Strawberry & Spinach Salad

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Strawberries are coming into season, I love this salad, its easy and delicious.

I use this balsamic vinegar that we sell in one of our stores

I absolutely love this, its aged and sweet the best I ever had, and I like that the bottle is refillable.  You buy the bottle filled for $11.99, then when you are out you can refill it for $6.99, best deal in town if you ask me.
So for me I use it all the time, oh even on vanilla ice cream, with sliced strawberries…YUM!!!

Strawberry & Spinach Salad

1 pkg. candied pecans (in nut aisle)

8 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried, set aside
1 pound container strawberries, rinsed, hulled, cut into quarters, set aside

In a small bowl add
¼ cup good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt and pepper, add more to taste
whisk in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify

In a large bowl add spinach, strawberries and ½-3/4 cup of the vinaigrette, toss to combine.  Turn out on to a large serving plate arranging strawberries all round.  Top with glazed pecans. Pour remaining vinaigrette in a container, in case any one would want more.

You can serve this as the main entree or as a side with a frittata or quiche  Frittata recipe to come on Monday.

Have a great weekend!!

Potatoes au Gratin

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I made this potato gratin using a cheese sauce, it is very simple and takes no time at all, I do use a mandolin to slice my potatoes (about an 1/8 of an inch) which is really easier.
I also make my sauce first then slice my potatoes as I go, for me it works so I don’t waste potatoes.  I’ve used a 3 qt. or a 9×13 baking dish.  Depending on the size of the dish I will do any where from 4 layers to 6 layers.  You can use other flavors or kinds of cheese, just make sure the cheese is shredded first, I like to use Cabot brand or something along those lines.
I put my cheese bricks in the freezer for about 15 minutes before shredding, this helps with the crumbling of the cheese and shreds easier.
Also I use beer or wine in this recipe, you can use either or stock if you choose not too.   I hope you enjoy!!

4-8 whole russet potatoes, depending on size, scrubbed clean
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup & 1/3 cup beer or white wine
8 oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded
8 oz. White Cheddar. shredded
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1 cup cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper, or to your taste
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray baking dish really well with non-stick cooking spray or generously coat with softened butter.
In a food processor using the shredding disc, shred both bricks of cheese, pour into a bowl; set aside.
In a medium sauce pan on medium heat add butter, once melted whisk in flour, cook flour for about 1 minute occasionally whisking.  Then whisk in 1/2 cup beer/wine/stock which ever you are using, then add garlic, keep whisking for 1 minute more than slowly add the cream and milk (you can mix both together then pour) whisking the whole time.  Add salt and pepper, whisking occasionally until mixture thickens and almost come to a boil (once you see your first bubble).  Then turn heat down to medium low and add your cheese one handful at a time,

whisking to incorporate cheese into mixture.  Once all cheese has been added, keep whisking until all cheese is melted and well incorporated, turn off heat.

Slice 4 potatoes,

 start layering potatoes slightly over lapping, after each layer, with a large serving spoon ladle a couple of spoonfuls of cheese sauce over the potatoes, another layer of potatoes, then sauce again, then push down on potatoes this will allow the sauce to spread out, keep with the layering of potatoes, sauce and pushing down.

Slice more potatoes as needed, once your down to the end of the sauce make that the last layer of potatoes.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl add panko breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup beer/wine/stock, mixed together till well combined, remove foil from potatoes and sprinkle bread crumbs all over and bake uncovered for 20 more minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving, I like to cut into squares first and they pop out easily.


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Who doesn’t like grilling, I absolutely love it and can’t get enough of it, but I do have one draw back…I live in a building that does not allow gas grills on the balconies.   So I got myself an outside electric grill and I LOVE IT!!!

Yes I have indoor grills (2), grill pans (2 but I just like to be cooking outside and this does the trick.

Where I live its been on warm side lately so its been great to get out and start grilling early, although I do grill out all year round it’s just nice when the weather is on your side.

I can’t wait for the farmers markets to start up in full swing too, I love grilling any veggies, mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, corn and I could go on and on…ha

I recently grilled a nice strip steak, sweet onions and pattypan squash its was all so delicious.  When I grill veggies I just brush them with some olive oil and hit them with salt and pepper, but any seasons, spices or herbs are delicious with them too.

So here is to happy grilling!!! Cheers!!!

