Crunchy Double Crusted Taco Pie

This is sort of a spin-off from the ever so popular Mexican Taco Ring. While lacking in lettuce; tomato and such; it makes up for in the crunch of Doritos Chips. I made it a point to get Ground Chuck from my butcher – love the robust; beefy flavor of chuck. If you are thinking 80% Lean is the same – it’s not. Chuck comes from the shoulder – while most other types of ground beef come from the hind leg. Be warned – Chuck has about three times the calories of other ground beef. Which begs the question – why is the more tasty cuts also the highest in calorie count?

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Mesquite Broiled Cornish Game Hens

One Sunday morning I found myself standing in front of my freezer, a blank look on my face. I wanted to make chicken – after all it was Sunday. However, I was feeling particularly lazy and did not want to make our planned meal. What to do – what to do.

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Sunny Pie in all Its Rustic Beauty

A few years back, Sunny Spinach Pie was all the rage – recipes for it kept popping up. I loved the look, the idea of twisting off little flower petals of warm stuffed dough to pop in your mouth. Sunny Spinach Pie was very popular on everything from cooking blogs to Facebook pages. Then, poof, it was gone.

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Simple Man’s Smokin’ Spaghetti with Beer

It’s interesting how one thought or memory will lead to another. Friday, I posted a recipe for Fried Lobster Ravioli with Two Cream Sauces – a recreation of a dish served at a Brewery we once frequented. The brewery got me to thinking about beer. Beer got me to thinking about a friend from eons ago – Nancy. Sadly we have lost touch over the years, but I still remember her fondly.

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Best Pineapple-Up-Side-Down Cake that Ever Came out of a Box

I’ve posted this recipe before, in my Let’s Pack a Picnic! Darn it, this cake is really worth a post all its own. There’s something about summertime and Pineapple-Up-Side-Down Cake that seem to go hand in hand. The beauty of Pineapple-Up-Side-Down Cake it that it packs up so well. No need to worry about droopy frosting on a warm summer’s day. No need to stress over pudding or cream desserts spoiling in the summer sun.

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Chicken Breast in Lemon-Butter-Caper Sauce over Pasta

I’ve been striving to take back my Sundays, to make something special and wonderful for supper. It hasn’t been easy, but somehow we are managing to reclaim our weekends as mush as possible. In the winter, you are so caught up in all the holiday festivities that you hardly have time to catch your breath. In the spring, long drives in the country call out to you. In the fall, there are harvest festivals galore. Busy all the time! When you love to cook, it’s frustrating to narrow your passion to one night a week. Sundays are my one night to shine.

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Perfect Link Sausage Every Time

I don’t know about you, but I love link sausage for breakfast. I would take sausage over bacon any day of the week. I especially love Johnsonville’s Maple Sausage when serving up anything that involves maple syrup – be it waffles, pancakes or my favorite French Toast.

Johnsonville sausageNow I know there are other maple sausages out there. I prefer the blend of spices and maple of Johnsonville’s sausage. Maybe it’s the Vermont Maple Syrup that makes these links taste so much better. All I know is that I love them. They fries up nicely without creating a skillet of grease. Besides, you get what you pay for, right? The cheaper, store brand sausage just seems to contain a higher concentration of pork fat. I could be wrong, but that’s been my own experience when cutting corners in the pocket-book.

The best way to cook sausage perfectly every time is to steam it first. Once the water has evaporated from the skillet, the sausage is cooked and it’s just a matter of browning off the outside.

Perfect Link Sausage
1 Package Link Sausage
Water as needed

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Place sausage in a cold, dry skillet over medium heat.

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When the skillet is warm, add about a 1/4 cup of water. The water will start to sizzle as the sausage browns.

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Cover skillet with a lid that is just a little smaller than the skillet. This forces the steam to concentrate more around the sausage. Cook covered until all the water has evaporated.

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Remove lid, roll sausage with a spatula until browned on all sides. Once nicely browned, remove from skillet and serve.


