Tag Archives: Party

Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print

Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

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.

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
High Quality Chocolate Chips
Vanilla extract
Egg (egg wash)
Powdered Sugar (optional)

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.

Ultimate Ham Panini

Ultimate Ham Panini

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ultimate Ham Panini

If you use pintrest and typed in sandwich in the search engine you likely have seen those baked Hawaiian roll ham sandwiches / sliders with that sweet mustard poppy glaze. They take those sweet King Hawaiian Rolls, cut them in half, pile on ham and swiss cheese, add the tops and then slather the top with a mixture of butter, brown sugar and mustard, onion powder and poppy seeds then bake until the cheese melts.

Those sandwiches or sliders look really good and would be great for a casual party or as some people state “funeral sandwiches”. You get the idea, small hand food that should satisfy most palates.

Given that it’s just the two of us and I actually wanted a more “toothy” bread, I decided to switch up a bit. I did this by creating a similar “sauce” and then added my ham into it until fully coated. Also I wanted to add some tomatoes and avocado. I used swiss and cheddar and added a little crisp bacon for texture.

Sliced Sourdough Bread
Deli ham
Swiss cheese
Cheddar cheese
Dukes Mayo
Sliced and dried tomatoes
Sliced avocado
Crispy Bacon

2 tbs of butter
1 tbs of brown sugar
1 tbs of dijon mustard
2 tsp of grainy mustard
splash of Worcestershire
2 tsp of onion powder


1. Prep.. microwave your bacon until crispy, slice your tomato, avocado, cheese and bread.

2. In a saucepan on medium low heat add your sauce ingredients and let it melt and meld. Then add the ham to that pot and move the ham around until it become fully coated and hot. IMG_0766

3. I assembled my sandwich by putting a little Dukes May on both sides. Then add swiss to one side and cheddar to the other. Add your ham, tomato, avocado and bacon and then heat them up. Don’t forget to lightly butter both sides of the outside of the bread to get a nice brown crunchy exterior. I have a panini maker if you don’t you can use a cast iron skillet and brown on both sides.

Asparagus Spinach Feta Quiche

Asparagus Spinach Feta Quiche

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Asparagus Spinach Feta Quiche
For Easter morning I wanted to make a quiche. I figured it would be a two meal day and the quiche would satisfy us for several hours. Also because I am making a ham I have several ham dishes lined up so I wanted to go more veggie with this quiche.

You can really use any veggies or fruits you like but just try to control the moisture content. Asparagus and Spinach were my choice. I also like using Feta or Goat cheese in my quiche. Feta holds up nicely where goat cheese will most likely melt more.

What happens is that the egg will sink to the bottom the veggies will be the middle layer and the Feta will rise to the top. So each bite will change unless you get all three layers. Some will be more salty, others more pie crusty, eggy, vegtabley. (not words, I know)

This recipe was adapted by Two Peas & Their Pod.
Pie crust (used store bought 9″)
5 Eggs
1/2 cup of diced Asparagus
1/2-3/4 cup of spinach
5 green onions (diced)
3/4 cup of Feta cheese
1/4 cup of Mozzarella
1 cup of milk

1. If you are using a store bought pie crust follow the instructions. You know prick with a fork and bake it for 12 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
2. In a skillet first cook your spinach alone. Let it wilt completely. Remove and put into a towel or paper towels. Squeeze out all the moisture you can. Now to that skillet add the white and light green parts of the green onion with asparagus and the cooked spinach. Dice that spinach before putting it back into the skillet.
3. Whisk your eggs in a large bowl with the milk. Salt and Pepper (be careful because the feta is salty) Combine in the cheeses. IMG_9801

4. To assemble you take the baked pie crust and add the veggies along with the green onion parts now. Pour the egg, milk and cheese mixture atop the veggies. Place into a 375 degree oven uncovered. If you prefer non browned you can use foil the first 20 minutes and then remove. You want some of the moisture to dissipate.
It will be puffy looking when you remove it from the oven. Let it rest for 10 minutes and it should settle.

