Sophie’s Caramel-Chocolate-Nut Truffle Bites

A dessert appetizer that’s so yummy, you’re guaranteed to be wanting more.  Enjoy.

1/4 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

1/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp Honey

1/4 Cup Whole Milk or Half And Half or Heavy Cream

1/4 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

a pinch Salt

1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Sprinkles

Nuts Of Your Choice, Crushed

For the caramel:

1. In a saucepan, melt butter, add honey, and cook brown sugar on medium-low heat for five minutes.

2. Slowly stir in whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and salt, add vanilla, and whisk until it thickens further.

3. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly. It should become a deep golden brown color.

4. Turn off the heat.

For the finished truffles:

1. Pour caramel into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool, and freeze until it is a firm and scoopable consistency.

2. Remove from freezer, uncover, and stir in chocolate sprinkles and crushed nuts. Scoop teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, roll each into a ball, and freeze again until cold.

3. Remove from freezer, place on a plate, and enjoy.

Yields: about 8 caramel chocolate nut truffle bites

Advertisements

Sophie’s Roasted Root Vegetables

A deliciously healthy side dish, perfect by itself or in stews, soups, salads, and more.  Enjoy.

3 Carrots, Washed, Peeled And Diced

3 Parsnips, Washed, Peeled, And Diced

1 package Chunk Rutabagas Turnips, Diced

1 Celery Root, Washed, Peeled And Diced

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F on broil on convection.

2. Place the vegetables in three baking tins, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes.

4. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy.

Yields: 3 baking tins of roasted root vegetables

Sophie’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese

A classic sandwich with added ingredients for flavor and texture that bring it to the next level.  Enjoy.

2 slices Sourdough Bread

Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese, Grated

1 Arla Gouda Snack Cheese Bar, Sliced Thin

Goat Cheese, Crumbled

Bacon, Cut Into Pieces

1/4 Onion, Peeled And Thinly Sliced

Roasted Red Pepper Strips, Diced

Mayonnaise

Dijon Mustard

Butter or Margarine, Softened

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Grated

Chips (store bought), Crushed (I like Cool Ranch Doritos, but you can use whatever you like)

For the bacon:

1. Oil a cast iron skillet, cook the bacon over low heat until it is nice and crisp, and drain on a paper towel.

For the caramelized onion:

1. Heat some more oil in the same skillet you cooked the bacon in, add thinly sliced onion, and let caramelize, stirring occasionally.

For the Dijon mayo:

1. In a small bowl, combine mayo and Dijon mustard.

For the garlic butter:

1. In a small bowl, combine butter and grated garlic.

For the finished grilled cheese:

1. Lay the bread slices next to each other, spread Dijon mayo on the top side of each, and sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese, caramelized onion, and cooked bacon on each. Top each with thin slices of Gouda cheese, roasted red pepper strips, and crumbled goat cheese, flip one slice of bread into the other, and press down to keep it together a little bit (it is okay if some stuff falls out).

2. Spread garlic butter on the top side of the sandwich, sprinkle on crushed potato chips, and press down to make sure they stick.

3. Heat more oil in the same skillet, and flip the sandwich in, so the side with the potato chips is faced down, and repeat the spreading on the garlic butter and the sprinkling of the crushed potato chips on the top slice of bread. Let the potato chips and bread on the bottom crisp up, and let the cheeses melt. Flip the sandwich over, and cook the other side, continuing to melt the cheeses.

4. Turn off the heat, and remove from skillet. Let cool, slice in half, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 sandwich

Sophie’s Paella-Style Vegetable Orzo Puttenesca With Chicken And Sausages

A new spin on pasta puttanesca with added vegetables, protein, and a crispy surprise reminiscent of a popular Spanish dish.  Enjoy.

1/2 box Orzo Pasta

3 Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Olive Oil

2 Sweet Italian Sausages, Cooked And Sliced On The Bias

2 Chicken Sausages, Cooked And Sliced On The Bias

1/4 Onion, Washed And Diced

2 Zucchini, Washed And Diced

1 Yellow Squash, Washed And Diced

Baby Spinach, Washed

Chicken Broth

White Cooking Wine, to taste

2 Tbsp Capers

Black Olives

Anchovy Fillets In Olive Oil

12 Roasted Garlic Cloves

Sliced Sundried Tomatoes

Tomato Paste

2 Roasted Red Pepper Strips

Olive Oil

Lemon Juice

Water

For the chicken:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and place in an oiled cast iron skillet, skin-side down. Sear them on both sides, and finish them off in the oven, skin-side up, making sure the insides cook. Then, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F to let the tops brown slightly.

3. Remove from oven, and let cool. Remove from skillet, and set aside.

For the pasta:

1. Cook pasta according to package directly until slightly undercooked, drain, and set aside.

2. Heat the same skillet that you cooked the chicken in, pour in cooked pasta, and press down to flatten it into one layer. Let sit like that, stirring occasionally, until toasted (it should resemble socorrat from paella).

