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Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

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The other day I was watching Bobby Flay’s Brunch show and it was the day prior to Valentine’s Day. The whole morning line up was devoted to chocolate. Bobby created a puff pastry stuffed with Nutella and Chocolate. It comes together super fast and easy but tastes as if it was created by a Chocolatier. I made it for Valentine’s Day morning and was a little embarrassed because it was so simple but my wife thought it was the best thing ever.

You get the crusty outside with oozing warm chocolate with each bite. Pair it with a glass of cold milk or cup of coffee and you have a great start to your morning.

I must say the puff pastry game is pretty strong. They have really great quality dough and makes using it as a savory or sweet pocket of love super accessible. So when you are thinking of a sandwich, pie, pizza, hot pocket try a puff pastry every once in a while to change it up.

Ingredients:
I am not going to give measurements because you can use as much or as little as you like based upon your palate. For mine I didn’t use much filling but for Jill’s I packed it pretty full.

Store Bought Puff Pastry
Nutella
High Quality Chocolate Chips
Vanilla extract
Egg (egg wash)
Powdered Sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Thaw and unroll your puff pastry. Cut them into whatever shape you want (square, rectangle, dumpling, triangle)
2. In a glass mixing bowl add Nutella, Chocolate Chips and Vanilla and warm it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it spreadable.
3. Beat an egg and wash the edges to help the dough stick. Fill the pastry and enclose it in dough and crimp the edges to make the two sides become “one”. Wash the top and cook in a pre-heated oven according to the package or until browned.
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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

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The other night I needed a quick dinner so went to the fridge and freezer and decided on whipping up gnocchi dish and wanted to go on the creamy side with the sauce over tomato based. I took a ham steak that I had on deck for breakfast and diced it up. For the sauce, I had some Parmesan cheese and Basil Pesto so I had the salty and savory covered and thought by using peas to pop it with some sweetness.

It turned out as a great and rich dish that satisfies on a cold winter night. You could treat this as a soup/stew and pair it with a sandwich or even as a side that could replace elevate a mac and cheese type side.

I do apologize that I have been lazy with my photos. I have two or three more posts that you will have to suffer through and then I will take a little more time to make them more representative of how they taste.

Ingredients:
Trader Joe’s package of gnocchi
1 ham steak (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 tbs of Basil Pesto
1 cup of milk
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour
1 cup of fine grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup of frozen peas

Directions:
1. I started off by dicing my ham steak and putting it in a pot on medium low heat. At the same time that is cooking get another pot boiling for you gnocchi.

2. When the ham takes on some color I added the flour and butter to make a small rue. When the flour turned light brown took the heat down to low and added the garlic and pesto. Cooked it for about a minute to remove some of the bite from the garlic. Then slowly added the milk. IMG_0912

3. Keep some of the pasta water to thin your sauce if it happens to be too thick. Add the gnocchi, peas and grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir it up until everything is coated. I put a dollop of the basil pesto to finish it off. IMG_0920

Pressure Cooked BBQ Pork Ribs

BBQ Pork Ribs

  • Servings: 2-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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BBQ Pork Ribs
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Sadly I must confess that I have never made BBQ ribs. Texans love their BBQ and TexMex food but BBQ done right requires smoke and time. I saw a Diners Drive-In’s and Dives where a guy was boiling his ribs prior to grilling them. This unorthodox method raised several eye brows on the show and likely at home. Well I bought this new pressure cooker called Fagor from Sur la Table. I am in love with this thing. It’s the best $100 dollars I have spent in a long while.

So the other day I thought hey I could pull this off in record time using my Fagor. I pressure cooked them 30 minutes and then removed them and finished them off in the oven at 200 degrees. I took the sauce from the pressure cooker and reduced it in a sauce pan and painted a coat on the ribs about every 20 minutes. It creates a nice BBQ crust and burnt end type nuggets of BBQ love.

