Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Put some Mussel in it!

Oh yessss. Mussels !! Who doesn't love some seafood in their pasta?!

I ran across a fantastic sale at my local grocer yesterday: buy one get one free frozen mussels in sauce. I had seen them numerous times before while perusing the seafood section and never gave them a chance. Well you can always count on a buy one get one free sale to sway you into new territory! So I decided on 2 different kinds, mussels in butter & garlic sauce and mussels in tomato and herb sauce. Not a bad deal coming out to $5 for the two boxes ($2.50 a pop!).

I decided to try out the Mussels in Butter & Garlic Sauce with some Linguine for last night's dinner. I doctored the mussels up a bit and created a sauce by adding white wine, EVOO, some extra garlic and some fresh parsley plus salt and pepper. It turned out fabulous and was easy as 1, 2, 3!  I complimented my entree with a lovely bottle of white wine and a fresh ceaser salad on the side. Fantastico!

Mussels in a White Wine, Butter & Garlic Sauce

  • 1 box of Pier 33 Gourmet Mussels in Butter & Garlic
  • Dry Linguine
  • 2 Cups Dry White Wine, approx. (And a glass for yourself on the side)
  • A good healthy drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic to taste (use a little, use a lot - I used a few squirts of the tubed garlic you find by the refrigerated herbs in the produce section of the grocery store)
  • Large handful of fresh chopped Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil a pot of salted water for your Linguine, add Linguine and cook until Al Dente, drain then set aside. Empty the contents of the frozen mussels package into a large pan and cover with lid on high heat. After about 2-3 minutes, add in your white wine, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon to disperse ingredients then cover again with lid and cook on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add parsley and Linguine to the Mussel mixture and stir together. Cover with lid and reduce to low heat. Let the juices blend with your pasta mixture for a few minutes, then serve and enjoy! Feel free to add a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan for extra flavor! Don't forget your glass of wine!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'Mater's on my back porch

Hooray for sunshine! Tis' the time of year ya'll - my tomatoes are starting to sprout!

My latest tomato growth:)

After a grueling past few weeks of many trials and tribulations with my baby seedlings, some of my plants have begun to bear the fruits of my labor! I'm so happy, because I had become saddened when I lost about 80%-85% of my seed sprouts for various reasons - most of which I'm not even sure of. I hear that it's somewhat common to loose the majority of your stash along the way, but it's devastating when you work so hard to keep everything alive! Anyway - my frown got turned upside down when I spotted my first few baby 'maters!  Now I must be honest - I did have to break down and buy a few pre-grown plants from the local Lowe's store. However, I managed to keep a few of my home grown heirlooms alive and looks like they've past the point of no return and should at least bring me a few lovely fruits this year. I'm also pleased to report that I was able to pick up a few other heirloom types at the Lowe's as well - a nice change of pace when I expected only hybrids - though I did get a hybrid or 2 as well! We'll see how everything manages - I hear the hybrids are much more prone to disease and a bit harder to keep healthy and alive, especially as a novice gardener. Anyway, I'm anxious to test all of the flavors and types and see what does well and what doesn't. There's still a lot of excitement to be had on this journey and I can't wait. My  mouths already watering just thinking about it:)

My amateur tomato & pepper garden in cute washtubs:)

My herbs, Parsley, Rosemary & Basil. The Parsley was started by me from seed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the Love of Mozzarella in NY!

Good Morning Blog World!

Sorry I've been MIA lately . As the weather gets warmer my world gets crazier.

Me and Brother Shaun
I've just returned from a fabulous trip to Long Island,  NY to see some family over Easter and amongst my travels I came across some fantastic food finds. I always love munching on fresh caprese salads, salumi, calamatta olives, mozzarella, knishes, italian sausages and as always, enjoying some good wine! There's just so much fantastic stuff to choose from when in NY. I was craving everything I ate in NY when I returned home to NC so I tried to recreate some things on my own. Hard to do when you don't have the fabulous fresh ingredients from the delis of NY, but I tried my best.

So today I'm making a tribute to some of my yummy Italian NY finds. Take a look at this yummy recipe for caprese salad and my suggestions for a wonderful wine pairing. Yay!

Insalata Caprese (Tomato & Mozzarella Salad)

. It was my first time with this kind of wine, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended!
  • 2 pounds vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and drizzle with oil & balsamic vinegar. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Wine Pairing:
I enjoyed my Caprese Salad with a fabulous Italian

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

They're Growing!

Hello World!

Just an update on my seedlings...Luckily all of the seeds I planted for this spring & summer are sprouting and trucking along nicely! I had a scare with some disease/mold early on but have since remedied the problem and am hopefully on the garden track to success. I planted some parsley, rosemary, a couple varieties of heirloom tomatoes, swiss chard and an herbal flower called caledenia (I think!? It was a gift from my seed shaman!). The tomatoes sprouted much sooner than I expected, and I am so releived to see their progress!! My rosemary is coming in very slowly and only about 2 of the 6 pots have sprouted, but I have high hopes that the rest of the pots will catch up eventually. If not, I think I will still be able to make work what I've got going right now. Anyway, so excited to share the progress... Can't wait to til it's transfer time!! Hooray Veggies & Herbs!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flavor Infusions!

