course, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, sliced tomatoes, pizza sauce, prosciutto, pepperoni, and arugula.

I used a couple of pounds of dough that I purchased from an Italian deli (Mona Lisa – San Diego) or you can make your own.  I rolled each pound out into a 3 small pizzas and let them “rest and rise” on a floured baking sheet.  Mix up some olive oil, chopped garlic, and black pepper and lightly brush each pizza round.  Place them oil side down on a hot grill – then lower the heat to medium.  After a few minutes, flip the pizzas over and top with whatever makes you happy.  A few minutes later, you’ve got fresh grilled pizza!  Buon Appetito!

Pizza Toppings

Grillin' Pizza

Fresh Grilled and Ready to Eat!