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Appetizer Me……..

Who doesn’t love a football party, all the good food and memories you make with your family and friends.

I love making appetizers for this such occasion, my humble dip is always a smash hit, layers of great hardy food that will last you through the game.

The recipe is fun and easy to make ready for the Chow down session that will take place in front of your television.

Recipe of Humble Dip,

Using a decent casserole dish(clear for a fancy look).

  1. First layer you put a mixture of refried beans, tomatoes (diced), taco seasoning(1 tsp.), Cheese.
  2. Second layer is your hardy home made chili of choice(I love a good steak chili with this dip).
  3. Then your freshly made guacamole mixed with fresh tomatoes.
  4. Then creamy layer of Sour cream.
  5. Freshly grated Colby Jack cheese, guacamole topped off with fresh tomatoes.
  6. Lined the dip with and type chip and serve.

A wonderful appetizer for the masses.

Food, Beverages and a good group of friends, all the right ingredients for a fun Superbowl Party, and when it comes to the food there are two important things to keep in mind, 1) variety – make sure to have a variety of foods, nobody likes boring, and 2)  finger food – nobody wants to stand around with a plate and fork eating a full meal while also screaming and yelling at the big screen, food needs to be appetizer style for easy and quick bites. 

So to get you started on some ideas…..

Deep Fried Asparagus Spears:                      

1 Bunch Asparagus – stemmed and trimmed

           Beer Batter:

                     1 egg beaten

                     1 cup beer/ale

                     1 cup cake flour

                     ¼ tsp. Salt

                     ¼ tsp paprika

           Mix beer batter

           Heat oil to 350F in pan or deep fryer

           Dredge asparagus in batter mix, place in hot oil, deep fry until golden brown. 

           Remove from oil and place on rack to drain excess oil

Serve with favorite dipping sauce(s) – shown in picture is my Mayo Sriracha    


                     1 garlic close, finely grated

                     1 cup mayonnaise

                     3 Tbsp. Sriracha

                     2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

                     Kosher salt to taste

Stir all garlic, mayonnaise, Sriracha and lemon juice together in small bowl, add salt to taste.

Pastry Wrapped Brie with Cranberry & Jalapeno Chutney

For Chutney:

                     3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

                     ½ cup cane sugar

                     ¼ cup maple syrup

                     ¼ cup fresh orange juice

                     1-2 fresh jalapenos stemmed & seeded – diced

                     ¼ tsp. Sea salt

           In medium saucepan add cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, orange juice,

           jalapenos, pinch of salt.  Place over medium heat and bring to simmer.

           Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes,stirring occasionally and mashing

           cranberries.  Remove from heat and pour into glass bowl, chutney mixture will

           thicken as it cools.  Cover and chill until ready to serve. 

           Baked Brie:

           1 small brie round

           1 8’ pie crust dough

           1 large egg – lightly beaten

Make a standard 8” pie crust dough or you can use a pre-made refrigerated pie crust dough.  Roll out dough, place brie round in center, top with chutney.  Fold dough up around brie and pinch together. Brush beaten egg over dough. 

Place on parchment paper lined sheet tray, bake in 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes.

 Slightly cool, transfer to plate and serve with favorite crackers or crostini.

Italian Meatballs with Marinara Sauce:

1-pound ground beef

           1-pound ground pork

           1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

           3 cloves garlic, minced

           2 Tbsp. onion, minced

           1 Tbsp. salt

           1 Tbsp. basil

           1 Tbsp. parsley

           ½ tsp. Oregano

           Pinch black pepper

           Pinch sage

           2 eggs

           Preheat oven to 400 F.

In large bowl mix together breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, salt, basil, parsley, oregano, black pepper and sage.  Add in ground beef, ground pork and egg and gently mix together.  Scoop out mixture and make ball, I use a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop, but meatballs should be about golf ball sized.  Place on foil lined cookie sheet,  add 1 cup of hot water around meatballs on cookie sheet.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove top foil, brush with olive oil and cook until browned. 

