RumChata Mac and Cheese

RumChata Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese spiked with the warming flavors of RumChata, and speckled with chorizo and kale.

Chicken Parm Shell Taco

Chicken Parm Shell Taco

I was inspired by the chicken shell taco at Taco Bell to make my own version. This one has chicken parm as the shell and is filled with meatballs and pasta.

Mortadella Fritters

Mortadella Fritters

One of the best moments from my recent trip to Italy was exploring the Bacari in Venice and sampling the bar bites known as Cicchetti, Italy’s version of tapas. My family and I basically stick out as tourists and can be spotted from a mile away. As we piled into these hole in the wall spots down the side alleys of Venice in the pouring rain we would first get interesting looks from the waiter/bartender/food preparer. Once he could tell that we sort of knew what we were doing with little things like ordering wine as “ombra” instead of asking for house red, everyone relaxed a bit. In the Venice bacari, ombra means a small glass of local wine. Once we got settled with our wine and dried off a bit, it was time to get to the food. All of the small bites would be lined up behind a glass case and it was easy to point at what we wanted. Little bit of this, couple of these, maybe one or 2 of the weird looking one, and we were ready to eat! We went to 3 or 4 bacari during our time in Venice, some more traditional, and others more modern, and we sampled tons of Cicchetti, most of which I hope to recreate for posts in the coming months.

Sushi Arancini

Sushi Arancini

Short grain rice is used in making sushi and also risotto, and because of this, in a pinch you could use arborio rice to make sushi, or sushi rice to make risotto. With this connection in mind, I had been searching for ideas on how to combine the two dishes, but nothing made sense. Adding raw fish to risotto would either cook the fish if you stirred it in, or result in warm raw fish with hot rice which doesn’t sound appetizing at all. I finally came up with this idea to make fried arancini (normally made with leftover risotto) out of prepared sushi rice, then letting it cool, cutting in half, and popping the fish on top. These little bites came out fantastic! They had a fun texture with crunchy breading and crispy rice that gave way to the soft chewy rice inside. The flavors were familiar to any maki roll that has the crunchy bits on it.

Veggie Loaded Meatloaf

Veggie Loaded Meatloaf

I was craving meatloaf. This is a sentence I have said as many as never times in my life, but it was the case the other night. If you are following along, you probably noticed the trend of healthy, mostly meatless, and pretty inexpensive dishes recently, because that is how I try to cook this time of year. Plus I keep having to make mac and cheese stuffed burgers for the cookbook publicity so I am trying to counteract some of that. That all being said, I wanted to make a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian “loaf”. I did some research, but most veggie loafs were loaded with grains and tofu, and not actual veggies like I wanted. I decided to just wing it and do mostly veg with a little beef and some cheese, sort of like a veggie heavy lightened version of a regular meatloaf.