Kielbasa Sausage and Potato Soup


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My daughter is a senior and consequently is spending her very last year with us. BOO hoo… As a responsible adult, she has therefore been applying to various colleges over the US, some close and some not so close. In fact a bit further than we would like it to be.. but this is how life goes….

Because of a lack of time, we decided to visit a few colleges during this Christmas break. Well, I know most colleges are empty during this time but it is difficult to get some days off when you have a full time job. Any way, after offering a delicious Christmas dinner to my family on the 25th of December, we quickly cleaned everything, packed our suitcases to drive towards Florida on the 26th at 6:00 am. Though the timing was a bit hectic, we were happy to leave the Carolinas to find the sunny weather and warmth of Florida. Well, after being back I am happy to say that Lisa did not find a colleges that she fell “in love with” just yet, so may be she will not be going too too far. We can dream, right???

Well as we made our return back to the Carolinas yesterday, we also left the warmth of  Florida and found ourselves coming to an even colder state than we had left. It was 23 yesterday when we got home. BRRRR…

After a long drive, sitting more than 15 hours in the car, I was not really in the mood to cook dinner, but i was so cold that a soup really sounded appetizing. Well, after a long week of absence, I can say that little can be found in the fridge, and so i had to do with what I had: Potato and Kielbasa Sausage.

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Ingredients for a large pot of soup for 10 people:

  • 1 onion sliced thinly
  • 1 kielbasa sausage sliced thinly and cut in quarters
  • 8 medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 4 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • 1-2 cup of cream
  1. Place the large pot on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Add the butter and melt it.
  2. When the butter is sizzling, add the onions and saute them until they become translucent and golden.photo 1
  3. Add the sausages and saute them as well.
  4. Then add the potato cubes to the onion mixture and saute them as well for a few minutes until they become a bit golden.photo 2
  5. Pour in the broth and bring the mixture to boil. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook for at least 30 minutes or the potatoes are tender. Add salt, pepper and stir well. For a faster option, you may transfer the content of the pot into a large round mold, place the octogonal silpat on top to close it and cook the potatoes for 13 minutes. Then transfer the content back into the pot. Pour the broth over the potatoes, add salt, and pepper and bring it to boil. Lower the temperature and cook for 5 minutes.photo 1
  6. Add the cream and mill the mixture until it is smooth.photo
  7. If  you wish to have a soup free of lumps, you may sieve the soup through a fine sieve. I did not, and still enjoy it very much. Warm and cozy. Yum!!!

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Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

 

Transfer the content of the pot into the large round

Getting Ahead of the Game… Prepare Your Pie Shells in Advance and Freeze them!


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With the holidays coming up, it is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. I try not to. In fact, I usually only list the things that i can do, and get to the other things when the other one are accomplished, or I would go crazy trying to do it all at once.

Well for those of you who may need to bring a little something to a Holiday Gathering, I suggest to bring some tartlets. They are usually easy to make, cook in a dash and can be prepared in advance.

For example, here, you could prepare and cook the pie shells in advance and freeze them in a ziploc bag until you are ready to use them.

Ingredients for 45 mini tartlets:

  • 1 pack of pie crust ( it can be a generic brand)
  1. Turn the oven to 400.
  2. Place the mini tartlet on top of a perforated sheet ( it will cook more evenly).
  3. Unroll your roul’pat on your counter and roll out the pie crust.
  4. With a pie crust cutter of 2 1/4″, cut the crust into small pie shells.photo
  5. Place the pie shells onto the mini tartlet pan and with a shaper, press the pie crust down so that it will take the form of the pan.
  6. With a fork, puncture the pie crust so that a ” bubble” will not form at the bottom when it is baking. Set aside.photo 1

6. Place some porcelain beads, or dry pinto beans in each pie shell so that they will stay flat and you will be able to fill more filling.

7. Cook the shells for 13-15 minutes or until they are a golden brown.

8. Let them cool completely and freeze them until you are ready to use.

You will not be able to make savory tartlets as the pie shell is baked at the same time as the filling, but with empty shells you can do so so much:

  • Lemon pies
  • Chocolate Pies
  • Fruit pies
  • Pecan Pies
  • Great Medium to present Chicken, Tuna or even Egg Salad

I like to use those pie shells to offer vegetable to my buffet as it is always a challenge to offer vegetables. For example, I like to dice some chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil and present it in those pie shells. Chopped Caesar Salad can also be presented in those shells.

