Green Onion and Cheddar Tater Tots

Tater Tots are always tempting and delicious, but when you are lucky enough to encounter homemade, from scratch tots it is truly time to pull out the stretchy pants. Pig out especially when you run into a flavor of tot that excites you!!!

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My first time out of the tater tot gate was reserved, I found this recipe and played around with the flavor profile just a bit, as I wanted to master the basics first and then move on to the extraordinary adventurous tots.

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This recipe came from Serious Eats, I just slightly modified it.

Ingredients
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced 1 inch pieces
1 quart vegetable oil
½ tablespoon green onion, sliced thin
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup shredded cheddar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Procedures
Place potatoes in a bowl of cold water and agitate for 10 seconds. Transfer to fine mesh strainer and allow to drain for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in large wok or Dutch oven over high heat to 350°F. Fry potatoes, stirring them with a wire spider until light golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes, adjusting flame to maintain oil temperature. Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

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Transfer 1/4 of the potatoes to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken down into rough 1/4 to 1/8th inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses. Transfer to a mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining potatoes, working in three more batches.

Add sliced green onions, onion powder, shredded cheddar, salt, starch, sugar and black pepper to taste, and any flavorings if desired. Gently mix with your hands to combine. Shape into cylinders about 3/4-inch wide and 1-inch long.

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Reheat oil to 350°F and add Tater Tots. Allow to fry for 1 minute, then gently agitate with a metal spider to separate them. Continue to cook, adjusting flame to maintain heat, until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with salt. Serve hot.

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Artisan Tater Tots- what more can you want….. These are a great way to involve the family, the kids will love to help out and play with the “playdough”. Anytime kids hands have fun in the kitchen is a win for their future!

Raspberry Rose Macarons- A Thank You for Breast Cancer Supporters

October is National Breast Cancer month and it seems like everyone wants to join in on the crusade, from the NFL, Social Media Sites, and shopping proceeds to research.  As well as into our work places and own homes with things like Pink Shirt Day, Pink Ribbons and into the privacy of a woman’s bathroom with self-exams.   With both mine and my Mom’s fight with #BreastCancer, I like to take the time to do what I can and bring awareness to women, in particular young women each year at this time.

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I remember the amount of roses that got delivered to me after surgeries and how that support and love felt.  I know that support is what gets many cancer patients thru, even though it seems like so little to those friends and family.  The medicines, treatments and developments in surgery are the technical parts that heal but it is the personal part, the support from loved ones that lasts a life time.

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Last week I thought about my experience and where I am now with it.  What it means to me, and how I wanted to honor it.  The friends and families support is what I held on to and I wanted to honor that.  Macarons seemed like the best way to do that.  Making macarons truly is a dedication of time and patience for me, not giving up and although the process may not be easy for me, in the end the learning’s and results are very fulfilling.  Rose flavor for the love I received during my experience. XOXO

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Rose Macaron Shells, slightly modified from Martha Stewart

  • 1 ¼ cups almond meal
  • 1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon rose extract
  • Red Food Coloring Drops

Raspberry Rose Ganache, slight modified from Les Petits Macarons by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. Martin

  • 11 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, pureed and strained
  • 2 teaspoon rose extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very soft

To make rose macaron shells:

  • With a fork blend together almond meal and confectioner’s sugar and sift into a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat egg whites until frothy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add granulated sugar and rose extract, and beat until barley stiff, shiny peaks, another 3 to 5 minutes, adding red food coloring drops until the desired color is achieved.
  • Add egg whites into almond mixture and fold until combined. Continue to mix vigorously with spatula until the batter sinks easily into a smooth mass and has the consistency of honey. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag, cut off 1/2 inch off tip. Pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheets.
  • Let dry 30 minutes to an hour and a half until tops are firm and dry.
  • Preheat oven to 350. Bake one sheet at a time for about 14 minutes, rotating once. Let cool completely on wire racks before piping ganache and sandwiching cookies together.

