Happy Birthday, in Hershey.

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Brunch.

Brunch at it’s absolute finest. I’ve had brunch at many places in my life, and still, there are many more to try, but the Sunday brunch buffet in the circular at The Hotel Hershey hits home. It might be because I joke around while walking the hotel hallways saying .. “this would be the dream to live in this place like Eloise lived at the plaza.” It’s a dream, and while you are visiting, the staff does everything possible to make you feel like you are in fact in a living dream. The month of October is birthday month for both my parents, so we killed two birds with one stone, and celebrated in the best way we knew how. Along with Hershey being one of my favorite places on this earth, it is also my moms, and my father loves everything about brunch buffets. Of course it was a total win, win!

They dec the buffet out with everything you could imagine. It’s a food fantasy, and it’s unbelievable! The quality and freshness of the ingredients could never be topped. The room while you walk in is filled with a site of stations. Theres an omelet station to my left, an avocado toast station to my right, and you could never miss the seafood bar standing tall in the middle of both stations; created of raw oysters, mussels, clams, and a smoked salmon bar with toast points, and all the fixings needed!

Thats just the beginning…

They have two buffet lines on both sides as well, right behind the action stations. One line accompanied with breakfast beauties, and the other, decked with lunch/ dinner comfort foods. In between those two buffet lines, right in front of the luxurious bar in the center of it all, there sits an extraordinary cold food station and salad bar. This has to be.. by far my first choice food of life. I always loved how creative, delicious, and experimental you could be with raw flavors.

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I filled my plate like an artist fills their canvas..

Pilling and placing food in such a way that it looks super pretty because …lets be real, thats who I am lol but also, not leaving any texture, or food category out of site.

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The three of us had such a nice time enjoying and indulging, in down right amazing food!! Being together is so special as you grow, and life becomes more crazy… leaving less time for family. Hershey is the greatest place to make that time, to create memories for important occasions, and to leave feeling full of content and love.

        xoxoxo

 

Maple Munchies

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My favorite month is finally in full force, and I am totally in my element! One thing I love most about this time of year is indulging in autumn treats because unfortunately, it doesn’t last long. On a day where I have nothing on my agenda, I want nothing more than to munch on delicious snacks, while binge watching Halloween movies, and let me tell you this sweet heat, maple trail mix will have your taste buds wanting to finish the entire bucket! 

     While scrolling on Pinterest looking for fall inspiration, I always come across yummy snack mixes, but nothing ever like this one. This particular bucket of harvest goodness has my name written ALL over it. This is even an amazing party snack to make if you’re having everyone over for football Sunday, or even to pack up in a huge zip block bag to bring to the pumpkin patch. Honestly it’ll be great wherever, whenever! 

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     In a sauté pan, you’ll want to melt two teaspoons of butter over medium low heat. 

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In with the butter, add a small container of whole, halved and unsalted pecans. 

Add: Salt, pepper, and sprinkle brown sugar over to candy them up a bit! 

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   After five minutes of roasted the nuts, getting them toasty, slide them out of the pan and into a large mixing bowl. 

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     To create bursts of sweet, yet tart bites in your mouth, sprinkle little dried cranberry jewels over the candied pecans. 

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   In my book apples scream fall, so I definitely wanted to incorporate that flavor into this Chex mix. Apple chips were definitely the way to go. They have all the flavor, with tons of crunch! 

When eating fruit or even chocolate, I love pairing those sweet flavors with different types of cheeses. Autumn is a time that reminds me of those pairings, so because I just can never have sweet without that delicious cheese flavor, I added cheddar jack crackers. It was absolutely the perfect touch to this snack. I promise you that! 

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When creating the perfect perfect snack mix, you need five things.. I truly believe that, no matter what season you’re making it in, or what theme you’re inventing it for. 

  1. Nuts. That is a given. I feel like no matter what you need a nut in your mixture. 
  2. Something crunchy
  3. Something cheesy.
  4. Something sweet.
  5. A type of cereal. 

The cereal that I thought would add texture, and that would soak up the glaze were going to pour over our snack, is Chex mix. There are so many kinds of even one type of cereal, but I chose “corn”. 