I hope that those tips will help you with your next event. Until next time, I wish you

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Canadian Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Tartlets


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This past Friday, our faculty celebrated the Christmas Season with a progressive dinner. I had a cooking class scheduled at that time so I did not get to go, but I offer to bring some appetizers for them to enjoy. I was thinking to make small quiche lorraine because they are yummy, easy to make and quite quick to fix.

When I finally found the time to fix them, I came to realize that I was missing the main ingredients : BACON. and I could not get some because it was wayyyy to late to go to the store!!!

So i had to adapt and used Canadian Bacon and Cheddar Cheese instead. The result was quite yummy;-)

Ingredients for 45 mini tartlets:

  • 1/2 cup of canadian bacon chopped very small
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 pack of pie crust
  1. Place the mini tartlet on top of a perforated sheet ( it will cook more evenly).
  2. Unroll your roul’pat on your counter and roll out the pie crust.
  3. With a pie crust cutter, cut the crust into small pie shells.photo
  4. Place the pie shells onto the mini tartlet pan and with a shaper, press the pie crust down so that it will take the form of the pan.
  5. With a fork, puncture the pie crust so that a ” bubble” will not form at the bottom when it is baking. Set aside.photo 1
  6. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients mentioned above and mix well.
  7. Place about 1 tsp of that mixture in each tartlet.photo 2
  8. Cook in a warm oven of 400 for 15 minutes.photo 3
  9. Enjoy!!!photo 4

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

  • 1 pack of pie crust

Ranch Chicken Cupcakes


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Food is good, but in my eyes it is better in bite size;-) Why?? because you can try more things, and not feel so guilty, plus bite size food is easier to serve than dips at parties!  A few days ago I was browsing the internet and I came across this recipe of Buffalo Chicken. I am not much into spicy food so I would have normally passed this recipe, but it was so cute that i had to try. Well it was a hit at home with the kids. They loved, loved, loved it!!! Next time you have guests over for appetizers, or for tailgate give them a try.

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Ingredients for 20 mini cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken ( which is about 1 1/2 breast of chicken),
  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature,
  • 1/2 cup of ranch dressing,
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of buffalo wing sauce ( or more ),
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese,
  • 30 wonton wrapper,
  • more cheddar cheese to sprinkle
  • and about 1/4 cup of gorgonzola cheese.
  1. You can cook the chicken by boiling in water, or you can place it into the round mold,photo 1
  2. Sprinkle a bit of salt, place the octogonal silpat on top and microwave it for 5-6minutes.
  3. Set the chicken aside to cool and prepare the rest of the mixture.photo 2photo 3
  4. Into a large bowl pour in the cream cheese, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, buffalo wing sauce, salt, pepper. Mix well.photo 1
  5. Shred the chicken and add it to the mixture. Set aside.
  6. With a small cookie cutter cut two small circles in 10 wontons. set aside.
  7. place the mini cupcake tray on the perforated sheet.
  8. Place one wonton in each mini cupcake hole.photo 2
  9. Fill the chicken mixture to half, place one round, or circle ( that you would have previously cut in your wonton) and top this round with the chicken mixture all the way to the top.
  10. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese, then  some gorgonzola cheese.
  11. Bake the cupcakes for 12-15 minutes or until the top is nicely crusted.photo 3
  12. As soon as you are removing the cupcakes from the oven, sprinkle more gorgonzola cheese, drizzle some buffalo sauce and eat up!!! Miam, Miam, Miam!!!photo 1

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Healthy Vegetarian Pizza


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I love Thursday nights because the week is almost over and there is only one day left to work after that and… the weekend is almost here. If I don’t have any work to do ( which does not happen too often, I like to stay home and do nothing… ( well to me, it is nothing. To some of you it may be work:-). I like to go to the gym, play in my kitchen and work on my blog. Today was one of those days;-) FUN! FUN! FUN!!!