To make the ganache filling:

  • Put the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until it is chopped into small pieces.  Leave the chocolate in the processor.
  • Bring the corn syrup, sour cream and raspberry puree to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Immediately pour it over the chocolate in the food processor.  Wait one minute for the chocolate to melt completely, then pulse until the mixture is completely smooth.  With the food processor running, add the butter, then the rose extract, and pulse until all is incorporated and the ganache is homogeneous and shiny.
  • Pour the ganache into a shallow pan, and let it cool at room temperature until it becomes pipeable, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.   This ganache can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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These French macarons came out perfect, I was so happy with the lightness of the cookie and the subtle rose flavor.  They have perfect balance and are a perfect tribute to all of those that support breast cancer patients.

All you ladies, take care of yourself, do your exams, and remember to show your supporters how much their efforts matter.

2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Kick Off

We had a big week at work with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Presented by CHASE® kicking off. Take the chance to taste your way around the world and discover global cuisines and a world tour of cultures and experiences.

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This is the best time of year in the park, there are so many food related events and a focus on food that reaches around the globe, how can a chef not love it! The festival runs thru November 11th this year, plenty of time to get your passport stamped!

There are many events during the festival that our team is responsible for and I just love being able to be part of them.  The energy in the kitchen in the coming weeks will be dynamic, along with all of our cast, we add in many eager students and talented guests chefs from across the world.

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The festival started for our team predawn on Friday with a plated breakfast in the Festival Cranberry Bog, where a few local news programs featured Discover the Cranberry, hosted by Ocean Spray® Craisins® Brand Dried Cranberries.  We had the pleasure of recreating these Ocean Spray recipes for our guests. I can’t to make the pizza for my niece and nephew.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Craisins® Roll Ups

Craisins® Breakfast Bars

Ocean Spray® Craisins®-Orange Muffins, Disney’s BoardWalk Bakery

Craisins® Crunch Breakfast Bowl

Mickey Fruit Pizza

Turkey Sausage and Craisins® Strata

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On opening day we also had The Chocolate Dinner –Prepared by Dale Reynolds, Chef Epcot, World Showplace East Hall.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed being around while Chef came up with this Ghirardelli® chocolates menu.  These guests truly got lucky.  I literally was licking my fingers when Chef Dale brought me samples to try.  Tip of the day- never pass up White Chocolate Beurre Blanc!  Below is the team that worked on it, Chef Carla Hall wanted to get a picture with this team!

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Ghiradelli Chocolate Dinner

Reception Items Prepared by Chef Lisa Rios

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 Chef Dale Reynolds Presents:

Soup Course

Oxtail Consommé with Dark Chocolate Chile Ravioli

Chateau St. Michelle Reisling, Columbia Valley

Prepared by Chef Rebeca Modia

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 Second Course

Chicken and Waffle

Braised Chicken on a Chocolate Dipped Waffle Chip

Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay

Prepared by Chef Alejandro Ocanto

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 Sorbet Course

Chocolate Sorbet

Prepared by Chef Dennis Byras

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Main Course

Maine Lobster with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc

Chocolate Rosemary Braised Short Ribs

Cocoa Bean Smoked Shallot Mashed Potatoes

Baby Vegetables

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

And La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Prepared by Chefs Omar Harris and Micah Ginder

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Cheese Course

Baked Brie with Dark Chocolate Caramelized Onions

Rosa Regale

Prepared by Chef Jason Jakubowski

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Dessert Course

Milk Chocolate Risotto

With Drunken Cherries and Pistachio Brittle

JDK & Sons™ Crave Chocolate Cherry Liquor

Prepared by Chef Melissa Webster

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We also had an Ocean Spray reception back at the Festival Cranberry Bog and the Butterfly Garden area opening night. The Ocean Spray reception menu was an international experience, all with cranberries incorporated into the traditional dishes.  It was a fun menu to create taking classic flavors and putting a cranberry twist on them.  We truly learned about the versatility of cranberries!

