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Use Your Kitchen to Entertain: Modern Traditions for the 4th of July

With Independence Day just around the corner, it's time to take the kitchen outside. Fire up that grill and use the patio table to spend time with family and friends to celebrate America's independence. Now it is time to use all of those great tools you put into your kitchen to impress your guests and make a great meal everyone can enjoy.

Here are some traditional recipes with a modern twist to try in your remodeled kitchen:


Simply the Best Pasta Salad

SERVINGS 6-8

Ingredients

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to directions, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While pasta is cooking, chop tomato, peppers and onion into very small pieces. Add olives and mix.
  3. Drain Rotini; rinse with cold water for about 3 minutes.
  4. Mix pasta with tomato, peppers, onion and olives.
  5. Refrigerate for about 1/2 an hour.
  6. Add salad dressing; mix well.
  7. Add Parmesan cheese; mix well.
  8. Serve immediately.
  9. If you have left overs, you will have to "re-wet" salad by adding a little more salad dressing the next day, especially if you substitute the dressing with a fat-free dressing.

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Bacon, Onion and Cheese Stuffed Burger

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 4 burger buns
  • Lettuce, tomato, pickles for garnish

Directions
 

Preheat grill to medium. In a bowl combine beef, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste, being careful not to over mix. Warm a skillet over medium heat and fry bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Keep heat on skillet and fry a pinch of the beef in the bacon fat to test seasoning. Adjust seasoning, if needed, then form 8 even thin patties, about 1/2-inch thick and set aside. Saute onions in bacon fat in skillet until tender, 5 minutes. Place onions and bacon in a bowl with cheese. Form a spoonful of bacon-cheese mixture into a ball, then place in the center of 4 patties. Top each with another patty and seal the edges. Grill burgers over medium-high heat, flipping once until desired doneness is reached, approximately 4 minutes each side for medium. Serve in buns with garnishes. Alternative: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sear the burgers 4 minutes on each side.

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Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter

Ingredients

  • 12 ears fresh corn, unshucked
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 limes, zest finely grated
  • 1 bunch fresh chervil, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound queso fresco, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup Ancho Chile Rub, recipe follows, or cayenne pepper
  • For the Ancho Chile Rub:
  • 3 ancho chiles, seeded and hand-torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
     

Directions

Soak the corn in a large container of water for 1 hour. Prepare the grill. Put the soaked cobs on the hot grill and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, turning frequently. The corn is done when it feels soft when you press on it.

While the corn is grilling make the lime butter: In a small bowl add the butter, lime zest, chervil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well and spread onto a large plate. Spread the queso fresco onto another plate.

Take the corn off the grill and carefully peel back the husks (it will be hot).  Roll in the lime butter and then roll in the queso fresco; sprinkle with the Ancho Chile Rub. Place on a large platter and serve immediately.

For the Ancho Chile Rub:
For the spice rub: Toast the ancho chile pieces over low heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, shaking the pan so they don't scorch. Put the chiles in spice grinder and pulse to a powder. Add the remaining ingredients and buzz again to combine.

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