Honey-Almond-Date Biscotti

It’s time for a snack!

One of my favorites is Biscotti with a cup of coffee or espresso… I could snack on this ANY time of day…

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You can make it more of a dessert by giving it a dip or drizzle of white chocolate. These make a GREAT gift for biscotti-lovers in your life… my extras went to my mama… which reminds me, we are due for a coffee/biscotti date mom! 🙂

The actual baking made for a good “date” with my girls… although they like to help with the measuring/ mixing process, their favorite part is…

LICKING THE BEATERS!!!……   Big surprise, huh?

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Sigh… as delicious as coffee and biscotti are… there’s nothing I like more than the smiles of these two little girls! 🙂

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F is for Feta & Tomato Frittata

Many of the recipes I make myself come from the need to make a quick lunch. My challenge? To include whatever ingredient I’m currently doing for Apples to Ziti.

A frittata is super simple to make as long as you have an oven-safe skillet.

Here is the RECIPE Feta & Tomato Frittata Recipe and SHOPPING LIST Feta & Tomato Frittata Shopping List!

You’re going to love how simple and cheap this is to make!

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The Splurge

GRILLED TUSCAN STEAK WITH FRIED EGG & GOAT CHEESE

I try to keep the recipes I select to under $3.00 per person if possible, but sometimes I feel the need to indulge so this is, by my definition at least, a bit extravagant. Doing E is for Eggs required that I did some sort of steak and egg recipe for my husband’s sake especially… and my own. I’ve been craving steak… good steak… for weeks now. This was just the satisfaction my craving needed! I think I surprised my husband by polishing off the whole steak as fast as he did… I got a good work out cooking the meal after all 🙂

The cost is about $6.50 per person (not ridiculous actually). Once you see it, I think you’ll understand why I splurged…

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C is for Coffee-Chocolate Mousse

This is another SUPER simple dessert that you can make ahead! It can be made casual or elegant. Just use the appropriate style of cups or glasses to go with your occasion. The mousse will taste just as good in a paper cup but it will look even more inviting if you dress it up a bit. I think I might even top mine with chocolate shavings or curls next time I serve them! Again, not necessary, but pleasing to the eyes.

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C is for Coffee Braised Short Ribs

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Short ribs + slow cooker meal… yes please!

 

This requires a bit of work up front but once it’s in the slow cooker you’re free!

Short ribs are definitely a special occasion meal for us, but they are so full of flavor that it’s worth splurging for from time to time (figure about $5/ pound of meat… 3 pounds feeds 4-6 people). We used 9 pounds for the crowd we were feeding and it worked out just about right for 12 adults and 4 little kiddos. It really depends who’s eating. Hungry eaters = 3/4 pound per person. Lighter eaters = 1/2 pound per person. 🙂

The first question my guest asked me was: What is a SHORT rib anyway? (They thought it sounded kind of rude) 🙂

Short ribs are usually taken from the chuck cut of beef (you’ve probably heard of a “chuck roast”). Chuck is taken from between the neck and shoulder blade of the cow. Usually chuck is an inexpensive cut for a roast or steaks. When the chuck cut is used for short ribs it is cut into small rectangles or squares, each of which contain a piece of the rib bone (hence the “rib” portion of “short ribs”). They MUST be cooked slowly as they are a very tough cut of meat. They end up being fall-apart tender if you do it right and they are SUPER flavorful as they have a good layer of fat in them. You can see an uncooked picture of them below!

Doing some prep really helps out here. Take your short ribs out of the fridge and put them on a large sheet of foil for easy clean up. They need to sit for about 20-25 minutes to take the chill off before you sear them. Sear just means browning meat quickly over high heat. Searing keeps all the juices inside of the meat. Usually the meat is finished off at a lower temperature after the searing is done.

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C is for Coffee-Molasses Pork Chops

As you may know, I’ve been doing very little blogging lately. The good news is… I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking! Just in time for the holidays I have some yummy recipes for you to try in our “C is for Coffee” line up.

The first recipe is for dinner: Pork Chops!

This is a wonderful recipe because you can throw the pork chops in the marinade the night before! This leaves you with just a few steps to getting the pork chops on the table, and leaves you free to make any sides you might want to make.

For the marinade:

Wait… what is a marinade?

It is liquid that is seasoned with herbs, spices, salt, and/or pepper. Putting meats or other foods in the marinade allows them to absorb the flavor. For some meats a marinade helps to tenderize them. You will see some type of acid (wine, lemon juice, or vinegar) in meat marinade recipes that are intended to tenderize. Our recipe calls for Apple Cider Vinegar (made from fermented Apple Cider). This will help tenderize our pork chops!

You need a gallon-size zip-top bag. I always set mine inside a bowl just in case it leaks. It’s a much smaller mess on your counter or in your fridge when it’s contained in a bowl!

Here’s what you need for the marinade:

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To the gallon bag add 1 cup Strong Coffee (cooled down), 6 oz Molasses by weight (this is about 1/2 cup liquid measured), 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 TBSP Dijon Mustard, 2 Garlic Cloves (minced), 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 6-8 sprigs of Fresh Thyme. The only thing left out of the picture above is the pork chops! If you’re making the full recipe you need 4 bone-in, 1 inch thick pork chops. We only used 2 pork chops to feed our little family and saved the other two in the package for another night. Throw them right into the bag with everything else, seal it up, shake and massage the ingredients around for a bit, and then stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight!

