Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Pimento Cheese DipThrough my travels, I’ve gotten addicted to southern foods and one dish I’d been wanting to make at home for a while is pimento cheese. The southern favorite couldn’t be simpler to make – throw all the ingredients in a bowl and stir!

The dip is great as a starter with crackers or veggies but also super as a burger topper or sandwich spread – pimento cheese BLT anyone?!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups extra sharp (of just sharp) cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4-ounce jar pimento peppers (in water), drained and chopped
  • ½ tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
  • 4 dashes (about ½ tsp.) hot sauce
Pimento Cheese Stirring

Pimento Cheese Stirring

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredient in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until mostly smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve, letting the dip come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  3. Serve with crackers or cut vegetables.

Makes about 2 cups.

Inspired by this recipe.

Easy Shrimp Scampi

Easy Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp ScampiThe other night, the fridge was sort of bare but I had a pound of large shrimp so decided to use a few pantry ingredients to make a quick shrimp scampi.

I like to use elephant garlic as it’s milder than standard garlic and won’t completely overpower this dish. I’d say if you’re calorie-conscious and trying to not use all the butter listed in this recipe, don’t really bother with this one – it’s meant to be an indulgence!

Shrimps Sauteeing

Shrimps Sauteeing

I served the dish with a half of a pound of cooked linguini that I tossed in the sauce at the last minute. Would be good with rice or just steamed vegetables also.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 elephant garlic clove (or 8 regular garlic cloves), minced
  • 1 pound large-jumbo shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 2 lemons, about ¼ cup
  • ½ cup clam juice or vegetable/chicken broth
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Shrimps in Scampi Sauce

Shrimps in Scampi Sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Melt butter in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 3 – 4 minutes. Add shrimps and cook until well coated with butter and garlic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, clam juice (or broth) and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Uncover the skillet and sprinkle the shrimps with paprika. Transfer skillet to broiler and broil until shrimps are lightly browned and cooked through, 5 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from broiler, top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. Return skillet to broiler and broil until breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Serves 2 as entrees or 4 as starters.

Recipe adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.

Tangy Maple Dip

Tangy Maple Dip

Maple DipEvery year, I feature some maple recipes at the start of maple season in Quebec. I have fond memories of going to the sugar shack growing up and each year, I engage my family and friends in sharing maple recipes with me for the blog. This one is from my aunt, Francoise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tomato catsup
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. green relish
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions :

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process for 1 minute, or until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight – the dip will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Gnocchi Dough

Gnocchi Dough

I find myself ordering gnocchi a lot when I go out to dinner. I love the pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth texture of gnocchi and last week, started wondering why I almost never make them at home. I had two sweet potatoes and decided to jump in one morning and make a batch for lunch – not a bad weekday treat, right?

Gnocchi Rope

Gnocchi Rope

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, pierced all over with fork
  • 8-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
  • ½ cup plus ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. salt
  • ¼  tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 5 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Uncooked Gnocchi

Uncooked Gnocchi

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Cut in half and cool for 15 minutes. Remove the peel from the potatoes, place the flesh in a large bowl and mash. To the mashed potatoes, add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 teaspoons salt and nutmeg and stir until well incorporated. Mix in flour, about ½ cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
  2. Place dough onto a floured surface and divide in 6 equal portions. Create 20-inch long ropes by rolling each portion of dough between palms and floured work surface – sprinkle with flour as needed if sticky. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of fork to indent (optional). Transfer to baking sheet sprinkled lightly with flour.
  3. Bring large pot of water to boil then add 2 tablespoons salt. When the water is boiling again, add one or two portions of gnocchi and boil until tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the boiled gnocchi to clean cookie sheet and cool completely. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
  4. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook until butter is brown with a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Add chopped sage and turn off the heat. Season sage butter with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the gnocchi to the brown butter and sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 4 minutes.
  6. Divide gnocchi among small bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan.

Makes 8 appetizer portions.                                                                                                                         

Inspired by this Bon Appetit recipe.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

Butternut Squash RavioliLast week I stopped at Eataly in Manhattan with some friends visiting from Florida. The place is a Mecca of all things Italian and I couldn’t pass up the pasta counter and the super cute butternut squash ravioli as I knew I’d be in a hurry to fix dinner for all of us when we returned to the burbs.

