Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Grilled Corn Mac & Cheese

By: The Food Hunter

The end of summer might be just around the corner for some, but we're still in the middle of grilling season here in Arizona, which means lots of outdoor get-togethers. In our family my husband is the grill master and I'm in charge of creating delicious side dishes.

My new go-to recipe for picnics is Grilled Corn Mac & Cheese. Why, you ask? Three reasons:

1. It makes a wonderful companion to any dish my husband decides to grill.
2. It features lots of creamy Kerrygold cheese.
3. Who doesn't love mac & cheese.

Serve it at your next outdoor event and I guarantee your guests will be begging for seconds.

Grilled Corn Mac & Cheese
3 cups large shell pasta, uncooked (6 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup (4 ounces) Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, shredded
1 box of Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese Wedges
2 ears of corn, grilled and removed from cob
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, make cheese sauce. Over medium high heat, melt butter in large sauce pan and whisk in flour. Whisk for about 2 minutes. Add milk and continue to whisk to avoid any clumps. Cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir cheese and thyme. Add corn and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

I have an ongoing relationship with Kerrygold.. I receive product, coupons or compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own

Friday, August 28, 2015

Amaro Lucano Afternoon Refresher

By: The Food Hunter

Amaro Lucano is a Southern Italian herbal liqueur made from over 30 macerated herbs and essential oils. Originally created in 1894 by a family-owned company based in the small town of Pisticci it gained notoriety after the company became the official supplier to the House of Savoy whose coat of arms appears on the label.

Amaro Lucano is light brown in color and has a bittersweet flavor. Though commonly served as a digestif after a meal, I enjoy it mixed with cold brewed coffee and seltzer water as a mid-day refresher. Chilled with ice it's a bold, slightly sweet beverage with complex flavors that awaken the senses.

Amaro Lucano Afternoon Refresher

2 oz cold brewed coffee
2 oz Amaro Lucano

Mix in a tall glass with ice and top with seltzer. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 Tips To Help You Get Started Eating Organic & A Nutritious Breakfast Recipe

By: The Food Hunter

The reasons for why you should eat organic are solid:
  • To keep chemicals out of our body and the environment.
  • To enjoy better taste, texture & flavor.
  • To avoid artificial growth hormones and antibiotics found in meat and dairy.
  • To support farmers that have invested in growing foods without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
But how do you start?

Changing your eating habits all at once is hard, and not something I would suggest doing. In this situation little steps make a big difference. Below are 5 tips to help you get started eating organic:
1. Start on a trial basis; switch out a few products you already use for their organic counterpart. Gradually replace as much as you can with organic.

2. When it comes to produce know which items matter most. According to the Environmental Working Group, commercially-farmed fruits and vegetables vary in their levels of pesticide residue. To help you make the best choices the EWG has put together a list of the 12 most pesticide-laden produce on the market. Note: These are not items you should avoid eating, rather they are items you should eat organic whenever possible.
  • 1. Apples
  • 2. Strawberries
  • 3. Grapes
  • 4. Celery
  • 5. Peaches
  • 6. Spinach
  • 7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  • 8. Nectarines (Imported)
  • 9. Cucumbers
  • 10. Cherry Tomatoes
  • 11. Snap Peas (Imported)
  • 12. Potatoes
 3. Purchase hormone and antibiotic free meats and dairy items whenever possible. Studies have shown that organic dairy contains higher level of healthier fats than non-organic milk. Remember you are what you eat.

4. Read labels of packaged products to determine how organic they are and to see if they include the USDA organic label. (see explanation below of organic terms.)
  • 100% Organic = 100% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
  • Certified Organic = 95% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients = At least 70% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
  • No Label Claims = Less than 70% of ingredients are certified organic.
5. Shop around and find a store that has organic versions of most of your favorite items. Be sure to look for items not only in the organic section but also in the regular aisles.

To show you how easy it is to start eating organic I put together a quick breakfast recipe using some of my favorite organic products from Sprouts Market. These hearty pancakes are made with organic whole grain oats, organic Stonyfield yogurt, organic blueberries & fresh nuts. A simple mix of organic ingredients that will fill you up quick and keep you satisfied throughout the morning, exactly what I need when it comes to breakfast!

Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal Griddle Cakes
1½ cups organic old fashioned oats, divided
½ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup fat-free Greek Yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup organic blueberries

Preheat a greased griddle pan over medium heat.