Houston’s Spinach & Artichoke Dip (copycat)

Houston's Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 4-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Houston’s Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Given that I attempted to replicate Houston’s Club Sandwich, I thought I might go ahead and try their Spinach Artichoke dip too. They serve their dip with sides of sour cream and salsa along with a warm bowl of tortilla chips. When sharing with friends there is a always a little chip / dip panic to make sure you get your fair share. When it’s just the two of us, I can relax a little. To avoid all of that scarcity panic, I made two smaller bowls so each of us had our own bowl with ample chips.

The only thing I can think of that Houston’s does differently than any other S&A dip is the tortilla chips and the salsa. It’s such a tasty dip that is creamy and savory. The salsa adds a punch of acid and heat that works great together.

Lastly, The fact that you have spinach and artichokes in the title, also helps make you feel a little less guilty.

2 boxes of frozen spinach
12 oz of jarred artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbs of minced/grated onion (yellow or white)
2 tsp of lemon juice
2 tsp of Tabasco (optional)
1/4 cup of Cream
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of AP flour
2 cups of sour cream
splash of chicken broth to loosen it up
1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
White Cheddar cheese (grated for the top)

Tortilla chips
Sour Cream

1. Start by making a simple roux. Melt your butter in a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Add your onion and garlic and cook until softened (5 minutes). Whisk in the flour and stir for about 1-2 minutes.

2. If your cream isn’t room temperature microwave it for 20 seconds until it’s tepid or even warm. Whisk it into the roux and stir until thickens and is boiling or simmering. Now stir in the lemon juice, chicken broth, Tabasco and Parmesan cheese until melted. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. Stir in the sour cream followed by folding in the artichokes and spinach. Taste it and salt and pepper accordingly. If you like it hotter amp up your Tabasco.

4. Pour into a oven safe ramekin and top it with the fresh grated white cheddar cheese. Put it in the middle rack of your oven on broil until the cheddar starts to brown. Be careful with your ramekin because it will be hot.
Serve along side bowls of sour cream and your favorite salsa. Use a sturdy tortilla chip for dipping.

Lemon Drop Cocktail

Lemon Drop Cocktail
These pics are bad because I was in a rush.

One of our local haunts serves a mean lemon drop which Jill enjoys. So while at “the store” I saw this fancy looking Vodka called Infuse Vodka that has bits of whatever the flavor is supposed to be. So I see the spiraled lemon peel suspended inside the dramatic bottle and I plucked one and stuck it in my basket. It’s been sitting in the freezer for a while but I saw it and thought I wanted to try it. A Lemon Drop seemed like an easy choice.

This is a bright and summery cocktail. I will tell you it is a dangerous one because it drinks like a lemonade. It’s like the alcohol is wearing a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. This mix is right in the middle of tart and sweet so if you want to go tart, pump up the lemon juice and if you want to go more sweet pump up the simple syrup.

2 oz Infuse Vodka Lemon
.5 oz Triple sec
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice

Make your simple syrup by putting equal parts sugar and water in a small pot on medium low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove and let cool. I poured mine into a measuring cup and put it in the freezer to speed up the process.

Put everything in a shaker and give it 40 shakes or until you can’t hold it any longer due to frost bite. Jill is adamant on a sugar rim so for hers I run a lemon on the edge and then dip the wet rim into sugar.

Cherryman Cran Cocktail

Cherryman Cran Cocktail

Cherry and Cranberry just sounded good this evening. We had ham and leek empanadas with a fig, blue cheese, walnut salad. We were thinking the zing would nicely cut through it all and keep pace with the fig and vinegar from the salad. I had this small bottle of Cranberry concentrate that is the equivalent to tomato paste vs a can of crushed tomatoes. Just a little adds a really beautiful punch. I stirred in a natural Maraschino Cherry (not the florescent red ones…. but they have their place)

This turned out so great. I think using Rum and Vodka was a good call. Also we used Ginger Ale to add some fizz and a little zing of ginger. The color is also captivating…as long as it stays in the glass and not your carpet or couch. I was thinking it would be a good looking party cocktail but on second thought the stain factor would be high. So you judge for yourself if your friends and family are capable of avoiding spills.

3 oz of Rum
3 oz of freezer stored Titos Vodka
Ginger Ale
R.W Knudsen Cranberry Concentrate
Cherryman Farm to Table Maraschino Cheeries www.cherryman.com

Muddle the cherry and then add Rum vodka and a shot of Cranberry concentrate and top with ginger ale.