3. Remove from skillet, and set aside.

For the vegetables:

1. Add zucchini and yellow squash to the same skillet, and sauté until almost cooked.

2. Remove from skillet, and set aside.

For the sausages:

1. Oil the same skillet again, and add sweet Italian sausages and chicken sausages to warm them up, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from pan, and set aside.

For the sauce:

1. In a food processor, grind together capers, black olives, anchovy fillets, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, tomato paste, roasted red pepper strips, olive oil, and lemon juice until it becomes a smooth sauce, and pulse in water if necessary to thin it out a little bit.

2. Let the same skillet cool (otherwise, it will burn the sauce), add the puttanesca sauce, and let cook.

3. Add chicken broth and white cooking wine, and let bubble, and reduce.

4. Add baby spinach, and let wilt slightly, stirring occasionally.

For the finished puttanesca:

1. Add cooked vegetables and sausages and cooked pasta back into the skillet, and stir to coat evenly in the sauce.

2. Place cooked chicken thighs on top, skin-side up, and enjoy.

Yields: about 8 servings

Sophie’s Mextalian Bruschettas

A crunchy and flavorful Italian appetizer with a bit of a Mexican twist.  Enjoy.

1 loaf Crusty Italian Bread, Sliced Into Toasts On The Bias

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sazón, to taste

2 cans Petite Diced Tomatoes With The Juice, Drained

1 Red Onion, Peeled And Diced

Green Peppers, Washed, Seeded, And Diced

Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Washed And Chopped

Lime Juice

Granulated Sugar, to taste

Fresh Basil Leaves, Washed

For the toasts:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F on broil on convection.

2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

3. Place toasts on a baking sheet, lightly brush on some of the balsamic oil, and season with salt and pepper and sazón.

4. Bake until the top sides are crispy and golden.

5. Remove from oven, flip each one over, and repeat the process of brushing, seasoning, and baking for the other sides.

6. Remove from oven, let cool, and set aside.

For the pico de gallo:

1. Squeeze moisture out of diced tomatoes, and place in a medium bowl with diced red onion, green peppers, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and sugar, and set aside.

For the finished brushettas:

1. Spoon some of the pico de gallo on each toast, garnish each with a fresh basil leaf, and enjoy.

Yields: about 18 Mextalian bruschettas

Sophie’s Smorgasburg-Style Ramen Burgers

A Smorgasburg favorite with some extra Asian flair.  Enjoy.

4 packages Ramen Noodle Soup Imitation Chicken Flavor, Chicken Flavor Seasoning Packets Discarded

5 Whole Eggs, Divided Use

Salt, to taste

Olive Oil

1 lb Ground Beef

Teriyaki Sauce

2 Scallions, Washed And Thinly Sliced, Divided Use

Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Ketchup

For the original burgers:

1. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, 1 egg, teriyaki sauce, 1 thinly sliced scallion, and ground black pepper with your hands, and form into patties.

2. Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet, cook the burgers, bottom-sides down, until those sides are brown, and flip. Repeat with the other sides down, and cover when and if necessary to cook the insides. Uncover, remove from skillet, and set aside.

For the ramen buns:

1. Place noodles in a bowl, pour over enough hot water to submerge them completely, and let sit for a few minutes to soak, stirring occasionally to break up the noodles. Once cooked, drain, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat remaining eggs and salt, stir in cooked ramen noodles, and divide between 8 cups in a muffin tin. Place another muffin tin over it, and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

3. Remove from refrigerator, and heat some more oil in the same skillet you cooked the burgers in. Pan-fry ramen buns until crispy and golden on both sides, and set aside.

For the finished burgers:

1. For each burger, place a patty in between two ramen buns, and top each patty with ketchup and some of the remaining thinly sliced scallion before closing. Garnish with some more of the remaining thinly sliced scallion, and enjoy.

Yields: 4 Smorgasburg-style ramen burgers

Sophie’s Smorgasburg-Style Corn On The Cob

Homemade Smorgasburg corn made better with the cheese melted in the oven and nicely browned under the broiler.  Enjoy.

2 ears Corn, Husked And Steamed

Butter or Margarine, Softened

Parmesan Cheese, Grated

Chili Powder, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F on broil.

2. On a separate plate, combine grated Parmesan cheese and chili powder (if using).

3. Spread butter all over the corn, and roll each ear in the mixture.

4. Wrap each ear in a parcel of tinfoil, leaving the tops open.

5. Bake until cooked through, and the cheese is melted on the middle rack, transfer to the top rack to brown, and flip the corn over in each parcel to allow the other side to brown.

6. Remove from oven, and let cool. Grab a parcel, and enjoy.

Yields: 2 smorgasborg-style corn on the cobs

Sophie’s Smorgasburg-Style Chocolate Oreo Pudding With Oreo Garnish Dippers

The Oreo Pudding from Baonanas at Smorgasburg made even more decadent by melting chocolate into it and using Oreos to garnish, and dip as a snack.  Enjoy.

