Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cheesy Potatoes With Mushrooms & Leeks

By: The Food Hunter

Weeknights can often get a little crazy, so it's a good idea to have meals prepared in advance, for those nights when things seem out of control. In my opinion meatless meals seem to be the easiest to make-ahead; which is why I love these Cheesy Mushroom Leek Potatoes. Though they make a delicious side-dish they are also hearty enough to stand on their own as a meal.

Cheesy Potatoes With Mushrooms & Leeks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, chopped (white and pale green parts only)
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 cups heavy whipping cream salt & pepper to taste
1 cup Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, grated
1 cup Kerrygold Blarney Castle Gouda, grated

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft and all liquid evaporates. Season with salt & pepper. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Set aside. This can be made ahead.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine cream and potatoes in a large pot. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and simmer until cream is reduced by about half and potatoes are partially cooked, stirring often and watching closely to prevent mixture from burning, about 3 minutes. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Brush 10 inch wide ceramic baking dish with oil. Place a layer of potato mixture in dish, spreading into an even layer. Spoon mushroom mixture over top and add half of the cheese. Spoon remaining potato mixture over, spreading in even layer. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. This can be done ahead.

When ready to bake cover with foil, tenting in center to prevent cheese from sticking to foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and top is brown, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Let rest 15-20 minutes before serving.

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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hubba Hubba Apple Cake

By: The Food Hunter

My go to when it comes to desserts is Gina DePalma, ex-pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant. You can guarantee if a recipe is one of DePalma's it will be delicious. And though DePalma can't claim this particular recipe as her own, it's been in her family over 40 years, if Gina says it's good...I believe her.

So when I came across a man selling 25lbs of fresh picked organic apples on the side of the road, I knew I had to make the Hubba Hubba Apple Cake, I've heard Gina talk so highly about. Similar to a cake I've made in the past the Hubba Hubba is loaded with cinnamon sugared apples making it moist and delicious.

Another month and I'm filling in as a Progressive Eats blogger...I see a pattern here. Let's just say I couldn't be happier since this month the theme is Apples and I'm bringing the Hubba Hubba Apple Cake. Be sure to check out what the other bloggers are bringing to the dinner. (links below). Need more apple inspiration check out my sweet & savory round-up here!

Hubba Hubba Apple Cake

(recipe courtesy of Gina DePalma)

5 large or 8 small apples, I used Honey Crisps
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2-4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Peel and slice apples and put them in a large bowl. Combine 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar with the cinnamon and stir well. Toss the apples with 3 tablespoons of this cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat them well, and set aside both the apples and the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a very large bowl, then whisk in the the rest of the sugar until all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a stiff whisk, stir the two mixtures together until you have a smooth batter; you’ll find it easier to start with a whisk and end with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed dry ingredients.

Spray a tube pan very well with non-stick vegetable spray.

Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to evenly spread it. Distribute half of the apples over the batter evenly, and sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Layer the remaining batter on top of the apples, smoothing it with the spatula, then top with the remaining apples and the last of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake the cake on the center rack for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted through the cake comes out clean, with no traces of wet batter.

Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan, then slide out the cake with the tube. Let the cake cool completely on a rack for 2 hours.

Additional Apple Recipes

Savory Dishes:

Sweet Dishes:

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

Monday, September 28, 2015


By: The Food Hunter

Known as: "A village in a forest overlooking a white sand beach," Carmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific Coast just a short 90 minute drive south of San Jose.

This quaint village is only 1 square mile, most of which is residential tree-lined streets. Adding to its charm is the lack of street lights, parking meters and house numbers.

Shops, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, gourmet food shops and art galleries line the main thoroughfare of Ocean Ave. where locals and tourist can find just about anything they need.

Keeping with the village feel hotels are boutique style and small. On a recent visit to this sea-side town I stayed at the Bavarian inspired Hofsas House Hotel. Built in 1957 Hofsas House is a family owned and operated property that strives to provide guests with exceptional hospitality and service. Personal touches like free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, in room fireplaces and lovely views add to the charm of this establishment.

