Archives for January 2014

Super Bowl Party Appetizers – Empanadas, Sliders, & More

Super Bowl Party Appetizers – Empanadas, Sliders, & More

Well once again it’s time for the Super Bowl! And that means it’s time for a party! Monday is future-you’s problem; Sunday is all about football and food. And beer. And the commercials. And yelling; there seems to always be a lot of yelling. Honestly, I don’t really understand the football, but I’m a huge fan of greasy, fatty appetizers. I’ve never met a chicken wing I didn’t like. I eat chips and salsa for breakfast. Cold cuts wrapped in a tortilla, sliced and skewered with toothpicks: that’s my jam! (Some would argue that) other than the actual game, appetizers are the most important part of any Super Bowl soiree. As Benjamin Franklin so eloquently stated: “It’s not a party unless you leave with a tummy full of nachos!” He was a brilliant man. And those words are as true today as they were when he said them, which if I am not mistaken, was while riding a T-Rex through the jungle, leading the North to victory in the Civil War. Lucky for you I am not only an expert in the field of American history, but a skilled creator of easy appetizers! I present to you several options to enjoy while cheering your sportsball squadron toward the championship. Some of these are traditional; some are to be enjoyed while possibly wearing fancy pants.

Whatever the tone of your football festivity might be, appetizers will fuel the winning celebration or sooth the shameful losers in their mourning.

Sliders
2 pounds ground beef
Salt & pepper
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
24 small buns (I prefer those soft, sweet Hawaiian ones)
4 TBS butter
Real American cheese, sliced and cut into quarters (optional – but, come on!)

Season the beef and spread it evenly over a parchment lined baking sheet. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and press it down with another baking sheet.
Flip the meat onto your cutting board and cut into 24 squares – 6 columns lengthwise, four rows across. Use your finger to press a hole in the center of each patty.
Cook half of the onions in half of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in a bit more salt and pepper.
When the onions start to turn translucent, place half the patties in the pan. Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Remove and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Top with cheese and cooked onion. Put them in the buns. Eat way too many. Repeat as necessary.
 
Artichoke Queso Dipappetizers queso dip
2 TBS oil
½ cup diced onion
1 cup finely chopped marinated artichoke hearts
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of ½ a lime
1 oz. Tequila
1 cup cream
1 tsp cumin
½-1 tsp ground chile
1 tsp chopped oregano
½ tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp lime zest
2 cups shredded soft, melting cheese: Mozzarella, Oaxaca, Jack…
½ cup crumbled Cotija

Heat a large saucepan to medium, add the oil.
Sauté the onions until they begin to brown, add the garlic and artichokes.
When the artichokes have softened a bit add the lime juice and tequila.
Stir in the cream, and herbs and spices; bring to a simmer.
Slowly stir in the cheese. Season to taste.
 
Caramelized Onion & Chèvre Crepes
Crepes:
1 cup flour
A pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 oz. melted butter

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Let batter sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
In a hot, lightly oiled pan pour just enough batter to evenly coat the bottom.
Cook for 1 minute or until it starts to turn brown and set up. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds.

Onions:
1 sweet yellow onion, finely sliced
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt & white pepper
2 TBS port wine
2 oz. water

Toss the onion with the sugar and vinegar, cook over low heat until brown.
Season to taste and remove from heat.
Deglaze the pan with port and water; pour over onions.

Goat Cheese Filling:
8 oz. chèvre
4 oz. cream
1 tsp orange zest
Nutmeg
Salt & White pepper
Caramelized onions

Combine all ingredients.
Spread 2-3 TBS in each crepe and roll up.

