Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakfast on the Go Muffins

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I know breakfast is a major meal for us.  I INSIST that my children have breakfast, always.  That being said, even though cereals have come a long way since I was a kid, they still possess sweeteners and artificial colors and flavors.  So on weekends when I have more time, I try and create amazing "go to" fast dishes they can quickly heat and enjoy with a glass of milk or juice.
Or in my hubby's and my case, take to work and heat and watch our coworkers "drool" at the aroma and visual delight!! (they did too) ;-) 

Above is one of them.  This is an adoption of one of my ultimate favorite authors Joanne Fluke's.  Her "Hannah Swensen" mystery series are chock full of amazing recipes, and also quite comical detective work!!  It's easy and fun reading that will leave you running to your kitchen to make her dishes.  This is how this dish came about. 
That being said, I have "lightened" this recipe quite a bit, well actually a lot! My intentions were to make it a wholesome, good for you recipe, that is absolutely delicious and satisfying!! One you will be happy to give to your family!!
Hope you enjoy the variations as much as we do!!


Here we go:

Ingredients:
1lb bacon cooked (I used turkey bacon in this picture)
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
2-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
1 dozen (12) small eggs

Directions:
Cook your bacon till almost crisp but not quite, you still want it pliable. Place on paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400F.
In a medium size bowl, sift your dry ingredients together, including the sugar. Set aside.
In another bowl, add your wet ingredients. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry and mix well, the batter will be slightly lumpy.   Spray your muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each muffin tin with batter to measure halfway full.


         
Using your bacon make a little coral inside the muffin tin, this will be your fence and guideline. Gently break your egg on top of the batter and INSIDE of the bacon coral. That is why it's important to use small to medium eggs.


       
Using a tbsp measure now, use the leftover batter to gently cover the egg. The batter will spread and puff, so just ensure the egg is covered.  That was it, how easy right?

Bake for 22-25 till lightly golden. Let cool a few minutes in the tins, then remove onto cooling rack to cool all the way thru. Store in an airtight container in the fridge... these don't last long, TRUST ME!!!




Yield: 12 regular muffins or 8 ex- large



Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mediterranean 3 Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Mediterranean 3 Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Ever feel like a nice steak sandwich for dinner? Maybe with a nice bowl of soup?? Especially when you know you have awesome homemade leftover soup frozen (*note this soup freezes amazingly*), and the weather is just horrid... cold, windy, rainy and just dreary as all get out!!  Yes, I totally understand because that is exactly how I felt like this weekend...

So, I went rummaging through my freezer.  I found a nice container of my Hearty Beef Vegetable Pastina Soup  perfect!!  The amazing beefy flavor of this soup coupled with the hearty steak sandwich I was planning on making, oh yeah baby!
Ready for the recipe? 

Here we go:

Ingredients:
4-6 smallish thin steaks (or 2 larger steaks)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 Tbls extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 Tbls red wine (if you don't have any wine or prefer not to use wine, a citrus will do just fine, think lemon, lime juice)
4 Hoagie Rolls (I used Ciabatta onion hoagie rolls)
1 Red onion sliced
1 9oz bag of fresh spinach
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 thin slices Fontina cheese (cut into 3 strips per slice)
1-1/2 cups of mozzarella shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic crushed
Pinch of salt & pepper

Directions:
Season your steaks on both sides with the seasonings, drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and the wine, cover with foil and grill or bake to your desired doneness, keep warm.
Brush 2 tbls of olive oil on rolls.  *Hoagie rolls are longer rolls and come in various flavors*.


Place rolls on your grill face down, when you have a nice grill mark on the rolls, take off the grill, set aside and place your sliced red onions on the grill to soften them and give them amazing grilled flavor!!



 Let's saute our spinach shall we?  In a large saute pan, over medium heat add the remaining 3 tbls of the extra virgin olive oil.  When the oil is heated, add your crushed garlic.  Once the garlic starts to soften add your spinach.  Let the spinach wilt.  Remove from heat. Season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Set aside.


 Now we're ready to assemble our sandwiches, ready?
To the bottom layer of your hoagie roll add your grilled onions.  Top with sauteed spinach. Add your feta cheese.



