Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bacon & Cheddar Potato Salad

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Have you  grabbed your fork yet?

This is my friend Tamara's potato salad.  The woman is a GENIUS!!  That is all I'm saying, seriously!  My good friend Dan, Tamara's brother introduced us to this beyond outstanding potato salad in one of the foodie groups I'm a member in.  Well, I can honestly tell you I have made it 4x already.  It's chock full of bacon, yes you heard me correctly, BACON.  Cheddar cheese, green onions, red potatoes...
This is perfect for a side dinner, picnic, brunch.  Just make sure to double it because it will disappear faster than you can say, "leave some for me".  
Or you can justify to yourself and tell yourself that it has a green, meat and potato, so really, it's a meal... 

Tamara was kind enough to let me share with you.  If not then I would have to drive over to her house, bring her gifts, take her out to lunch, smooch her... 
Yeah you know! *grin*

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6

3-5lbs red potatoes, cut into cubes (skin on)
4Oz (1 cup) cheddar cheese (a package of cheese is 8Oz = 2 cups)
1lb bacon, diced and cooked till crisp
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste.

-Wash and cut potatoes, place in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover 1".  Bring to a full boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or so till potatoes are tender.  Drain and slightly cool.

-While potatoes are cooling, let's fry the bacon till crisp, remove onto paper lined plate.  Make sure  you grab just a few pieces of bacon for yourself, I mean we must "taste" the food an all.  What?

-Potatoes should be cool.  Place in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Drizzle the milk and vinegar over the potatoes and add the chopped onions.  Toss the mixture and let the potatoes get nicely acquainted with the onions for 10-15 minutes.  

-Now that the potatoes and onions have become best friends, let's add the mayonnaise,  cheddar cheese and finally the star of the show... bacon.

This salad is wonderful at room temperature and also chilled.  Just make sure you keep it away from you while you are in the kitchen because your fork will be in it constantly!!  Trust me, I know this from personal experience <sigh>.

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Parsley Pesto Open Faced Steak Sandwiches with Garlic Spread (Skorthalia)

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Grab your napkin...

These babies were beyond good, that is all I'm saying.  They are just decadent and bursting with flavor!  You have that amazing garlic spread, parsley walnut pesto, grilled and topped over an amazing toasted Crostini.
I know!  Just because, I added a roasted red pepper on top!

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Spring is in the air.  I felt like grilling... what's not to love about a grilled steak I ask?  However, I couldn't grill out because I don't know how to start our gas grill.  No, I'm not joking.  *Didi looking around the room, what*?  My hubby starts it for me, heats it up to the temperature I need, and then backs off as I grill.  Hubby unfortunately was coming home late tonight, so either I baked the steaks (NO), or I would have to grill them on my indoor grill.  The latter it was!  This would be perfect for an impromptu gathering when you didn't pull out that many steaks.  It's budget friendly because you slice one large steak into individual slices...

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep time: *including marinading time* 2 hours
Cook Time:  25 minutes

Parsley Walnut Pesto:
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt & pepper

-Place all ingredients in your food processor and process till smooth. Taste for seasonings, adjust if necessary.  How I taste it by taking a nice piece of crostini and slathering pesto over it.
The sacrifices I make for my family... I should be crowned "best mom of the year" I say! *grin*

Steak & Bread:
1 large top sirloin steak (that's what I used) or 2-3 smaller steaks of choice
8-10 slices Italian or French bread

-Spread both sides of steak with the pesto.

Look at that awesome pesto

-Wrap steak with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.  Remove from refrigerator 1/2 an hour before grilling to ensure the steak comes to room temperature.

-Grill according to your preference.  We like our steaks medium.
Let steaks rest and then cut into strips.

-Add your crostini slices to the grill and crisp on either side while steak is cooking.

-When the crostini's are grilled, spread about 1 tablespoon full of garlic spread over them.

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-Top with a few pieces of steak.

-Add a little more garlic spread on top of the steak.  Top with a beautiful slice of roasted red pepper to bring all the flavors together and sprinkle with a little bit of fresh parsley for that dramatic effect. Can you taste it?  I know...

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-Want to take it over the top?  I knew it, see I know how you think!  Sprinkle a little Feta cheese over them!