Ingredients:
1 Rack of St.Louis Pork Ribs
2.5 cups of BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup of molasses
1/4 Apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water
2 tbs of Soy Sauce
1 tbs of Liquid Smoke
1 tbs of yellow mustard
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 tsp of Onion Powder

Directions:
1. Trim your ribs of any excess fat. I cut them into two pieces to fit them into my pressure cooker.
Mix together all the sauce ingredients and add everything to the pressure cooker. I cooked them for 33 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Upon completion of the pressure cooked ribs remove them and put them on a foil lined sheet pan, meat side up. Baste with sauce every 20 minutes.

3. Take your sauce and put it into a sauce pan and let it simmer. They are basically done prior to putting them into the oven so you are just going to create a nice crust on them.

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Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Goat Cheese Turkey Baked Ziti
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The request for a pasta dish came in from my better half. Somewhere along the way we started adding a little goat cheese to our spaghetti sauce to give it a little tang. We have a friend that describes the taste of goat cheese as “wet fur”. If you share a disdain for goat cheese you can omit it. I guess we like the taste of wet fur… who knew?

So instead of spaghetti I settled on a baked ziti. What’s cool is I found this penne pasta that was gluten free. It held together nicely and frankly I couldn’t tell the difference. In fact, Jill claimed that it was the best baked ziti dishes that she has ever eaten and when I told her it was GF she was shocked. I think what really made this dish shine was the combination of the goat cheese in the sauce and then the blistered smoked mozzarella (Trader Joes) on the top.

The ground turkey really crumbles well so it blends into the sauce perfectly. One cheat I often do when in a rush is to use jarred sauce and then add to it. I used Rao’s for this one and added some garlic slices, parm, goat cheese, tomato paste, red wine and some basil.

Ingredients:
1 package of ground turkey (you could sub beef, pork, chicken, sausage)
1 package of Penne pasta (I used gluten free)
1 jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce
4 cloves of sliced garlic
1 shallot diced
2-3 tbs of tomato paste
1/4 cup of goat cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Fresh smoked mozzarella (sliced or pinched on top)
1/2 cup of red wine
Basil (fresh or dried) (optional)

Directions:
Prep: Get a boiling pot of water for your pasta, dice your garlic and shallot and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. While you wait on your water to boil take a large pot and add your ground turkey. Oil if you need it. I always use medium heat. Once your meat is browned I added the shallot and sweated it out for 3-4 minutes. I then added the garlic slices (you can mince if you prefer) and let them soften for about 1 minute.

2. Now add wine, sauce, basil and tomato paste and bring it to a simmer. Depending upon your pasta and boiling water you can let this simmer until the pasta is done. Drain and strain and set aside. IMG_0873

3. Turn the heat off and add the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined. If it’s too thick you can add a little water (pasta water if you saved any). Now add the cooked pasta and stir well until everything is well coated.

4. Pour this into a baking dish and top with the smoked mozzarella. On your lowest oven rack or at least in the middle put your dish into the oven but crank it on broil. When cheese is blistered remove and serve.
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Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites

Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites

  • Servings: 14
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites
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I have made chicken and waffles before in various forms. My favorite waffle batter contains three ingredients that separate it… cornmeal, jalapenos and extra sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese in the batter caramelizes into that perfect chewy crunchy bite that we all love in casserole edges or pizza edges. Looks slightly burnt but doesn’t taste like it.

The idea of these is to have one bite that contains a chicken nugget shrouded in a waffle coat. Now you could do these by covering the nugget in batter and dropping them into a typical waffle iron and they will turn out like flat blobs. Tasty blobs but you may struggle with uniformity. I found this waffle iron pan online that shapes them into walnuts. Now it isn’t an electric waffle iron but rather a plan you place on the stove or fire. This worked well for me and made perfect little bites that you could drizzle maple syrup or a special sauce over them. Link to waffle maker Walnut Waffle Maker

For the chicken nuggets… I saved myself some time and just bought them from Chick-Fil-A. I mean how can I compete with their chicken anyway. I swear if I could own one franchise it would be a Chick-Fil-A. Cars are lined up at everyone I pass anytime of the day. I digress. Below is the waffle batter I used.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 AP Flour
3/4 Cornmeal (yellow)
4 tsp of baking powder
2 tbs of White Sugar
2 tsp of Kosher Salt
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Buttermilk
5 tsp of melted non salted butter
2 splashes of Tabasco Sauce
2 cups of cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of diced jarred pickled jalapenos (I added an extra 2 tbs because I like the heat)

Directions:
1. About four hours before you serve them go buy your Chick-Fil-A nuggets. You can use another brand or even pick up some frozen in the store or search for a recipe and make your own.

