DIY Pizza Making Station


DIY Pizza Making Station

Sweet Potato Huevos Rancheros Casserole | Vegetarian Recipe


2013-03-005This light-tasting casserole takes about 10 minutes to prepare, 35-50 minutes to bake and about 2 enjoyable minutes to scarf down. It had the right amount of flavor (although that’s relative) and enough healthy, natural ingredients to make me feel good about feeding it to my family. I made a loaf of Krusteaz All-Natural Honey Cornbread to go with it. This was a fantastic, hot meal to prepare in a short amount of time making it perfect those busy week nights. Hope you like it!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Lightly grease a 9×13 pan

Ingredients:

24 Large Tortilla Chips (halved)

1 jar of Tostitos Simply Natural Black Bean and Corn Mild Salsa (halved)

1/2 cup Kraft Authentic Shredded Mexican Cheese (halved)

1 bag of Alexia’s Sweet Potato Puffs (almost every grocer carries the brand in the frozen section) (halved)

12 Eggs

1 Cup Skim Milk

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Oregano

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

Layer and repeat the first 4 ingredients starting with half of the tortilla chips, half of the salsa, half of the cheese and half of the sweet potato puffs. Add a second layer with the remaining tortilla chips, salsa, cheese and puffs.

Whisk your eggs, milk and spices until throughly combined. Pour over every inch of the pan, soaking up the ingredients.

Place, uncovered, in the center of the oven with a foil-lined cookie sheet on the rack underneath, just in case your egg mixture spills over (mine almost did towards the end).

Your casserole should be completely cooked after 35 minutes but I realize every oven is different, so after the first 35, stick a butter knife in the center to test it. If the egg is still runny, keep increasing the cook time by 5 minute increments. That’s about the hardest work you’ll have to do. ;)

Nicoise Salad Recipe with Shrimp or Salmon


Shrimp Nicoise Salad Platter

I prepared this pretty platter for a friend’s Julia-Child themed dinner party this past weekend. While there are several steps involved, I would not classify the recipe as difficult…just stay organized and clean up as you go. High-quality ingredients are a must so prepare to drop a few bucks at Whole Foods or a comparable fresh market. It’s worth it – made my kitchen smell like a 5-star restaurant.

Step 1: Prepare

Prepare the elements of your salad by placing the potatoes into cold, salted water and bring to a simmer. While the potatoes cook, bring a second pot of cold water to a boil and clean the beans. Add the salt and cook the beans for about 5-7 minutes. Cool them in an ice bath; drain and set aside. Test the potatoes and once done, drain and set aside.

Thinly slice the garlic and shallots and chop the chives. Chiffonade the basil. Wash and dry the greens. Cut or tear the larger pieces of lettuce and refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 8 small Yukon Gold or nugget potatoes
  • 1 tsp table salt (for potatoes)
  • 28 green beans
  • 1 tsp table salt (for beans)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 small shallots
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 4 oz hearty salad greens

Step 2: Vinaigrette

To make the vinaigrette, place the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil into a jar. Shake well and set aside.
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Step 3: Cook and Dress the Salad

To assemble the salad, first bring a pot of cold, salted water to a boil. Gently add the eggs, turn down the heat and let simmer for 8 minutes. Place them into an ice bath to cool.

Core the tomatoes and slice into wedges. Fan the tomatoes onto each plate and drizzle with a bit of the vinaigrette.

Cut the potatoes in half and peel the eggs; set both aside.

Before you start cooking, have your entire list of salad elements in place ready. Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Season the top of the salmon with a bit of salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil, followed by the salmon, presentation-side down. Season the other side. Turn the heat down to medium and let it cook for about 2 minutes, without touching it. Once it has a nice golden crust, flip it over and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Test the salmon for doneness and remove just before it’s done to your liking. Drizzle with a bit of the vinaigrette. Drain most of the oil from the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook the potatoes, cut side down. Once the potatoes are warmed through and lightly golden, turn them over. Add the beans and cook briefly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add the shallots, garlic, olives, and the rest of the vinaigrette. Turn off the heat and gently toss to coat.