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I served them with a nice pasta salad and mini frozen corn on the cob.  These sandwiches are  easy, healthy, bursting with flavor and totally budget friendly!  Are you chopping the parsley yet?

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cod fillets & Greek Garlic Spread (Skorthalia)

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This is my spin on an old favorite recipe.  The original recipe is fried battered salt cured cod which is served with garlic spread.  It's usually served with french fries, beets drizzled with vinegar and olive oil, and a nice Greek salad, I know!!
I was craving this dish so badly I could literally taste it.  However, I'm trying to keep it heart healthy.  
So I thought to myself (scary isn't it), "self, how about steaming the cod fillets, still making the garlic spread (Skorthalia) and bringing it together over the Crostini"?  Well, I am here to tell you, we have a winner!

The star of the show is the garlic spread (Skorthalia).  The smooth garlicky spread is so delicious, heck you just want to take a spoon to it.  Never mind, I did!

The traditional way of making "Bakaliaro" or as my friendly cousins the Italians say it is; "Bakalao".  Either way, it's delicious.  You start off with a large piece of salt cured and dried cod.  You proceed to soak it, overnight in water, along with rinsing the cod a few times and re-soaking it in water again.  That is to re-hydrate it and also allow for most of the salt to be washed off.  
Then you dry it off and batter it using your favorite batter and deep fry it.  Outta this world good!!  Not the healthiest of meals to be honest, but it is delicious!  Add in the traditional sides of beets and some french fries?  Well, you will be fighting even the fish haters away, trust me!
Not a beet lover?  You will be!  My two  younger ones always tell me they don't like beets.  Okay, I will give them that, but I always mandate that if I make a dish a different way that they try just one bite.  If they don't like it, they can leave it be, if they like it, they can have more.  I served the beets (canned, rinsed and patted dry, drizzled lightly with olive oil) on a plate next to the Skorthalia.  I then did to them what my daddy did to me.  I forked up a slice of beet, added some Skorthalia to it and said; "here you go".  All I have to say is we went thru 2 cans of beets tonight!!  *total grin face*

Now I gotta tell you, this version is not only 10x healthier, you really don't miss the frying.  

So are we ready for a delicious and very simple recipe?  Here we go;

Yield: 4 Servings of fish
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 minutes

Garlic Spread:
4 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)
4-5 medium garlic cloves
2 tbsp white vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

-Add your potatoes along with enough water to cover potatoes by an inch.  Add a pinch of salt and boil potatoes till soft like you are making mashed potatoes.

-Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  *eat one cube of potato, I mean you need nourishment and all*.  Once cooled and drained, add the potato cubes into a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

-Process till smooth.  Remove, taste for seasonings, and place in a pretty plate and set in refrigerator to chill.  Will keep in fridge for approximately 2 weeks.  You can use it as spreads, dips, wraps and sandwiches, toss with pasta and cheese, or just eat it right off the spoon.  What?
Did I mention how heart healthy this spread is?  I didn't?  Well see, now you can have 2 spoonfuls!

-Do you want to dip a piece of Crostini in?  Beat ya to it!

I know, dunk ready!

Fish & Crostini:
6-8 slices Italian bread
4 boneless cod fillets
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon or 4 tsp lemon juice
*optional* 3-4 slices beets

-Preheat oven to 400F.

-Baste your bread slices lightly with the olive oil on both sides and place in oven for 10-13 minutes.  Flip the bread slices over halfway and let become golden on the other side.

-As bread is becoming crisp.  In a steamer basket, steam your cod fillets for approximately 7-9 minutes till fish has an all over white color and is flaky.  Let rest.

-When bread is toasted we are ready to assemble.

-Spread a good tablespoonful of garlic spread onto the Crostini. 

- Lay your cod fillet over spread and Crostini and top with a little more garlic spread.

-Just for color and because the beets coupled with the garlic spread is outta this world good, slice one and add on top.  I promise you, it will be gone before you know it.

There you have it.  A healthy and absolutely delicious easy dinner.  Their individual open faced sandwiches, so they look fancy but you can see how easy they were to make...
Add in a nice salad and you have an amazing healthy dinner!  

Are you heading to your fishmonger yet?

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)

I know...

