What’s For Dinner: “Fancy” Jar Spaghetti

9Wk5WSJBpk3dmMSC.jpgI’m excited that it’s September. Temperatures should start cooling, and yes, it’s time for comfort food. Next up for this round of “What’s for Dinner” is what I like to call Fancy spaghetti. Why is it fancy? Because it’s a dressed up version of your jar spaghetti sauce. No time to get fresh tomatoes and make your own sauce from scratch. But with all these additions it will give you that fresh taste you need to please your family.

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I brown hot Italian sausage as my base. Lots of flavor in there!

5EelFM9ibg4NKy00.jpgThen I add the extras. Green bell peppers.

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Sauteed onions and mushrooms.

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I then add my favorite jar of spaghetti sauce. Ragu in traditional.Let them simmer together. If your family likes meatballs you can throw those in too. Sometimes, if I don’t feel like meatballs, I’ll brown ground beef, and throw in slices of Italian sausage instead.

How about that for a quick way to fancy up a jar of spaghetti sauce?

Fancy Jar Spaghetti

Ingredients
2TB Olive Oil
1/2 a sweet onion, diced
1 Small package of white mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb Italian Sausage (I use hot, you can pick what you like)
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
45 oz jar of Ragu Traditional (or your favorite jar sauce)
1 pkg of spaghetti noodles, cooked per instructions on box

Directions:
In a large saute pan, toss olive oil, garlic and mushrooms until tender and onions until clear. Set aside. In a large sauce pot, brown Italian sausage. Add in the green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Stir until well mixed. Season if you’d like. Top with spaghetti sauce. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve over noodles with garlic bread.

Chef Shadow

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Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to work with Chef Seng on a private event. It was a meal for 20 people. It was an engagement party, and the bride used to teach English in Laos, and LOVES Chef Seng and her restaurant.

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It was a really great learning experience for me. Watching how a chef runs her kitchen with a staff, versus me cooking alone. I definitely learned a lot, and enjoyed myself, but it does reaffirm my idea of me NOT wanting to own my own restaurant. I would like to do private chef cooking, or catering, but there is a lot that goes into owning a restaurant that I don’t see myself doing anytime soon.

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You put a lot of yourself on the line, and on a time restraint. We are lucky that the Chef loves it so much, because she blesses our bellies with her culinary creations. I’ll stick to catering parties, making dinners, and cooking for my cookbook and blog!

What’s for Dinner: Smokey Bleu Pizza

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Do you love pizza? My husband does. And as a die hard teenage mutant ninja turtle fan, I too love pizza. Fireworks pizza in Leesburg, is his favorite spot for his favorite pizza. Its a wood fired pizza with gargonzola, bacon and a balsamic reduction. Since I love a challenge…I tried to recreate it at home. It was a SUCCESS! Here’s how you too can have a fancy pizza for dinner.

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Start off with pizza dough. Let’s be real here, if you wanted to cook this for dinner tonight, you would have bought pizza dough. Because that’s what I did, from trader joes. EO6Ee2A8WH2qAxSn.jpg

Flatten it out. Really thin. I like to make two pies from one bag of dough to ensure a thin crust. Then I bake it slightly, without toppings, to make dinner ready, faster without worrying if my dough is cooked all the way through. While you do this, cook 6 slices of bacon until most of the fat is rendered out. Don’t cook all the way through though!YyOYFE1H9Yx79mqa.jpg

Slice half an onion into these ringlets (is that what they are called?) and caramelize them…in.the.bacon.fat. hz4ZWhRuBCS92zKs.jpg

Sauce up your pizza crust. Again, store bought pizza sauce from trader joes. He’s the man.2r1Vi7Ukwy9XEBpD.jpg

A little mozzarella to give a good base.5cAdWUZv8s8ZIa1v.jpg

Bacon. You probably don’t need a picture of every step, but I was going to make it into an animation, then changed my mind.d6MVSmRFIc5syCxh.jpg

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Pockets of gargonzola, that will melt into gooey deliciousness. Bold statement from someone who does not like any time of bleu cheese.zSC0MXjAWI3ReIDr.jpg

Something different, but works well. Shrimp. medium sized, pre cooked. bvXAVrppbtMQ9RV3.jpgTop it with a little more mozzarella and sprinkle of fresh rosemary. Because it works. Bake for about 7 minutes. Drizzle balsamic reduction… throw it back in there for another 3 minutes. Serve hot.

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 Smokey Bleu Fancy Pizza
Ingredients

1 packaged of ready to cook pizza dough
6 bacon slices
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of pizza sauce (more or less depending on how saucy you like your pizza)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup of Gorgonzola crumbles
20 medium cooked shrimp
1 TBS fresh rosemary, chopped
Balsamic Vinegar reduction/Glaze

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450F. Roll out the pizza dough into a nice thin crust. Bake for 5 minutes, flip then bake for another 5 minutes. Pull it out and set aside to cool.

Cook the bacon strips until ALMOST done. Most of the fat should be rendered out. Set aside on paper towels to remove excess grease.

Assemble the pizza. Tomato sauce, mozzarella, then the additional toppings. Sprinkle a little rosemary at the end, then bake for 7 minutes. Drizzle balsamic glaze and pop it back in for another 3 minutes.

ENJOY!

Kalbi Cookoff

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The other day, we had our friends Bear and Bona over. Travis and Bear each made their own kalbi recipe and they “competed” on seeing who’s was better.

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Turns out, their marinade was very similar and everyone liked everything. Along with those lateral cut beef ribs, we marinated flank steak (cut for fajitas) in a bottle of bulgogi mix. For sides we had spice cucumbers and korean potato salad. My contributions to the cook off.

What’s your favorite cookout recipe?

Bacon Egg Toast Cups

These cute little guys are my favorite brunch thing to make. And apparently a favorite to eat as well! So I guess it’s about time I share the recipe. They are super easy to make, and always a hit.

Ingredients
1/2 stick of butter
12 slices of wheat bread
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar
12 slices of bacon
12 large eggs
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375F. Rub down a cupcake/muffin tin (for 12) with butter. Using a rolling pin, flatten the slices of bread. Cut a circle out of the bread using a mug (approximately 3.5″ diameter). Cut the circles in half. Place two halves of bread, overlapping in each cup of the muffin tin. Arranging it so that it lines it like a cup. Sprinkle cheddar in each cup.

Partially cook the bacon, rendering out most of the fat. Set on paper towels to get excess fat. Cut the bacon in half and arrange over cheese in the muffin tins. Be sure to flatten them out in the muffin cup.

Crack an egg into each of the muffin cups. Top with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until egg whites are set, about 15-25 minutes depending on how you want your yolks cooked.

 

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