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   Even though we went and candied our pecans, we need a glaze to smother all over every little autumn treasure to give it even more of an addictive flavor! 

  • AWESOME for binge watching scary movies. 

The glaze is fast and simple. You’ll have to put a small soup pot over medium low heat to melt four tablespoons of salted butter. Then add a quarter cup of organic maple syrup. (NOT PANCAKE SYRUP) -two totally different syrups, believe it or not! For the final touches, sprinkle in a handful of brown sugar, with a few dashes of cayenne pepper for a different layer of flavor. If you’re a hot heat kind of dare devil, add a lot of dashes! lol 

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When the glaze comes to a boil, turn the heat off, and let it thicken for a few minutes.

For that beautiful site.. drizzle that gorgeous brown, sticky glaze all over the snacks. 

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 Pour, pour pour! 

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     To add a last and final layer of crunch to this mixture, you’ll want to let pumpkin seeds rain into the bowl! I mean.. tell me whats more autumn than pumpkin seeds? Let’s be honest. 

     Mix it up.. mix, mix, mix it up! (;

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A heaping of spicy, crunchy, sweet and sticky wholesomeness. 

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In the world of fall flavored snacks.. nothing compares to this. It doesn’t get better than munching on handfuls of Chex mix, while cuddling on the couch with a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

We cant forget to light those cozy candles either diamonds!     xoxo 

Candy Crunch Cannoli Dip

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This is for sure dessert snacking at it’s finest! YES, you heard me correctly.. “dessert snacking” is a thing, and if you’ve never experienced it, you must! It’s kind of like when you sit in front of the big screen, and dip bread cubs into a delicious, cold, creamy dip of some sort. In the case, you’re snacking sweet, so the same is super super fitting!! You can munch on this at a party you’re planning on hosting, or at midnight with your honey, and a spiked coffee in hand.

When you imagine the ultimate entertaining/party food this is exactly what should come to your mind. This dip is next level, inventive, colorful, and FUN!

It is everything that you love and want in a cannoli, but even more amazing because of the mini candy treasures folded inside, but it is HALF the work!  In this crazy world we all live in, with crazy lives, who doesn’t love something thats going to be a hit, as well as  knowing that it will take a fraction of prep work in the kitchen? That’s everything that everybody wants, especially when preparing for a huge bash!

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In a bowl, drop in one package of 8 oz. cream cheese.

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Sprinkle in one cup of powdered sugar.

 

 

Scoop in two cups of whole milk, ricotta cheese. Don’t skimp and buy low fat ladies! We’re not going to count calories with this luxurious, cheesy mixture!

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Lastly, add one teaspoon of vanilla extract. 

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The delightful mixture! Unmixed, of course.

 

With a hand mixer, beat everything together to create a gorgeous thick and fluffy mixture. To the eye, it will almost resemble a nice silky pie filling!

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All mixed together! This delectable, white glorious site will just need to be finished with our crunchy candy!

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I chopped up pretzel filled chocolate coated candies, mini chocolate bars, and wafer chocolate coated candy bars

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I cut them into small chunks, kind of mimicking the size of chocolate chunks that you would use for chocolate chunk cookies.

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These are some what difficult to chop up with even the sharpest knife because of the pretzel ball inside of the candy coated chocolate, so you might want to use to back of the knife to smash them into small pieces before cutting.

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Scrape the candy into the bowl using the side of your knife.

 

Using a rubber spatula, fold the candy into the dip to combine everything, making sure each piece of candy is scattered throughout.

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I garnished our cannoli dip with some more pretty color coated chocolate candies to make it look cutesy and to give fun vibes!

I also placed in two cannoli chips to add a little extra somethin’, somethin’, and so someone can get right to digging in because you know everyone is going to dive right into this!

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Even if you’re not too much into cannolis, this dip is a must try!

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Look how crispy, crunchy, and sugary these little triangles are. OH MY!

These mini chips also have powdered sugar baked into them, so it makes them even more addicting!