Cabernet Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Cabernet Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Parmesan Polenta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Cabernet Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Parmesan Polenta

I don’t ever recall having short ribs…ever. I am embarrassed to admit it but when at a restaurant and I want meat I always lean towards Filet Mignon. Ive looked at them in their package and thought “whats the big deal and where is the meat?” However people tend to rave about them. Lately in fact, I am either hearing more people liking them or just noticing them.

So I decided this week I would give them a try. Monday night we went to a dinner party for some of Jill’s friends from work. The hostesses husband served… short ribs. Perfect timing because I was planning to make them in two days from the party and I could give them a test run to see if I actually wanted to make them. They were fantastic and now I get it…. basically melt in your mouth meat with layers of flavors because they cook so long. You get the fat and the concentrated sauce creating really sophisticated flavors.

They are pretty rich so having them served or mashed potatoes or polenta seems fairly common. You need something to balance the richness from the wine sauce. You know “a ying and a yang thang.”


Short Ribs (if small think 4 per person or if they are long maybe 2)
3 carrots diced
3 onions diced
3 celery stalks diced
10 gloved of garlic (minced)
2 tbs of tomato paste
1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
2-4 cups of beef stock
3 tbs of flour
3 tbs of grape seed oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of oregano
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves

Parmesan Polenta
4 1/2 cups of water
1 1/4 cups of yellow cornmeal
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2/4 cups of whole milk
4 tbs of unsalted butter
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Before the steps let me paint the picture for you. We are going to sear, sweat the veggies, reduce the wine by half while thickening it and then bake them in the oven. The “sauce” will be strained so don’t worry about the sprigs of herbs nor the dice of your veggies.

1. Short ribs…. In a large pot on medium high heat add 3 tbs of grapeseed oil. Dust your short ribs with Kosher salt and black pepper. Once your pan is hot enough sear your short ribs on all sides working in batches (careful not to crowd the pan) Remove the seared short ribs and set them aside.

2. Remove the rendered fat and oil left behind EXCEPT for about 3-4 tablespoons. Add your chopped carrots, celery, onion to the oil/fat and sweat them out.

3. Once translucent add the 3 tbs of flour and tomato paste stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes. Pour in your wine and add the seared short ribs back into the pot. Simmer and reduce by half. (30mins or so).

4. Add the garlic, herbs and beef stock to cover the ribs. Bring to a boil and put the dutch oven into your oven at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

5. Remove the spare ribs and wrap them in foil while you filter your sauce by pouring through a cheese cloth or fine meshed strainer. Maintain some of the sauce to pour over the top of the dish.

6. For the polenta, I boiled the water with a tbs of salt and then slowly whisked in the yellow cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook the cornmeal for about 17-20 minutes. Stir often. Once it thickens, remove from heat and add the milk, butter and Parmesan cheese. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Take a large bowl and spoon in the polenta. Place your short ribs on top of it and ladle a little of the strained sauce over the top and garnish with a sprig of herb.

Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip

Pimento Cheese Dip

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pimento Cheese Dip
Never really understood the whole pimento cheese thing. I hated it on sandwiches, I mean it was cheese and mayo.   Jill on the other hand loves it and she makes it for her lunch. She uses a recipe The Peachtree Cookbook that had jalapenos and no miracle whip. Okay, much more interesting but didn’t move my needle in sandwich form.

There was a joint in town called Tried and True (now closed) that was a whiskey bar with slightly gourmet bar food. They had on their menu as an appetizer Pimento cheese spread with saltine crackers and Tabasco. As a dip with Tabasco made perfect sense and here is my stab at it.

10 oz extra sharp cheddar (shredded from block)
3 oz of pepper jack cheese, (shredded from block)
3 oz of cream cheese cut into chunks
½ cup Dukes Mayo or sub for Greek Yogurt
1 4oz jar of drained pimentos
2 jalapenos (seeded)
½ tsp of onion powder
½ tsp of garlic powder
½ tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
Pinch of red peppers flakes (optional)

Ready? Put in a food processor and blend until combined and smooth. Serve with crackers, Tabasco and whiskey.