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Cucumber Cups Stuffed With Goat Cheese Caprese


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

On Friday I fought a culinary chicken battle that ended with a giant foam core check with my name on it. This was my second attempt to win the Semi-Finals of the Foster Farms Chicken Cook Off, last year wasn’t my year. But this year, I won a giant check, a trip to Napa, the opportunity to cook at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (my favorite prize so far) and the chance to grab another Giant Check worth ten grand.

I’m so excited. Not just because the other dishes I was competing against were incredible and each worthy of their own Big Check, but because, in a way, this Big Check (that currently sits on my bar, in all it’s 4 foot long splendor) serves as a validation for what I do. I’m good at this! See, look, other people picked my recipe out of thousands of other ones!

Maybe that seems silly, I create 3 to 5 recipes a week, post them for you and you seem to like them. You send me emails and post comments telling me that you liked my little creations. That should be enough, right?

But for some reason, that Big Check gave me tangible evidence that my recipes are good. Other people, who don’t even know who wrote that recipe, liked it.

Maybe I have a future here.

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For this, I’m resurrecting and re-creating one of my most popular posts.

I love these little cucumber cups, so easy, so versatile, the perfect thing to throw together for a party. They take about 5 minutes, and they look so fancy. I used persian cucumber for these, smaller than your standard English cucumbers and the skin is so thin, there is no need to peel them.

Just use a small melon baller to scoop out a good portion of the middle, or use a paring knife to cut a wedge out of the middle and you can fill them with just about anything.

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Beer & Bacon Pecan Bars

Ingredients

    For The Crust:
  • 1 stick plus 2 tbs (10 tbs) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs water
  • For the Filling
  • 1 cup stout
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a food processor add the flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and salt, pulse to combine. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the food processor. Process until butter is incorporated into the flour mixture. Add the water and process to combine. Add additional water, 1 tsp at a time if there is flour that still hasn't been dampened.
  3. line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper (this will make it easier to remove from the pan) and dump the shortbread into the pan. Press into the bottom of the baking pan in one even layer.
  4. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes of until a light golden brown.
  5. In a pot over medium high heat, add the stout, cook until reduced by half. Add the butter and stir until melted, remove from heat. Add the sugar, corn syrup and stir until melted. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the eggs and stir until combined.
  6. Pour the filling over the crust, sprinkle with cooked bacon and bake at 350 until the filling no longer jiggles when you gently shake the pan, about 25-30 minutes.
https://domesticfits.com/cucumber-cups-stuffed-with-goat-cheese-caprese/

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Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Goat Cheese

Every foodie mom wants to raise an eater. A kid with a profound appreciation for food who can tell you the difference between a Béarnaise and a Hollandaise. 

I love that my two year old’s favorite food is bacon, that she’ll pick the carcass of roast chicken clean if I let her, that she prefers to snack on roasted Nori sheets over Oreos if given the option, but it’s not my biggest focus. I want her to respect food, but I want her to respect people more.

I’m grateful that I have the ability to buy organic whole produce, spend the extra five bucks for the organic free range eggs, that I always make cakes, frosting, ricotta cheese, bread and pasta from scratch, and I’m thrilled that I get to be that type of mom. But I wasn’t that type of kid.

I was the kid who’s family lived pay check to paycheck, who once sorted through boxes of canned food sent over from the local Mission when the funds ran really low, who waited in the 12 passenger van while mom ran into the bakery to buy twenty-cent day old bread so our family of ten could make it through the month. And I never had a friend who made me feel bad about it.

When my seven sisters and I would have friends over on a friday night, and mom would make Bisquick pancakes for dinner, it was seen as charming, not as a cheap way to feed the fifteen mouths that were now at the table.

That’s what I want for Tater. To be able to sit at anyones table and see the food as what it is, a gesture of care and affection. I don’t want her to ask for aged Reggiano to add to the Rice-A-Roni that her friends mom served. I don’t want to raise a kid who wants to add a honey balsamic reduction to ice berg salad mix she is given by the next door neighbor.

I want her to eat what she is served, and feel grateful that someone took the time to offer her food from their home.

I want to raise a kid who would eat boxed macaroni and cheese if that what she is served, and clean her plate, without ever pointing out that her mom makes it from scratch.

And if she is at summer camp and a group of weary, under paid cooks serve her chicken nuggets and tater tots that only made a brief stop in the kitchen after a long ride on a Sysco truck, I hope she is able to see warm food that people took time away from their families to make for her. 

And if someday her mother in law serves her a burnt lasagna that is still frozen in the middle, with Kool-Aid out of plastic tumblers, I hope she say thank you. And I hope she means it.