Place in bowl and top with shredded parmesan cheese.  Serve with side of marinara sauce for dipping. 

Garlic, Caper Butter Mozzarella Bread:

For Butter:

6-8 cloves garlic

15-20 capers

16 oz butter, soft

Use a good quality butter or make your own, make sure it is soft. 

Mince up garlic in food processor.  Add in soft butter and puree.  Add in capers and puree. 

For Bread:

1 loaf Toscana or Italian Bread

Fresh Mozzarella – sliced

Slice bread into 1” thick slices BUT do not cut all the way through, allow bread to be fanned out like an accordian. 

Using garlic caper butter, butter both sides of each slice of bread. 

Place fresh mozzarella slices between each slice of bread. 

Wrap bread up in foil leaving the top exposed.  Place on baking sheet.

Place in 375 F oven for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted into the bread.

Remove from oven, place on serving tray and serve. 

I serve the bread along with the meatballs and marinara, guests can then either dip the meatballs and the bread or make a kind of open-faced meatball sandwich.

These appetizers are a “good eat” for the super bowl and for something simple, different, tasty and not too much of a mess.

Cheeseburger Cup Procedure

  1. Half pound of ground beef
  2. Sharp shredded cheese
  3. Wonton wraps
  4. Shredded lettuce
  5. Diced tomatoes
  6. Bacon
  7. Crispy onion
  8. Carolina BBQ sauce
  9. Worchestire sauce

Cheeseburger Sauce Procedure

  1. ½ cup mayo
  2. ½ cup ketchup
  3. ½ cup mustard
  4. 2 tablespoon pickle juice
  5. 2 tablespoon worchestire sauce
  6. 1 tablespoon of paprika

*Combine all ingredients for the cheeseburger sauce until well blended and drizzle on top of the cheeseburger cups.

*Cook ground beef and drain fat, place two wontons wraps across from each other in a muffin pan, add cheese in the wonton, then place in the oven to let the cheese melt. While the cheese is melting place ground beef on the stove and add cheese, carolina BBQ sauce and worchestire sauce, stir until all ingredients are mixed into the ground beef. Remove the muffin pan from the stove and add the ground beef mixture inside of the wonton wraps and top with cheese. Put the muffin pan back in the stove until wonton are brown in color and the cheese is melted (about 10 mins on 350). Then top with lettuce, tomatoes, crispy onions, bacon and cheeseburger sauce.

Taco Cup Procedure

  1. ½ pound ground beef
  2. Shredded lettuce
  3. Pico de gallo
  4. Sour cream
  5. Chives
  6. Taco seasoning

*The procedure for the taco cups are the same as the procedure for the taco cups. The only difference is that, instead of using sharp cheddar cheese, I used mexican blend and I mixed the beef with taco seasoning. Once the cups are done in the oven, topped them with lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and chives. 

The Superbowl is that time where all of the die hard sport fans come together to watch the game, bet on their team, celebrate, tailgate, drink, and of course eat. This is an enjoyable event for any and everyone who loves football. So enjoy good eats and great memories.

This article is a collaboration of Paige Osborne, Mykeia Arthur, and David Scalabrini.

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Announcement Audience….

We have a project in the making…We are doing a worldwide special!!!!!

Every 6 weeks we will future a couple of up and coming Food Writer’s to our staff from all over the world. In the 6 week blocks, they will let you in to their part of the world and show you their Culinary Culture around them. Look out for these articles and enjoy the fascinating knowledge to be told.

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Fresh Pasta

Making Pasta fresh is the best with a few easy steps and pure around your kitchen ingredients. Let your pasta imagination flow…

● 1 egg, slightly beaten

● 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

● 1 cup of flour, sifted

● 2 tablespoons of water

Starting with flour and salt mixed with the egg into a firm dough, add the water if too stiff. Knead the dough on a floured table for about 3 to 4 minutes.