 

Next time on the blog, I’ll be back with another snack attack, but this time, savory and very fall fabulous! Have fun sweet snacking, Diamonds xo

 

Farms in the Fall

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Farmers markets in the fall, make me the happiest girl on earth. Fall in general makes me super happy! I’m obsessed with everything about it. The weather, food, activities, the colors of leaves changing, the fashion; its incredible. Autumn is me, and it’s when I am totally in my element. Honestly, I think this season has a special place in my heart because it reminds me on my childhood, being young and just having fun. It brings back memories with my family and I going to the farmers market to get fresh apple cider, and picking our pumpkins to carve at the pumpkin patch. I was also very into picking out my halloween costume. Every single year without question my parents would take me to party city to pick out the perfect costume for myself. I took it super seriously! lol I think as being a kid, since dressing up was something we looked forward to all year long, everyone tried to out do each other.. in a fun way, of course!

As the years went on and I grew into a young adult, dressing up doesn’t happen as often, but I still love prancing around the stores looking at the costumes, deciding what I would be if I were to dress up again. It’s fun to reminisce at times, especially when you feel like you’re getting older, and life goes by faster and faster! As that happens though, I make it a point to indulge myself in everything I love, and doing all that makes me happy. In the fall time shopping for produce, and things to create beautiful autumn dishes/ table scapes is what brings me peace and gratifies my life.

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Not only do I love decor in the kitchen, I also obsess over interior design as well. It’s something I have a passion for, so I think that this little corn bundles are the cutest accessory to put around your home. You can find them at any famers market during the fall season, and even at some local grocery stores! They’re on the inexpensive side too which is always a plus. While I was at the farm eying these beauties up, I noticed those beautiful beautiful bright red cherry tomatoes sitting right underneath!

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Tomatoes are known to be a summer staple. I do not disagree with that because for some reason when I think of summer produce.. thats one of the first things that comes to my mind along with watermelon, but these little babies are actually in full effect until the end of October.

 

There were many root vegetables and “nightshades” to pick from. ( tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, and potatoes) The carrots and potatoes looked absolutely gorgeous, along with the onions. I’ve truly never seen onions look so beautiful as they did when I made my trip to the farm.

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AHHH! honestly, just take a couple seconds to appreciate this beauty!

Farm days are one of my favorite days because I take all of my goodies home, wash them, and plan out my farm fresh menu! That makes me extremely excited. As I said in the summer about shopping farm fresh, that statement also stands in fall!! This season is the most important for shopping. If you have a root cellar thats where you’d want to stalk up for the winter. If not, which thats quite alright because I myself do not, so you want to shop smart for canning. Pickling, and preserving is what you want to do with your vegetables for the cold months to come!

  • cucumbers to turn to pickles
  • tomatoes to turn to salsa, stewed or jarred sauce.
  • Green beans that don’t get eaten can be turned into pickles garlic beans, or spicy beans.
  • cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and celery can be turned into chow chow
  • onions can be turned into onion jam
  • Lastly, baby pearl onions can be turned into pickled pearl onions.

Truthfully, you could pickle ANY vegetable.. turning it into something so different, yet incredible!

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Don’t worry.. because I deep down knew all of you were thinking… oh my gosh isn’t she going to mention apples? Yes, yes I am. I did not and could not forget about the apples! Apples of all kind swarm the farms in autumn. They are everywhere! We can’t escape them… and seriously I mean, who would want to? They are juicy, delicious little balls of fall goodness. The amount of how many different kind mind be over whelming to some. Why are there so many when they’re just apples? Shouldn’t they taste the same?

Absolutely not! All of the apples are very different. Some are sweeter, juicier, crisper and harder. It all depends on the type and of what location they were grown in.

Baking Apples:

  • Pink lady apples are best for breads, bars and cakes. Anything thick and floury!
  • Granny Smith apples are the number one baking apple, in my eye. It is THE apple to use when baking pies. You can also use to bake in pastries as well.
  •  Honey-crisp apples are best for apple dumplings which so so many Americans have such a soft heart for. They’re probably a top five fair food, for sure! 

To Eat !  You an choose to eat any apple, it will not hurt you, obviously! There are certain ones I feel like you should eat on it’s one just to munch on or dip into peanut butter/caramel sauce.

