Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Post of 2013: Best Apple Pie EVER!

Well here we are, the last day of 2013.  For me, this year has gone by quickly, yet really slow at the same time.  I can't say I'm too broken-hearted to start a new chapter in my life.  This is the year that I turn 30 (I have a little less than a month to go,)  and I'm quite determined to make it a great one!  Hopefully this new year will be full of new adventures, and great cooking.  So long 2013, welcome 2014!  I wish all of you a wonderful new year!

For Christmas I made an apple pie to bring to one of our dinners.  I got nothing but rave reviews, so I knew that it was a recipe that I needed to share with my readers.

What a comfort apple pie is.  Slightly tart and sweet apples, smothered in a sweet spiced syrup, all stuffed in a homemade (after years of doing a store bought one, I finally faced my fear and conquered it) flaky crust.  Serve it warm with some sweet vanilla ice cream, and it is simply the perfect end to a perfect meal.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Dishes: Dutch Worsteboojes

Literally translated: sausage rolls, these made quite an delicious treat!  What could be better than a a pork and beef mixture all wrapped up in dough.  These tasty bites weren't too, too difficult to make, and they definitely weren't too difficult to polish off either.

Worsteboojes can be found year-round in many regions, however in Limburg, worsteboojes are traditionally eaten after returning from midnight mass.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Greek Christmas: Lemon Pork

I know, I know, I haven't made a post in the past couple of weeks as I promised I would do.  Our computer died.  The computer was down and out for a week.  But I have a couple of new holiday dishes for all you readers, so I will post them both this weekend.

The first of the meals that I made was Greek inspired: I made lemon pork.  Pork is a major staple on the Greek dinner table from December 6 through January 17.  Lemon pork is packed with flavor!  To compliment this dish, I also made roasted acorn squash and sweet potatoes with a lemon and maple syrup glaze.  I used pomegranate seeds to garnish my plate.  Pomegranates are a symbol of Christmas in Greece.  Pomegranates symbolize marriage, fertility, life, and hope.  I also made some candied walnuts to go on top of the squash, but they were so delicious, that I ate them all before I took a picture.  Oops.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Dishes: French-Canadian Tourtière (Meat Pie)

As I stated on the Off The Menu facebook page, through the end of the year, I will be making traditional holiday dishes from around the world.  This week I chose to make a tourtière.  This dish originated in what is now Quebec, and is traditionally served on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas.

A tourtière is usually made of beef and pork, however I made mine with ground turkey that is seasoned to perfection.  Throw in some mashed potatoes, and top it all with a flaky golden brown crust, and you have yourself one satisfying meal in a pie that I just might be making at holiday time from now on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Comforting Meal: Mac and Cheese Casserole

Who decided that mac and cheese is only for kids, because who doesn't love it?  Noodles smothered in cheddar cheese; so yummy!  What a comfort too.  When you've had a rough day, this is the perfect meal to fill you up, and make you feel better.  This casserole full of mac and cheesy goodness, plus little sausage bits and seasoned fried potatoes cubes spread throughout, and topped with crunchy potato chip crumbs. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Bread With Mini Peanut Butter Cups

What a simply wonderful breakfast or snack, banana bread makes.  This banana bread has a twist; it has  peanut butter in it.  But wait, it also has another special treat in it; mini peanut butter cups!  So don't throw out those squishy bananas, make a treat that the whole family will love!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Italian Favorites: Double Battered Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is one of Chef Matt's absolute favorite Italian dishes; he's crazy about it!  He was the first one to introduce me to eggplant parmesan at the age of about 20.  Before I met him, I had never even tried this tasty dish.  When I first had it, truth be told, I couldn't see (or taste that is) what all the fuss was about.  There was something about it that I wasn't crazy about.  After thinking about it, I figured it out; too much eggplant, and not enough breading.  So, I decided that I needed to make this dish for myself, and see if I could make it in a way I would like.  After some experimenting, I realized that double battering the eggplant slices was exactly the taste combo that I was looking for.  Eggplant that is extra crunchy and packed with flavor, who could ask for anything better?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jerk Chicken Quesadillas with Mango Salsa