There is a huge difference between fresh pasta and dry pasta. Everything from the texture, taste and even the smell of the pastas are different. Dry pastas are made with preservatives to keep them fresh while being stored in a supermarket, home or a restaurant. The preservatives that are put in dry pastas are potassium bromate, and benzoyl peroxide, these ingredients are used as a strengthener to enhance the dough structure and contain a chewy texture. These preservatives are also used as a bleaching agent to improve the appearance of white salt noodles.

Fresh pasta is better because it only required four natural ingredients, eggs, salt, flour and water. When eating fresh pasta, you’ll never have to second guess what chemicals have been added for freshness because it’s made fresh. Another reason why it’s better to make fresh pasta is because some chemicals are harmful to the body and could also be cancerous which is very dangerous. Natural ingredients are very essential to life, the body uses everything that you put inside of it to keep your energy level up, keep your heart pumping, blood flowing, cells working together perfectly and importantly, the functioning of your brain.

With this easy recipe you can cut every type of pasta, ravioli wrap you can think of. Creating freshness can save you pockets money and time for cooking in the kitchen for the dish of your choosing. Keeping out the starch and preservatives that are required for keeping dry pasta and its freshness.

Enjoy this fresh Chef’s Tip with a video provided below….

This article is on collaboration of Mykeia Arthur and Paige Osborne.

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Eating Royal History

Our world’s history is amazing and full of stories showcasing the impact that the culinary world has had.  A history where wonderful culinary and pastry dishes influenced by centuries of royalty and innovative Chefs around the world.  These dishes take us across the globe, through different periods of time exposing us to the evolution of food and how many of the dishes that we enjoy today found their roots in many of these ancient dishes.  Let us start our journey in exploring these dishes once enjoyed by Kings and Queens, Emperors and Czars, and share them with our families and friends and pull from their history to create good eats and great memories.

We will start our tour with  a visit to the Chefs of European Royalty. To many when we speak of European Royalty we think mainly of the Royal Family of England, but throughout history the Royal Families of Europe actually are intertwined from the UK to France, the Nordic Countries, Italy and even Russia.

First stop is the court of King Henry II of England where we find the birth of the Yorkshire Pudding.  It is believed to date back to the 12th century and may have originated in the royal kitchens of King Henry II, where drippings from roasting mutton were used to flavor baked batters.  This would result in a “pudding” rich with meat flavor, but much heavier than the popover-like dish that we know today.

One of the oldest dishes that is still enjoyed today finds its origins in the Middle Ages, Haggis.  Haggis, or what was known as Hagws or Hagese, was first recorded in England in 1430.  While many say it found its start in Scotland, there are some that say there are records that a version of the dish dates back to ancient Roman Empire days as a means of feeding Roman Soldiers.

Now a long time traditions dish of Scotland, Haggis is prepared using a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock and traditionally boiled in an animal’s stomach. It was traditional served along with swede, yellow turing or rutabaga and potatoes.  

Royal desserts were also enjoyed during these times, and many of these are still delicacies that we enjoy today.  Classic desserts were Sweet Rice and Egg Pudding. Rice was expensive during the 14th century which is why it was a dish only enjoyed by the Kings and Queens of the time.  These rice dishes were also more of a pottage until the 15th century with the introduction of sugar to the dish creating what we now know as Sweet Rice Pudding.  Egg Pudding, which today we know more as Egg Custard, was a royal favorite served as a custard tart.  This mouth watering dish is created by mixing eggs and milk or cream and cooked over a low heat to a thick pudding or custard consistency

Cakes were also a favorite of the British Royals.  In 1769 the cake of choice by the Royal Court as the Eccles Cake, also known as Currant Cake. The Eccles Cake is a small round cake made from a flaky pastry, is filled with currants and sometimes topped with demerara sugar.

Another royal treat that is not as ancient but is just as wonderful is the Queen Mother’s Cake. This is a sweet dense flourless chocolate cake made of chopped almonds and chocolate.  The cake was first served to the Queen Mother, the mother of the current Queen Elizabeth, at a tea with with the eminent Polish pianist, Jan Smeterlin.  It is said that the Queen Mother so enjoyed the cake that she asked for the recipe and had it served often at royal parties.