Comfort food.  This is exactly what this is.  Lately I have been craving comfort foods from when I was growing up.  Meaning my Greek roots.  I don't know if the weird weather has anything to do with it or not, but all I want to do is just cuddle up on the couch with a throw, my doggies and a big bowl of goodness!

This is one of the most infamous rice dishes in Greece.  There are regional differences, (but of course) in regards to what fresh herbs you use and if you add a tomato product to it or not.  Other than that, the preparation is pretty much the same.  From my region (the Islands), we add a tomato product to it, along with sometimes using green onions.  My ex mother-in-laws region (Sparta), they do not add the tomato product to the rice.  After having tried both, I actually prefer the one without the tomato product, "sorry mama"!

This rice is bursting with flavor, I have to be honest with you.  Chock full of spinach, dill, onions, olive oil... did I mention how healthy it is too?  Squeeze a bit of lemon on top and your talking Food of the Gods here!!  It can be served as a main meal with a nice hunk of Feta cheese and some crusty bread, (I think I just salivated again).  Or serve as a side dish with one of your favorite meats.  I highly suggest a nice Souvlaki with this, or meatballs?  Heaven!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Yield: 4-6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
1 pkg (9 Oz) fresh spinach 
1/3 cup fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried)
1/3 cup fresh dill chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 medium onion diced (5-6 green onions diced)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3 1/4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*optional* lemon slices

-In a large saute pan add your olive oil and heat.  Add your onions and when they start to become fragrant, about 3- 4 minutes, add your spinach and let wilt.

-When spinach is almost wilted add your herbs and cook for one more minute.

-Now let's add the rice.  Saute for 1 more minute, and add your salt, pepper and water. Stir to mix.  Turn heat down to low, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now is the time to make yourself that coffee.

-Turn off heat and adjust for seasonings if needed.

That is it.  How easy was that?  The most flavorful main or side dish ever.  It is delicious, absolutely addicting, low fat and healthy for you...  

Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice and grab your fork.

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poundcake Fruit Mold - No Bake (3 Ingredients) Video

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My friend Diane made this after watching my video... doesn't it look mouth watering?

I have been making this recipe for over 25 years. It's one of the easiest most delectable recipes ever... better yet, it's no bake, SCORE!

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I created this recipe in the mindset of helping out my fellow hostesses when I was a Tupperware lady.  Not only could I alleviate some of the stress entailed in being a hostess, I actually got to share some of my favorite recipes with them as well.  See what I have to say on the video...

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An absolutely easy recipe, yet the flavor, is next to none! No one will ever know it's non-bake.  Unless you want to tell them that is!
The base is pound cake (heaven), then the fruit of our choice, canned, frozen or fresh.  The co-star being the non-dairy topping.  I know, just hand me a spoon, who am I kidding?

The two amazing Tupperware dealers as mentioned on the video from our FB community are:

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

1 16oz container frozen pound cake, defrosted
1 15Oz can fruit of choice, drained-reserving juice (I used pears in the video)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen fruit drained of choice (I used strawberries)
{or 1.5 cans fruit of choice drained}
1 8Oz container of frozen non-dairy topping, defrosted
*optional* 1/3 cup roasted nuts + 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

-We start by cutting our loaf of pound cake into 16 slices.  We cut the 8 slices in half making fingers.  Set aside.

-Drain your canned fruit and reserve the juice in a separate bowl.

-If you are going to use nuts, I would dry pan roast the nuts now and when roasted and placed in a bowl, toss with 1/2 tsp granulated sugar.  Set aside.

-Dip your first pound cake finger slightly in the reserved fruit juice and mold into your jello mold. Continue dipping and pressing the fingers till the perimeter has been enclosed, or you become dizzy, whichever comes first.

-Spread 1/3 cup or so of the non-dairy topping on the bottom of the mold.  Add, 1/3 of your fruit.  Top off with the larger pieces of pound cake that have been dipped lightly into the reserved juice.  Sprinkle with half of the nuts.

-Repeat the layering one more time ending with the nuts.

-Using your Tupperware lid, burp according to the instructions on the video till you have a very flat, almost concave lid.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.

-After the allotted time, bring the mold out and invert either onto the Tupperware tray, or a pretty platter.  Remove the top, smaller lid off first (see video), and then unmold in the gentlest of manners. What?  Cut and serve.