Food is more than just an experience of taste and the pleasures that it brings, it’s about a respect for those who serve it. Everyone has different abilities, concerns and limitations but we all bring food to those we love with the same motivation, and no amount of foodie intolerance should ever diminish that.

I have the privilege  of spending time and money on the food that I want to serve, but the love I bring to my table is no different than the busy, over worked mother or 5 who serves spaghetti from a jar and a box twice a week.

I want her to be gracious and appreciative, no matter what is put in front of her, thanking her hosts, because others did that for me.

That’s what food is about.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Goat Cheese

3 tbs olive oil

3 cups Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters

1/2 tsp course salt

1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

small pinch of cayenne pepper

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled 

(makes 4 side dish portions)

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot and shimmery. Add the Brussels sprouts, tossing frequently until browned and fork tender. Turn off heat, add the salt pepper and cayenne, toss to coat. Add to a plate and top with goat cheese. 

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Olive and Goat Cheese Tartlets & The Blogger vs Pinterest Controversy

I’m officially on Pinterest. It’s such a brilliant and simple idea. A big digital pin board that you can share with friends. 

If you aren’t a blogger, you probably have no idea how many arguments and debates go on in blog land about this social networking site. The petitions, the disagreements, the loathing. If you are a non-blogger, you are probably a bit confused. What could anyone possibly have against pinterest?! It really comes down to respecting the originator of the idea you pin as well as the sanity of your pin followers. Here is a little list so that we can all pin in peace and harmony. 

1. Pin to the original post. This is the biggest irritation of pin followers. You see a pin and think, "I LOVE those shoes. I will buy them right now." you click and then pin goes to the google homepage or someones email account or even the pinterst homepage. You’re a disappointed buyer and the seller of those shoes just lost a sale to a Ghost Pin. Check the URL of re-pins so that you don’t perpetuate this. I’ve had my own photos lead to everything from the Foodgawker homepage to the Facebook homepage to, for some inexplicable reason: Target.com. Even if you found the recipe on Foodgawker, or you found those shoes on a fashion tumblr, click through to the original website or blog and pin directly to that, for the sake of your pin followers.

2. Don’t cut and paste the recipe into the pin description. It doesn’t bother me so much, but it is the biggest frustration and the source of most animosity between pinterest and bloggers. Bloggers feel like they will lose traffic if people can get the recipe from pinterest, and traffic is all we have people! It validates what we do. It comes down to respecting the content of the person who has created it. 

3. Follow your favorite bloggers. Pinterest generates an amazing amount of traffic for us and we are SO thrilled with that. If you have a favorite blogger, follow them on pinterst and re-pin their posts. It’s the easiest way to know that you are pinning or re-pinning correctly. If you have any questions, just ask. 

4.Bloggers need to relax a bit. If pinners break these rules, it isn’t out of malice. People either didn’t realize their mistake or are just trying to make things easy for their friends. Just sigh and let it go, there is no need to get upset about possibly loosing a little traffic when most people will probably click through to your recipe (or seek it out) if they want to make it. My general philosophy is that it is better to lose traffic than lose readers. 

5. Pin comments. We have covered that fact that bloggers don’t so much like it when they see their entire recipes posted in pin comments, which has been largely eliminated due to the enforcement of a character limit. And most pinners don’t like the long comments because it ruins the aesthetic of the overall board. But I personally love to see a quick review of the recipe written in the pin. For instance: "Made this for Thanksgiving! Loved it!" or "I didn’t make the frosting but the cake was great all on it’s own!" or even constructive comments: "I liked this but it needed more salt. I also added parmesan and it was a hit!" But don’t bash us. There is a pretty good possibility that we will see it and it hurts our feelings. We are real life humans with hearts and brains and feelings. Be nice, or at least helpful and tactful. 

And please, if you have more to add to this conversation, do so in the comments section! And please, pin away!

Here is my pinterest, a little bare at the moment but I’m working on it!

Olive and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry

1 6 oz can of Large Black Olives

4 oz goat cheese

8 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup chopped tomato

1 tbs chopped fresh tarragon or basil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry with the rolling pin three to four times in each direction, making the pastry thinner, longer and wider. Using a 3.5 inch biscuit cutter cut out 12-16 circles.

Place the pastry circles on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

In a food processer, add the olives, goat cheese and cream cheese. Pulse until well combined.

Top the pastry rounds with 1-2 tbs of the olive mixture.

Bake until the edges of the puff pastry turn a light golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and top with tomato and fresh herb.