Happy National Eggs Bennie Day

Oh how I love a good eggs bennie, a purely American dish becuase it so incredibly delicious and astonishingly bad for you. I keep it as a once in a very long while treat. The combo of hollandaise sauce and a warm egg yolk with the ham and English muffin — ooooh, perfection. OK, gotta stop.

Italian eggs benedict?

Italian eggs benedict?

Here’s a variation that you might want to try — Green Eggs & Ham. Consider it an Italian, lighter eggs bennie.

Ingredients:
2 thin slices of prosciutto  (or an oz or 2 of good smoked salmon)
1 English muffin
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 eggs
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Pesto (good, smooth prepared or your fresh)

Preparation:
1. Split and toast an English muffin and top each half with a thin slice of Parma prosciutto.
2. In a small nonstick skillet over low heat, melt the butter; it should not froth. Crack the eggs into the pan — they shouldn’t crackle or spit on contact; that would mean your heat is way too high — and cook over low heat until the whites are settled but yolks are still runny, three to four minutes. Once the whites look soft and white, gently spoon the melted butter in the pan over the yolks until hot, about one minute. This will help cook the eggs from top to bottom and keep the yolk silky but warm.
3. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and transfer eggs to prepared English muffin. Spoon a nice smooth pesto over the eggs. Not the chunky, jarred pesto — the smoother stuff from the refrigerator or freezer case (or your fresh). It’s better.

Serves one. Total time to prepare: 8 minutes

Ciao! Chef Ro

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Happy National Cheese Fondue Day

I made a cheese and hard cider fondue for the first time on Halloween several years ago. It sounded like a warm and gooey way to start a cold evening of Trick or Treating. When our kids were little, we’d have everyone over to the house and try to get them to eat “real” food before heading out to gather and then gorge on candy.

Hard Cider and Cheese Fondue - A dipper's delight.

Hard Cider and Cheese Fondue – A dipper’s delight.

 

This Food Network recipe is fool proof. You certainly don’t want to eat this for dinner every night if you want to be healthy, but once in a while is OK. And, of course, you can always dip apples in it. That’s healthy, right?

Enjoy! – Chef Ro

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Happy National Hostess Twinkie Day

Would it really surprise any of you to discover that I don’t like Twinkies? They were never in my grade school lunchbox. My hubby one year did make deep fried Twinkies for a party we were having, which quickly dissolved into a “What can we deep fry next” contest.

Do you think a Twinkie can survive a nuclear blast?

Do you think a Twinkie can survive a nuclear blast?

How Stuff Works did a little video and  article on the Twinkie, its history, its ingredients (ick!), how it is made, etc. How can the Twinkie have 39 ingedients!?! That is unnatural, which of course, is the heart of a twinkie — fake food. There’s even a book titled Twinkie, deconstructed that delves into how snack foods are really made.

Here’s hoping you celebrate the day by NOT eating a Twinkie. – Chef Ro

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Happy National Caramel Day

I love a soft, buttery caramel. I usually make home made caramels for my annual Merry Martini Party. It really is an easy treat to make. The biggest pain is cutting and portioning the sticky little treats. I generally sit in front of the TV when I’m rolling them into wax paper.

Chewey, buttery, addictive caramels.

Chewey, buttery, addictive caramels.

Here’s some fun information on the history of caramels.

Enjoy! Chef Ro

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Chicken Tamale Casserole

Last Saturday was crazy, busy. I was doing demonstrations of the Wolf Convection Steam Oven out at Pacific Sales in Roseville, making all of the shoppers yummy treats. When I got home, I had about 30 minutes to feed Maddie and send her off to the closing night of The Tempest at Folsom High School. And then another 30 minutes before family showed up for dinner. Then off to the play.

Knowing time was going to be in short supply, I looked around for a casserole recipe to make my life a little easier. What a concept! I figured I’d make the casserole the night before and then just pop it in the oven, but this recipe seemed so quick I didn’t have to prepare the night before. (I found it on http://www.myrecipes.com) One thing I did do was purchase a roasted chicken from the grocery store and shred it the night before. And I didn’t worry about non-fat or fully-fat. I just tossed the ingredient in the bowl. Easy peasy.

I prefaced dinner with the fact that I’d never made it before and dang if it wasn’t really tasty! I send everyone home with the recipe. It would be a perfect potluck dish. Enjoy! Chef Ro

Ingredients
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1(14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (I used any meat from the roasted chicken)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Combine 1/4 cup of the cheese and all ingredients through the chiles in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 Tbsp of sour cream.

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Happy National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

I was wierd as a kid. This is not a secret. Maybe picky is a better word than wierd to describe my likes and dislikes. I’ll leave it up to those of you who knew me and/or grew up with me to determine which is more accurate.

A simple, classic meal.

A simple, classic meal.

I didn’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid because they got too smushy for me. Instead I liked peanut butter and honey. Really, the foundation of my “liking” is the peanut butter itself, which must be smooth. In fact, I’ve been known to have a spoonful of peanut butter for a meal. My favorite peanut butter combination is with chocolate; the second is honey.

Did you know that it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter? Check out this blog from The Huffington Post about the history of peanut butter and interesting peanut butter facts.