I was greeted upon arrival by owner Carrie Theis and treated to a delicious wine and cheese selection picked specially for me from the local Cheese Shop. Carrie's love for the area was evident in our conversations with her as she helped us plan our stay.

Though everyone thinks of Napa or Sonoma when they think of California wine, there are a lot of vineyards scattered throughout the valleys of Monterey County. Unlike Napa & Sonoma Carmel makes wine tasting more accessible by offering people an opportunity to savor without ever having to think about transportation. As part of the "Wine Walk by-the-Sea" program you can purchase a Wine Tasting Passport ($65) that allows you to walk to 9 of the 14 tasting rooms all located within blocks of each other. You could easily spend an entire afternoon sipping wines on this self-paced, self-guided stroll around town.

If wine isn't your thing I suggest heading to Point Lobos State Reserve for some hiking and possible wildlife sightings. Grab a picnic lunch from 5th Ave. deli, located a few blocks from Hofsas House, to enjoy at this picturesque state park.

Save time for a quick visit to the Carmel Mission either before or after Point Lobos. The historic mission is still a working parish and the only California Mission to still have its bell tower dome.

Known as a food destination Carmel has a number of dining options at every price level. From casual coffee shops and gourmet markets to charming bistros and fine dining establishments, everything you'd want to eat is within walking distance. (Look for full dining report coming soon)

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a fun filled girls wine weekend or a family vacation Carmel-by-the-sea has something for everyone.

This experience was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Italian Style Idaho® Potato Soup

By: The Food Hunter

It's officially football season which means its time for tailgating recipes. This month I've teamed up with the Idaho Potato Commission and the Virtual Potluck bloggers to create yummy recipes perfect for your next outdoor tailgating experience.

No matter what team you and your friends are routing for this crowd pleasing soup will warm you up and fill your bellies. It's not only fun and delicious too eat but also easy to transport in your favorite thermos.

Italian Style Idaho® Potato Soup
Servings: 10


6 small Idaho® potatoes, peeled & diced
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese


Add pancetta pieces to a large soup pot medium heat and cook until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove from the pot and set it aside.

Return the heat to medium-high and add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 additional minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper.

Pour in the broth and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk and pour into the soup. Allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Blend in batches in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Stir in cream, parmesan, basil and pancetta, reserving a little for garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with basil, cheese and crisp pancetta pieces.

 Be sure to check out all the other recipes:
Cheesy Smoked Sausage & Potato Soup
Home Fry Potato Salad
Potato Frittata Muffins 
Loaded Potato Bites
Potato Pierogi with Bacon & Cheese

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Red Lentil & Olive Salad with Feta & Mint Yogurt Dressing & A Giveaway!!

By: The Food Hunter

Lentils are part of the legume family. And though small in size they are a nutritional powerhouse rich in protein and fiber, making them an ideal meat substitute. Lentils are wonderful to have on hand, they are quick and easy to prepare and work will mixed into soups, stews and even salads.

Though I've eaten brown lentils often I have never until recently tried the red variety. The difference between the colors? In general, the brown lentils retain their shape well whereas the red tend to disintegrate. Red lentils also seem to have more of a subtle sweet nutty flavor.

Working with Bob's Red Mill and Stonyfield Yogurt to create a protein packed recipe I came up with this satisfying salad that makes for a light yet filling lunch or dinner. One thing about this salad is that it tastes even better leftover, so I urge you to make extra!

****Scroll Down for Giveaway****

Red Lentil & Olive Salad with Feta & Mint Yogurt Dressing
1 cup red lentils ( I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Yogurt Feta Dressing (recipe below)

Combine the lentils and bay leaf. Place in a medium size pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Make sure to keep lentils covered with water during cooking; if water level is low, add additional water and reduce the cooking temperature. Drain the water and pull out the bay leaf. Add chopped olives and tomato halves and refrigerate until cold. While the lentils are chilling make the dressing. When ready, top with dressing and serve.

Yogurt Feta Dressing
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, (I used Stonyfield)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Combine ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over lentils.

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