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Mini Cheese & Vegetable Frittatas

February 17, 2020

This mini cheese and vegetable frittatas recipe is super easy and delicious. When I prepare these frittatas, they disappear quickly and the compliments don't stop. AND, depending on how much cheese you add, these frittatas are fairly healthy.

Pre-heat the oven to 450°. You will need cooking spray and muffin pans - I use disposable pans with a plastic lid for easy storage.

You can add a variety of veggies to these frittatas. Onion, bell peppers and hot peppers (to name a few). I prefer mushrooms and broccoli or broccolini.

Ingredients..

  • mushrooms 
  • brocolli florets
  • Roma tomatoes
  • fresh thyme
  • shredded Italian blend cheese
  • eggs
  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • seasoning (to taste)

Quarter the mushrooms and cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. The veggies should be similar in size. Cut the Roma tomatoes into thin slices.

Stem and mince the fresh thyme. This Modern Sprout Herb Pull and Pinch Dish is great for stemming herbs. Pull the herb stem through the appropriate sharp, beveled hole and the herbs will collect in the dish. It's super easy.

I like Italian blend shredded cheese, but you can use any cheese. Sometimes I put a little shredded sharp cheddar at the bottom of the muffin cups for a little extra cheesiness. I'm a huge fan of cheese. 

Set the veggies aside and prepare the eggs. Use one egg per muffin cup - If you're making 6 frittatas, crack 6 eggs into a bowl or large measuring cup. Add a little milk (for fluffiness), salt, pepper and seasoning (to taste). I use William Sonoma pizza seasoning. Mix the eggs well and put in the fridge to keep cold. 

Place a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil (I like truffle olive oil) and sauté until the mushrooms have a little char along the edges. You can also add a little salt and pepper (to taste). Sometimes I add thinly sliced chives.

It is important that you cook the mushrooms prior to putting them in the egg mixture. Otherwise, they will not cook properly in the oven.

Spray the muffin pan with a little cooking spray. Divide the broccoli and mushroom pieces evenly in the muffin cups. Make sure there are equal amounts of each. The veggies should fill half the cup.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin cups. Don't fill to the top, because the frittatas will rise while baking. 

Top the veggie and egg mixture with cheese. You can also add a little cheese to the muffin cup before putting the veggies - for extra cheesiness. 

Place two slices of Roma tomato over the cheese and spray with a little cooking spray - this will allow the fresh thyme to adhere to the Roma tomato slices. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the frittatas and place in the oven. Bake at 450° for 20-22 minutes. 

Once the frittatas are done, remove from the oven and serve immediately. I like to serve my vegetable frittatas with hot salsa. You can also sprinkle with parmesan cheese or serve with finely diced hot peppers.

To make your dish more interesting and healthy, add sliced avocado with a little olive oil and salt. This is one of my favorite sides. Enjoy..

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Mini Cheese & Vegetable Frittatas

February 17, 2020
This mini cheese and vegetable frittatas recipe is super easy and delicious. When I prepare these frittatas, they disappear quickly and the compliments don't stop. AND, depending on how much cheese...

Raclette: Grilling, Dipping and Socializing

February 02, 2020

Raclette is one of my favorite meals to prepare. The prep takes time, but the result is entertaining and delicious. It's kinda like fondue, but better! There's veggies and nachos with cheese, veggies in broth and proteins of your choice - I like filet mignon and giant shrimp. 

This interactive meal will last a while - I promise, everyone will leave satisfied AND with a story. I usually have racelette when we have guests for the first time and most of them purchased their own raclette appliance shortly after. 

I did a lot of research on the best raclette appliance and chose the Gourmia Electric Raclette - Table Top Party Grill. This portable cooking appliance can accommodate cheese, broth and grilling. 

There is a heating element under the sombrero and above the six raclette pans. This device gets very hot, boils veggies, melts cheese and grills seafood, poultry and meat. The pegs along the cone of the sombrero allow you too stick the protein against the hot grill, while the shallow bowl along the rim lets you cook your veggies in broth. I have the best broth - we'll come back to that. 

The grilling, dipping and socializing can go on for hours - so does the prep! You're gonna need veggies..

  • Baby carrots
  • celery
  • small mushroom caps
  • sweet mini peppers
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • hot peppers or Jalapeños

Cut your veggies and separate into serving trays. The quantity depends on your crowd. I suggest preparing too much, cause I have yet to have food left on the table - I often go to the fridge and replenish the trays. 

I know most recipes suggest you remove the seeds from hot peppers and Jalapeños, but NO! That's where the intense flavor comes from - just warn your guests. 