OMG!! I was reading my Etsy.com E-mail of the day and they had this fantastic link regarding Flavor Infusions!! This totally sparked my interest. It's all about using fruits and herbs to infuse waters, oils and ALCOHOL! What a FAB idea! I'm stoked about this article, especially with my new baby herb seedlings sprouting every day!

Check it out!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chicken Pesto Pastry with Spinach & Artichoke

So, my theme this week in cooking has been "creative" to say the least. I decided I was going to make dinner every day this week with ingredients already in my fridge/pantry. No grocery stops on the way home from work! It's forced me to be creative with my culinary endeavors and at the same time I'm using some of those things that have been sitting lonely in my fridge or pantry for a while (don't worry, I checked my expiration dates!).

Last night I came up with a fun dinner and it turned out just great! I think I'll make it again in the future, definitely a winner. I made a Puff Pastry packet filled with chicken, pesto, spinach, artichoke, garlic & cheese! Yummmmm. I also created a fun potato salad on the side made from fingerling potatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, dill & salt/pepper.  It was a pretty easy dinner to make and really didn't take too long. It used fairly simple ingredients and even pleased the palate of my super picky boyfriend.

So here's what you'll need to do if you want to give this dinner a shot!

Chicken Pesto Pastry with Spinach & Artichoke

  • 1 thawed Peppridge Farm Puff Pastry
  • 2 chicken breasts (1 large plump one will do the trick too)
  • 2 oz. spinach leaves (about 2 handfuls)
  • 4-6 chopped artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons pesto (I had a jar of pre made pesto sauce, you can find this at the grocery store)
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic to taste
  • 4 slices of cheese (I used monteray jack which was great, but would recommend mozzarella, gouda or even havarti... use whatever cheese you like, or don't!)

Preheat oven to 415 Degrees.

First, boil your chicken until cooked through.  Once chicken has cooled, tear chicken to shreds and place in a bowl. Add your chopped artichokes, spinach leaves, pesto and minced garlic to the bowl and mix ingredients together until well coated.

Roll out your puff pastry and cut into 4 squares. On a non-stick baking sheet, place 2 of your pastry squares. Spoon a quarter of your chicken mixture onto each of the 2 squares. Place a slice of cheese over the chicken mixture & pastry. Pile the remainder of the chicken mixture over the cheese & top with cheese again. Place your remaining puff pastry squares over top of the chicken & cheese to create a packet. Fold the pastry edges over to seal the packet, use your fork prongs to make a tighter seal and crimp the edges. (Feel free to brush the pastry packet with an egg wash if you like!)

Place the baking sheet with pastry packets into the 415 degree oven. Bake for 15-20 min or until golden brown. Enjoy!!

Dilled Fingerling Potato Salad

  • 1 lb. fingerling potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 good healthy sprinklin' of dill (as much or little as you like)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water for approximately 15-20 min or until able to be pierced easily with fork, but still hold their shape. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Cut potatoes into bite size pieces if needed. Place into large bowl

Mix mayonnaise, mustard, dill, salt & pepper  together until potatoes are well coated.

Refrigerate covered for at least 20 minutes. Serve & Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guinness Cheese Fondue!

Well, St Patty's has come and gone again this year. But it's not to be forgotten. I came across some great and fun new recipies while searching for St Patty's & Irish themes dinners and desserts this time around. I hope to incorporate some of what I found into the rest of my year's culinary creations!

My St. Pat's was a little different this year as I strayed from the usual cooking of Corned Beef and Cabbage. My rommate and man hunk aren't fans of the corned beef and I haven't quite had any that I absolutely love yet either. So I searched for a fun alternative. Voila! Guinness Cheese Fondue! I was inspired by this recipe found at SippitySup for Farmhouse Cheddar & Irish Stout with new potatoes (potatoes are very Irish too!). I varied a bit from the original recipe, but loved the idea of using the Guinness to keep with the Irish theme for St. Pats. Plus, I used way more things than just my Irish potatoes to dip in my yummy gooey cheese!

Here's what you'll need if you want to make this cheese fondue...

Kellie's Version of Guinness Stout Cheddar Fondue

  • 1 Can/Bottle (about 12oz) of Guinness Stout Draught
  • 2 Tablespoons of mustard (The Tangier the better)
  • 6 Tablespoons of Apple Sauce or Apple Juice Concentrate (I used apple sauce)
  • 1 lb of grated Cheddar (Irish Cheddar is great if possible but regular sharp cheddar will do)
  • 3 Tablespoons All purpose Flour (A little more or a little less depending on how thick or soupy you like it. 3T is a good starting place)
Bring 3/4ths of your Guinness Stout, Mustard and Apple Sauce to a simmer in your Fondue Pot, stir frequently. Add your shredded cheese 1 handful at a time while stirring. Add your flour gradually as you continue stirring to keep from clumping. You may add the rest of your beer to help thin it out. Find your desired consistancy by alternating adding beer/flour until you like the texture of your cheese.

I ate my fondue with fingerling potatoes (make sure you boil them first!), red apples, artisan rosemary bread, raw mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, broccoli & cauliflour. We even grilled a side of marinated chicken and asparagus, so we had a feast! But you can use anything your little hard desires. My favorite is the sweet apple mixed with the sharpness of the cheddar fondue, yummm!