  • Red delicious! My top apple to eat whole without the skin! (I choose not eat the the skin on red delicious apples. I feel that the skin sometimes is too hard and I end up chewing on it, wanting to spit it out.)
  • Golden delicious– My second choice to just sit down and take a big bite out of!
  • Gala apples – Although you can certainly bake with this apple, or even all of them (thats up to you) this one is also great for eating due to the fact that it is so sweet. I love choosing the extra sweet ones for enjoying, for obvious reasons of course.

These three apples are also delicious to make into “fried apples” or cooked into a sauce to finish a plate off to make a perfect fall touch!

There are countless apples to choose from at your local farm, you just have to know how to pick them wisely, and to what they are being used for! There are so many kinds, that even I have never worked with before, or tried, so if it’s up to you.. spread your wings and test out some you never heard of before! You might be pleasantly surprised.

Happy fall & farm pickings, diamonds! 

 

Marvelous Macaroni Salad

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Macaroni salad will always hold a special, close place in my heart. My grandmother (my moms mother) would always make me her super yummy macaroni salad every time I would spend the day at her house, to enjoy a meal with her. She never put many vegetables inside, loaded it up with hard boiled eggs, and focused a lot on making it super thick, with lots & lots of creamy mayonnaise mixed throughout it. There are many varieties of this salad that I truly enjoy whole heartedly , and also love to create. This one, specifically, brings back so many memories for me, while putting a smile on my face in remembrance of my gram! Especially with her being gone, remembering her with the food I create is something she would be extremely proud of me for. She had such a love of food.. along with knowing how much I loved the idea of becoming a chef. This isn’t her exact recipe.. she never showed me it.. maybe because I hadn’t asked her for it lol BUT the texture and taste is a close resemblance of hers. It was so incredible though, that I could never replace it, and actually still to this day, I will crave it from time to time.

This Macaroni salad is simply, marvelous. I don’t even know how else to describe it. It’s easy, comes together quite quickly, and it’s dare I say it.. my favorite cold salad! I think it’s near impossible to have any kind of bbq/cookout without this salad. It should be illegal! HAHA

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Let’s get started by filling a tall, stainless steal pot up with water.

You want to make sure your heat is on high to receive boiling hot water to drop your noodles in. When your water does come to a boil, salt it! “Shake your salt shaker, shake your shake your salt shaker!!” ( Speaking of my grandmother.. it’s funny I referenced that because she would actually come over my house with her own salt shaker because she used to tell my mom that ours didn’t pour out fast enough! She was so obsessed with salt.. even though she knew that that wasn’t a good obsession lol.)

Back to salting your water.. you want it to be as salty as the ocean. It gives the noodles flavor that they will never get just by salting the dish itself.

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Aside your pot of water for your pasta, you’ll need a smaller pot filled with water to boil your eggs. Put the eggs in the pot before filling it with water!

Here, I’m boiling five eggs. I usually put five eggs to every pound of pasta (which is what I am using) but that decision is up to you. If you guys are anything like my father, you won’t even be adding the eggs at all, which is totally fine.. trust me though the texture is delicious mixed with the mayo. It some what mimics egg salad when you get a touch of the egg in a bite. None of you’s know yet, but you will now.. that is my absolute favorite dish since I was little lol I love it so much!

The easiest, EASIEST way to boil eggs perfectly every single time, is to let the water come up to a full boil, shut the heat completely off, and let the eggs sit in the water for 10 short minutes.

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While your pots are getting hot, and things are getting boiled..hop over to your island/counter space, and get to chopping! It is pretty quick, only needing to cut one small red onion, and three nice stalks of celery. Last, cut one lemon in half.

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Drop your pasta into the water! Boil for 8-10 minutes.. tasting for an al dente pasta noodle. You’re welcome to use elbows.. thats the traditional thing to do, but you’ll come to find out I am not a traditional girl lol

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The BEST part of this Mac salad. The creamy, delectable sauce!