You're gonna need some proteins for grilling. Bare in mind the juice from the protein will drip into the broth, so this is not a vegetarian-friendly meal. 

I like to use Whole Foods Filet Mignon. I always get compliments that the filet has a buttery texture. Diners can decide whether or not to go rare, medium or well done. Make sure to season your filet with pepper and salt a few hours before serving it. I season the edge and at the last minute, cut the filet into strips.

I also like jumbo shrimp (the blueish ones). I get them at Whole Foods and always request to have the shells removed (leave the tail) and to have them deveined. The shrimp are a crowd favorite and disappear quickly.

Season your shrimp 30 minutes prior to serving. My go-to seasoning shop is The Spice & Tea Exchange. For shrimp I love the Adobo Spice Blend, Black Truffle Garlic Seasoning and Vik's Garlic Fix! I like to change it up.

Make sure to place your raw proteins on a separate plate or next to veggies that will be cooked thoroughly. DO NOT put raw meat and seafood on your personal plate.

The broth, veggie dip and sauces are of the utmost importance and take the most time - you should prepare these the night before.

I purchase a variety of steak sauces from Whole Foods. My favorites are Noble Made By The New Primal Classic BBQ and Mustard BBQ. BUT, any sauce will do.

My cocktail sauce is easy to prepare, super strong in flavor and will remove any unwanted nose hair. Ingredients.. 

  • 3/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1 small, finley shredded fresh horseradish
  • 2 tables lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Combine the ingredients and slowly add the horseradish until you reach your desired taste. Warning - I like to wear my onion glasses when I shred horseradish, cause it's super strong. It will bring you to tears and burn a hole to your brain!

For the broccoli and mushroom dip, I try to replicate the Melting Pot Green Goddess. Ingredients..

  • 3/4 cup of softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup finely copped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives (I like the mini chives)
  • 2 tsp minced white onion
  • Garlic seasoning (to taste)

Gently whisk the cream cheese, sour cream, parsley, chives, white onion and a little seasoning (to taste). Slowly add a tsp of milk for easier mixing, but don't get crazy, cause your Green Goddess should be thick. As your mixing, it will soften and seem thin, but it will thicken in the fridge. 

This stuff is heavenly. I usually double the recipe and barely have any left over. You can use it on your veggies and proteins. I highly suggest you fill the mushroom caps with Green Goddess. 

There are six raclette pans that fit nicely under the heating element. I suggest putting a few veggies and topping with cheese and Jalapeños or hot peppers (to taste). Don't overflow the pan, cause it won't fit under the element - so make sure to cut the veggies into small pieces. 

I also like to serve a bowl of purple corn tortilla chips. Once the cheese is melted, you can pour the veggies and cheese onto the chip - DELICIOUS! You can also pour a little hot salsa over the veggies and cheese.

My favorite cheeses for raclette are Boar's Head Canadian Cheddar, Boar's Head Sharp Cheddar and a horseradish infused cheese. Most grocery stores also stock raclette cheese, but it's a little strong for me. DO NOT purchase one of those trays with perfectly squared cheese slices - it's processed and doesn't melt properly. Splurge and get the good stuff.

The broth is super important and my favorite raclette feature. I frequent The Melting Pot fondue restaurant and always ask to take the left over broth home. I let it cool in the fridge and freeze it until I need it. It's a super salty, flavorful broth that can be used in soup, gravy and raclette broth. If you like fondue, you know that everything is cooked in the broth, so the flavor is comprised of meat, seafood and veggies. 

Also, after roasting a chicken or turkey, I boil the carcass, strain, cool and freeze the broth. This works well for soups, gravy and raclette. Just add seasoning (preferable The Melting Pot seasoning) and it's the perfect base. You can also make a broth from scratch with store bought veggie, chicken or beef broth and some seasoning. 

After each raclette dinner, I cool the leftover broth and freeze. Overtime, the ongoing broth will become super flavorful and way too salty, but mixed with water, it's kinda like a homemade bouillon. 

Put a little cooking spray on the cone, so the meat doesn't stick, turn your grill on high and pour the broth into the shallow rim. Place all your prepared veggies, cheese and proteins on the table and let the grilling and dipping begin. I suggest getting the proteins on the cone immediately, so the cooking spray doesn't burn. 

I like to use fondue plates, cause they're sectioned and the sauces and juices don't run all over the plate. You can also place small containers for the sauces.

Cooking times are as follows.. Once the cheese has melted over the veggies, dig in. The veggies should be el dente. Broccoli and mushrooms - 3+ min, filet - depends on preference and shrimp 3+ min (depending on size). If you are grilling chicken, I'd give it 4+ min (depending on size).