2. Whip up your batter by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Set it fridge to set up for about 30 minutes.

3. Since I had my walnut waffle maker thing I coated the nuggets in the batter and dropped them into each walnut. I heated it over medium heat and cooked them about 3 minutes on each side. I turned the oven on 150 degrees and worked in batches dropping the cooked nuggets on a wire rack and popped them in the oven to keep warm.

I served them with maple syrup and made a mayo maple Dijon dipping sauce.

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bites

  • Difficulty: easy
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Bacon Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bites
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Jill had a party the other night and asked me to make some cocktail appetizers. I made some blue cheese filled dates topped with spicy pecans, pimento cheese atop of cheddar biscuit and then jalapeno popper bites. Now I failed to take a picture of them so I used a pic of my pimento cheese recipe as a stunt double to give you an idea of how they look. So instead of seeing the red pepper you would see bacon. When making stuff for parties I always forget to photograph my food and when I remember I feel stupid snapping photos when people are around.

So apparently these were a hit and Jill has been on me to post the recipe as people were asking about it. If you have seen those grilled jalapeno poppers that are filled with cream and cheddar cheese with bacon wrapped around the stuffed jalapeno this is basically the same thing but made as a one bite appetizer served on a Ritz cracker.

Ingredients:
Ritz Crackers
Candied Jalapenos http://woodys-smokehouse.com/product/sweet-fire/
3 Jalapenos diced (seeds and ribs removed)
1 package of cream cheese
2 cups of fresh shredded cheddar cheese
6 strips of roasted bacon
2 shots of Worcestershire Sauce
3-6 slugs of Tabasco

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Layout your bacon on a wire rack and roast until crispy which will be about 40-50 minutes. Cool and then dice up.

2. In a mixer add your cheeses, diced jalapenos, Worcestershire and Tabasco with a half of the bacon bits.

3. Roll the cheese mixture into balls. The size should fit onto a Ritz cracker with room around the edges. Now roll a strip of the ball in the bacon so that it shows on the outside. My pic doesn’t show it because that is Pimento Cheese. Top with a candied Jalapeno. If you don’t fine them in your store/market I posted a link above to a place where I get mine. It’s a roadside joint in Madisonville, Texas called Woody’s Smokehouse.

New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans

New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans
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I am a sucker for collard and mustard greens. If I see them on any menu they will be ordered. To me the best greens are cooked to death and super tender with zero give or tooth to them. I also like them mostly savory and salty with a touch of acid. I am not a fan of drowning them in vinegar pepper sauce.

For Christmas I was in charge of cooking a Thanksgiving like menu given some of our family didn’t get to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving. I cooked a spatchcocked turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and needed a green. I have been doing a lot of Brussels sprouts lately and they are great but my Mom lives about 30 minutes away and by the time I get over there they change their texture so I decided to depart and try something else. I landed on Collard Greens. I figured we are so close to New Years that I would do an extra lucky side that combined collards and black eyed peas. Only my Mom and I are avid collard fans but everyone raved about them.

The trick here in my opinion is cooking them to death. Drop them in a slow cooker and walk away for 3-4 hours. Depending upon your palate you can adjust the acid vs salt but here is how I made mine.

Ingredients:
6 bunches of collard greens
4 carrots (diced)
1 onion (diced)
1-2 cans of black eyed peas
3 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 ham steak (diced)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 tbs of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
1. Dice your carrots and onion. Remove the spine from your greens and then lay them on top of each other and chop them into ribbons like you would do to make tortilla strips.

2. Put everything in a slow cooker and turn on high for 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust your seasoning. Tabasco is great on them but not for a crowd.