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Japan

Craisin® Infused Five Spice Char Kobe Beef with Sriracha
 Craisin® Vegetable Fried Rice

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United States

Seared Free Range Chicken with Craisin® Moonshine Pearls
 Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Craisin® Ketchup

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Canada

Cranberry and Sea Salt Cured Wild Salmon with Maple Sugar Crystals
 Craisin® Glazed Pork Belly with White Cheddar Maple Grits

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United Kingdom

English Mustard Dusted Scotch Egg with Cranberry Marmalade
 Beef and Craisin® Sheppard’s Pie

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France

Artisan Cheese Stuffed Craisin Brioche
 Craisin®, Bacon and Brie Potato Gratin

Mexico

Mole Shrimp Quesadilla with Cranberry Salsa
 Pulled Chicken Craisin® Tamales

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Chef Damon was lucky enough to take a dip in the Festival Cranberry Bog and chat with the guests about the vast uses of cranberries! Ahhh- the #CranberryLife

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What a exciting and fun start to the best time of year at Epcot! I can’t wait to get out and experience it as a guest! But the behind the scenes experience are ones that I will cherish for a lifetime. Super lucky to be on this great team doing amazing things!! If you have the chance be sure to get to the festival and bring your appetite!  Follow along with all the chatter at #EpcotFoodFestival!

Thank God we had our jogging stroller with us. All that walking at the theme park would have been way too much on the children. Our double stroller really paid off in the end. I’m really glad we checked out: Top 5 Best Double Jogging Strollers | 2017 Reviews | ParentsNeed.

Butter Chicken For The First Day Of Fall!

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago we went to the Dekalb Farmers Market on the recommendation of a friend at work.   She told me I could find anything I wanted and more, and when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the size of the market I knew were in for a treat!  I wish I had some pictures to share, especially of the fish mongers, but the market does not allow pictures.  It was a food lover’s mecca, for real.  I felt like a kid in the candyshop with wavering self-control.  Fortunately I knew I had to limit my haul to shelf stable items as we were traveling so I went straight for the spices!  I grimace when I have to purchase a $4-5 small bottle of a spice I am missing, when I saw these 1 cup containers filled with all kinds of flavors for under a buck and a half I could not resist.

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I took a way quite a few Indian spices to add to our cabinet.  With the first day of autumn upon us, I knew plenty of soups and stews would be on the horizon.  Fall into Indian Cuisine!  Sir Wes hadn’t ever had Butter Chicken also called Chicken Makhani, nor had I ever made it, so I thought it was a perfect dish to kick off the new season.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon chopped ginger
  • ½ tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, julienned into 1 inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Chopped cilantro

Directions:

Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander and bay leaf.  Stir the spices as they cook, drawing out their peak flavor for a minute.   Mix in the tomato sauce, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pour in milk and the yogurt and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.

Place a heavy bottom large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Add in the chicken strips and cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low, and add in teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Feel free to eliminate the cayenne or add more based on you heat preferences.  Add the sauce into the skillet and simmer over medium low heat.   The sauce will reduce and thicken as the chicken finishes cooking.   When ready to serve stir in chopped cilantro as garnish.

This recipe will serve 4 guests. Serve with basmati rice or fresh naan bread.

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If you ever get the chance to get to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market you must go for it.  Take advantage of the lower prices and branch out of your everyday cooking style.  Try something new, you might just find a new favorite!

Happy first day of autumn and may all your leaves fall in the right place!!

Gooey Pumpkin Cheesecake- A Happy Mistake of a Non Baker!

My friend Jenny brought in her hometown favorite last year to a work pot luck, St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. It was only one small bite that I took, which was all I needed to know that I would add this to my “must make list”.  I had no idea what it was; I didn’t recognize it as anything I have tried before, just rich, buttery, and gooey goodness.  When Gooey Butter Cake made it to the top of my must make list, I spent some time looking for a recipe, recalling Jenny telling me she uses Paula Deen’s version. I found the one, but ran upon Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Cake and could not resist trying this version.  I just wanted to make a small tweek…

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Pumpkin desserts need graham crusts.  Some pies, cakes, bars just do not reach their potential without graham bottoms.  I shun any key lime pie made with a plain butter crust, same is true for pumpkin and sweet potato.  So I knew right away that I needed to modify the great Paula Deen’s recipe to make it better, how could she not know this?