Your guests are gonna love this cooking concept - You won't be stuck for things to talk about! I considered buying a raclette appliance for everyone I know this past Christmas, but they were sold out. If this is your first time visiting my home, you can expect raclette..

We're not done! After you've finished the cheese, veggies, meat and seafood, quickly pour out the broth, give the sombrero a rinse (don't bother scrubbing it yet) and wash the pans - it's time for dessert. This is also a great time to serve coffee or espresso, so your guests don't fall into a food coma!

Like the veggies and cheese, place a few berries in the pan, along with chocolate and wait for it to melt. By the time you get to the dessert, you're full, but can't resist berries and chocolate. I like to use blackberries, strawberries and mini Toblerone (the mini pieces fit under the heating element nicely). 

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Raclette: Grilling, Dipping and Socializing

February 02, 2020
Raclette is one of my favorite meals to prepare. The prep takes time, but the result is entertaining and delicious. It's kinda like fondue, but better! There's veggies and nachos with cheese,...

Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet

January 21, 2020

My low calorie Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet is easy to prepare and delicious.

You can prepare this dish family-style and serve onto plates or you can prepare the dish in small, individual skillets (pictured here). You will also need protective surface to place the hot skillet on. I use small olive wood cutting boards.

Ingredients.. 

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 2 large green onions
  • 1 pack of mini chives
  • 1 pack baby tomatoes (any color)
  • 1 oz. tortilla strips (optional)
  • 1 bag of purple corn tortilla chips (optional)
  • 1 oz. taco seasoning
  • 1 can of Rotel (optional)
  • 1 small container of sour cream
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef

I'm an over-seasoner and also add a dash of paprika, chili powder and cumin to taste, but taco seasoning alone is enough to create a flavorful dish. You may also want to add salt and pepper to taste. 

Before starting the process, empty the black beans into a strainer, rinse with cold water and set aside. 

Prepare your produce.. 

Halve and peel the white onion, then slice into strips and cut into a fine dice. Trim zucchini ends, quarter lengthwise and cut into 1/4" dice. Half the baby tomatoes. Core the Roma tomato and cut into 1/2" dice. Stem, seed, remove ribs and cut the red bell pepper into 1/2" pieces. Thinly slice the green onions. Thinly slice the mini chives and set aside for garnish.

Here's a little trick to ensure the ground beef is separated evenly - Once the beef is half cooked, gently mash it with a wire masher similar to the one pictured here. 

Directions..

Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle a little olive oil, add the white onion and stir until tender (3-5 minutes). Add the ground beef and break up the meat until no pink remains (3-5 minutes).

You can remove the ground beef and reuse the pan for the produce or place two pans on your stovetop and cook both simultaneously. If you chose to remove the beef and use one pan, don't worry about the meat getting cold - you will re-heat it at a later step.

If you're using the same pan that you cooked your ground beef in, there's no need to wipe the pan clean. Otherwise, place the pan over medium-high heat and drizzle a little olive oil. Add the zucchini and red bell pepper. Cook undisturbed (4-5 minutes).

Combine the ground beef with the zucchini and red bell pepper. Add the black beans. Gently stir until everything is mixed evenly.

Add the mixture to the skillets and top with cheese and broil until the cheese is melted. You just want the cheese to melt, not bubble. Pay close attention, so your Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet doesn't burn under the broiler. 

Carefully remove the skillets from the oven and place on a protective surface. Top with the baby tomatoes, mini chives and a spoonful of sour cream.

You can enjoy the Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet alone or with purple corn tortilla chips. These chips are sturdy and can handle the heavy load of yumminess. Enjoy..

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Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet

January 21, 2020
My low calorie Cheesy Zucchini Taco Skillet is easy to prepare and delicious. You can prepare this dish family-style and serve onto plates or you can prepare the dish in small, individual...

Guinness Beef Chili

January 15, 2020

This Guinness Chili recipe takes time, but is worth the effort. The bold flavor of Guinness is prominent and separates this chili from all other chili recipes.

I'm not a recipe person, but more of a fly by the seat of your pants kinda cook. I did however pay close attention when I cooked my last chili, so I could prepare this recipe for you.

Ingredients..