Pecan Gorgonzola Empanadas
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
½ cup Gorgonzola cheese
1 tsp honey
Salt & pepper

12 – 3”x3” puff pastry squares
2 oz. melted butter

Heat oven to 375.
Combine all filling ingredients, season to taste.
Divide filling evenly onto pastry sheets.
Fold shut, crimp shut with a fork and brush with melted butter.
Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

Printer friendly recipes: Super Bowl Appetizers

Decorate with Color – Radiant Orchid

Decorate with Color – Radiant Orchid

The new year always gives me the energy to tackle projects in my house. So I have decided to redecorate and paint my spare bedroom.  I know most people would do that in springtime but I am fortunate to live in Phoenix where it feels like spring with our unseasonably warm weather.
(Sorry to all you folks getting hit with blizzards!)

I love the instant gratification that comes from painting.  It can reenergize a room overnight.

Typical of this time of year, I look forward to discovering the new “color of the year”.  This year, it is Pantone’s Radiant Orchid, referred to as a “harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.”  Wow, pretty bold!  Not that I am totally afraid of bold colors.  Believe it or not, the spare room is currently orange!  I have discovered that I am much more adventurous when it comes to color than I was years ago.  However, I don’t think I will paint my room Radiant Orchid this time around.  But I would consider it for accent pieces or pairing it with complementary colors.

color_wheel_traditional
I am not an artist, nor have I studied color. Much of what I know just comes naturally, from observing, and deciding what really looks nice together.  I think some key learnings from grade school, like the handy color wheel, can be very helpful!  Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called “complementary colors” and they reinforce each other.  So it holds true that yellow and green accents would complement Radiant Orchid nicely. (See feature image above.)
Analogous colors
Other colors to consider would be “analogous colors” which are colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel.  For Radiant Orchid this would be violet-blue and red-violet.  If you are looking for inspiration there are tons of pictures on Pinterest to help you work with the color, including our Pinterest board, “The Color Purple”.  Of course, the vibrant color like Radiant Orchid can liven up more neutral colors like taupe, gray and white, too. 
I came across some great ideas and pictures for you to consider in an article entitled “How to decorate with Pantone’s Radiant Orchid”.  
So I am off to revisit my color wheel and decide what my color of the year will be.
We would love to hear from you.  Share your experience with Radiant Orchid!

 

Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Now that you’re used to the idea of it being 2014 (I’m just assuming you’re not still writing “2013” on everything like I am), it’s time to start making good on those resolutions!

Now is a great time to get your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life.

While the aesthetic of an organized kitchen is highly desirable, don’t just focus on putting things away to make the space look nicer – the key to staying organized is to set up a system that is logical, one that will be easy to maintain and will help your kitchen be more functional. We’ve been keeping track of our top sellers and best storage solutions to help you get your kitchen in tip-top shape.
Our best-selling butcher block table of the year is the John Boos Classic Country Work Table. This customizable table ranges in sizes from 36”x24” up to 60”x36”, comes in a variety of colors, and offers optional drawers, baskets, and shelves to meet your needs. This is a beautiful solution to the everyday cook’s organizational dilemmas. No wonder it was our top seller!

classic-country-kitchen-island-white organized

So many options to cater to your tastes

If you love to bake as much as you love to cook, check out the Pro Chef Prep Station, which comes with a granite inset for rolling out dough. This unique work center comes with wire baskets for stowing produce or towels, a slatted shelf for your mixing bowls and canisters, and a side rack for spices and utensils. A stainless steel pan is placed under a cut-out in the butcher block surface to catch scraps, juices, and waste for easy clean-up. This versatile workstation also features a large utility drawer with built-in knife storage.

Organized Pro Chef Prep Station

Look at all that storage!

Are you always trying out new recipes and staying on the cutting edge of technology? Well, John Boos has created the perfect addition for your kitchen: the iBlock. Available in Maple, Walnut, and Cherry, this handy little guy doubles as a cutting board and tablet holder. The iBlock comes with protective sleeves so you don’t get your tablet messy while you whisk and watch cooking shows at the same time!

iblock-cutting-board-with-stand

Keep your tablet handy without worrying about the mess

If entertaining or wine-and-cheese nights are more your style, Catskill Craftsmen has created the ultimate kitchen helper for you – the Portable Wine Island. This lovely cart can store 15 bottles of the good stuff and has a stemware rack for glasses up to 8” tall. This hardwood island also features an enclosed cabinet with an adjustable shelf, ample storage in a utility drawer, and two towel bars. The best part may just be the locking casters, though. You can prep all your hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen then roll the whole cart out for service in the dining room or on the patio.