Enjoy! Chef Ro

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Happy National Sourdough Day

It just so happens that I made sourdough English muffins to coincide with National Sourdough Day. Truth be told, it was a total coincidence. I try to make one sourdough thing a week to keep my sourdough starter happy and this week it was the muffins. I never really thought about how English muffins were cooked, but was surprised to find out they’re made on a griddle. I just assumed they were baked like most bread, silly me.

raw English muffins

My English muffins prior to cooking.

I used a King Arthur Flour recipe. King Arthur Flour is my Go To Place for baking. It really was quite simple, but takes a bit of time, so you have to pre-plan. No getting up at 8am on a Sunday and deciding you want home made sourdough English muffins for breakfast. I just tossed everything in my mixer to make the dough and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator to give it more sourdough flavor. I rolled these out in one sheet and used a biscuit cutter instead of making individual balls.

English muffins cooking on the griddle before getting the pan placed on top.

English muffins cooking on the griddle before getting the pan placed on top.

When cooking, I used the method where you cook it on a griddle for 5 minutes, then place a sheet pan on top of the muffins and keep cooking for another 7 minutes to help them lay flat. Then you remove the pan and flip them over, cooking for about another 5 minutes.

The final product -- sourdough English muffins -- using King Arthur Flour's recipe.

The final product — sourdough English muffins — using King Arthur Flour’s recipe.

The final product is really yummy, crunchy on the outside and light on the inside (although not as many nooks and crannies as you see on TV for Thomas’). The only change that I would make is to not roll them out quite as thin. That might give me more nooks and crannies too.

Since you probably won’t have time to make your own today, maybe go out to San Francisco Style Sourdough Eatery in EDH if you’re local.

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Sourdough Coffee Cake

I love that tangy taste of sourdough. In fact, bread is probably my favorite food, followed closely by the peanut butter/chocolate combination. I made this coffee cake last weekend and it was so yummy. Eating it straight out of the oven with a little pat of butter melting on the top is irresistable.

Of course, you’ll need sourdough started for this recipe. You can get starter from a friend or purchase it online from King Arthur Flour. (If you’re in Folsom, I’m happy to share mine. Just let me know.) I originally got my starter from Bill’s cousin Nadine over 20 years ago. Unfortunately I let it die. (Nadine still has hers.) Just know that if you aren’t going to use it weekly, your starter will need to be fed, which is really easy. It is simply tossing out (or giving away) about a cup of your starter and adding about a cup of flour and 1/2 cup water. Let it bubble for 4 – 12 hours and then put it back in the refrigerator.

Warm, cinnamon, buttery goodness for breakfast

Warm, cinnamon, buttery goodness for breakfast

The recipe I found for this coffee cake didn’t have cinnamon chips in it. I had some of the chips, also from King Arthur Flour, and it took this recipe over the top. They are teeny, tiny chips. If you’re getting starter from KAF, order some of these chips as well because it makes the coffee cake fabulous.

Ingredients – Cake
1 cup sourdough starter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 cup all-purchase flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup King Arthur Flour cinnamon chips

Ingredients – Topping
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/8 cup King Arthur Flour cinnamon chips

Directions
1. Combine sourdough starter, oil and egg.
2. Stir together dry ingredients and add to soursough mixture.
3. Put dough into greased 9-inch square pan.
4. Crumble topping ingredients together with a fork or pastry blender and sprinkle topping on top of batter.
5. Bake for 35 minutes 350 degrees.

Happy breakfast! – Chef Ro

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Balsamic-Berry Glazed Pork Chops

I grabbed some pork chops from Trader Joe’s the other night and had no idea what I would do with them during the week. I found a recipe for balsamic-plum pork chops, which required having plum preserves. Who has plum preserves just sitting in the pantry? Well, I had marrionberry preserves in the pantry from a trip to Oregon so I figured I’d use that. What a choice! It tasted fantastic. And our pork chops were so big that we had left overs the next night and the sauce tasted even better. This entire dish takes less than 10 minutes to cook so it is perfect for a busy week night. Trader Joe’s has those awesome frozen mashed potatoes where they’re like little pucks. You just pop about six to seven pucks per serving into the microwave and voila! Add something green and your dinner is nutricious and delicious.

Balsamic-Marionberry Glazed Pork Chops

Balsamic-Marionberry Glazed Pork Chops in the pan.

I think whichever berry preserve is your favorite will work just fine. My chops were really thick so I added an extra 90 seconds onto each side. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
1 tsp butter
4 (4-oz) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2″ thick)
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 tsp minced garlic (save time, buy bottled)
1/4 cup port wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 berry preserve of your choice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots and garlic to pan; saute 30 seconds. Add port and vinegar to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring occassionally. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt and preserves; cook for 30 seconds or until smooth, stirring constantly. Return pork to pan; cook 30 seconds or until desired degree of doneness, turning to coat. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

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Happy National Oreo Day

Who can make the milk splash the farthest when you dunk?

Who can make the milk splash the farthest when you dunk?

To be compeltely honest, I’ve never liked Oreo cookies. While I love chocolate, I’ve never been a fan of chocolate cookies or cake. I’d rather have a chocolate creamy center with vanilla cookies on the outside or chocolate chip cookies or cake with chocolate frosting. But I know that I’m in the minority here. Most of you are milk dunking Oreo fans. So dunk away because today is National Oreo Cookie Day!

Did you know that Oreo has a website devoted to recipes that you can make with their cookies? It even shows you how to make a cake that looks like a giant Oreo. I suggest you take a break from work right now to go get some Oreos…and milk.

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