With the delicious slow cooker jerk chicken I made sweet and savory quesadillas filled with jerk chicken and melted cheddar cheese, topped with tangy mango salsa.  The taste combination was out of this world amazing.  This is a winner for sure, that I will definitely be making again... and soon!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken

What a fantastic meal!  I've said it before, I love, love, love my Slow Cooker.  My kitchen smelled wonderful all day, and I couldn't wait for dinner time.  The smell was even sweet, yet spicy; cinnamon and nutmeg combined with molasses, and a hint of habanero added to the mix.  Make this once, and I guarantee you'll be making it time and time again!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I love empanadas!!!  Savory with a slightly sweet and spicy tone, they simply can't be beat.

This recipe is quite labor intensive because there are a lot of steps involved, but the efforts are  worth the end result!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Perfect Winter Meal: Chili

Who doesn't love chili?  Chili is especially great when it is cold outside, and you need a meal to warm you from the inside.  However, chili is a perfect dinner for any night!  Loaded with beans, meat, and diced tomatoes, it is the perfect combination to fill you up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Secret To Making The Best Lasagna And Home Made Turkey Meat Sauce

When it comes to Italian food, lasagna definitely tops my list.  What's not to love?  Gooey cheese sandwiched between layers of pasta noodles, all smothered in delicious sauce.  I made this recipe a tad healthier by using ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Read on for how to recreate this classic meal, homemade sauce and all!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Food To Entertain: Swedish Meatballs

I channeled my inner swedish chef, and made swedish meatballs.  I must say, my inner swedish chef is pretty darn good.  They were melt in your mouth, delicious.  I made meatball subs slathered with a brown gravy that complimented the meatballs perfectly. Speaking of complimenting, bring these to your next get together and you're sure to get rave reviews!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Secret to Making French Bread and Basil Butter

How many times have you picked up French bread from the store because you needed it as a side for your favorite Italian dish? If you're like me, it's too many times to count. I learned after years and years of doing this that I could make my own French bread at home without the use of a bread machine. What's better is that this bread is unbelievably delicious and even more so dipped into my homemade basil butter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Secret To Making The Best Hearty And Savory Beef Stew

I love my slow cooker.  I mean, who wouldn't?  Have your meal all prepared, throw it all in the slow cooker, turn it on, and walk away.  This slow cooker recipe is a wonderful, hearty meal with not much in the way of preparation; 30 minutes at the most.  The end result will warm you from the inside out!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Project Food Challenge: Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Wow, just wow.  I've tried my hand at many different kinds of pizza, including New York style pizza.  Well, I figured, just to be fair, it's about time that I try my hand at the classic Chicago style deep dish pizza.  I must say, I was successful!  With a flaky, buttery, melt in your mouth crust, and topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, and sauce (in that order) it was simply incredible!  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

An Extraordinary Appetizer: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sometimes, I like to step out of the box and create a new recipe that is unique and that I don't think anybody has done, at least not that I know of. Yes, I had to venture into unknown culinary territory.... I didn't know where I was headed but I like where I ended up. I ended up at a very fine gourmet appetizer of a meal that utilizes one of my favorite meals, Eggplant Parmesan. Although, it does make me want to call it Eggplant Parmesan Sushi for it's obvious resemblance to the real kind of sushi and because I love sushi but I digress.