In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of oats until finely ground and resembling flour. In a mixing bowl, add oat flour, the remaining ½ cup old fashioned oats, pecans, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Fold in the blueberries.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter onto pre-heated pan. Gently flatten the batter to resemble patties. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip cakes and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Cakes are done when both sides are golden brown and center is set.

Optional: Top with lightly sweetened yogurt and blueberries before serving.

I have an ongoing relationship with Sprouts.  I receive product or compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stone Fruit Cobbler

By: The Food Hunter

As the name implies stone fruits are fruits that contain large, to them, stones/seeds. Fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and even cherries are considered stone fruits. Native to warm climates the fruits are at their peak from June-September and be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. Check out the recipe round-up below.

Once again I am filling in as part of this month's Progressive Eats Dinner Party. Timing couldn't be better, as I had already planned to make Frog Hollow Farm Cafe's Stone Fruit Cobbler found on Bon Appetit. There's no crust to fuss over with this fruit on the bottom, batter on the top recipe; so it's super easy to whip together. What makes this cobbler extra delicious....the almond paste added in the topping.

Stone Fruit Cobbler
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
For the filling
1.5 pounds peaches, cut into wedges
1.5 pounds nectarines, cut into wedges
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Toss unpeeled peaches and nectarines with sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a pie plate and set aside.

For the topping 
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3½ oz. almond paste
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, almond paste, and granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each. Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop dollops of batter over fruit (batter will even out during baking). Sprinkle with almonds. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are thick and bubbling, 50–60 minutes. Let cobbler sit at least 20 minutes before serving.

Stone Fruits

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sausage, Fennel & Onions over Pecorino Mashed Idaho® Potatoes

By: The Food Hunter

After a long day at work, I walk in the house and my stomach immediately starts growling. My first thought is too cook something quick that will fill me up, but I don’t want to sacrifice taste or eat something unhealthy. That’s why I love eating potatoes for dinner; they are nutritious, filling and taste delicious.

Potatoes are low in fat, high in fiber and a key source of vitamins & nutrients. I know some will say potatoes have a lot of carbohydrates, and they do, but the majority of those carbs are complex, which helps keep you feeling full longer.

Whipped Pecorino Idaho Potatoes comes together quick and is delicious paired with grilled sausage and sauteed fennel and onions. Warning....make extra...leftovers are delicious packed for lunch.

The Virtual Potluck Group is excited to be partnering with Idaho Potato Commission to share our favorite easy weeknight meals featuring spuds. Be sure to stop by everyone's pages to see what they made:

Smashed Idaho Potato Pizzas
Veggie Chili Spuds 
Bacon Cheeseburger Twice Baked Idaho Potatoes
Idaho Potato Cheesy Tater Tots
Big Easy Meatballs & Red Gravy over Creamy Idaho Mashed Potatoes

Sausage, Fennel & Onions over Whipped Pecorino Idaho Potatoes

For the Sauce
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 large fennel bulbs, reserve fronds
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, sliced into half-moons
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
½ cup tomato paste

Trim the fennel bulbs and cut into matchstick pieces. Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion slices and sauté until they are begin to wilt. Add the fennel and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until fennel begins to wilt.

Clear a spot in the center of the pan, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring it in the spot for a good minute or more, until it begins to caramelize; then mix it in with everything else.

Ladle 3 cups of boiling potato water from the pot into the skillet, stir well and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer all over the pan.

Continue to simmer the sauce until the flavors have developed and the fennel is soft but not mushy, 6 minutes or more. The sauce should not get too thick: stir in another cup or 2 of boiling potato water, if it reduces rapidly. When the sauce is done, taste and add salt if needed.

For the Potatoes
4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 cups lightly salted water (see note below)
1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated

Place potatoes in a large pot, add salted water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook until very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. When potatoes are soft, drain and return them to the pot to mash by hand or place them in a bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt to taste and the butter. Beat ingredients. Adjust seasonings and add the cream and pecorino cheese and beat again.

For the Sausage
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links

Meanwhile, grill your sausage, about 10-15 minutes on each side. Plate the potatoes topped with fennel onion sauce and sausage. Sprinkle the dish with fennel fronds for serving.

**note: this may seem like more water than you need but it gets used to make the sauce.