1 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar 

1/4 Cup Cornstarch

a pinch Salt

4 Egg Yolks, Beaten

1/4 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

Semisweet or Dark or Milk Chocolate or Chocolate Chips

4, plus more Oreo Cookies

1. In a saucepan, combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

2. Add milk, and bring to a boil. It will become a thick paste.

3. Pour some of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper them, and add the milk-egg mixture to the rest of the hot milk mixture so that the eggs do not scramble, stirring the mixture until everything is incorporated.

4. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F, and turn off the heat (it will already be thick because of the paste). Crush some Oreo cookies, and stir them in, along with chocolate and butter. Let cool, and strain into a bowl, but stir the Oreo cookies back in. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly over the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and chill in the refrigerator until cold.

5. Remove from refrigerator, and unwrap. Spoon some into a ramekin, garnish with 4 more Oreo cookies around the rim to use as dippers, and enjoy.

Yields: 1 smorgasborg-inspired chocolate Oreo pudding with Oreo garnish dippers

Sophie’s Mexican Macaroni Salad

My own version of Ree Drummond’s Mexican Macaroni Salad that’s colorful, refreshing, and perfect for summer.  Enjoy.

1 Cup Green Lentil Pasta

1/2 can Whole Kernel Sweet Corn, Drained

1/2 can Black Beans, Drained And Washed

Sweet Peppers, Washed

Super Sweet Tomato Medley, Washed And Halved

1/4 Red Onion, Peeled And Diced

2 Tbsp Capers, Chopped

Goat Cheese, Crumbled

Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Washed And Chopped

Olive Oil

Lime Juice

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sazón, to taste

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla

For the pasta:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. Place in a bowl, and set aside.

For the roasted peppers and blistered tomatoes:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F on broil.

2. Spread peppers and tomatoes, cut-side down, onto a baking sheet, drizzle on olive oil, and season with salt and pepper and some sazón.

3. Bake on the top rack until the peppers are charred on all sides, the tomatoes are blistered, and everything is soft, opening the oven to flip everything and or rotate the baking sheet when necessary in order to guarantee even cooking.

4. Remove from oven, and let cool. Use a knife to cut open the peppers (if you do not want a lot of charred flavor in the salad, you can scrape off some of the charred skin of the peppers and the tomatoes, and discard it), scrape out the seeds, and discard them. Slice the peppers, peel the tomatoes, and place in the bowl with the cooked pasta.

For the crispy pan-fried tortilla chips:

1. Heat oil in a pan, and add the tortilla. Using tongs to hold it, shred it into chips with a fork, and pan-fry until crispy and golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan, drain on a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper and some more sazón.

For the finished salad:

1. Add corn, black beans, red onion, capers, goat cheese, and some chopped fresh cilantro leaves to the bowl, and stir in olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, and more sazón. Pile some into a bowl, garnish with some more chopped fresh cilantro leaves and some of the tortilla chips, and enjoy.

Yields: 2-3 servings

Sophie’s Fancy Mac And Four Cheeses

Sophie’s Stovetop Mac And Four Cheeses combined with Sophie’s Italian Garlic And Herb Truffled Steamed Lobster Tails to create a heavenly classic with some flavorful added protein and a simple crunchy topping.  Enjoy.

1/4 box Elbow Macaroni

2 Lobster Tails

Salted Water

1/2 Shallot, Peeled And Thinly Sliced

2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Italian Seasoning, to taste

White Balsamic Vinegar

Truffle Oil

1/4 Stick Butter or Margarine, Softened

1 Cup Whole Milk or Half And Half or Heavy Cream

1 1/2 Tbsp Cream Cheese, Softened

2 slices American Cheese

3/4 Cup, plus more Parmesan Cheese, Grated

3/4 Cup, plus more Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated

Cornstarch, As Needed

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Seasoned Salt, to taste

Olive Oil

Breadcrumbs

For the lobster tails:

1. Add lobster tails to a saucepan, pour over salted water, and bring to a boil, Cook for 8-12 minutes, and cover if necessary. The shells should be bright red, and the meat should be white and tender. Uncover, remove them with a slotted spoon or “spider”, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan, and add minced garlic and thinly sliced shallot. Let caramelize, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and Italian seasoning, and deglaze the pan with white balsamic vinegar and truffle oil.

3. Cut the lobster tails, remove the meat, discarding the shells, and slice it. Add it to the pan, stir, and taste to adjust seasonings as you wish.

For the original pasta:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

For the four-cheese sauce:

1. In a saucepan, combine butter and whole milk, and let the butter melt.

2. Add the cream cheese, and slowly stir with a wooden spoon.

3. Break up the American cheese, add it in, and let melt slightly.

4. Add 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese, and continue stirring. Sprinkle in seasonings, and stir to combine. Add cornstarch if necessary to thicken the mixture.

5. Turn off the heat, and add macaroni and lobster tails, stirring to combine.

For the finished pasta:

1. Pour the pasta, lobster, and cheese sauce into a well greased baking dish, sprinkle on some grated Parmesan cheese, some grated sharp cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs, and fire up the kitchen torch on it. Grab a spoon, put some in a bowl, and enjoy.

Yields: 2 servings