  • 2 medium white onion
  • 3 celery stocks
  • 1 large carrot (or pack of pre-cut celery and carrot - pictured here)
  • 5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 5 tbls minced garlic
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of Rotel (mild or hot)
  • 1 carton of vegetable broth (for liquid)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 3 tbls smoked paprika
  • 2 tbls cumin
  • 2 tbls cayenne
  • 5 tbls chili powder
  • 1 tbls taco seasoning
  • 1 tbls pizza seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tbls ground pepper
  • 1 tbls salt (to taste)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 pack of mushrooms
  • 2 bottles of Guinness (save some for leftovers)
  • hot salsa (to taste) (as much as you like)
  • 2 cans of kidney beans
  • 2 cans of black beans

Yields 12 servings (or more)

I like to combine my spices first, so I can toss the mixture into the chili with ease. Again, my spices include..

  • 3 tbls smoked paprika
  • 2 tbls cumin
  • 2 tbls cayenne
  • 5 tbls chili powder
  • 1 oz. taco seasoning
  • 1 tbls pizza seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tbls ground pepper
  • 1 tbls salt (to taste)

If you need more heat (spice), I suggest adding them early in the process, so the flavors can marry with the other ingredients. I ALWAYS add more spices, but wanted to keep this recipe low heat. Not everyone wants to feel the burn!

Get yourself a vegetable chopper, slice and dice cutter. They're inexpensive and will save you a lot of time. Otherwise, go old school and chop your produce manually. Sometimes I'm too lazy to use the chopper and clean it, so I chop manually with a ceramic knife - it's therapy!

Prepare your produce..

Cut the celery and carrot into 1/4" dice. Halve and peel the white onion, then slice into strips and cut into a fine dice. Stem, seed, remove ribs and cut the red and yellow bell peppers into 1" pieces. Slice the mushrooms. Remove stem from Jalapeños, half and mince (no need to remove the ribs and seeds). Mince fresh garlic or use minced garlic from a jar (it's easier). Thinly slice the mini chives and set aside for garnish.

Before starting the process, empty the black beans and kidney beans into a strainer, rinse with cold water and set aside. 

Place a large stock pot over med-high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the Mirepoix mix (celery, carrot and onion). Stir occasionally and cook until tender (4+ minutes).

Add the minced garlic, followed by the lean ground beef and break up the meat until no pink remains. You may want to drain any excess fat from the beef. Simply pour into a large strainer, let the fat drain and put the beef back in the stock pot.

Once the lean ground beef is cooked through, reduce the heat to medium and add the Rotel, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and stir. Add the pre-prepared mixture of seasonings and stir. Add the mushrooms, hot salsa and stir.

I know it is odd to add mushrooms, but they add a nice texture and will cook down to half the size. Mushrooms are my favorite AND I usually eat them from the pot, so there's barely any left when I serve the chili!

Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Add the Guinness beer 1/2 bottle at a time for flavor. If you feel that your chili needs more liquid, add vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time.

I keep half a bottle of Guinness in the fridge for leftovers - just add the remaining Guinness for liquid and re-heat. 

Lower the heat and allow the chili to summer until the bell peppers are tender. This process requires frequent tastings - you will not be hungry after cooking this chili! I usually allow my chili to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Lastly, add the black beans and kidney beans and allow them to sit in the chili for 30 min before serving. If you are cooking your chili the night before, I would suggest adding the beans when you reheat the chili. These beans are fragile and fall apart easily - you want them to be intact.

I prefer to cook the chili the night before and refrigerate. My large stock pot doesn't fit in my fridge, so I transfer the chili to a smaller stock pot. 

Day 2, just add Guinness beer and re-heat on low-medium.

Sides..

Chili is heavy on it's own, but cheesy garlic bread compliments chili flavors well. Pre-heat your oven to 400°. Using a serrated knife, slice one French baguette into 1/4" pieces, spread an even layer of garlic butter and top with Italian cheese blend. Turn the oven to broil. Place the cheesy garlic bread under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling.

I keep garlic butter in my fridge at all times and use it often. My go-to garlic butter seasoning is Herb Butter Mix from The Oil & Vinegar Store. Just add a few tbls to whipped butter and you have a perfectly flavored garlic butter that will last in the fridge for months. 

Toppings are up to the individual, so I suggest placing chopped Jalapeño, shredded sharp cheddar, sliced avocado and sour cream on the table. I usually prepare garlic sour cream the night before - 1 large container of sour cream, garlic seasoning (to taste) and thinly sliced green onion. It's delicious. 

This Guinness chili recently won 2nd place at a corporate chili cook-off! It takes time, but the result is super satisfying. Enjoy..

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Guinness Beef Chili

January 15, 2020
This Guinness Chili recipe takes time, but is worth the effort. The bold flavor of Guinness is prominent and separates this chili from all other chili recipes. I'm not a recipe person, but more of...
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