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Here’s what I did-

Crust:

  • 18 graham crackers, finely ground
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350.  Add all the ingredients to a food processors and pulse until well combined.  You may need to do in two batches depending on the size of your processor.  If you are without a food processor try crumbling the crackers by putting them into a large Ziploc bag and then use a rolling pin to crush them.

Press the crumbs into the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.

To make the filling:

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over graham crust and bake for 75 minutes until the center has a soft jiggle and a pick comes out clean.

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When I took it out of the oven, I couldn’t help but think this is not right; it looked just like cheesecake.  Crap.  This is not what I was hoping for.  All this time thinking about that bite of Jenny’s Gooey Butter Cake and this is what I get- cheesecake.  I cursed myself, first for using the pumpkin version instead of the traditional Paula Deen recipe, and then for changing it, thinking I knew better as if I was professional baker.  Crap.

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Wes came in from working in the yard and smelled the house, proclaimed it smelled like heaven.  I gave him a quick sigh of frustration and told him how stupid this cake was, that I was pissed. (Excuse my language, but I was super mad).  He didn’t really seem to connect with my frustration; all he saw was a perfect looking and smelling cake sitting on the counter.

When the cake had cooled completely I sliced into it, and saw that I was right, it had a cheesecake consistency.  This was not Gooey Butter Cake.  But I plated up the slice and took my photographs, just in case it came out tasty.  When I was done shooting, I took the bite off the fork and smiled with relief.  Deliciousness.

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The cake certainly was not what I planned for, Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, but was one of the best pumpkin cheesecakes I’ve had.  Rich but not heavy and the pumpkin flavor was sweet but not like candy.  There was stronger pumpkin taste then in typical cheesecakes which I love.

I took a chance in the kitchen, which is not unusual for me to do, but I don’t typically mess around with baking recipes.  In this case I was lucky; my chance had a happy ending.  Jenny’s Gooey Butter Cake is still on my must make list, and this Pumpkin Gooey Cheesecake is now on the repeat list!

Here We Go! Here We Go! Steeler’s Peach Salsa

Sir Wes is lighting up the grill this weekend to get his wings on.  As you must know it is the long awaited NFL Kick-Off Weekend.  With coals already burning, I thought I would cut line and grill some peaches before the wings hit the grill for a quick salsa.

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I do enjoy watching football, but tend to get distracted easily.  I sometimes find that  can watch all four quarters and not be able to tell you what happened.  Not all games, but some…

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Steeler’s Grilled Peach Salsa

  • 1 1/4 pounds ripe peaches, (3-4 medium), pitted and sliced in wedges
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Prepare grill, charcoal or gas, to medium heat. Brush the peaches sections lightly with oil.  Place the peaches directly on the grill and cook until charred and softened, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and cool in refrigerator.  Meanwhile mix the onions, peppers, lime juice, cilantro and a touch of salt.  When cooled, chop the peaches into 1/4-inch pieces and add to the mixture, tossing delicately.

This salsa works will with chips as well as grilled fish, chicken, pork and anything else that might be on your game day table!

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About half way thru the football season I will start to focus more about what is on the table then what is on the TV.   By 3/4 thru the season the only thing that keeps me tuning in is the Steelers and my fantasy teams.  I am a tough competitor (I like to think anyway) in 2 Pigskinner Pick ‘Em Leagues, the owner of one fantasy football team, and assistant coach to another.  By this late into the season I have started planning the Superbowl Menu and tuning into Real Housewives in lieu of the 8:00 game.

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That’s pretty much my football season, but for this weekend I am all in!