Add the basil and the warm vegetables to the greens and fold everything together. Cut the eggs in half and portion out the rest of your salad onto a large platter, grouping by each element. Lastly, garnish with some of the chives. Bon appétit!

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp table salt (for eggs)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 16 Kalamata or Niçoise olives
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • four 5 oz salmon filets

Chocolate Espresso Panettone Trifle Recipe


Chocolate Espresso Panettone Trifle in Bowl

Layer 1: 1 Box of Chocolate Panettone, cubed

Layer 2: Drizzle and Garnish (Reserve some for the very top!)

  • 1 smallest bottle of Kahlua Coffee Liqueur (the single-serve bottle will do)
  • Dark chocolate shavings (I use 2 whole Ghirardelli chocolate bars)

Layer 3: Sliced, fresh strawberries (Buy 2 pints, you may be left with extra)

Layer 4: Espresso Cream Cheese Whip

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (OR, 16 ounces of Mascarpone!)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat at low-speed until sugar is incorporated.
  • Increase speed to medium high and beat until frosting is light and whipped, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Keep layering your ingredients and garnish the top with squares of chocolate, shavings and a little more Kahlua.

Easy, Weeknight Meatloaf | 3 Ways


It’s difficult to produce a meatloaf recipe that breaks new ground, but I do happen to have a reliable one I have adjusted for years. There is no special name for said loaf of meat, but the ingredients are absolutely interchangeable, which makes it seem fresh to my family time and time again. Not to mention, ground beef, even the lean, organic, kind is reasonably inexpensive, so this is also a good option when trying to come in under budget.

Perhaps the most convenient part, is that almost every ingredient that’s left in this recipe can most likely already be found in your pantry.

My favorite variation I have played with is my upscale, grown-up meatloaf*, seasoned with fresh garlic, coarsely chopped shallots and smokey Gouda. If you want to take it a step further, you can marinate your ground sirloin in red wine. I use a cheap Pinot Noir when I make this grown-up version and I let the two sit for a few hours in the fridge before I’m ready to make dinner. The Pinot Noir flavor works for a making a more sophisticated Sloppy Joe too!

For the Tex-Mex meatloaf, simply replace the parsley with cilantro and the cheddar with the Mexican blend shredded cheese. In addition, add your own natural taco seasoning by referring to the table below. Sour cream, sliced black olives and chives will also make a nice garnish.

*You should probably omit the ketchup in both variations. I personally only like it on the original, American meatloaf. Like Mom and Grandma used to make… :)

O.G. Meatloaf (American) | Serves 6

  1. 1 Cup Panko Crumbs, toasted
  2. 1 Cup Chopped Onion
  3. 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  4. 4 Tablespoons Fresh, Italian Parsley (Divided)
  5. 1 Tablespoon Spicy Brown Mustard
  6. 1/2 Cup Organic Ketchup (Divided)*
  7. 1/4 Cup Buttermilk (or milk, just use a little less)
  8. 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  9. 2 Eggs, Beaten
  10. 1 lb. Lean, Ground Sirloin
  11. Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  12. Sea Salt
  13. Pepper

Preheat Oven to 350. While it is preheating, toast your Panko breadcrumbs on a sprayed cookie sheet (I line mine with foil to avoid a mess). Keep your eye on it, take them out when they are golden brown. With my oven, they are usually ready to take out when the preheating timer goes off.

In a large mixing bowl, combine toasted breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp of the parsley, half of the ketchup, onion, garlic, mustard, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, beef. Season with salt and pepper. Wash your hands thoroughly, then gently and evenly combine the mixture.

Make an easy, not-packed-too-tightly loaf and then transfer it to your coated loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Take out, brush the top with the remaining ketchup and then bake for an extra 25-30 minutes.

