Monthly Archives: May 2015

Easy Pasta Salad – Montreal Farmers Market

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I met up with friends of ours in Montreal for a nice long weekend. It had been many years since we have been to Canada and now that we went; I’m not sure why it has been so long, what a great city. Always something going on; so I was told; they have the most festivals. Well I couldn’t remember what my buddy SF said exactly but I just google Montreal Festivals and it said “Montreal is a city of festivals” and since the internet can’t lie it must be true.

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel with dirty ice – YUM!!!

Since our friends have been there many times; they live closer than we do. They booked where we stayed; SF wanted to stay somewhere that we could cook in one night if we wanted to. At first I thought why we would cook in, we are in city with numerous places to eat and explore and on a mini vacation. Well it all became VERY clear to me after visiting Atwater Farmers Market.

Sangria

Sangria

I have been fortunate enough to have been to some pretty amazing places over the years, I mean I absolutely love the Caribbean and Paris was incredibly amazing but I can count on one hand how many times I have had a true “Moment” just to be in awe of something around you. The Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. And I honestly never in a million years would have thought a Farmers Market could make me want to move and totally change the way I live my life. I totally understand how and why Europeans pick up dinner on the way home versus having a fridge and freezer fully stocked just to make dinner for the week.

Gorgeous berries

Gorgeous berries

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Vegetables displayed perfectly

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Amazing smelling artisan breads – the man behind me in line asked if I was from out of town LOL I guess not a lot of people take pictures of their bread

I also NOW understood why SF wanted a place where we could make dinner in if we wanted to. I totally wanted to cook in but sadly we didn’t, we just couldn’t pull it together in time to get back to the market before it closed; it would have been very forced and not as enjoyable for us to make it happen. I did google what I could bring back over the border though which as long as it is for personal consumption you can bring almost anything. We picked up some homemade pork sausages and kielbasa as well as some fresh pasta’s and a loaf of bread. For dinner I made up the gnocchi we bought along with some Cilantro Lime Sausages.

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The Herbs were incredible

The Herbs looked incredible

French Macaroons - they were not the famous Laduree's but damn tasty

French Macaroons – they were not the famous Laduree’s but damn tasty

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gnocchi w/butter garlic and thyme

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Dinner made at home with Atwater Farmers Market products

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Simple Delicious Pasta Salad

1 box of pasta such as campanelle, cavatappi or similar; cooked as directed – I use Tri-Colored Rotini

1 Can of small Black Olives drained

Container of cherry tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half

Container of Feta Cheese

1 Carrot – grated

2 Red roasted peppers sliced olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper – Roast for 20-25 minutes at 350’ – or use your favorite jarred variety

I like adding sliced salami or pepperoni – but this can be omitted

Ken’s Zesty Italian dressing

Toss pasta with some Ken’s extra zesty, while this marinates the pasta, gather all the other ingredients, add all together and toss, if needed add a bit more dressing.

Super Simple Potato Salad – just in time for summer

Sometimes impromptu BBQ’s just happen. It seems in my life; it happens more than it doesn’t; luckily I am pretty used to them; whether throwing or attending. I can pull together a side or two fairly effortlessly sometimes with the help from a few key ingredients. This happened to us just yesterday; friends invited us over for a BBQ dinner and a fire. I spent the day doing out of town errands so not a lot of time to make something entirely homemade. I love potato salad but I have never found a store made one that I could purchase that I liked.  Trust me I keep trying; just in case; it would make life a little easier when in a rush.

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Grocery shopping was the last stop on my day of errands. I knew I needed to make a potato salad to bring and I contemplated buying some from the store; I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  BUT I did notice they had a package of hard boiled eggs. I didn’t even hesitate to pick them up. I have mentioned a time or two before that while I can cook a perfect hard boiled egg, peeling them is just not in my wheelhouse. More than a few are literally only good for making a potato salad since you chopped them all up.

My husband was walking by while I was opening the bag of already cooked eggs. stopped in his tracks and asked; “what are those?” I said it was totally legal, he thinks he’s funny and continued walking say “I don’t know about that” He’s such a brat!