Organized Wine Island

Entertain with ease with the Portable Wine Island

Now that we’ve introduced you to some of our most popular and helpful products, it’s time to get into gear and get your kitchen ready for a new year full of cooking, baking, experimenting, and entertaining! What has been the best addition to your kitchen? Do you have plans to get organized for the new year?

New Year’s Resolution – Create Your Own Food

New Year’s Resolution – Create Your Own Food

The new year is upon us. With it comes a new set of goals and resolutions, hopes and promises. Unfortunately the same ten or fifteen pounds is still hanging around. Gyms will be filling up this month and people will be abstaining from the delicious fatty foods that they love all in an attempt to make up for the holiday gluttony. The reality is that most of us will not keep the resolutions that we made. Those resolutions are not made to help us start the new year right; they’re made to help us justify eating pie every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. And that’s OK. You’re not going to better yourself by making faulty promises or outright lies and then feeling guilty when you don’t follow through. All any of us really want is happiness. The trick is to be happy with who and what you are, in whatever situation you find yourself. And the trick to that is to be honest. It’s OK that your butt has grown over the last year. You can shrink it if you want to, but big butts are cool too!

I have found food to be the catalyst to making life better. It makes perfect sense, really. You have to eat food to live. If you take control of your food, you take control of your life. That doesn’t mean eating diet food; fake food makes a fake life!

Resolution: Eat real food. Create your own food.

It’s very easy to plow through a pint or two of ice cream when all you have to do for it is stroll through the frozen food isle at the grocery store. Try making your own; take the time to do it right and you will savor every last spoonful. When you create your own cuisine you know and control what goes into it. You learn to think about what goes into your body. You will take pride in what you make, what you eat, and by extension, what you’re made of. My diet consists of literally anything that I want to eat; but I make most of it myself.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep a garden. If that seems too intimidating, start with a few potted herbs. By seeing them grow and being responsible for keeping them alive you will be more compelled to use them. Which means you will cook more. And by using fresh herbs you will cut the need for salt and fat- a sprig of fresh rosemary packs a lot of flavor. Lemon zest is a great way to add a bright flavor and enhance the other ingredients of your dishes. Try making your own pizza dough; top it with olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, lemon zest, a little salt and pepper, and some freshly ground Parmesan cheese. It will be better than anything that you could get delivered, at a tiny fraction of the cost, and you don’t have to feel guilty about it! Here are a few recipes that take advantage of herbs and spices for flavor. But remember: don’t deprive yourself of the food you like, empower yourself by learning how to create it on your own. That knowledge will go a long way. If you knew what went into making the food that gets passed through the drive-thru window, you would drive right past.

Pomegranate Roasted Lamb

  • 3-4 lb. lamb leg meat
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 sprigs of marjoram
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 oz pomegranate juice
  • 8 oz red wine
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots, diced

Combine the lamb with the coriander, marjoram, rosemary, cardamom, white pepper, juice and wine. Marinate for at least a few hours. Heat oven to 325˚ Heat up a roasting pan or tagine, add the oil. Sauté the onions and garlic until they start to get a bit of color, add the lamb and caramelize slightly on all sides. Add the liquid, loosely cover and move to the oven. Cook until tender, about 1½ hours.

Arugula Cranberry Salad

  • 1 oz. pure cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp lavender
  • 6 oz. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh arugula
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • 2 TBS each: chopped, fresh basil, parsley, marjoram
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Whisk together the juices, vinegar, mustard, ginger and lavender. Slowly whisk in olive oil, season to taste. Toss with arugula, cranberries, pecans and cheese.

Printer Friendly Recipes: Herbs Recipes