Here are the marinade steps: (Just click on the first photo to see the close ups and to click through the slideshow)

When you’re about 20-25 minutes from being ready to grill your pork chops, take them out of the marinade. Put them on a plate to take the chill off. DO NOT pour out the marinade or throw it away! Pour ALL of it into a small saucepan and put it over high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce for about 12-15 minutes. It will be about 1/2 liquid when you are done. Stir it gently every couple of minutes to keep the bottom liquid from burning. After reducing it, REMOVE the sprigs of thyme. Pour this into a ramekin or gravy boat of some kind. You will use it to glaze the pork chops after they cook. You can serve the extra on the side for extra dipping sauce. It would be wonderful drizzled over mashed potatoes if you used them as a side dish for this recipe!

What is “reducing“? In simple terms: boiling a liquid until it becomes a smaller amount of liquid by evaporation. The liquid will thicken and it will heighten the flavors in the liquid. The reduced liquid is called a reduction. So, if you see “white wine reduction sauce” on a menu, you now know the chef reduced white wine (and possibly a few other ingredients) to create that sauce!

It is REALLY important you reduce the marinade before using it to glaze the pork chops. First of all, it will thicken the marinade (making it a better glaze) and it will intensify its flavor. But secondly, it kills any germs left by the raw pork chops that were in the marinade. Don’t skip this step… you risk getting sick! Yuck.

TIP: Allowing food to rest at room temperature before throwing it on a hot grill is a good rule to follow. If you allow it to come closer to room temperature it will cook more evenly and according to recipe times/instructions. Removing food from the fridge about 20 minutes or so before cooking is a good rule of thumb! 🙂

Pre-heat your grill to medium-high (this is about 400 degrees F on a gas grill). You can do this before reducing the marinade to be sure your grill is nice and hot when you’re ready to grill!

The recipe says to cook the pork chops for about  3-4 minutes per side but it took ours a bit longer than 4 minutes. I think 5 1/2 or so… I don’t know if they were a little thicker than the 1 inch that is called for, but they were DEFINITELY not done at 4 minutes! You can test this by using a meat thermometer. The pork chops should be at least 145 degrees F in the center of their thickest part to be considered safe.

When the pork chops are done, put them on a plate and let them rest for about 5 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and will make the meat more juicy! Nobody likes a dry pork chop.

Brush or drizzle the marinade reduction over the pork chops. Serve some on the side for extra drizzling and dipping!

Here’s the final shot:

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Click here for the official recipe from Alton Brown!

Happy Eating!

B is for Blue Cheese Green Beans with Pecans

We served these green beans with Blue Cheese Bacon-wrapped Chicken. They required similar ingredients and they paired well together. I was worried it would  be too much bacon and blue cheese on the plate at first… but then I realized… the more the merrier, right? Well, I hoped so and it turned out to be a delicious pairing!

The green beans are super simple and super delicious (my favorite combo). Even if you don’t use them as a side for the chicken, you MUST try them!

 

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B is for Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon

Another recipe of my own!! Two in one week!

I found several recipes for blue cheese burgers. There were aspects of many of them that I liked but also some that I didn’t like. In the end, since I decidedly wanted to have a burger be part of the ‘Blue Cheese’ saga, I ventured to make a blue cheese burger recipe to call my own.

Click here: Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon for my recipe. 🙂 …it’s so fun to say that. I love writing recipes. A much more difficult and involved process than I imagined, but I love it all the same.

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B is for Blue Cheese Quesadillas

It seems that the recipes of my own that turn out best are the ones that come from a need to make dinner without making a trip to the grocery store.

I wanted to do a ‘Blue Cheese’ quesadilla recipe, but all the ones I found had a LOT of ingredients and that’s just not in the budget for this month (or most months!) I decided to go for making my own ‘recipe’ again and added blue cheese to the mix. I got some ideas from chefs online: triple decker style instead of just two tortillas and grilling the quesadilla instead of cooking it in the pan. Both of these things are new favorites, and I think we’ll use them in ALL future quesadillas… especially the grilling them part!… SO delicious!

I really LOVE recipes that include a small amount of ingredients and BIG flavor! This recipe does just that. Here is everything you will need:

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Really… that’s it!… That is ALL you need!

The blue cheese is the most expensive item, but if you can find it on sale (I did!)… it’s worth trying.

Here’s my recipe: Blue Cheese Quesadillas

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A is for Apple Tarts!

Puff Pastry Apple Tarts

This post is only for “Apple Tarts” but I did do another “A is for Apple” dessert: Apple Tatin! You can find that HERE!

I really LOVE these dessert recipes I found because they are fancy, decadent and delicious! However, they are not super complicated to make, and they don’t require a bunch of ingredients that I will use one time and then never use again.

They both come from Ina Garten and they are her take on French dessert classics.

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A is for Apple, Ham & Gruyere Panini

I was going to end with this recipe because it was my FAVORITE of all the apple recipes… I decided against this because I wanted anyone who bought (or is going to buy) ham for their “Apple, Ham & Brie Sandwich” to get a double-duty use out of their ham. The ham with the brie and apples was a wonderful lunch, but this panini is hard to beat… we will be eating this every other week for the rest of our lives if I have anything to say about it! Really, it’s that yummy…

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If you read the word “panini” and were about to gloss over this recipe because you don’t have a panini maker… READ ON!

Not only is this recipe too delicious to pass up but you can always make a grilled sandwich in a skillet. No panini-maker required! If you have one already… WONDERFUL! It’s time to pull it out!

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