You’ll need to mix :

  • Half a jar of good mayonaisse
  • Half cup of yellow mustard
  • Quarter cup of honey. Sometimes I use condensed milk. I love how thick and Lucious the texture is.. it reminds me of vanilla pudding, but this time I used honey. All depending what I have in the pantry. Some people use sugar in their white sauces for cold salads, but I definitely disagree on that decision, unless using for coleslaw!
  • Lastly, add some white vinegar. I splash in about a third cup. All depends on my taste buds that day, and mostly because you want the vinegar for only flavorful purposes, so you don’t want to add too much that it gives the sauce a bite-y sort of taste to the tongue. Like I said before, I love this salad being that it’s super creamy, and you can really taste the mayo! That’s what we want to focus on.

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Top off the sauce by adding a squeeze of juice, from half of a lemon. Even though this doesn’t contain seafood, the lemon adds flavor that I can not express, but I really dig it. On the other hand, you very well could add some shrimp, and jumbo lump crab meat to create the most decadence within all macaroni salads, but were keeping it simple for now.

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After letting the eggs stand for ten minutes, drain the hot water out of the pan (be careful) 

Fill with cold water and add a few ice cubes, to stop the eggs from cooking any further, and to cool them down quickly, so we can add them to our salad.

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Whisk your sauce to infuse all the flavors together.

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To the sauce: fold in your the veggies that we chopped up, and add granulated garlic, salt, pepper, dried parsley, and paprika. All to taste. 

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The noodles will look soft of texture, but still hard enough that they’re going to have mouth-feel, and keep their shape.

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Pour the noodles from the pot, into a colander, and rinse the noodles off in cold water to stop the cooking. Also, we don’t ever want to put hot paste into cold sauce, for cold macaroni salad!

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Pour the drained noodles into the bowl with our sauce to mix it all together for a yummy,  creamy dish!

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I have mentioned over and over again how I love this salad because it is super creamy, and I swear one of the secrets to that is adding a dollop of mayo to finish everything off, with another dash of salt and pepper.

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Peel and chop the eggs to add in with a few shakes of paprika. Paprika in a salad that contains hard boiled eggs is a match made in heaven. Those two flavors are just truly, meant to be.

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Yum! SO delicious and satisfying to see. I love seeing little noodles wrapped up in mayo-y goodness because I’ve been in love with mayonnaise since I was a toddler.. you can ask my parents lol

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Homemade salads, and rustic food remind me of family get togethers, and farm style ways of eating, so I love that I used this little farmhouse cream bowl with an embroidered cow embellished into it.

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I’ll never skip on a garnish, no matter what! Paprika and parsley were calling to this macaroni salad! They’re having a party in this bowl together, and this bowl of pasta will be a hit at your next party!!

For the first time ever on deep fried diamonds, I’ll be coming at you next week with a very very sweet, unique treat. You definitely won’t want to miss this party favor 😉

 

Jungle Jambut

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Reading the title, some of you may already be confused, and questioning yourselves if you did not grow up around a family like mine. In my hometown at hole in the wall breakfast spots, there would be “jambut” on the menus. Ever since I was a little girl, my dads side of the family would teach me the Italian ways of cooking.. things that were passed down from their grandparents. I learned how to make homemade pasta, Christmas cookies, every memory every kid could want growing up around a big family, who based what they did around the food they ate, or cooked. The one thing I knew I was going to do so much of, in so many different ways as my life progressed, was making jambut. Our grandparents concocted this dish by taking everything they had left in the fridge, from the week, or whatever was leftover from Sunday dinner, and sautéd it all together in a huge pan. Usually this one-pan meal was mixed with eggs and cheese, served for breakfast, but I wanted to take a twist on it, by making it for dinner. Instead of the eggs, I added pasta, and with all the vinegary, salty flavors mixed together with the vegetables, it truly made for a great meal.

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The gorgeous ingredients you’ll need! I used everything I had left over from my trip to the farmers market, and I am so glad vegetable season is in it’s prime because I am telling you, thats what took this dish to a whole other level!

  • Finley chopped Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage is needed for this. Don’t purchase regular cabbage. The taste is slightly different, and it won’t have enough texture.
  • Cauliflower
  • One chopped red tomato
  • Three thinly sliced red potatoes
  • Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Red bell pepper cut into strips
  • white mushrooms
  • Jarred peppadew peppers
  • Finely grated parmesan cheese.
  • Juliene strips of salami
  • Peppery Arugula

Always try to shop farm fresh.. I promise you won’t regret it!!