Finding its roots in Medieval England is the Royal Plum Pudding.  In the 15th Century this sweet dessert that we know today actually started out as a savory dish known as “plum pottage”.  The dish was heavy on meat and root vegetables of the time, and was served at the start of a meal. In the 16th century when dried fruits were more common, the dish made its change from savory to sweet, and while suet was still one of the main ingredients, dried fruits replaced the meat and root vegetables to create the sweet dessert that was the start of what we know it to be today.  An odd fact about the Plum Pudding is that plums were never part of the main ingredients. Plum was a generic term used to describe a variety of dried fruits such as raisins, currents, prunes and other fruits that would be preserved or candied to be used. The dish is often described as being a cross between fruitcake and haggis, set on fire.

During Colonial times and the reign of Queen Victoria, we find what many today consider to be one of Great Britain’s most beloved treats, the Queen Victoria Cake, or more commonly known as the Victoria Sponge.  The queen was known to have a bit of a “sweet tooth” and cakes were amongst her favorite.  The Victoria Sponge was named after the Queen Victoria as it became one of her favorites and became a staple of English Teatime.  It is a two layer-sponge-like airy cake filled with a layer of jam, traditionally raspberry, and whipped cream.

From the country more commonly associated with potatoes, Ireland brings us delightful favorite Irish Soda Bread.  It surprises many to find out that while many traditions of the Emerald Isles are the making of legends, Irish Soda Bread has actually only been around since approximately 1840 when baking soda was introduced to the general public.  While the while the roots of Soda Bread are found in during the early years of European settlement of the America’s, it is Irish Soda Bread that is the most famous. In Ireland the bread was found to be an easy recipe that could be made by the general public in the countryside during hard times.  The traditional recipe is flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. Additives to the bread are not considered “traditional” but it is common to see raisins added, which is also known to be call a “spotted dog”.

Next off to France where we find what is considered the King of Salads, the Crab Louis.  Credit for the origin of this salad depends on who you talk to.  Some food historians believe it originated in 1904 at the Olympic Club in Seattle, WA.  Others believe it was in 1910 at the Solaris Restaurant in San Francisco. But many food historians do believe that it was named for King Louis XIV because of the enormous amounts of food he was known to eat.

Last is a wonderfully versatile sauce named in honor of King Henry IV who was born in Bearn France, this is the Bearnaise Sauce.  The sauce was created by Chef Jules Colette at the restaurant Le Pavillon Henri IV in 19th century Paris.  Bearnaise is a smooth, creamy, rich sauce flavored with shallots and tarragon and is most commonly used on steaks and seafood as well as vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and zucchini as well as eggs.

Our next stop is the beautiful planes of Sweden where we discover a lovely sweet treat that is still famous today called the Princess Cake.  The recipe itself was first published in 1948 by Jenny Akerstrom who was the teacher to the three daughters of Prince Carl, Duke of Vastergotland.  It is said that the three Princes, Margaretha, Martha and Astrid were especially fond of the cake which is why it was called the Princess Cake.

In 19th Century Russia under the rule of Czar Alexander I, French Chef Marie-Antoine Careme created the Charlotte Russe, named after his former employer George IV’s only child, Princes Charlotte, and his current employer the Russian Czar.  The Charlotte Ruse is a cold dessert of Bavarian Cream set in a mold lined with lady fingers. There are various versions but the most common include fruits such as strawberry, raspberry, apple, pear and banana.

Our final stop in Europe is Italy which has brought us so many amazing dishes both sweet and savory.  From Milan the world was introduced to Panettone, a sweet Italian bread mostly commonly known to be enjoyed at Christmas time.