Now place your steak over the toppings, and add your Fontina cheese extra feta and finally top with your mozzarella cheese.  Set aside and continue assembling the rest of the sandwiches


Preheat oven to 375F. Place your steak sandwich open faced in the oven and bake till all toppings have been heated thru and your cheese has melted beautifully, about 8-10 minutes.

I know...

Cut in half (these are large rolls, could be easily cut into fourths for a party), transfer to plate, and get ready to dig in!!


Yield: 4 Large Sandwiches


Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Busy Mom's Best Ever Split Pea with Ham Soup (crockpot)

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So my crockpot is like my BFF, no, I'm not joking... I LOVE my crockpot!!  We have been through many adventures together!!  I lovingly clean and coo to her (I've named her Lola by the way, because she's just shiny, silver and sexy), she in turn gives me amazing meals.  What's not to love??
That being said, I rely on her especially on weeknights because you know, life.... children with activities, add in the amazing chores (you know, laundry, lunches, cleaning), throw in a few social get together... and heck, I'm lucky to know what day of the week it is!!  With just a few minutes of prep the night before, your crockpot can and will become your new best friend!!  Name them, THEY LOVE IT!! :-)

One of my favorite dishes to make in the crockpot is hearty soups, LOVE THEM!!  One of my patient's gave me this recipe many years ago, and let me tell you, it's the best split pea soup with ham EVER!!! I've made just a couple of changes (mostly to suit crockpot cooking), spoon licking good!! Ready for the recipe?

Here we go:

Ingredients:
1 Ham bone with ham
1 package split peas
1-1/2 cups (2 medium) carrots diced
1-1/2 cups (2 medium) stalks celery diced
1 large onion diced
1 - 32 oz (or 4 cups) chicken broth
4-5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
4 oz (small pkg) or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes

Directions:
The night before  you are going to make the soup, gather your ingredients and prep your veggies, it takes just a few minutes.




I then store the veggies in water with a lid in the fridge.  In the morning, I'm all ready to go!!

Pick through and rinse your split peas.  Add to the crockpot.  Add your diced veggies, then add your ham bone in the center of the veggies and peas.


Next add your chicken broth,  salt, pepper and bay leaf, stir your mixture.  Finally, add your water till your ham bone is covered.  Turn crockpot onto low and let soup mixture cook for 8-10 hours.
Take ham bone out of crockpot.  Let cool till be able to shred meat off the bone. Fish out the bay leaf and discard. As bone is cooling, using your immersion blender (or if you want to use the blender method, just be careful when pouring the very hot mixture), puree your mixture till your desired consistency.  I like to puree mine silky, but still leave some carrots, for texture.  Here comes the secret ingredient.  Add your instant flaked potatoes in increments, and using a whisk, make sure all the potatoes are dissolved.  The soup will be nice and thick and creamy and oh my oh my... just delicious!!  *Lola is beaming ear to ear she is* ;-)


Add your shredded ham back into the soup and stir. 


My favorite way to serve this is with homemade croutons and a nice crusty slice of bread, but for dipping of course!!! ;-)


I love how thick and creamy this soup is, but still have chunks of ham and carrots for consistency and just DOWNRIGHT GOODNESS!!!  This recipe is definitely worth a try!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, April 16, 2012

Almond Cake with Pineapple Yogurt& Strawberry Filling


I wanted to create a cake for our Easter dinner, something different, not done before, delicious and memorable... well this cake fits the bill, and then some!!
I gotta be honest, this was one of the BEST cakes I've ever had!!! The acutal texture of it was exactly what I was aiming for... a moist, dense, buttery cake with just the right amount of almonds.  The filling, downright delicious!!! 

Ready for the recipe?

Here we go:

Almond Cake:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp tsp salt

Pineapple yogurt with strawberries filling:
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1- 6oz greek yogurt with pineapple
1/4 cup confectionary sugar
1/2 cup strawberries diced (about 4 large)

Preheat your oven to 350F.
Using a medium bowl, add your dry ingredients and mix well, set aside.
In your stand up mixer (or using hand mixer in a medium bowl), add your softened butter and sugar.  Beat till nice and fluffy.  Add your eggs, beating well after each addition, your sour cream and finally your extracts. Add half your flour mixture, mix thoroughly, add the remainder of your flour mixture and mix till fully incorporated. Turn off mixer.
Spray with non stick cooking spray your bundt cake pan (or pan of your choice).  Add your cake mixture to the pan. *Note, mixture will be thick*


No worries, just spread like so.... and when finished spreading, tap lightly a couple of times on countertop to ensure there is no air bubbles remaining.