No it's not sushi but what it is though is something extraordinary and delicious in every sense of the word. What else could that be than tender chicken pieces cooked to perfection, then combined with fresh mozzarella and then wrapped up in panko breaded eggplant and fried.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicken Flautas Tex Mex Party With Avocado Dipping Sauce

Chicken Flautas are a favorite of mine to get at Tex-Mex places.  Crunchy, warm, and so very dippable, who wouldn't love 'em.  With a little bit of work, this delicious dish can be made at home, and it is completely worth the effort!  Great for a Friday end of the week celebration, or any night you want to make especially delicious.  These crispy fried tortillas are filled with seasoned chicken, onion, and shredded monterey jack cheese.  Dip these treats in an avocado yogurt dipping sauce to reach flauta perfection.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Secret to Making a Perfect Pan Pizza

Here at Off The Menu we have 6 different pizzas in our collection of recipes.  Well, we are about to add one more to that list: the pan pizza.  With a crust that is crispy on the outside, and spongy on the inside, it's just a perfect and tasty end to a hectic day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What's For Dessert: Awesomely Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies are soft, chewy, satisfying, and did I say peanut buttery.... It's hard to find someone that doesn't love peanut butter and what better way to enjoy it than in a simple cookie. That's why I've always loved making them. These happen to be a little different from what I've made in the past, in the fact that they are made to be especially chewy. Chewy and peanut butter go good together so I said why not. Then I said, why not again and went above & beyond.. to turn them into chocolate covered peanut butter cookies so definitely try that as well... it's bliss.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Orange Chicken

All I can say is wow, I have never had orange chicken quite this tasty before.  This meal was a pleaser for sure.  Lightly fried chicken with orange bell peppers and broccoli, smothered in tangy, sweet sauce with just a touch of spice.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's Grab Lunch: Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich With Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato

Many of you might know this sandwich exists but have never ventured to try it. If you fall into that category, then you're missing out on an incredibly tasty sandwich. I'm here to correct that wrong and get you on the right track to making your own delicious eggplant parmesan sandwich.

I'm crazy about eggplant parmesan so while I was making it for dinner last night, an idea struck me. The idea was that I had plenty of fried pieces of eggplant left so why not make it into a classic eggplant sandwich. Before, I go any further though, here is how prepare and cook the eggplant.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Game Day: Gourmet Mozzarella Stuffed Lettuce Burgers

Looks don't give this beauty justice.  It may look like just another cheese stuffed burger, but trust me, it is so much more than that!  It is a wonderful blend of tastes to surprise and delight you.  Imagine a seasoned burger, stuffed with fresh mozzarella, and topped with balsamic ketchup, purple heirloom tomato slices, and wrapped up in sweet romaine lettuce.  Pair this meal with some perfectly golden brown onion petals, and you've got a great game day meal.

Game Day & Gluten Free: Onion Petals

Best fried onion deliciousness I've ever had.  Perfectly golden brown with a tasty slice of sweet onion in the middle as a bonus, they just melt in your mouth.  They also have an incredible way of disappearing in front of your eyes.  Oh, and they're gluten free!  However, even if you're not gluten free, you will seriously love these onion petals.

What is a wonderful treat like onion petals if you don't have anything to dip them in?  I thought that these needed something extra special to be dipped in.  So, I made some special balsamic ketchup.  Sweet and savory, it tastes like barbecue sauce meet ketchup.  Ketchup is surprisingly a lot easier to make than you would think.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Secret to Making Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there anyone who doesn't like cookies?  If there are any (and I'm sure non-cookie likers are out there somewhere) I sure don't know any.  A nice chewy gooey cookie and a glass of cold milk is at the top of my comfort yummies list.  These are quick to make, and pretty quick to make disappear as well.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Breakfast Favorite: Dutch Babies

I must admit, before making this recipe, I had never heard of, or had, Dutch babies--also known as German pancakes.  Let me tell you.... this for sure, makes it on to my favorite breakfast foods list.  These delights are a breeze to make, and such a special treat!  Dutch babies can be topped with anything you would like--sweet or savory.  I went the sweet route and whipped up some spiced cream cheese maple whipped cream (try and say that 5 times fast!)  Oh yes, it is as good as it sounds!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Let's Grab Lunch: The Amazing Pizza Sandwich

