December 18, 2011


Bacon is one of those foods many of us can not live without.  Bacon is in a class of it's own especially when it is combined with Blue Cheese and Puff Pastry in this easy to prepare appetizer.  Serve this delicious and savory appetizer warm or room temperature.   It makes a great and unique Salad topping, used much like you would Croutons.  Be sure to use a good quality Blue Cheese cut from the wheel and not a prepackaged tub of "crumbles" which will lack taste and make these appetizers boring and nothing like their full potential.  Good ones like Maytag, Gorgonzola or Stilton are easy to find these days and worth the search.  When you are Cooking The Amazing, something as simple as Bacon and Blue Cheese can come together and be incredible.

Here is the recipe.

3 oz.  Blue Cheese (A Good Quality One)
1/4 c  Cream Cheese
1/4 c  Sour Cream
1/2 t  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
10 Strips of Cooked Bacon
1/2 of a 17.3 oz Package of Frozen Puff Pastry
      (Like Pepperidge Farm Brand)

1.  PLAN AHEAD day before:  Allow Puff Pastry to thaw in the refrigerator over night. 

2.  PLAN AHEAD day of:  Allow the Blue Cheese and Cream Cheese to sit out for 2 hours to soften up and make spreading easier. You will be making the filling and spreading it on the Puff Pastry then refrigerating for 3 hours before baking later.

3.  Fry 10 strips of good quality Bacon until crisp and place on paper towels to drain.  Set aside to cool then crumble and refrigerate while Blue Cheese softens.

4.  Once your Blue Cheese and Cream Cheese has softened add them to a medium bowl and break it up using a fork or your fingers.
5.  Add Sour Cream, Black Pepper and Bacon crumbles and mix well with a spoon.  It will be thick.  Set aside.
6.  Dust a board or work surface with a little flour to keep the Puff Pastry from sticking.  Use only one of Puff Pastry sheets that come in a package for this recipe.  Roll it out slightly using a rolling pin.
7.  Spread the Blue Cheese mixture evenly almost to the edges of the Puff Pastry.
8.  From the widest end start rolling the Puff Pastry to the middle then roll the other side to meet it in the middle.  Wrap tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours minimum and up to over night if needed.
9.  After chilling, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place a parchment sheet or spray a Cookie Sheet with Vegetable Spray (Like Pam) and set aside.

10.  Remove from the refrigerator and cut the two rolls in half.  Then cut each roll into 1/2 inch wide spirals and place on the Cookie sheet. 
11.  Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until the Puff Pastry if puffed and just starts to brown.  Over cooking will make the Cheese filling run out and burn.  Remove them before they look "done" and look a little under baked.  Sever warm or at room temperature.

Other great appetizers that you could serve along side these are Ham And Cream Cheese Appetizers or
easy to prepare Stuffed Mushrooms.

Copyright (c) 2011

December 3, 2011


We have all used canned Chicken Broth and have had great successes in our cooking.  I use the boxes of Broth and can turn out delicious results, but when I use homemade Chicken Stock it elevates the flavors dramatically of whatever I am cooking.  Soups with homemade Stock are incredible when you make the effort.  Like my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  The truth is Chicken Stock is easy to make, but it is time consuming regardless of what the cookbooks say.  Prep time is not much, maybe 20 minutes, but you will be baby sitting the Chicken Stock for 5 hours as it simmers.  It's best to make it in the morning of a day you will be home all day.  It is all worth it in the end when you are Cooking The Amazing and make everything taste so much better.

Here is the recipe.

8 Quarts Cold Filtered Water
4 1/2 lbs.  Chicken Parts With Bones
2 Large Onions, Quartered
4 Medium Carrots, Peeled and Large Chopped
4 Stalks Celery, Large Chopped
3 Whole Cloves Garlic Peeled
1/2 t  Whole Black Pepper Corns
2 Bay Leaves
2 t Fine Grain Sea Salt
2 t  Dried Thyme
10 Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley Sprigs
2 Roma Tomatoes Quartered

1.  Prep all of your Vegetables before you touch the raw Chicken to keep from spreading bacteria.  Peel the Carrots, Onions and Garlic.  Rough chop the Carrots and Celery in 3 inch pieces.  Cut the Carrot pieces in half.  Quarter the peeled Onions and peel the Garlic leaving the Cloves whole.  Cut the Tomatoes in quarters leaving skin on.  Set aside with all the other ingredients except the Chicken.
2.  Use a very large Stock pot.  I use a 12 quart.  Fill it with 8 quarts of cold filtered Water.  Bad tasting Water gives you an odd tasting Stock.  Starting your Stock in cold Water is important to develop the collagen (the jelly stuff in good Stock) which provides body to the Stock.