Bake for 30-35 minutes till nicely golden and cake tester comes out clean.
Let sit on the cooking rack for a few minutes, then invert by holding up the baking rack to the top of the bundt cake, then flip over, and you will feel the weight of the cake as it falls out of the pan.  Let cool thoroughly about 20 minutes.



As cake is cooking let's make our filling, YES!!!
I've fallen in love with this Greek yogurt from Aldi's.  If you don't have an Aldi's near you, your favorite flavored Greek yogurt will do just fine.  The reason I specify "Greek" (well I'm Greek, hello ;-) ), but it's also possess such a silky/creamy texture compared to the traditional yogurt!!  We love the pineapple, so much so that I wanted to use it in a recipe!!


In a small mixing bowl, add your cream cheese and confectionery sugar beat (I use a hand mixer for this), till nice and smooth.  Fold in your pineapple yogurt.


When all folded, add your strawberries.  *Note: you can use less sugar if you like, my stawberries even though absolutely gorgeous, were just a tad tart, use your judgement and personal taste*.  When all mixed, set aside.




Cake should be thoroughly cooled
*Note: to help make cutting the cake easier, after cake has cooled, place in freezer for about 15 minutes or so, trust me... take out and proceed as below* 
Using a large serrated knife, cut straight across the upper half of the cake making a lid and an opening, set the cake lid piece aside.  Using a smaller serrated knife, carve out a tunnel, as much or as little as you want, I went about 1" deep all the way around.




Now, fill in with your filling mixture, spread evenly and replace your lid.  Set aside to make your almond glaze.




Almond glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2-3 tbls milk

Stir all ingredients till smooth and glossy, drizzle over your cake and decorate as desired.  Sliced almonds would look amazing on this as would dried strawberries and pineapple, YUM!!!

Let chill and slice.  Look how beautiful it looks inside...and the taste??  Oh my goodness!!  Pineapple and strawberries, what's not to love about them??  Out and out goodness all enfolded in a silky smooth cream!!


I know!!!

*Note: from personal experience, let the glaze harden in place (about 35 mintues) before attempting to move the cake.  Otherwise you will get a shift in the lid as you can see from the small gap above*

Yields: 10-12

This recipe is linked to:


Dishin with Didi

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My 3rd Blue Ribbon!!! - Cappuccino Caramel Chocolate Cookies

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I had quite a day yesterday to be honest... I was not feeling the "love" and will just leave it at that.  So imagine my surprise when I opened up my email after getting home and seeing all the "congrats" of my foodie family and friends!!  I was like, "huh"??  I received my 3rd blue ribbon from the amazing kitchen crew over at Just a Pinch      Woooooohoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, best recipe site EVER!!  Now you are gonna say to yourself, well congrats Didi but it's just a blue ribbon attached to your recipe...
Aha, see that's where you're WRONG!!  They literally mail you a "blue ribbon".
These are the two blue ribbons that I have won from my other two recipes.


My other two blue ribbon winners are:  ALL RECIPES ARE LINKED

Cranberry Cookie Strudel

1st blue ribbon

Pumpkin Muffins filled with Spiced Marshmallow Cream

2nd blue ribbon

So sharing my amazing news and seeing the pics... well, I gotta be honest, it's motivated me to go COOK something!!  LOL

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gyro Meatballs


Gyro Meatballs

These gems are absolutely divine!!  A foodie friend and kindred sister had me totally salivating when she showed pictures of her luscious lamb chops marinating for part of her Easter dinner...
So I quickly defrosted some ground lamb, and made what I know my family truly adores!!
I love making the Gyro meat into meatballs and then skewering them.  I either grill them, or bake them (the above were baked). 
They look absolutely gorgeous and so funky!!  Your guests will think you're an absolute culinary genius, which at this point, you will smile that dazzling smile and take full credit!!  Plus, they're absolutely delicious!!
The entire dish takes less than 30 minutes to prep, including the skewers, and you can see how fancy they look.  Ready for some dazzle?