So when I called my husband on my way home and asked what he wanted for dinner, and he said pizza, I really welcome the idea because tonite I did not feel like fixing a dinner for me, and a dinner for him… ( I know, selfish…)

So while he had pizza, I had pizza too. Just a bit healthier than those take-out ones:

Vegetarian and Whole Wheat Tortilla Pizza.

Ingredients for 2:

  1. Turn the oven to 400.
  2. Place a silpat on a perforated sheet. Place 2 tortilla on the silpat.
  3. Spoon the tomato sauce over the tortilla and spread it out.photo 1
  4. Place the slices zucchini and squash over the tomato sauce.photo 2
  5. Sprinkle the parmesan over the vegetables.photo 3
  6. Then sprinkle some basil, rosemary herb blend over the parmesan
  7. Place the pizza into the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes.photo 4

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Caesar Salad


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My daughter loves, loves caesar salad. She loves it so much, in fact, that every time we eat out ( which is not that often;-) she orders a caesar salad as an appetizer.

In all the years that she has asked for them, I have come to realize what a good caesar salad is. A good salad is not one that has chopped romaine lettuce, croutons,  shredded parmesan and caesar dressing. Everybody can do that!!!

A good caesar salad needs to have a real caesar dressing made from scratch!!!

Gerhard’s cafe, here in Spartanburg makes his from scratch and it is fabulous. My brother-in-law also makes a good one. I actually learned to make my dressing from him. Though in 20 years, my recipe may have changes a bit from his.

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Ingredients for 4-6 people:

  •  1/2 tsp of anchovy paste
  •  1/2 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove minced or pressed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/16 tsp of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of grated parmesan
  • salt to taste ( you may need any as the anchovies are salty
  • 2 heads of romaine salad, rinsed, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup or more of croutons
  • 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan
  1. In a large bowl, mix the garlic, anchovy paste, egg, lemon juice, and pepper together.
  2. In a slow stream pour the olive oil slowly in this mixture while whisking the dressing. Whisk until the dressing is thickening.
  3. Add the parmesan to the dressing and whisk.
  4. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if you deem necessary.
  5. Add the chopped salad and toss.
  6. Add the croutons, the shredded parmesan and toss again.
  7. Serve on individual plates and eat up;-)

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So easy and so yummy!!!

This salad dressing will only keep for 1-2 day as the yolk is fresh and not cooked!!! Do not keep longer!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Portobello Pizza


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I love mushrooms, but neither of my children like them so it is not often that i will have them for dinner. Sometimes I will fix sautéed mushrooms as a side to my dinner, but more so in the winter.

Two days ago however, one of my customer, asked me to do a cooking class for her friends and asked that I do a vegetarian menu. She even suggested that I presented a recipe of Portobello mushroom as the “main entrée”. I love Portobello mushroom but i never ever thought to fix them at home until them  and had no clue what I was going to do.

I guess I could have gone to a cookbook, or search for a recipe but instead i decided to duplicate a dish that was once my favorite: Gerhard’s Cafe Portobello Pizza. I said that this was once my favorite because they stopped offering this wonderful appetizer a few years ago.

I tried to remember what was on his pizza and tried to come up with something similar. What I came up is very very similar. I hope that you will enjoy this. It has been my lunch for a couple of days now and I am loving it;-)

Ingredients for 1:

  • 1 Portobello mushroom
  • 1 Roma tomato sliced very thinly
  • 1 tbsp of fresh basil chopped thinly
  • 1/3 cup of grated feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp of mediterranean vinegar from Demarle
  • 1 tbsp of basil olive oil
  • 1/16 tsp of salt
  • 1/32 tsp of pepper
  1. With a dry paper towel, wipe the mushroom clean.
  2. Place the mushroom face up on a silpat that you would have placed on a perforated sheet, or on a flexipat if you are fixing more than one.
  3. Place the tomatoes on top of the mushroom as shown below.photo 1
  4. Disperse the chopped basil over the tomatoes.
  5. Add the cheese.photo 2
  6. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and drizzle this on top  of the mushroom.
  7. Cook the mushroom in a warm oven of 400 for 15 minutes.
  8. Eat as soon as it comes out of the oven, as an entrée or appetizer. YUM!!!photo