In late 1880’s Italy while visiting Naples, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita requested and assortment of pizzas from Pizzeria Brandi.  One known as Pizza Mozzarella was a pie topped with the soft white cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil. The pizza became a favorite of the queen and which bears her name and we know today as Pizza Margherita.

While Italy has become more popular for its pizza and pasta dishes, it is also the the land that has brought us some amazing sweets that have survived through the ages.  One of my favorites, especially at Christmas, is Panettone, or Pan de Toni named after a young kitchen boy working in the Royal kitchen of the Duke of Milan (1494-1499).  The story is that while serving a tremendous Christmas dinner to the Duke and his guests, the chef had forgotten about the cake he was making was still in the oven and it burned.  A kitchen boy named Toni gave the chef a cake he made from leftovers, and with no other option the chef served it. The cake was a hit with the Duke and his guests and when the chef was asked about the dessert he told the truth to the Duke.  The cake, or what we more commonly know it as a bread, is made with a little flour, eggs, butte, lime or citron zest, and some raisins and currants. While the true nature of how this wonderful treat was created is not known, the story of the kitchen boy Toni is amongst the most favorite told.

  Tiramisu is another beloved treat that was introduced to the world from Italy.  While the version that we know today originated in the early 1970’s, the original version dates back to 17th Century Siena where it was known as  Zuppa del Duca (the “dukes soup”). The legend is that the original dish was created by a chef for a special occasion for the Grand Duke Cosimo de’Medici III, who loved the dish so much he brought the recipe with him back to Florence.  In the 19th Century the dish became popular amongst English intellectuals and artists living in Florence. The dessert eventually made its way to England and its popularity grew. I can think of many today who are thankful for the discovery of this dessert, as Tiramisu has become one of the most popular desserts worldwide.

From the Neapolitan region in the 1700’s comes one most famous and delicious treats of that region, Baba au Rum.  According to history the original Baba, known as Kugelhupf, was created by royal chefs for the King of Poland, Stanislaw Leszcynski (1704-1735).  The king was also the father-in-law of Lous XV of France, who had married his daughter Maria. The king had given Louis the Duchy of Lorraine where he studied and developed important programs dealing with European integration. His studies required a lot of energy and he always needed something sweet to eat.  The Lorraine chefs made the traditional Kugelhupf of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, yeast and raisins, but it was not sweet enough. It is said that in a fit of rage he threw the dish of treats across the room smashing a bottle of rum that had then soaked the dessert. The rum soaked pastry became a favorite of Louis XV and it found its way to Naple which was the epicenter of all things cultural at the time.  From there the dessert took on the more traditional spherical shape of the Italian Baba which is the one most known today.

From the ancient exotic lands of India comes the dish Kedgeree, originally a rice-and-bean or rice-and-lentil dish known as Khichari, dating back to 1340 or earlier.  The dish was introduced to the United Kingdom during the Victorian times of the 19th century by returning British Colonials, who enjoyed it while in India, and where changes were made to create the dish as it is known today.  This exquisite dish is made of culinary delights of boiled rice, parsley, smoked haddock,, hard boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and is a favorite breakfast dish.

On to the mystic lands of Africa where in the southern regions we find what has become a beloved national dish called BoBotie.  This amazing South African Meatloaf dish, finds its original origins dating back to 17th Century Europe and was brought to South Africa by the Dutch and Malaysian settlers.  The traditional dish as it was known in Europe, was made of layers of cooked meat, pine nuts, and seasoned with pepper, celery seeds and asafoetida (member of the celery family).  It was cooked until the flavors had blended and then it was topped with a layer of egg and milk. Like many dishes that find their origins in one country and is then brought to new lands by traveling Royals or even settlers, this dish went through some changes influenced both by the Dutch and Malaysian settlers that had their own versions of it.  Today BoBotie, which many believe the name comes from the Malaysian culture, is a likely to be made with beef or lamb, along with ginger, marjoram, lemon rind and curry powder.  Chopped onion and almonds are ingredients that have been added over the year, but still includes the traditional dried fruits, usually apricots and raisins, and then topped with bread pieces that have been soaked in milk, and then topped with a custard mixture of egg, milk, salt and turmeric, then baked in a casserole dish.