Here we go:

Gyro Meat Meatball Mixture:
1lb ground beef
1/2lb ground lamb
1/2lb ground pork
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (I used Panko)
2 eggs
1/4 cups of mint finely chopped or 1 tsp dried
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 Sm onion finely diced
2 tsp olive oil

Additional ingredients for grilling:
Skewers (soaked in water for about 5 minutes to prevent burning)

Directions:
In a medium bowl add all your ingredients.


Mix till thoroughly combined.  Using a small cookie scoop or your very clean hands make into meatballs, place on a plate and continue making the meatballs.
When you have finished making your meatballs, now comes the fun part... let's skewer!!


 Take each meatball and pierce straight through the middle.  Add 4-5 meatballs per skewer and set on your foil lined baking sheet (ensures easier clean up, those of you that read my blog know I'm ALL ABOUT easy clean up), set aside.
Continue with skewers until all meatballs have been used.  I usually soak about 20 skewers.  This way I am not wasting an entire package by presoaking.  If I need more, I can then judge how much I will need.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30-35 minutes till all meat mixture has cooked through and the meatballs are nice and crispy on the outside.  That's the best part of a Gyro, having a crispy outside texture!!  If you're grilling, grill on medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes or so.  Judge it by the crisp on the outside, and break open one to ensure pork has cooked all the way thru.

Place on a pretty plate, serve with your favorite salad and crusty bread, heck add tzatziki sauce if you like, or not!! 

The best part?? Easy, amazing delicious, with dazzling presentation!!  
No-one needs to know how easy these were to make *shhhhhhhh*!! ;-)



Kali sas oreksi!!

Dishin with Didi

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chipotle Honey Glaze

I know right??  Where's my darn knife and fork???

So I had leftover chipotles with adobo sauce from the small can I opened last week for my  Make ahead chicken and black bean enchilada's
left over.  I knew I needed to use them up.  I know some say freeze them, but to be quite honest I have frozen them before and they are "yuk" when frozen.  Their consistency is such that you can't really vacuum seal them... so I try and use them up as quickly as I can.  The idea for this amazing glaze came from my frugal ways of "using this up"...  ready for this finger licken, lip smacking good recipe??

Here we go:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 chipotle pepper with 2 tsp adobo sauce (if you don't like extra heat I would highly recommend starting off with 1/2 of a pepper first)

Directions:
In a small food processor or silver bullet, add all your ingredients and puree till smooth.  This will be thick because of the honey, view below.  Use with your favorite meat; pork, chicken, beef.  Or store till ready to use.

See how thick this is??



We started off with thin pork chops for this dish.  I buy my whole pork loin and cut into boneless pork roasts and thick boneless chops.  But, and I say BUT, you know the weird ends at the end??  You know what I'm talking about the poor squished deformed ones???  Well, with the price of meat being the way it is, do you really think I'm going to throw those deformed ends away??  Heck no!!!  I chop those babies up and vacuum seal them, and use them up.  Their not as thick, their not as pretty... but they sure TASTE GOOD!!!
So, after preheating my grill, I seared those thin not as pretty pork chop ends on either side. 

 *the reason you want to presear and NOT MARINADE is because of the honey.  If you marinate the meat using this as a marinade,  the high sugar content in the honey will literally char the meat on the outside while still being raw on the inside.  Does that make sense?  So you want to brush with glaze once the meat has been seared or cooked pretty much all the way.  This way you will get a nice charred/crispy glaze with all the amazing glaze flavor and fully cooked just the way you want it*!!

I got an amazing sear mark on either side, then I brought out my glaze and basted those babies WITH LOVE... yes, yes I did!! :-)  They were singing, they were dancing, they knew they were loved and not just LEFTOVER cuts!!  I treated them with utter respect I say, "utter"!!  ;-)
When they were done I brought them in, and kept them warm in the oven till I finished my sweet potato crisps.

 I know.... here you go!!!!


Okay, one more pic...

Then of course we had to bring this dish all together... with steamed baby green beans drizzled with my ultimate favorite; "garlic infused olive oil"!!  To quote Emeril Lagasse, "Oh Yea Baby"!!!!! :-)



I encourage you to try this glaze, it's finger licking, fork smacking GOOD!!!
Then make sure to come back and tell me all about it!! ;-)

Kalisas Orekse

Dishin with Didi