In case you haven't noticed, I've been crazy for pizza lately. Who am I kidding? I'm always crazy for pizza. While in the state of always in the mood for pizza, I decided that pizza needed a sandwich. So while making a delicious Italian sub I decided to add a few extra pizza ingredients into the mix and the  results were extraordinary!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Let's Grab Lunch: Goat Cheese Mashed Potato Panko Breaded Chicken Sandwich

Seems like leftovers are making all my tasty sandwiches possible these days but hey nothing wrong with that but oh man, when a sandwich inspiration strikes it does so big time. This inspiration struck when I was cooking my wonderfully tasty panko breaded fried chicken as I do occasionally for dinner. Lucky for me I also had leftover goat cheese mashed potatoes on hand from my famous Chicken Juliette dish to really make this work. I digress, as soon as I got these tasty mashed potatoes out of the fridge I knew what had to be done. For these mashed potatoes are tasty enough to make a sandwich taste like heaven.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What's For Dessert: Frosted Cinnamon & Sugar Bread Sticks

You know those yummy cinnamon sugar treats that you can get at pizza buffets?  I have come up with a simple way that you can make them at home.  The perfect and sweet ending to your family pizza night.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Twist on a Classic: Shrimp Alfredo

There's a reason Shrimp Alfredo is an Italian classic.  The twist on this classic is that I use greek yogurt as appose to cream cheese as the main ingredient in the alfredo sauce.  I have never been huge on alfredo sauce; I find it a bit too rich.  Greek yogurt not only gives the sauce a much lighter taste, it is also much healthier.  This dish is well worth the time and effort that it takes to make it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Budget-Friendly Meals: Hearty Cheddar Cheese, Ham, and Potato Soup

I just love a meal that's as good to your tastebuds as it is to your wallet.  This is definitely one of those meals.  It is hearty, filling, and delicious!  Made with creamy cheese, delicious smoked ham, and potato chunks, this meal is sure to please your family.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Twist on a Classic & Gluten Free: Eggplant Lasagna

Everyone likes lasagna; its so cheesy and delicious.  Eggplant parmesan is another Italian favorite.  Combine the two, and you have one amazing explosion of flavors.  This dish has all the traditional ingredients of lasagna, but thinly sliced eggplant is substituted for the noodles.  If you're having guests over for dinner who eat gluten free (or if you have to eat gluten free,) eggplant lasagna is a great alternative.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Secret To Making Amazing Gluten Free Pizza Crust!

It's true: Chef Matt has gone gluten free, so I am learning how to cook and bake gluten free to make his taste buds happy.  The first recipe that I am going to share is my pizza crust.  Its so good, Matt says that its similar to my original pizza crust, and he's thrilled that we don't have to cut pizza night from our menu.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Budget-Friendly Meals: Zesty Mexican Meatball Soup

Soup can be such a comforting and delicious way to end a hard day.  A satisfying combination of zesty mexican style meatballs, corn, black beans, and peppers come together to warm you from the inside out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Project Food Challenge: Shrimp Ravioli With Creamy Tomato Goat Cheese Sauce

What a treat this meal was!  Great to impress that special someone or to celebrate a special occasion.  Similar to going to a fancy Italian restaurant without having to deal with waitstaff, tips, reservations, or other diners.  This classic cheese ravioli dish has a slight twist when shrimp is added to the filling, then topped with a delicious and creamy tomato sauce that has been blended with parmesan, goat cheese, and herbs.  I'm not going to lie, this is a tedious meal, but the pay off is worth it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Secret Family Recipes: Breaded Italian Steak

Back in the good ol' days this used to be the go to meal in my family to celebrate a special occasion. It's not a very known recipe because it's very similar to chicken fried steak but more Italian and delicious. Now, I'm going to pass it on to your family because nothing says "Italian" comfort food like meat, potatoes, and warm garlic bread.

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