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Tomorrow being Memorial Day you never know if you’ll get a phone call inviting you over for a small BBQ. This version is really easy and you might just have what you need on hand.  It is only 8 ingredients and 4 of them are pretty much optional since the dressing has loads of spices.

3 hard boiled eggs

1-2 lb Small red bliss potatoes

½ cup Mayo

1-2 stalks of celery diced small (opt)

3 tbs Zesty Italian dressing such as Kens

1-2 scallions finely diced (opt)

Kosher salt (opt) let each person add it at the table

Fresh cracked black pepper (opt) let each person add it at the table

You can either cut up the potatoes before boiling or after. I was busy emptying my truck and putting things away so I left them whole.

Boil potatoes in cold salted water for about 20-25 minutes; till soft but not mushy

Cut into 1 inch pieces and place in a zip lock bag; add Italian dressing zip the bag closed and mix with the dressing being careful not to break up the potatoes and place in the fridge to cool.

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By adding the dressing while still warm the potatoes take on all the dressings’ flavors.

Once cooled, add the mayo and cut up hard boiled eggs a little salt and pepper; mix just till combined. Sprinkle with scallions or chives.

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It is that simple and has a great flavor

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad

I seem to break the cardinal rule of “never make a new dish to serve company” fairly often. I also always confess up front that this is a new dish; I am not sure how it’s going to come out or taste. I think I confess upfront just in case it’s not a hit; kind of a cop out isn’t it! Maybe I will turn over a new leaf and just pretend “Oh I make this all the time” yeah I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

I do take pride in making a family Sunday dinner. I actually take pride in making family dinner almost every night. When my kids came along no matter how hectic life got, we all sat down for more dinners together than not. I think that might be where the whole family being foodies came from.  I even have as part of my cooking class mission statement “Help bring your family together at the dinner table”

Last Sunday being Mother’s day I made my guys and in-laws a couple of new dishes that were on my list to make at some time during the week; which I never got around to doing, so Sunday dinner I made them both, a little worried that they didn’t necessarily “go together” I was making them both since I had bought all the ingredients and hoping for the best. They were both a hit and actually worked out really well together. I made a Roasted Tomato Panzanella salad and a Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad.

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Grilled Chicken

Because you are grilling, I suggest bone in skin on; they are more forgiving of not overcooking or drying out; however please use your favorite or what you have on hand

You can also make this on the stove or in your oven if you don’t have a grill

4-6 Chicken Thighs – bone in skin on (you can always remove the skin before you eat it)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

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Grilled Pineapple Salad

Cut pineapple into spears

Grill 2-3 minutes per side or until charred. Remove from grill and cut into bite sized pieces

1-2 heads of radicchio

1 cup julienned carrots

2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbs chopped parsley

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Make the vinaigrette (you can do this ahead of time) whisk together the lemon juice, parsley, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper; add the chopped grilled pineapple, radicchio and carrots to the bowl. Toss and coat all ingredients in the vinaigrette.

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful Mom’s out there!!!

I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to blog about today, last night at dinner my daughter texted me an early; at least for me; Happy Mother’s day; since she is 13 hours ahead of me it was technically already Sunday for her.

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A few weeks back she sent me a cinnamon bun recipe that I just “had to make” so I thought why not make them for myself tomorrow for breakfast; she immediately wrote back that she would also make them but for her dinner and we could Skype and eat them together.  Oh my how flipping cute is that, at least that was what I thought last night while at my nice dinner out with my hubby sipping my very chilled Cosmo.

I gathered all the ingredients and turned on my computer, let Abbi know I was online, finally, and off we went. Since she has made them a few times before, I kept showing her my dough,” is what it is supposed to look like”? It was actually a lot of fun “baking with my daughter” this morning.