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  • Make sure the mushrooms are white, fresh, and clean!

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  • You want the cauliflower to be very white, and look almost kind of peach fuzz on the top.. thats how you know it’ll be good!

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  • Fresh, bright green arugula. Arugula, if you’re unsure how tastes.. is peppery, but I love the flavor mixed with every single piece of produce in this dish!

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  • Peppadew peppers. Even if you don’t enjoy peppers of any kind, or just red peppers, you can not skip on these! They do something so incredible to the dish, and when eating it you can’t really taste it individually, but the flavor is so incredible.

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Make sure that the cheese is extremely grated! Do not buy the large shreds of parmesan cheese, or the regular shredded. It makes the dish too stringy and we don’t want the cheese to overpower this dish. I know everyone says you can’t have enough cheese (I’m everyone lol) but trust me! 

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When you see the cabbage nicely shredded and wonder how.. it’s simple. Cut the Napa cabbage in half

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Cut each half in half, and take the the whole half chunk and slice with your knife, very thinly..keep going until you have chopped the entire head of cabbage. Also, don’t make yourself nervous if you have a hard time cutting a normal head of cabbage.. Napa is much simpler to chop!

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Put a pot of salted water on the stove. The heat needs to be on high for the water to come to a complete boil, and once it does, go ahead drop your pasta right in.

In a wok, put in a half a stick of butter and three tablespoons of good olive oil. If a wok isn’t available for you, and you do not have one, a very large sauté pan will do the trick. I’m using a wok because I want a lot of surface area for everything to cook quickly, and to get caramelized evenly.

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On top of the hot melted butter, I dropped in the potatoes, cauliflower, and bell peppers since they are going to take the longest to cook, and I want to make sure they’re cooked thoroughly. I also added the salami in the very beginning because I want to get them nice and fried, leaving our whole dish with delicious fatty Italian flavor.

Leave that all cook on high heat for 15 minutes.

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Turning the heat down to medium low, pour in your Napa cabbage.

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Saute in the cabbage for 5 minutes.

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Add the white button mushrooms, and cook for another 10 minutes.

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Look how gorgeous and caramelized. Thats exactly what you want to see. Lots and lots of steamy goodness!

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For your final steps, you want to add our ingredients that give big punches of flavor, but do not take much time at all to cook.

  1. Throw in half the jar of our tiny little pepper balls
  2. Place in the chunks of tomato
  3. Pile half a bag of arugula.. don’t worry that’s not too much, it cooks down, a ton!

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After cooking everything for three minutes on medium-high heat, this is what it looks like! Our potatoes are crispy and golden, our peppers and cabbage are soft, sweet, and translucent, and our tomatoes are soft enough that the juice got extracted; creating a sauce within our jambut!

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After boiling your pasta for 8-10 minutes, tasting it to make sure it is “al dente” (meaning – to the tooth) drain, and pour over our succulent farm fresh jambut. On top of the pasta, add another dollup of butter, and a good drizzle of olive oil, with a little more than half the container of parmesan cheese.

You for sure could use less, or more cheese. That aspect is completely up to you.

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I topped this jungle jambut with Italian flat leaf parsley, another drizzle of olive oil, and a  final sprinkling of some more parmesan cheese.

I also placed on about five more little peppadew peppers, to add a bright vinegary freshness as you begin to take your first few bites. It really does something special to your pallet.

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It is quite stunning, to say the least, and between all of the colors with everything mixed in, and the leaf shaped bowl you could see why “jungle jungle” was perfectly fitting. The crazy shaped noodles also left me with no choice to say that this dish is a wild one, but most definitely an exquisite one! This was absolutely the type of dish to eat outside on the patio, with a glass of Pino Grigio in your hand, watching the sun go down.

Come on, I know I’m tempting you! lol

Well, enjoy diamonds, and I’ll see you next week with another favorite pasta dish that everyone is crazy about.

 

ciao, xoxo.