Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart

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1 frozen puff pastry, thawed

5 oz fontina cheese, shredded

1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus

olive oil to drizzle

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16×10 inch rectangle.  Trim uneven edges and place onto a baking sheet (I used parchment paper).  Take a knife and lightly score the dough 1 inch from the edges to mark a rectangle, then pierce the dough with a fork inside the markings at 1/2 intervals.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  Do not worry if it is “puffed” up.

Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus to fit crosswise inside the tart shell and lay them in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until asparagus is tender, about 20 minutes.  This tart would work well with a variety of other vegetables, including mushrooms or bell peppers.  Experiment with your favorite!

Pizza Fondue

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This make a great appetizer for sure, but I’ve long served it as a quick dinner for my girls.  I’ve paired it in the picture with crostini but it’s also great with garlic bread as a dipping tool!  The recipe calls for mozzarella cheese and one thing I want to point out is that mozzarella can be a salty cheese, so choose wisely, or at least know how it tastes before you put it into this recipe.  If you make it and it turns out too salty, try adding a little more cheddar.  Other add-ins could be those that you’d put on to a pizza, such as sliced olives, diced pepperoni, green peppers etc., so whether you try this for dinner or a game-day appetizer table, you can make it your own.
 
                                                                         Pizza Fondue
 
1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon oregano
24oz jar marinara sauce
16oz grated cheddar
10oz grated mozzarella cheese
 
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until well done.  Add the marinara sauce and oregano and mix well.  Stir in both cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt.  Keep warm in a chafing dish if serving as an appetizer.  Serve with crostini or thin slices of garlic bread.

Truffle Twice-Baked Potatoes

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Truffle is all the rage right now, and working for a store that sells artisan cooking oils and vinegars I find that people either love it or hate it.  I am a lover of it, but oddly enough I didn’t know this until I did, in fact, start selling it.  If you don’t like the flavor, skip it in this recipe, as I did for the first 20 plus years I made it for my family!  Also, as with most of my recipes, feel free to add bacon bits, green onion,  sun-dried tomatoes…you get the idea.  I’m a “whats-in-the-fridge-today?” kind of gal. 
 
                                              Truffle White Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes
 
4 large Russet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
2Tablespoons  Truffle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan Scrub the potatoes clean and then bake in a 425 oven for an hour until done. Let cool 10 mins, then slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides of each half, leaving a small amount around the side to form a wall. Place potato in a mixing bowl and add the rest of ingredients, except the Parmesan. Mix until well blended and fairly smooth. Spoon the mixture back into the shells and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. You can drizzle with your choice of melted butter or extra Truffle oil at this point, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Skillet Pasta and Sausage

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This dish is a good one to make when you’re short on time because it’s all done in one pan, and yet it’s still a crowd pleaser. It’s also an easy dish to add to, so feel free to go through your fridge and toss in some bell peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, or anything else you find in there that sounds good at the moment. 
 
                                            Skillet Pasta and Sausage
 
2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil
1 14-oz link of smoke kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 small brown onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 10-oz can Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Chilies
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz uncooked penne pasta
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar and jack cheese
 
Heat olive oil in large oven-proof skillet; add onion and kielbasa and cook until onion is soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Add the broth, Ro-Tel, cream and salt and pepper; stir until blended well.  Stir in the pasta, bring to a boil and cover; reduce the heat and continue to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
When the pasta tests tender, turn heat off and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place pan under the broiler for just a few minutes to
melt the cheese. 
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Broccoli Cheese Soup

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2 large heads broccoli, cut into 1-2” pieces
1 large brown onion, diced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 medium carrots, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup ½ and ½ or heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
 
Saute broccoli pieces and onion in olive oil in large, heavy stock pot until onion is soft (about 5 minutes).  Add chicken stock, carrots, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and either use an immersion blender to blend the soup into a puree consistency, or if you don’t have immersion blender allow mixture to cool at least 5 minutes and carefully place small portions of the soup in a regular blender and puree a little at a time.  Be VERY careful doing this with hot liquids, always leaving the blender lid slightly ajar so as not to for a vacuum while blending).  Once blended, return all soup to pot. 
 
In a small cup, stir the flour into the melted butter.  Add this to the hot soup and return the soup to a medium heat to bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes (this will thicken the soup up).
Slowly stir in the ½ and ½ or heavy whipping cream and cheese and stir well.

My World Famous Spin Dip

 
2 tablespoons  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 small jalapeno, chopped
1 (10oz) box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups grated Montery Jack cheese/Cheddar cheese blend
8 oz cream cheese, cut into blocks
1 cup half-and-half
4 oz can sliced black olives
2 tablespoons VOM FASS Vinagre Viejo Spanish  12year red wine vinegar or any good RED WINE vinegar
 
Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onions and jalapenos and sauté until onions are soft.  Lower heat and mix in spinach, jack cheese, cream cheese, and half-and-half and stir until cheeses are melted.  Add black olives and Vinagre Viejo red wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a 9 inch round or square baking dish and bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.   Serve  with tortilla chips. 
 
*VOM FASS is a wonderful oil and vinegar store.  I truly believe their red wine vinegar makes this spinach dip taste better than when you use a grocery store-bought one. If you don’t have a VOM FASS near you, it’s worth ordering on their website!

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