Well, dinner didn’t happen as we lunched at Barbuto and it was a feast and we simply weren’t hungry for dinner, so I made a quick lunch of the ravioli yesterday and the photo I took of that pasta had everyone liking and sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I couldn’t understand why folks would like this particular dish, yes, I can make my own ravioli, but what I didn’t grasp until later in the day is that so many of us who work longs days just crave delicious, elegant and simple to make meals during the week, albeit semi-homemade. Fair enough, here are the simple steps to making this pretty meal.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound fresh ravioli (I used butternut squash as I love that in the winter)
  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter
  • 1 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, drain.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter until brown and nutty in aroma, about 90 seconds.
  3. Add the sage to the brown butter, turn heat off, add the ravioli and shake the pan to coat the pasta in brown butter.
  4. Plate the ravioli and sprinkle with Pecorino or Parmesan.

Serves one famished dinner.

Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Carrots

Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Carrots

Cooked CarrotsI just love roasting vegetables in the winter months to serve as a side dish with various foods, or on their own as a complete meal. Just drizzle a little oil, sprinkle S&P and roast!

In this case, large carrots are cut in half long ways and roasted until the natural sugars caramelize and create a slightly sticky coating that’s delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 giant carrots, cut in half then halved long ways
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the carrots to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the carrots then roast, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

4 side servings.

Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Meatless Monday – Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Raw SproutsRoasting Brussels sprouts couldn’t be simpler – cut the sprouts in half, drizzle a little oil, sprinkle S&P and roast for 20 minutes. The natural sugars of the sprouts caramelize and created little crunchy bits that are delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the Brussels sprouts to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the spouts and roast them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping them gently until caramelized and golden brown.

6 side servings.

Bacon Collard Greens

Bacon Collard Greens

Bacon and Onion

Bacon and Onion

Yeah, I know collard greens are typically associated with the south but I love southern food and enjoy cooking this style of food. One side dish I love to make a serve with rich food is a piping hot bowl of baconey, spicy collard greens. You could even go nuts and grill some pork sausages and top the porky collards with them!

Collards Sauteeing

Collards Sauteeing

It couldn’t be simpler to make collards, just make sure the bigger stems are removed and that they have ample time to cook so they’re tender.

Ingredients:

  • 6 bacon slices, julienned
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh collard greens, sturdy stems removed and chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Heavy pinch of nutmeg
Cooked Collards

Cooked Collards

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add collard greens and sautee until they start to wilt, about 3 minutes.
  2. Pour the chicken broth over the greens and season with salt, pepper red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour, or until the greens are tender.

Yields 6 sides servings.

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Raw Brussels Sprouts

Raw Brussels Sprouts

Like many others, I’ve rediscover Brussels sprouts in the last few years. Roasted, earthy, caramelized Brussels sprouts that is…not grandma’s soggy, bitter version.

Roasting Brussels sprouts couldn’t be easier and they’re a crowd pleaser, even for former haters.

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 16 ounces slab bacon, julienned
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
Slab Bacon

Slab Bacon

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy. Cool and reserve.
  2. In a heavy skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until browned and crispy. Place the cooked bacon on paper towels to drain and pour all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.
  3. Add butter to the bacon fat and place the skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, carefully flipping the sprouts periodically, until caramelized and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Season the sprouts with salt and pepper, toss with the bacon and drizzle the balsamic glaze over the dish.

6 side servings.

Beet Roasting 101

Beet Roasting 101

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables

It’s fall and a time when produce looks so appealing to me. While at the market yesterday, I picked some gorgeous vegetables that just begged for me to roast them…well, they may not have been begging, but they looked perfect for a slow stay in my oven.

Raw Beets in Foil

Raw Beets in Foil

Beets roasted at home are nothing like the pickled, over-cooked beets our moms forced us to eat as kids. While nothing could be easier than roasting beets at home, the deep, sweet and earthy flavors that develop are perfect for many cooking applications. My favorite – beet salad with tangy goat cheese. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 4-6 medium beets (golden or red), washed and stems trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each thyme, salt and pepper
Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Roasted Beets

Roasted Beets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the beets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bring up the ends of the foil to create a packet for the beets. Drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Wrap the foil over the beets and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When cooked, a knife inserted in the beets should go in with ease.
  3. Let the beets to cool for about 5 minutes, then, using paper towels, rub the skins off the beets. Discard the peels and allow to cool completely.
  4. Beets can be roasted 3 days before using if stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil.

4 side servings.