Let stand for 15 minutes (this is usually when I throw my steamer bag of veggies in the microwave). I’m busy, therefore I cheat.

Slice and then garnish with a little more chopped parsley. The leftover slices make for a killer sandwich the next day too!

Maple Bacon and Whisky Apple Pie Recipe


Maple Bacon and Whisky Apple Pie Recipe

Maple Bacon and Whisky Apple Pie Recipe

This was a TRULY-SPECTACULAR-PUNK-ROCK apple pie.

Ingredients will make 1 pie. Set aside 2 hours of your life (plus two while your dough chills)

Preheat Oven to 375.

Just a few ingredients, right?

Double Crust:

2.5 Cups Flour

1 TBSP Sugar

1 TSP Salt

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter (very cold!)

1 cup very cold, icy water

1 lbs. Maple Bacon (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

The Filling:

3 Granny Smith Apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced.

3 Honeycrisp (or Pink Lady) Apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced.

(you can dunk them in Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice so they don’t start to brown. Rinse in water just before sauteing)

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

1 Pinch of Salt

1 Pinch of Nutmeg

1 Pinch of Cinnamon (I used fresh, ground cinnamon of the stick variety)

1 Pinch All-Spice

Whiskey Crumble:

16 Cinnamon Graham Crackers (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

1 Stick of Butter

1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar

2 Shots of Whiskey (I used Maker’s Mark)

Additional Supplies:

Food Processor, Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice, Dough Cutter, Peeler, Rolling Pin, Clean Surface to roll out your dough, Extra flour for your work surface, 1 raw egg, 1 tbsp water (Egg Wash)

“Time to make the dough”

Cube 2 sticks of cold butter into roughly, 1 inch cubes. Store immediately in the fridge once you have done this.

Crisp your bacon in a skillet and then blot with paper towels to remove the excess grease. You do not want the grease in your buttery crust!

Use a food processor to crumble your cooked bacon. Again, the bacon flavor in the crust is meant to be subtle, not overpowering.

Combine your flour, sugar and salt in your mixing bowl – mix.

Get your butter out of the fridge and sprinkle the cubes into the dry ingredients as you continue to mix.

Slowly add that 1 cup of very cold, icy water as you keep an eye on your butter cubes. You want to see the speck of butter, don’t mix them too well.

Slowly add your crumbled bacon bits and make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Remove the dough and flatten it out with a clean pair of hands, cut it in half with your dough cutter (or big knife) and wrap each mound in plastic wrap. Keep it on a plate in your fridge and chill it for at least one hour, preferably two.

While you wait for the dough to get chilly, begin to prepare your crumble and the filling. 

Process your graham crackers so they are breadcrumb texture.

Begin melting 1 stick of butter in your saucepan and stir in the rest of the crumble ingredients, adding the whiskey shots last.

After your apples have been peeled, cored and sliced, add them to a sauté pan or stock pot.

Add your Maple Syrup, Salt, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and All-Spice.

Cook on medium heat until the apples just start to soften. I like it when the apples still have a slight crunch to them. They will still bake, under the crust, in the oven.

Toss your sautéed apple slices in the Whiskey Crumble and set aside.

Now, assuming it has been one to two hours, begin rolling out your dough… 

Roll out your pie dough. Destroy your kitchen.

On your clean, sterile, floured work surface, using your floured rolling-pin, begin to flatten  out one mound of dough to the best circular shape you can muster.

Gently press into the sides of a lightly greased pie pan and then add your filling. Trim the excess from the edge.

Now, do the same with your other mound of dough – your top crust of the pie.

You can make a lattice top (shown here) or a more conventional top. If you go for the full-on, roof coverage  just make sure you add some ventilation.

A thick, hearty lattice crust for a thick, hearty apple pie.

Once your pie looks pretty enough, brush the exposed crust with your egg wash. Feel free to sprinkle some raw sugar crystals on top, as well.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 375. Keep an eye on your crust – it should just start to look golden brown.

Take it out, let it cool – on a window sill, if possible – It’s much cuter that way.

Look at that pretty slice…

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Bacon and Beer Waffles Recipe


Bacon and Beer Waffles Recipe Bacon and Beer Waffles Recipe

Yields: 8 Waffles

Ingredients:

16 pieces of bacon
4 cups of flour
1 cup of melted butter
4 eggs – (separate the yolks from the egg whites, however both will be used)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup all-natural apple sauce
1 Pint of Taddy Porter (Although, any Porter or Dark Beer will be tasty)
2-3 Tbsp of water (in case your batter becomes too thick)

Step 1: Preheat waffle maker and coat with cooking spray (keep spraying in between waffle-cookin’).

Step 2: Cook the bacon until crispy. Any method will do but I prefer using the microwave. Lay paper towel on a microwave safe plate, lay out strips of bacon, cover to prevent splattering and cook for 6:30. Cooking times may vary. Duh.

Step 3: Separate eggs and beat egg whites. Then combine egg whites, egg yolks, beer, butter, flour, honey and applesauce in a large mixing bowl. I used my Kitchen-Aid.

Step 4: Crumble bacon as finely as possible. If possible, use a food processor.

Step 5: Add bacon to your batter. Mix it up some more. Add water if it’s crazy thick.

Step 6: Spread about 1 cup of waffle batter into waffle maker, close waffle maker and cook for 5-6 minutes. Again, duh, please use your first waffle as a guideline since cooking times may vary.

Add butter, maple syrup, pig out and then make sure you run or play racquetball the next morning.

70th Birthday Party Catering | Wheeling, Illinois


Antipasto: Gourmet meats and cheeses, olives, black grapes, raw almonds, dates, dried cranberries, honey and quince jam.

Antipasto: Gourmet meats and cheeses, olives, black grapes, raw almonds, dates, dried cranberries, honey and quince jam.

Caprese Bread, Lemon-Dill Shrimp Orzo, Cucumber-Dill Smashed Potato

Caprese Bread, Lemon-Dill Shrimp Orzo, Cucumber-Dill Smashed Potato

Crostini with Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella and Sage-Butter

Crostini with Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella and Sage-Butter

Catering by Pastiche Events

Roasted Pulled Chicken with Rolls

Caprese Bread Salad

Cucumber and Dill Smashed Potato Salad

Mediterranean Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad with Grilled Shrimp

Antipasto Table

Sauteed Mushroom Phyllo Nests with White Truffle Oil

Crostini with Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella and Sage Butter

Fresh Fruit Tray

Game of Thrones | Dinner Party

Image


A Game of Thrones Dinner Party

Design and Styling by Pastiche Events. Original Recipes by The Third Toast.

Winter is Coming...

The Iron Crown Roast, Tyrion’s Jumbo Shrimp and Dragon Fire Wings

Game of Thrones Dinner Party


My friend and I may love Game of Thrones a little too much.

Leeta (The Third Toast) and I decided to throw together a Game of Thrones dinner party just hours before the season finale…ideas like this usually manifest after sharing a bottle of wine. Visit The Third Toast for actual recipes.

We set up our table outside with my tall hedge as the backdrop. The tablecloth was a burlap curtain panel. I hit a few resale shops, as well as my garden shed, to collect anything rustic or ornate. Rocks, twigs, metal, wood…whatever reminded us of Winterfell. 

Shots of Ice and Fire

Tyrion’s Sweet & Sour Jumbo Shrimp

The Iron Crown Roast

John Snow Peas (w. Bacon and Parmesan)

Ned Heads of Herb-Rolled Cheese

Blackened Artichoke Hearts of Cersei

(Petyr) Littlefingers w. Spicy Chocolate Ganache (So Ladyfingers were more difficult to make than I originally anticipated so I have decided to delete the embarrassing picture!)