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I did have to tell her that I totally loved dough that was kneaded in my kitchen-aid versus by hand. She doesn’t have this luxury in her apartment in Japan, she was less impressed by this, though she did brag that she is well practiced in the art of dough making, she even had to point out that she can make dough wearing a black shirt and it would still be black when she is done, at this point I looked down and yup had flour all over me. I always make a mess, but I clean up real well…

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Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour + extra flour if needed – I needed 4 extra tablespoons

1 cup buttermilk – warmed 1 minute in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (I had to make my own as I didn’t have any on hand) – 1 cup of milk, 1 tbs of lemon juice let sit a few minutes.

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2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast

2 tbs canola oil

2 tbs granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

Filing

½ cup unsalted butter, very soft

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tbs cinnamon

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

Glaze

2 tbs butter

2 tbs maple syrup

½ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9×13 inch casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all dough ingredients and knead for about 7 minutes, or until dough is soft, smooth, and has come together in a firm mass. If hand-kneading, you may need to knead a few minutes longer.  Note – Dough should be smooth, not overly sticky, and fairly easy to handle. If your dough is still wet, add 1 Tbs of flour one at a time until it comes together.

Turn dough out onto a silpat or cooking sprayed work surface, I have an awesome pastry mat I use lightly floured

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle that’s approximately 9×14 inches

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Spread butter in an even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1/4-inch margins around edges; set aside.

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In a small bowl, add sugars, cinnamon, and stir to combine. Evenly sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough. Sprinkle chopped bacon over cinnamon and sugar.

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Starting with the 14-inch side, roll dough up into a tight log

Make approximately 1-inch slices with a pastry cutter, or a sharp knife or even unflavored waxed dental floss.  You don’t want to squish the rolls too much, I used my pastry cutter I didn’t mind how they looked – kind looks like my kids made them when they were younger

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Place rolls into prepared pan.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through and set. Watch rolls closely so you don’t burn them.

Making the glazed – over low heat melt the butter and maple syrup together; Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup powdered sugar

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I do have to share with you all that it didn’t go as smoothly as it could have; I missed a step and had to unroll my dough as I forgot to add the bacon. Shit happens in the kitchen; at least my kitchen.

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Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls 012

recipe adapted from: beccabakes.com

Huevos Rancheros and 7 Layer Mexican Dip

I always make a corned beef and cabbage for a St Patrick’s Day dinner, come May I always make something to celebrate Cinco De Mayo and 4th of July requires something red white and blue for dessert. You get the picture, I’m pretty sure I just enjoy making something a little different and I know we like to eat everything so we’ll just about celebrate every holiday no matter who’s it is.

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I have been trying to come up with a few things to make for this year’s Cinco De Mayo. It being on a Tuesday it needs to be a few things I can either prepare ahead of time or something I can throw together fairly quickly. You might even have the ingredients on hand.

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A couple of months ago I made some Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, the version I made went together pretty fast and tasted delicious, you could definitely throw this together and have it on the table within 15-20 minutes max. Maybe not for everyone but I am all over this for this Tuesday.

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Huevos Rancheros

Flour or Corn tortilla

Refried Beans

Eggs

Sour Cream

Fresh Cilantro

Chives or Green Onions (opt)

Salsa

Cheddar Cheese

Olive oil

Heat up the refried beans in a small sauce pan and set aside.

In a small fry pan add the oil and fry the tortilla till crispy on both sides, remove to a plate. If needed add a little oil or butter to the same fry pan, pan fry your eggs, we like over easy, and you can make them anyway you like them.

Layer tortilla, beans, cheese, egg, salsa, sour cream, chives or onions = Enjoy!!!!

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Mexican 7 Layer Dip

Here is a bonus that you must make if you are having or going to a party. I will confess I made this just for us, it took us a few days to eat it but it was damn good!!!

Refried beans

Sour cream

Taco seasoning mix

Prepared salsa

Lettuce shredded

Shredded cheddar cheese

Chopped tomatoes – seeded will help with how wet the dip gets – I always seed mine

Green onions

Mix the taco seasoning into the sour cream, set aside.

Layer refried beans, sour cream mix, salsa, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes top with green onions

Happy Cinco De Mayo!!!!!