-Additional fresh fruit for garnish makes the plates look so pretty!  While no one is looking, grab a couple of fresh fruit pieces for yourself.  You did do the work and all...

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This is one of the most easiest of desserts, yes? Nevertheless, elegant enough to serve on any occasion.  
So my friends, grab a pound cake and be the star of the show!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Homemade Greek Pastichio - Video

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I know...

My friends over at Just a Pinch wanted me to make "my version" of the traditional Pastichio.  They had made my version of the "traditional Moussaka" and they loved it.  So they wanted me to show them my family's version of the Pastichio.  Just like any heritage, there are differences in how the food is prepared depending on the region you are from.  Excuse the "mom jeans".  They are one of the most comfortable pair.  Even though they are big on me... they feel like an old pair of pajamas if you know what I mean! I know, I know, my kids my fun of me all the time!!
So anyway, this is my family's version of the Pastichio which I grew up on. There is no garlic in this recipe as seen in some other versions depending on their region of course.  I can still remember one of my cousin's asking her mom, "mama, why isn't there any garlic in this"?  Well, you could hear a pin drop!  Everyone and everything went silent in the kitchen, I'm almost positive, time stopped!  All 3 of my aunts and my mom glared at my cousin like she was an alien, yet not a word was spoken. We quickly learned not to ask any questions, only to observe, provide and clean!  
Ah, yes, the fun times...

Our moms are our idols.  They taught us everything we know.  They have molded each and every one of us into the women we are today.  They taught us amazing tips, values, morals, traditions and Greek dishes to make for our family.  They made sure we knew the proper way of doing things, and if we messed up, eventually someone's hair was pulled!! Yet I cannot think back even one time when we were all in the kitchen cooking and baking up a storm, that there wasn't a ton of chatter, singing, laughing and the occasional let's break into dance.  I love them so!!

So without further ado...

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2lbs ground beef (I used 85/15 ratio for this)
28Oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 large onion chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
2 cinnamon sticks or 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

4 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 stick unsalted butter
4 large eggs beaten
10 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup Kefalotyri Cheese (can use grated Romano)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper (can  use black)
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1lbs long macaroni (I used Zitoni) found in the Italian section
1 cup Kefalotyri Cheese (can use grated Romano)

2 tbsp Kefalotyri Cheese (can use grated Romano)
1/4 tsp nutmeg

-In a large saucepan add enough water and a couple of pinches of salt and bring water to boil for pasta.

-Using a large stockpot, add your ground beef, and proceed to crumble till the ground beef is browned.  Add your onions in and saute for 3-5 minutes till the onions have become soft and translucent. Or as I like to say, "happy".

-Add your crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and finally your cinnamon.  Let simmer for 20 minutes.

-Meanwhile, pasta water should be boiling.  Add your macaroni in and boil till almost Ala Dente, not quite.  You still want a bite to these noodles because you will finish off baking them in the oven.  Does that make sense?  Cool!

-Drain your noodles, and stop the cooking process by rinsing them in cold water.  Just like you would if making a pasta or macaroni salad.  Drain well, add to a large bowl and sprinkle with the Kefalotyri Cheese.  Toss well.

-Using a large baking pan, pre-spray with baking spray.  Add your noodles in the baking pan with all the noodles laying in one direction.

-Add that wonderful, amazing beyond aromatic ground beef sauce directly over the noodles.  Don't worry if a couple of noodles are peeking through, it's all good.  Or do as I do, pull that one out and insert directly into mouth.  What?

-Let's make our Bechamel.  Using a large saucepan, add the butter, once melted add in the flour.  Let it cook for about 1 minute or so.  You will know when the flour is cooked because it will start to bubble.  

-Pour in your milk all at once.  Whisking constantly till the Bechamel thickens.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Sing a song, that's what I do.

-Turn off the heat, add in your Kefalotyri Cheese, your pepper, salt and finally the nutmeg.  Set aside.

-In a small bowl beat your eggs.  In a medium bowl, add 2-3 ladle fulls of Bechamel.  Temper the Bechamel by adding the eggs to the very hot Bechamel.  Once incorporated, return the now tempered sauce into the large saucepan where the rest of the Bechamel is.  Whisk in till thoroughly incorporated.  Pour the now tempered sauce over the Pastichio.  Sprinkle with the topping of cheese and a little bit more nutmeg.