By the way- did you notice how shiny and pretty the Notre Dame Gold helmets are?  Here we go! Here we go!!

The Art of the Pizza Roll, Tailgate Chefs- Game On!

Game Day, Game Day, Game Day!!  College Football is Kicking Off!!  I believe in the Football/Tailgate Cuisine Movement, support it 100%!  I love the playfulness of the food, the comradery it inspires between guys and their grills, the artisanal care that nonchefs are putting towards the pop up tailgate table.  The craft direction is strong within this mouthwatering cuisine.  It is downright hard to find someone that does not have fond memories of tailgate food.

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Thank you Emily for the deliciousness, for the loving tenderness you put towards this football food recipe.

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Perfect Pizza Crust (if you’re in a jam, buy the premade dough in your grocery store)

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot tap water

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment place the flour, yeast, and salt. Quickly mix together the dry ingredients.  Pour in the oil and hot tap water and stir for about 10 seconds. The dough should be wet enough to leave a little residue on the side of the bowl at this point but not so wet that it’s gooey. Adjust if needed with a little flour or tiny bit warm water. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Dough should be tacky to the touch. Do not add any flour or water after the dough is done mixing.

In a deep oiled mixing bowl, place the dough ball and place plastic wrap or damp towel directly over the dough.  Allow to rise until doubled in size, I set mine outside in the warm air, but near a window, or even a warm oven will do. Once risen, punch dough to deflate it.

  • 1 cup Pizza Sauce
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 3/4 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning

Make pizza crust according to directions and let raise once. After it has risen, turn it onto a counter sprayed with cooking spray and roll it out thin, in the shape of a rectangle. Spread sauce; you may only need 1/2-3/4 cup but you can use the rest for dipping after the rolls are cooked. Add cheese and start rolling the dough tightly in a neat line. When there’s about an inch of dough left, stop rolling and pull the edge up and over, pinching it closed.

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With a serrated knife, gently slice about 1-inch thick. Lay the rolls in a 13×9-inch baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray. You should get about 12 rolls out of the dough. Cover lightly and let the dough rise again until about doubled.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine melted butter and garlic bread seasoning and brush over the tops of the rolls. Bake for about 17-20 minutes.

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Serve warm either plain or with extra pizza sauce for dipping.  Reheat any leftovers in the same fashion you would with leftover pizzas. Or if you are taking to the tailgate party, wrap them in a sheet of foil and warm them on a low heat grill.

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We are heading out to the Alabama and Virginia Tech game today and can’t wait to see what we find at the lot full of tailgate parties!! Roll Tide!

Chewy Toffee Bars- An Answer To A Long Distance Toffee Love Affair

Grocery store rituals. Everyone has them, from when they shop, to which stores they prefer, reusable bags or always forgetting them, do you browse or go straight for the items on your list, if you even made a list.  And I would guess that we are all pretty consistent with these habits. One of my rituals is stopping at grocery stores I haven’t shopped at before, so I can search items on my “Can I Find” list, which contains about 10 items I am on the prowl for. Some of the items are things I grew up with in Philly, some that my mom, Queenie, swears by, and some that I have had while traveling and I’m hoping to find again.

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One of the things on my list is Heath Bar Cookies at Publix, which are by far the best store made cookie on the shelves.  Queenie has spoiled my husband with them, every visit she is sure to bring him a package.  He has a long distance love affair with this toffee cookie.  In between visits I try to find ways to satisfy his toffee tooth.

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These bars came out pillow soft and chewy, very similar to the beloved Publix cookie.  The amount of salt is perfect complement to the sweet toffee.  Salt and toffee should never be separated from each other.   The nuts can stay or go, pending if you are a nut fan or not.

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I just barely modified Jamie Deen’s recipe

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toffee pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray and place a piece of parchment paper over the pan.  Give the parchment another spray coating it evenly.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat; stir in the brown sugar until smoothly melted.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Now in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Freshen the walnuts by toasting them in a medium skillet over medium heat, 6 to 8 minutes until fragrant; remove from hot pan to cool.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, into the cooled butter-sugar mixture, next whip in the vanilla.  Stir in the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Gently fold in the toffee pieces and toasted walnuts into the thick batter.

