Southwest-Egg-Rolls-16

Egg rolls are known for being a fun finger food, an appetizer that tides you over until the main entree is served.  That might be the case at a restaurant but homemade egg rolls are a special treat.  Southwest Egg Rolls are packed full of colorful veggies with grilled chicken and bound together with melting pepper jack cheese.  And since they are packed with so much goodness, I serve them straight out of the fry pan hot and crispy onto plates where they are quickly devoured.
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Sopressata-Grilled-Pizza-with-Sweet-and-Hot-Peppers-10

One of my new favorites is the Sopressata pizza with Calabrian Peppers that they make over at “Spin Neapolitan Pizza”. Their pizza is so good starting with the crust made in a huge fired up pizza oven down to the original toppings that you don’t find anywhere else.   I’ve been dying to try this at home but with the recent heat it didn’t seem like a good idea to crank up the oven to 500 degrees in an already hot kitchen.  One way to achieve my summer pizza would be to grill it outdoors.  I haven’t grilled a pizza in a long time, don’t know why, possibly because it requires focus and timing and I am one who can be easily distracted.  I don’t have enough room on my grill to make two pizza’s at once so I will have to be on my toes, grilling one side, then flipping it over and removing to add the sauce and toppings while I grill the other pizza dough. Just about the time I have the toppings on the first pizza it’s time to flip the second pie dough. Now place the topped pizza back on the grill to finish baking while I add sauce, cheese and toppings to the second.  Are you confused yet??  If your grill is properly heated at an intensely high heat the pizza will grill fairly quick with nice grill marks and a smokey flavor for one of the tastiest pizza’s you’ll ever make but WHEW. . .  I wasn’t so sure I could keep up!!  In the end it was worth the effort when the guys told me how much they loved it.
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Peach-Dumplings-with-Vanilla-Cream-Sauce-20

July marks the beginning of peach season and I for one couldn’t be happier.  Sweet summer peaches make the best desserts, at least I think so.  We made a trip to the farmers market yesterday where a vendor was roasting whole peaches.  Once roasted they would sprinkle sugar or cinnamon over the top with a drizzle of honey.  Joe had to have one and actually let me share in a bite or two.  The peach was warm and sticky and tasted delicious.  After devouring that peach there was no way we were walking out of there without a basket of peaches to take home.  Peach dumplings were an obvious choice as they are easy to make and fun to eat.  I wanted to try something other than the traditional vanilla ice cream on the side so I added a warm vanilla cream sauce.  I can honestly say I’ve never tasted a more delectable peach filled pastry.

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Langostino-Mac-and-Cheese-10

Did you ever have a meal that reminded you of a special event, time or place?  Do you recall a special dish you had on vacation or something you picked up at a vending cart at a festival.  Or maybe you shared a meal with family and friends for a special occasion, such as a birthday or Christmas.  About a month ago we celebrated Josh’s graduation from college.  He’s a smart kid (I should say man), way smarter than his parents and we couldn’t be more proud!  So after the pomp and circumstance we took him out to dinner at the Capital Grille down on the plaza.  There were a lot of families celebrating and the wait staff couldn’t have been any nicer.  Their menu was set up to order entrees and side dishes separately.  We were feeling adventurous and ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese as our side which we were told was a signature dish and favorite of the staff. The entrees were delicious, but the lobster mac and cheese was the true stand out.  Served in a small cast iron skillet, the lobster was perfectly cooked with a light panko crunch in every bite while the blend of cheeses were so flavorful and creamy.  It made such an impression that I started searching the web to see if there was a copycat recipe anywhere out there.  I found a recipe I could work with and created a mac and cheese close to what we enjoyed at the Capital Grille.  From now on this mac and cheese will be a reminder of the night we celebrated Josh’s graduation.
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Candied-Walnuts-9

I know that candied nuts are usually thought of as a winter treat but they can be a great snack anytime.  I was looking for something crunchy and sweet to put in a salad when I remembered an old recipe for candied pecans.  The recipe called for sugar, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla but an inspiration hit me when I started gathering the ingredients and found my jar of Vanilla Sugar in the pantry.  Vanilla sugar would pack a lot more flavor than a splash of vanilla and I could only imagine how it would smell and taste.  If you’ve ever made vanilla sugar with split and scraped vanilla beans then you know how aromatic it can be.  And as the walnuts begin to roast in the oven you might be reminded of the cinnamon roasted nuts you’d find at a farmer’s market or a fall festival.  These turned out to be an irresistible treat.  They provided a sweet crunch to our salad as well as a dessert topper for a scoop of ice cream.  Next time I will have to hide any leftovers as no one could resist grabbing a couple every time they walked by.
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El-Pollo-Asada-17

I’ve been wanting to roast a chicken on the grill for the longest time but was skeptical of the outcome.  I had visions of chicken burned to a crisp or maybe a perfectly golden browned outer skin but under cooked on the inside. One of the best things I remember from our days in Albuquerque was going to this little chain called “El Pollo Asado” for the tastiest roasted chicken anywhere.  Joe and I used to go after work and order a plate with dark meat (thigh and leg pieces) or white meat (breast and wing pieces) served with tortillas, salsa, guacamole, cheese and sour cream on the side.  It was so messy, we picked apart the chicken right at our table.  Actually it was so tender it often fell off the bone.  We filled the tortillas with juicy chicken and all the flavorful sides.  They had little towelettes at the table to clean up with just like you find at the BBQ joints here in KC.   It’s one of those things I’ve often wondered if I could make myself.  I wish I would have tried this years ago, the chicken was tender and juicy just like I remembered with the flavors of citrusy orange and lime throughout.  I made all the fixings to fill our tortillas and it was so so good.  Cooking a whole chicken made for some tasty leftovers.  I had enough to add to a pot of green chile and corn chowder as well as a pot of creamy chicken and rice soup. Yummy week!
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Granola-Bar-19

As promised I’m testing out some new recipes for granola bars.  This granola bar is baked and has a cranberry jam filling that really puts it over the top.  I really love this bar for the flavors that come through and the surprisingly chewy texture.  I was almost certain that baking it for such a lengthy period would produce a hard crunchy exterior but it turns out not to be the case.  They are time consuming, mostly the prep time making the jam and the time it took to bake the granola but it’s time well spent when you take that first bite.  I can’t wait to try out some other dried fruits but cranberry is definitely one I want to make again.
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