3.  Wash your Raw Chicken well under cold Water in the sink.  I use chopped Chicken parts from the butcher or prepackaged cut up whole Chickens in the Meat section of the market.  Be sure you have bone in and skin on Chicken.  Legs, thighs, backs, and wings are the best parts to use.  Don't use giblets.  Once washed place the Chicken parts in the cold Water in the Stock pot.

4.  Add all the prepped Veg and Black Pepper Corns, Bay Leaves, Sea Salt, Thyme and Parsley to the Stock pot and make sure all is covered in Water.  Turn the burner to high and bring to a rolling simmer.  Do not boil.  Once at a rolling simmer reduce heat to low medium to a gentle slow simmer.  Do not cover and allow to simmer for 5 hours.  Every hour use a skimmer and remove any floating white-gray scum and discard it.  Do not stir the Stock as it simmers but keep all the ingredients submerged as much as possible.
5.  After 5 hours, turn off the heat.  Skim any scum off the top and discard.  Remove all the Meat and Veg as much as possible with tongs or a big slotted spoon and strain what is left through a fine mesh strainer or Cheese cloth for the clearest, purest Stock.  I use only a fine mesh strainer for my style of rustic home cooking.  Your Chicken Stock is now ready to use.  Or if you want to freeze it or use it tomorrow allow the Chicken Stock to sit for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate.   Store in air tight freezer containers.  Freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed container or refrigerate and use over the next 2 days.  If I am making Chicken Noodle Soup or a Cream Soup like Cream of Potato I use it right after straining.  I don't remove the fat.  A lot of flavor is in that fat.  This Chicken Stock is purposefully under seasoned with Salt because when you use it in your final recipe you will adjust the Salt for that particular recipe.  This yields 6-7 quarts of prepared Chicken Stock.

*Try this delicious Chicken Stock in my recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011


No more gray over boiled Vegetables that taste just like they look...nasty.  I have really come to love roasting Veg because it is easy and brings out the Amazing caramelized flavor that boiling can not.  When you roast Cabbage the natural sweetness prevails and all you taste is deliciousness.  Roasted Cabbage makes a great side dish to Pork Chops, Maple Cherry Glazed Ham or Butter Roasted Chicken.   It is healthy and delicious and so easy to make.   When you are Cooking The Amazing eating your daily Veg is easy and when you are roasting Cabbage for dinner.

Here is the recipe.

1  Large Head of Cabbage
2 T  Olive Oil
Fine Grain Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 T  Butter, Softened

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to make clean up easy.  You will thank me later.

2.  Remove the bruised and dry outer leaves of a head of Cabbage.  Cut the head into 6-8 equal wedges leaving the core and stem in place which will hold the leaves together.  Trim the stem with a paring knife.  You can use Green Cabbage or Red Cabbage or Napa Cabbage.
3.  Drizzle the Cabbage wedges with Olive Oil and rub it all over the surface using your hands.  Sprinkle Sea Salt and Black Pepper over both sides.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 on the center rack of your oven turning over with a spatula half way through roasting.  It is done when edges are browned and it is fork tender.  Napa cabbage will cook faster so check it at 30 minutes. When roasted and done spread softened Butter over hot Cabbage and serve immediately.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011


A cup of steaming Hot Chocolate can literally warm your insides on a cold winter's day.  Coming inside from the blowing wet snow to a warm fire and cup of creamy Hot Chocolate sounds romantic and can be easily achieved in less than five minutes (assuming you have a gas fireplace that turns on with a switch.)  I'm talking about real Hot Chocolate.  The kind that is made from real Chocolate with rich Half and Half and Cocoa to deepen the Chocolate flavor.  You can up the flavor by adding Peppermint Extract or serve Hot Chocolate over a scoop of cold Vanilla Ice Cream as a dessert.   When you are Cooking The Amazing Hot Chocolate is as Amazing as it can get.

Here is the recipe for 1 serving.

1 c  Half and Half
1 T  Dutch Processed Cocoa
3 T  Sugar
1 t   Vanilla Extract
1/4 t  Ground Cinnamon 
1/4 c  Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Whipped Cream Or Marshmallows To Top

1.  This recipe is per serving.  So, double or triple it, etc. as needed.

2.  In a pot over medium heat bring Half and Half just to a simmer.  Stir in Cocoa, Sugar, Vanilla Extract and Cinnamon.  Allow to simmer for 1 minute constantly stirring.
3.  Pour 1/4 c of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips into bottom of a large mug.  Use good Chocolate like Ghirardelli brand.  I use Ghirardelli 60% Cocao Bittersweet Chips found at most markets.
4.  Pour the hot Milk mixture over the Chocolate Chips and stir until the Chocolate Chips have melted and are well mixed into the hot Milk mixture.
5.  Top with Whipped Cream or Marshmallows and serve immediately.

TIP:  Add 1/2 t of Peppermint Extract for Hot Mint Chocolate.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011