Spread the batter in the parchment lined pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, lift out of the pan and cut into 1 inch pieces.

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Makes about 16 chewy, gooey, salty, sweet treats.

I don’t think I will ever be able to walk into a Publix without looking in the bakery for the Heathbar cookies, they are a permanent item on the “Can I Find” list.  I know we can buy them in South Carolina when we visit Queenie’s, or get them when she visits us, but the hunt is fun, the idea that one day I’ll find an item on my list is great!

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In the meantime these Chewy Toffee  Bars are a welcomed substitute!   Queenie, this does not mean you don’t need to continue supplying Sir Wes’ love affair.

Late Summer Peach and Mint Bulgur Salad

We still have peaches filling the produce section of our grocery store with juicy, sweet smelling nectar.  I found this summer that I am definitely a peach person.  They just translate so well with other foods.  I love them with desserts and savory dishes, herbs, wines, fish, pork, chicken, vegetables, grilled, poached, raw, sautéed, flambéed.   It’s hard for a peach not to make anything better.

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Quick and easy, fresh and tasty.  All words that matter when we think about school kicking back in.   With peaches still hanging on to the season, I saw this salad and knew it would make a perfect cookout side, a last day of summer picnic lunch, or even an on the go salad.

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Thanks to Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced fresh peaches
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup small fresh mint leaves

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Preparation

In a small sauce pot bring 2 cups water and bulgur to a boil. Place cover on the pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook about 10-12 minutes until tender.

While bulgur is cooking combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Drain the bulgur from the sauce pot and give a quick rinse of cold water.  Add warm bulgur to the vinegar and oil mix and toss.  Allow to cool to room temperature and add the peaches and mint to the salad.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6

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Hold on tight to these last moments of summer; enjoy the longer days, the warm evening sunsets, and the family time.  Also- hold on to the peaches, as the perfect fruit will be gone soon.

Cilantro Jalapeño Corn Cakes

Maybe you can tell I like Southwest/Mexican food- Mexican Shrimp Ceviche, Mexican Corn and Poblano Chowder, Texas Caviar, Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew or even Peanut Butter Stuffed Jalapeños.  Pretty much, if it has cilantro I am guaranteed to love it.  My husband knows that after a bad day for me, chips and salsa are the best Band-Aid.  The good kind of salsa, fresh loaded with cilantro with warm thin salted corn tortilla chips.   So admittedly, I am a sucker when I see dishes with cilantro or Mexican/Latin flavor profiles.  Enter these irresistible southwest spiced corn cakes.

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We were smoking a few chickens and needed a side, both of us agreed that a corn cake would be perfect side for the summer cookout.  And absolutely, lets add cilantro.

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ears or 2 cups fresh corn kernels, separated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ½ small red onion
  • ½ cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh lime juice

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Instructions

1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Using a food processor, combine only 1 cup corn, egg, onion, jalapeño pepper, garlic, cilantro, buttermilk, and butter and pulse until finely chopped but not smooth.

3. Fold the pulsed corn mixture into the flour mixing bowl and mix in the remaining cup of corn kernels and lime juice.

4. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Spray with pan spray or use a touch of olive oil and scoop ½ cup cakes into the pan.  Brown on first side and flip to other, each should take about 3 minutes.

This will make about 8 small pancakes.

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Garnish with a simple avocado salad, fresh tomatoes and sour cream, smoked pork or chicken, even a seafood ceviche.  Try making them with a ¼ cup measure and use as a canapé.

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If you happen to have leftovers, they freeze great- just wrap them tightly to avoid freezer burn.  Reheat the thawed cakes in an oven set at 350, for 10-15 minutes.

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These are perfect for the end of summer, into fall get together.  Even reheating on a tailgate grill on a piece of aluminum foil, anyone ready for football?