This sausage is perfect with Royal Toast aka French Toast or Golden Malted Waffles for an awesome family breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Ever Onion Burger with a French Twist

I love a good burger. I love French Dip Sandwiches. This is the best of both worlds – we’re talking a big, thick burger, served on a buttery grilled bun with plenty of onion-intense Au Jus for dipping. These aren’t wimpy burgers, no sir. You need a big half-pound burger grilled to perfection to stand up to all that warm, flavorful Au Jus. The Au Jus is so delicious, with just the right amount of paper-thin grilled onions and a few splashes of white wine, that you’ll want to soak up every last delicious drop. And if that isn’t enough to get you hooked, these burgers are super easy to make, perfect for busy cooks.

French Dip Burgers with Onion Au Jus
INGREDIENTS – HALF-POUND BURGERS
2 lbs Ground Sirloin
1 Package Dry Beef-Onion Soup Mix
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1-2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
4 Steak Rolls, split

INGREDIENTS – AU JUS DIP
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Flour
A Couple of Splashes of White Wine
2 Cans Beef Consommé
Pepper to Taste

FOR BURGERS: In a large bowl, mix ground beef, dried onion soup, salt, pepper and a little Worcestershire Sauce. Mix well.

Divide meat mixture into 4 sections, form into oblong patties slightly larger than rolls, about 1/2-inch thick. Set aside until ready to grill.

Slice onion into paper-thin rings. (I’ve got one of those wizzy potato slicers for making potato chips in the microwave – it works well for anything you want to slice paper-thin). Set aside onions until ready to use.

Heat gas grill (quick) or build a medium-heat fire in barbecue (longer but more intense grilled flavor).

FOR AU JUS: In a skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove half the onions, set aside.

Pour beef consommé into a sauce pan, add a splash of wine and warm over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining onions with flour and another splash of white wine. In a slow, steady stream, add beef consommé. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer and let simmer until ready to serve.

If desired, sprinkle au jus with a little pepper to taste.

TO GRILL & ASSEMBLE: Place burgers on grill, cover and grill 10-15 minutes, turning once mid-way through. While the burgers are cooking, warm the buns.

Split rolls, lightly brush with a little soft butter. Heat a flat skillet or griddle to medium heat.  Grill rolls split-side down until nice and golden. Turn and grill the outside 1-2 minutes longer.

Place patties on rolls, cut diagonally and serve with Au Jus for dipping.


Once again, thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you enjoy these scrumptious burgers. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to chat any time.

Best Ever Cinnamon Bread French Toast

cinnamon breadIf you have a Costco near you, RUN don’t walk to the bakery section and pick up a loaf of Greenleo’s Best Cinnamon Bread. We are talking Handmade Artisan Bread the way we would bake it if we had the time. I kid you not, this sticky, sweet bread will transform into the most awesome Cinnamon-Roll-French-Toast extravaganza and your entire family will be doing a “It’s a Beautiful Morning” happy dance around the breakfast table. So quick, so easy and oh so delicious!

Cinnamon Bread French Toast
1 Loaf Greenleo’s Best Cinnamon Bread
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Teaspoon Fine Baker’s Sugar
1/2 TEaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Nutmeg
Powdered Sugar for dusting, if desired
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans for garnish, if desired

Using a blender or electric mixer, blend together the eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow dish or bowl large enough to dip the bread into.

Heat a flat griddle to about 300 degrees.  Lightly butter hot griddle. Slice bread in half. Dip bread into egg mixture. Grill bread for about 3 minutes or until nicely golden, flip and grill other side about 2 minutes.  Once bread has been flipped, smear on a little butter so that it melts into the bread.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar and chopped pecans or serve with warm syrup.

Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Have Salad – will travel. A few years back, our holiday plans for Easter went sideways. My family usually spends Easter at my youngest sister’s home since she is the one with small children. For whatever reason, she thought we weren’t coming and made plans to go elsewhere. Instead of bringing a dish to my sister’s to share, we loaded up the family car and headed out to the farm to have dinner with Dad and his wife. Dad’s getting up there in age, so whenever we get together at the farm, I usually do most of the cooking.