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Smoked Gruyere, Procuitto and Mushroom Tart


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Last night I was so busy making phone calls and replying to e-mails that I failed to see the hours pass. Of course, with a family of 3 waiting to be fed still at 9pm, there was not a lot of time left for me to fix dinner. Luckily there is always an array of cheese and cold-cuts in the fridge so that dinner can be fixed  in no time. So last night, dinner for my family ended up being a Smoked Gruyere, Proscuitto and Mushroom tart and Mixed Salad.

I served this tart as a main meal, but it would make for a fabulous appetizer!!!

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Ingredients for 1 tart of 10X 15 inches for 4-6 people:

  • 1 puff pastry
  • 1 block  of about 8oz. of Smoked Gruyere grated
  • 8 slices of thin proscuitto
  • 1/2 box of small portobello mushrooms
  •  a few sprigs of thyme
  1. Take the dough out of the freezer and let it thaw out for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Turn the oven to 400.
  3. Place the dough onto the roulpat, and with a rolling pin, roll the dough out to fit the flexipan perfectly.
  4. Place the dough onto the flexipan that would have been placed on a medium perforated sheet.
  5. With a fork, perforate the bottom of the tart.
  6. Layer 3/4 cup of  cheese all over the tart.
  7. Then place the prosciutto slices.
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese.
  9. Remove the thyme from the sprigs and sprinkle it all over the tart.
  10. Cook the tart for 20 minutes.photo 5
  11. Serve the tart with a salad.

Bon Appetit And Happy Cooking!!!

Gorgonzola, Purple Onion and Honey Pizza


photo 4Yesterday like most Sunday, I tried to cook a good dinner. As I set out my ingredients for all I intended to cook for dinner  ( scalloped potatoes, Ribs, Green Beans and Strawberry tart)t I got hungry. I could have just snacked on things here and there but I had been dreaming about fixing pizza with gorgonzola and honey and decided to fix it as our appetizers.

I used whole wheat tortillas in the past to make quick pizzas, and since I had a few left over from a previous dinner, I decided to make my pizza with it. Whole wheat tortillas is a much healthier substitution to pizza dough, and it cooks much faster.

Ingredients for 4 individual pizzas:

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 24 thin slices of gorgonzola
  • 1/2 purple onion sliced very thinly as well
  • pepper
  • 4 tsp of honey
  1. Turn the oven to 400.
  2. Place a large silpat on a large perforated sheet. Place the four tortillas on the large silpat.
  3. Lay the gorgonzola all over each tortilla.photo 1
  4. Then top the gorgonzola with the sliced purple onion.photo 2
  5. Sprinkle some pepper.
  6. Cook in the oven for 5-6 minutes. I placed my pizza on the top tier of the oven.
  7. photo 3Warm the honey for 10 seconds in the microwave and drizzle it over each pizza.
  8. Cut in squares and enjoy as an entree, or as an appetizer as we did here;-)photo 5

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Mixed Green Salad


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I get so busy that sometimes putting food on the table can be a challenge. This past Monday was one of those days. I was out running errands when I got a text saying:” what’s for dinner?” I am not one that likes to eat out, or order out so i rushed home to cook dinner, an easy and fast dinner: Quiche Lorraine and Salad. But I get so bored with salad, that i tried to search for things to put in it. And this is what I came up with. Doesn’t it look pretty???;-)

Ingredients for 4:

  • 1/2 box of aragula
  • 1 fresh corn or a small box of corn
  • 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
  • 4 fresh asparagus
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes halves
  • 2 tbsp of balsalmic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/16 tsp of pepper
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside
  2. Trim the asparagus, then cut them in about 1/4″ pieces. Set aside.
  3. Place the corn in the large round mold, place the octogonal silpat on top of the round mold and cook it for 2 minutes. Cook, then trim the corn of the cobb.
  4. Add all the vegetables to the bowl where the dressing was made and toss the salad. Serve on individual plates with a piece of Quiche Lorraine.

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Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!