Coconut Macaroons

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I truly love Coconut Macaroons, but of course you have to love or at least like coconut…Well I do, its funny when I was little my parents would get a huge box of “Esther Price” chocolate candy at Christmas time from my Dad’s work and I hated when I would pick a piece and it was “Coconut”!!!  Of course our taste buds change and I absolutely love making these, this recipe is so simple and easy!!!  So please “if you like coconut” make these, you will not be disappointed, I love having mine with a great cup of expresso…Enjoy!!!

3 cups unsweetened coconut *see note below
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
3 extra-large egg whites
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl combine coconut, butter, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar.
With an electric mixer whip egg whites until they begin to get foamy and opaque. With the mixer on add remaining sugar in a slow steady stream, keep whipping until the mixture has volumized and is pure white, but just short of holding soft peaks.

Fold the whites into the coconut mixture, I use a 2 oz. scooper to make perfect mounds and place them on a baking sheet pan with a silpat.  Bake for about 20 minutes, I like mine a little brown, so they are crunchy on the outside but chewy inside.
I store mine just on a plate, if you keep them in a sealed container they will get soft on the outside, if this happens and you want them to have that crunch again, just heat them for about 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

***NOTE – I like my coconut a little finer, so after I measure out 3 cups, I pulse it a couple of times in the food processor.

You can drizzle chocolate on them or you can add chocolate chips if you like, 3/4 cup – 1 cup.

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

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These ribs are fall off the bone finger licking good!!!  I put them in the oven, I like this method for me because is less hassle,  I prep them the night before, then the day of I can put them in the oven and forget it about for a few hours.

1 full rack of Baby Back Ribs

Rub – Makes 1 cup

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. chili powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all spices together in a bowl, set aside.  Flip ribs over to the back, there is a thin piece of skin that needs to be removed, at one end of the ribs with a knife start at an edge to peel up a little of the skin. With a paper towel grasp the skin and pull gently as the skin comes up, using the paper towel helps it from slipping out of your grasp.
Rub a the entire rack with all the rub on both sides, put into a jumbo zip-loc bag, or you can cut ribs in half and use a gallon size bag.  Place in refrigerator over night.  Take ribs out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking.
Using heavy-duty alumium foil, lay one sheet out 8 inches longer then the rack of ribs. spray sheet with non stick cooking spray and place ribs face up, take another sheet same length and spray one side as well, putting that side down on top of ribs.  Fold both edges of the foil together rolling the edges towards the ribs, stopping about 1 inch before the ribs.
Place the package on a baking sheet and bake for 3 hours, after 3 hours  take out of the oven, increase heat to 400 degrees.  Remove the top piece of foil and add your favorite BBQ sauce to the top of the ribs all over, then place back in over without foil for 15 minutes.

I love serving roasted vegetables  with the ribs, like pieces of corn on the cob, red potatoes etc. I put those in the oven 30 minutes before the ribs are done.

Cream Scones

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6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup cream, plus 2 tbsp. extra
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl,  in a small bowl beat together 1/2 cup cream, egg and vanilla.  Add the butter to the flour mixture using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour cream mixture in the well and with using your hand gently fold mixture together. Just when mixed together, turn out onto a floured surface, knead very gently only 3-4 times.  Form into a circle and pat gently to about 1 inch thick, using a 3 inch round biscuit/cookie cutter cut out scones, you will get about 8 scones.  Or you can cut the circle into 8 wedges.  Brush scones with extra cream, and place onto a baking sheet, bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, risen and golden.

Serve with English clotted cream or English Double Devon Cream and fruit preserves.

I’ve made these several times and they always turn out so yummy and they are so so easy and simple….A must try for breakfast or afternoon tea!!

Fresh Berry and Mascarpone Cream filled Crepes

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4 full cups of any fresh berries, (if using strawberries quarter first)
1/8 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp. raspberry or blackberry liqueur (optional)
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar, little extra for garnish
1 tbsp. vanilla
8 crepes (in your produce dept. are packages of pre-made crepes, I have used these in a pinch, they do work well)

In medium bowl add all berries, granulated sugar and liqueur (if using), gently combine, set in refrigerator for 20 minutes.  In another bowl add mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, cream and vanilla, mix together with hand mixer on high until mixture is thick.

Lay crepe out, spread about a 1/3 cup of cheese mixture down the center of the crepe, top with 1/2 cup of the berry mixture, fold sides in towards center, sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  You can add less berries to the crepe and keep some to garnish on top if you wish.

This dessert is so easy, you can keep berries and cheese mixture in the fridge until your ready to make and serve…Enjoy!!!!