-Bake in a pre-heated 350F for 45-55 minutes, or till edges are starting to become golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for approximately 20 minutes.
I know, I have such a hard time waiting.  Try not to pick on any corners... what
Cut into large squares, top with a sprinkle of additional cheese if so desired and serve.

So there you go.  My family's version of making the "traditional Pastichio" with a few doggies in the video for good measure! *grin*

I hope you make this very simple version my friends.  It's simplicity is exactly what gives it the most amazing flavor.  So if you will excuse me, I'm off to "dig in".

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Friday, March 1, 2013

Raspberry Almond Meringue Bars

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Just decadent...

Hello, how are you?  Long time no talk, yes?  How have you been? I have been good, busy, busy. You know, when life like gets hold of you and next thing you know it's next week...
Has that ever happened to you?  No?  Is it just me?

Okay, moving right along.  I wanted to finally make a dessert for my family.  Oh yes, we have ice cream, who doesn't?  But that is not a dessert, that is a very necessary food group, so that doesn't count.  I mean actually "make something". It took me a while to figure out what I wanted because truth be told, I don't have a sweet tooth. Have you figured that out yet?  For instance, if you present me a plate of french fries (make it with brown gravy and I'll love you forever), or a piece of cake or cookie...  I will hands down take the french fries (make it with gravy and I'm moving in) over the sweet every time!

I finally came up with these bars with the influence of one of my cookbooks.  I have to be honest with you, their "outta this world"!
You have the nice cake mix crust.  Yes, you heard me correctly, cake mix crust.  The middle is raspberry preserves with a smidgen of Chambord drizzled in, well just because of course...
Topped with the lightest of almond meringue.  I know!  I love the ease of preparation too!  I'm all about easy ya know! *wink*  My family gobbled them up and I actually shared too!  

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: Total 40-45 minutes
Yield: 24 bars

1 Pkg white cake mix (can use yellow if that is what you have on hand)
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract
2 large egg yolks

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups finely chopped almonds

1-1/2 cups seedless raspberry jam or raspberry preserves 
*see notes*
2 tbsp Chambord liquor (or raspberry liquor) *optional*

*Notes: If your jar of jam/preserves is equal to 12 Oz, there is no need to measure, that is exactly 1-1/2 cups.  8 Oz is 1 cup, 4 Oz is 1/2 cup.  The plethora of information I have, I know!

-Preheat oven to 350F.

-In a medium bowl, add your cake mix, eggs, melted butter and almond extract.  Using a hand mixer, mix till all are combined.  The dough will be crumbly and look like small pellets.

-Using a 13 X 9 pan, grease pan and then add the crust crumbles.  Press crust down on the bottom part of the pan.

-Bake for 15 minutes or till crust is lightly browned.

-We finely chop the almonds, almost to crumbs, like so.

-The crust should be done now.  Take out of the oven and place on cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes.

-Spread the jam/preserves over the cake crust.  

-Drizzle the Chambord (if using) over the raspberry preserves.  Why didn't I mix the jam with the liquor in a bowl you ask?  Why would I want to dirty another bowl?  What?

-Let's make our meringue.  I really like the fact that we are not wasting any eggs in this recipe!
Using your stand mixer or hand mixer if preferred, add the egg whites to the bowl.  Beat on medium till they are frothy and foamy about 1 minute or so.

-Increase your speed to high and slowly start adding in your sugar.  The meringue will be done when you have stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes.  

-Turn off mixer.  Gently fold in your finely ground almonds.  Spread over jam layer.  Do not get meringue on sides, trust me!  I learned the hard way, it's a sticky annoying mess.  I wouldn't steer you wrong!

-Bake for 25-27 minutes till meringue is just starting to brown.  I actually ended up baking mine a smidgen longer and it became more brown than I had intended... 
I know, I was on the phone.  Okay, okay, I was on FB.  

These bars in all seriousness were so good. They were just the right consistency, not too dense or chewy.  Just perfect.  The Chambord definitely gave the filling an over the top taste, and you know I'm all about taste!

The ease of the preparation is what convinced me to make these.  I hope it convinces you too.

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi