Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

This is my go-to dish when I don't have a lot of time to cook. It is easy to make and goes a long way. The day before my husband and I moved into our new home, I made a huge bowl of this salad. After a long day of moving and unpacking, it was the perfect dish. Since I had no idea where any of my dishes were, I served it in plastic bowls. I think we ate it for a couple of days. Of course, the bottle of wine was a a great accompaniment - I made sure that I did not pack the wine opener;)

Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad:

20 oz cheese filled tortellini, cooked according to the directions on package
  ( I used the three cheese tortellini from Buitoni )
6 oz can black olives (medium)
1 green bell pepper, diced
7.5 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
10.5 oz container cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 bottle of Greek, Italian or vinaigrette salad dressing (I used Kraft basil parmesan vinaigrette)
1 cup shredded mozzarella


Drain pasta and let cool. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, except for the pasta and cheese and dressing. After pasta has cooled, add it and the dressing and cheese to the bowl.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This soup probably has more calories than a piece of chocolate cake. It is rich, creamy and fabulous. I would definitely classify it as comfort food. This was my first attempt at making a "Loaded add as many calories in the soup as you possibly can and make it taste terrific Baked Potato Soup". This recipe was adapted from the queen of comfort foods, Miss Paula Deen.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup:

8 slices bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 potatoes, baked in the oven, cooled, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped 
2 cups half and half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
3 green onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large Dutch oven or soup pot cook bacon until crisp. Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside. Once bacon has cooled, crumble, setting aside some for the garnish.  Add diced onion to the bacon drippings and cook until tender. Stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Add the diced baked potatoes, parsley, green onion, bacon and half and half. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes. Stir in cheese and sour cream. Garnish with diced green onion, crumbled bacon, grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Note: You can prepare the potatoes in advance by cooking them the night before. Place the baked potatoes in the fridge overnight and peel them with a potato peeler the next day. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Bacon and Egg Candy

When I saw these on the internet, I knew I had to make them. I love a good salty and sweet combo. The recipe is pretty easy and the cuteness factor is pretty high.

Bacon and Egg Candy Recipe:

1 package M&M's (sort through and pick out all the yellow ones)
1 package white chocolate chips, melted
1 package pretzel sticks, broken in half


Melt chocolate in the microwave or by tempering it on the stove, stirring constantly. Let the chocolate cool slightly (the "yolks" will break if the chocolate is hot). Line several baking sheets with wax paper. Spoon approximately a tablespoon of the melted white chocolate on the wax paper. Place a single, yellow M&M, blank side up, in the middle of the chocolate. Place the pretzel sticks on the side. Place in the fridge for 5 minutes or leave at room temperature until chocolate has hardened. Remove candies from wax paper using a knife or an icing spreader.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

 I remember going on trips to New Orleans with my parents when I was a child. I will never forget going to a very authentic Cajun restaurant near Bourbon Street. Since the place did not have a child's menu, my parents ordered me a bowl of gumbo. I looked in horror and in disbelief at the large crab claws, oysters and shrimp shells floating around in my bowl. My dinner looked like it was going to make a run for it back to the sea. Now days I would give anything for a wonderful seafood filled bowl of gumbo. It is hard to beat Cajun cuisine. From the sauces, fresh seafood, étouffées, jambalayas and beignets, I love it all. 

If you have a passion for Cajun food, then please check out Jessica Chiasson-Wood's blog Cajunlicious. It is about all things Cajun. She is also selling her fabulous cookbook on her blog. 
I have caught myself drooling over pictures of food on her blog once or twice.

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 pound fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled
1 -2 andouille sausage, cooked and sliced
1 cup white rice cooked according to directions 
1 Tablespoon Gumbo File
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 cup of canned diced tomatoes 
3-4 green chives or onions sliced for garnish
1 container chicken broth
1 container fresh okra, sliced 
salt & pepper to taste

1/4  cup flour
4 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet on medium low heat. Slowly add in flour. Stir constantly until roux is a caramel color. If the roux starts to stick to the pan add more oil. For a thicker gumbo, add more flour.


Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot. Add garlic, onions, celery and bell pepper. Saute until tender. Add gumbo file, thyme, Tabasco and salt and pepper. Pour in chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, ladle out 1 cup of the hot broth. Slowly incorporate the cooked roux. Pour back into the pot. Turn down to a simmer. Add  shrimp and sausage. Cook 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with cooked white rice. Garnish with gumbo file and green onions.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Top Chef crush is coming to my hometown

{Image via topchef.wikia.com}

Yes, that's right... The Italian Stallion himself will be in San Antonio, TX. You might remember Fabio from season five of Top Chef by his charming, charismatic personality or by his great hair and fabulous smile. I remember him by this hilarious quote, "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallops!" which he said in response to a cheftestant who decided to make scallops almost every challenge.

Fabio will be in town February first promoting his cookbook Café Firenze. To get more information, please click on the following link: Meet and Greet with Fabio. You can also follow him on Twitter, like I do of course, at @fabioviviani.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Mayonnaise

This is basically mayonnaise, but with swag. Yes, I did just insert an urban street word that all the kids are using these days into my foodie post. The combination of roasted garlic, combined with the roasted bell pepper gives everyday mayo real depth of flavor. Who doesn't love roasted garlic? I like to use this spread on my turkey and muenster panini sandwiches. This would also make a great spread on hamburgers. You could thin it out with a little buttermilk and make a salad dressing out of it or you could do what I do and just eat it with crackers or fresh veggies. So go ahead and pimp out your mayo!

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Mayonnaise:

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
1 head of garlic, roasted
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Remove garlic cloves after roasting and place them into a small food processor or blender. Add in roasted red bell pepper slices and mayonnaise. Blend until smooth. Add fresh cracked pepper. 



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pad Thai

One of my husband's favorite dishes is Pad Thai. As much as I love eating it, I was hesitant to try to make it. It seemed like an intimidating dish, mostly because I was not familiar with the ingredients. I had never bought fish sauce before or cooked rice noodles. Now that I've made it several times I realize it is not that complicated. There are numerous ways you can make the dish. I used vegetables and shrimp in mine. Enjoy!

Pad Thai:

1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 pound shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup cilantro
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 package rice noodles, cooked according to directions
2 tablespoons roasted & salted peanuts, chopped

6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
Mix together in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots, red and green bell pepper and red onion. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add sauce and cooked shrimp. Cook for two more minutes. Serve over cooked rice noodles. Garnish with roasted peanuts, cilantro and lime juice.