In Northern Africa we find Pastilla, a monument of Moroccan cuisine and is synonymous with refinement and delicacy.  The origin of this delicacy dates back to 1492 during the fall of Al-Andalus who was driven from Spain.  The Moors took up refuge in Morocco and brought their traditions as well as numerous recipes, and Pastilla was one of them.  The traditional recipe calls for using pigeon, but today Cornish Game Hen is mostly used.  The dish is presented as a pie made of extremely thin dough called warka (similar to a very thin philo), The filling contains the poultry, beaten eggs, almonds, onion, sugar and spices, and then delicately perfumed with cinnamon This pie contains both sweet and salty flavours that will have all us salivating.

We end our culinary global trip in Japan and China where we find both some amazing treats of today that find their origins from ancient Imperial times, as well as some delectable dishes from times past that today are not allowed in many countries for the safety of certain animals.

Our first dish comes from Japan, although it’s original origin is believed to be from China.  Mochi is first known to have been an imperial offering at religious ceremonies during the Heian period of 794-1185.  Mochi is made with a glutinous rice, often referred to as sticky rice, sweet rice or mochi rice. Over the centuries it has been most commonly used to make sweets as well as used in soups, but today it has found a new popularity in Mochi Ice Cream.  Mochi Ice Cream is a Mochi rice shell around an ice cream center.  While it was first invented in the early 1980’s it finds its origins from times long past and today is finding favor around the world.

From China’s royal imperial tables to today’s Korean street vendors, the sweet treat Dragon’s Beard was created during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) by the Imperial Court Chet for the Emperor.  This treat was made from spun sugar where sugar or honey is boiled and then formed into a ball and then stretched by hand into 16,000 threads and then coated in powdered sugar.  It became a beautiful show for the Emperor to watch as the ball of honey would be woven into the numerous strands that would appear to replicate the shape of a Dragon’s Beard. It would then be stuffed with light and fruitful delicacies.  In some parts of China’s countryside, the dish was also known as Edible Bird’s Nest.

Also from China’s ancient past  we find a very rare dish that originated during the Ming Dynasty around the 14th Century, Shark Fin Soup.  Initially it was a rare delicacy only enjoyed by nobility and the aristocracy and was only served at special occasions such as weddings or to honored guests.  But during the Qing Dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, the soup started to be consumed by more people. As the soup became popular as a part of Chinese medicine, its popularity increased even more.  But in modern times as the practice global societies learned of the practice of “Shark Finning” and the cruelty of the practice, limits on the availability of the soup outside of China has become more rare.  Today 27 countries have banned the practice of Shark Finning, so if the “explorer” side of you is ever itching to travel to the mystical lands of China, let your pallet guide you and give it a try.

Not too many dishes can claim such royal lineage dating back more than 700 years, but Peking Duck is one of them. The dish finds its beginnings in Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368), and was reserved for royalty until the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) when in 1416 it was served at a restaurant for the first time, and was introduced to the general public.  While this ancient delicacy is still enjoyed around the globe to this day, it is not without its own controversy as well. The traditional method of raising the Pekin Duck that is raised specifically for eating, is to let them roam freely for the first seven weeks but then to cage them and force feed them until they are slaughtered at 65 days.  While this is the traditional way, many who raised Pekin ducks today actually allow them to be free range until the time they are slaughtered. This dish is one that should be enjoyed at least once in your life, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying this dish when you have a chance, just make sure to ask if the duck is free range.

All of these amazing dishes have survived throughout history, some made by well known chefs but mostly made by simple kitchen chefs or help working in royal kitchens.  But one thing we can be sure of is that these dishes have also created their own history and have survived the ages only to still be cherished and desired today as much as they were during their time.  So what is your favorite dish that you can make a topic of conversation at your next dinner?

This article was collaborated by David Scalabrini and Paige Osborne…..