Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Cauliflower florets, about 1.5 inches in diameter (from 1 medium cauliflower)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place cauliflower in large plastic, sealable bag. Cover with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and shake well. Pour the cauliflower florets in a greased baking dish or roasting pan. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove roil and broil for 5 minutes, watching occasionally to ensure even roasting and no burning. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Homemade Pickles

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 4 small cloves garlic
  • black peppercorns

Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place 1 head fresh dill, 1 clove garlic, and a handful of peppercorns into jar; pack in cucumbers. (The objective is to get as many cucumbers as you can into the jar.) Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers, filling up right to the rim.

Put into fridge and let sit for at least 48 hours. Pickles will be good for at least 10 days.

BLT Caprese

I think I’ve finally found (my) perfect BLT. Crunchy, savory, and delicious. I like to consider this a ‘caprese’ BLT, as it a more Italian version of a BLT. By replacing lettuce with basil and adding mozzarella cheese, this sandwich is a tasty rendition of the classic. Given how easy it is to prepare a BLT, I will spare you the step by step instructions. I will just add that a little EVOO on each side of the bread and cooking it grill-cheese style, goes a long way :-)

  • Olive bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Bacon
  • Fresh basil
  • Tomatoes (farmers market preferred!)
  • Mozzarella

Spicy Shrimp and Corn Chowder (Chow-dah)

4 ears of corn, kernels removed
12 shrimps, deveined and tail removed
1 vidalia onion (or yellow onion), chopped
1 medium potato, cut in cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cumin
1-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
EVOO
kosher salt
pepper

In a deep pan, melt butter along with 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat. Add garlic along with chopped onion. Add a pinch of salt and give it a stir. Cook at medium heat for roughly 3 minutes or until the onion is softened.

In the same pan, add corn and potatoes. Season with salt, add all the spices and stir. Cook for about a minute and add water and milk. Bring the heat to medium low and allow the potatoes to soften.

While the potatoes are softening, put cleaned shrimp in bowl with spices and cover completely with spice mixture. Place spiced shrimp in sauté pan and fry it for about 3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp curls up. Keep aside to be used later.

Once the potatoes are softened, ladle half of the soup in a blender and blend it to smooth consistency. Return it to the saucepan and give it a stir. *If you have an immersion blender that can be used instead.   Check for salt and add any, if required.

Take roughly ¾ of cooked shrimp and give a rough chop; place in the soup and stir. Ladle soup in serving bowl, top it with remaining shrimp as a garnish.

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Cider Braised Spareribs

There are many ways to make pork ribs and I’ve tried a bunch. This recipe is one that I really enjoy as it produces juicy ribs with tons of flavor.

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4 lbs pork baby back ribs or spareribs

Dry Rub:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:

  • 1 cup hard cider
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Peel off tough membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs. In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour.

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In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven. Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Cut ribs into serving sized portions of 2 or 3 ribs. Heat broiler. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Arrange on broiler pan, bony side up. Brush on sauce. Broil for 1 or 2 minutes until sauce is cooked on and bubbly. Turn ribs over. Repeat on other side. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze. Pairs great with red and green coleslaw!

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Coleslaw

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  • ½ head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • ½ head red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 3/4 cup good mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

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Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

BBQ Chicken Wings

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2 cups ketchup (I like low sodium)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
30 chicken wings (tips removed), rinsed and patted dry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare the barbecue sauce ahead of time: Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, to heat through and to blend the flavors, roughly 10 minutes. *Remove the garlic. Cool to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 weeks.

Place chicken wings on cooling rack; place rack on baking sheet. *Helpful to cover baking sheet with aluminum foil; requires at least two pans. Salt and pepper wings. Bake wings until cooked through and skin is crispy, roughly 30 – 45 minutes.

Remove chicken when done and crispy. Place wings in a large mixing bowl and toss with wing sauce until evenly coated. Enjoy!

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Antipasto Kabobs

I love, love, love this appetizer. I found a picture on Pinterest once and have been making it ever since. It is SO easy and people love it! You also get way more credit than deserved because it is so easy. As per most of my recipes, this definitely lends itself to creativity. If you like/don’t like an ingredient, add more or remove at will!

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Jar of pimiento-stuffed olives
Jar of large pitted ripe olives
Pepperoni – You could use thin slices of pepperoni or a hard block that you buy and cut
Package of cherry tomatoes
2 12 oz containers of marinated mozzarella balls (or larger ball that you can cut as I did)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup EVOO
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Skewers (I cut mine down to fit in storage container)

Place one of each item onto the skewer using the pointy side. Place skewers in portable container that you can safely seal; pour vinegar and oil on skewers. Make sure to twirl each skewer to coat each side. Add salt and pepper to taste.  This can be made a few hours in advance.

Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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Chicken “Fried” Rice

I’m not really sure why it’s called chicken fried rice, as I don’t find much “fried” about it, I suppose that might just be true for my recipes but I’ll stick with the name. Anyways, this is a very simple recipe that I have adapted over the years to accompany any Asian inspired dishes that I am cooking. Pairs great with General Tso’s Chicken! As with many of my recipes, feel free to add any other veggies or things you personally enjoy (snap peas or water chestnuts would be great!) Enjoy.

  • 2 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 cups cold, cooked rice (usually 1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (this might be too much for some people, if so, cut to ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Beat eggs with in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat very little oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and make an omelette using half the beaten eggs. Turn out onto a plate to cool. Set aside.

In another bowl, toss chicken strips with the sesame oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in large frying pan (or wok if you have one) and stir fry the prepared chicken strips until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 1-2 minutes or until onion has softened. Turn heat off; stir in the cooked rice and toss thoroughly. Add soy sauce and mix evenly. Remove from burner and stir in chopped egg and frozen peas. Enjoy!

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Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs is my “go to” appetizer. Easter, Christmas, Superbowl, random get together to watch Game of Thrones, I make deviled eggs. They are delicious, easy, and lend themselves to creativity. What follows is a basic recipe, but you can obviously make variations.

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1 dozen eggs
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (the good kind)
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s)
1/4 teaspoon pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire
1/4  teaspoon celery salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Paprika

First hard boil the eggs. Fill up a large saucepan half-way with water and gently add the eggs. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water; add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water to help contain egg whites from leaking out. Add a pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil; cover and remove from heat. Let sit covered for roughly 15 minutes. Drain hot water from pan and run cold water over the eggs. Let sit in the cool water a few minutes.

Peel the eggs; with sharp knife slice each egg in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl. Arrange the egg white halves on a serving platter or container.

Using a fork, mash up the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce, pickle juice, celery salt, and cracked pepper to taste. Spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika. (Some of my favorite “toppings” are bacon, green olives with pimentos, and fresh basil – use when you want to spice it up!)

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