That Easter morning, Kiddo made the vinaigrette dressing, while I prepared the salad. Then Kiddo pulled it all together just before serving it up. Talk about a hit! Everyone loved the salad. I’m not sure, but I think Dad had a third helping of salad. It was delicious. But then what’s not to love? Tender-crisp asparagus, luscious tomatoes and a subtly sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette – out of this world good!

On the downside, locally grown asparagus is a spring crop, which means we’ll need to shop at the mega markets where seasonal restrictions are almost non-existent. On the up side, summer is the height of the tomato season and our garden is bursting with beautiful red tomatoes. Love summer salads!

Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Asparagus and Tomato Salad
1 bunch of asparagus
4 large tomatoes
1/4 heaping cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus. Lay asparagus on a cutting board, tips even. Beginning at tips, cut trimmed asparagus into thirds.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Using a large slotted spoon or small strainer, pluck asparagus from the boiling water and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let asparagus remain in ice water for about a minute. Remove asparagus from ice water, place on paper towels to drain, folding more towels over top to absorb excess water.

Place blanched asparagus into a large bowl and set aside.

Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Rinse, removing seeds and pulp. Pat dry with paper towels and place into bowl with asparagus.

Lay three or four basil leaves in a stack. Roll into a cigar shape. Cut width-wise into thin ribbons. Sprinkle over salad. Toss to combine. Chill well until ready to serve.

While salad is chilling, make dressing.

Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Whisk together until combined and honey has dissolved.

Place dressing into a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to “dress” salad, shake dressing well to emulsify. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve remaining dressing along side salad with a small spoon to drizzle as desired.

Fried Lobster Ravioli with Two Cream Sauces

Many moons ago, a restaurant and brewer opened just down the street from where we were living at the time. They brewed the usual – beer. They also brewed some of the most incredible Root Beer I have ever tasted. Hubby and I are not beer consumers. As for Kiddo, now that he is of the legal age to drink, he doesn’t mind a draft every now and then. However; he is our child – with a weakness for top-shelf Margaritas and a good Merlot. When it comes to wines, he’s become a bit of a snob. He feels the cork, sniffs and swirls, giving the illusion that he has been drinking wines for eons, and that he knows exactly what he is doing. Like Hubby, Kiddo prefers a red that is deep and full-bodied, the product the small berries of Cabernet Sauvignon, while I prefer the more delicate fruit of the Pinot Noir vine.

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Chicken Teriyaki with Pineapple Rings

Years ago, a couple of friends opened a restaurant in a little strip-mall food court. Their place was called “The Teriyaki Hut”.  They were Filipino-Hawaiian transplants to the Nevada desert. Their little eatery predominately specialized in dishes from Hawaii (although Teriyaki is actually a Japanese cooking technique of broiling or grilling foods that are glazed in a mixture of soy, mirin and sugar).  I often wondered why they didn’t concentrate on the Filipino side of their heritage. After all, Las Vegas has a huge Filipino population. I suppose my friends wanted to set themselves apart since there were already a number of established strip-mall eateries serving up Pancit, Adobo and Lumpia.

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Smokey Pan Seared Asparagus

This is a recipe I picked up a while back from everydayfrenchchef.com. It’s one of those recipes that you read, tell yourself “how simple” and file away, believing that the best way to serve asparagus is steamed with some sort of sauce such as Hollandaise. And then one day, you pull it out and cook it up. Much to your surprise, it’s not only wonderfully delicious, your non-asparagus eater (aka Kiddo) wants seconds.

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Vintage Lemonade – a Turn of the Century Recipe

Today is the 4th of July – America’s Independence Day. You can bet there will be plenty of backyard barbecues and time spend reminiscing about the good old days. Why not serve up a refreshing Lemonade that brings back all those childhood memories and more?

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American Flag Bean Dip

When I saw this awesome American Flag Bean Dip over at kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com; I could not resist. While the bean dip recipe is mine, the arrangement is completely her inspiration. How utterly cleaver!

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