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.

 

 

An authentic Antipasto

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Without fail, every family gathering we have at the house, I end up having an antipasto platter out on the counter for all of us to pick at, and munch on. It’s one of my brothers favorites, and he always looks forward to them! To be honest, it kind of wins over everyones heart, at least a little bit! Honestly, at any party who can resist a pick tray? It was one of my favorite things ever since I was little, and discovered that I wanted to become a Chef. The presentation, and the food options are actually endless, which makes it super fun to put something like this together, and it’s quite simple if you’re unsure of where to start!

To me, this is an “authentic antipasto” platter because in today’s world when we hear “antipasto” we tend to think of a salad containing some sort of lettuce, peppers, onions, olives, and a whole mix of meats, and cheeses. That could be considered  an “antipasto” salad, but many many years ago when my parents were kids, when people made an antipasto it was just a pick tray. The word “antipasto” itself originated as an existing appetizer! My dads family was Italian and Polish, so food was very big in our family, and still is to this day. He told me stories about how his parents and grandparents would go out into the garden, and pick fresh vegetables, lay out assorted cheese, with anything they already had on hand, and a chunk of Italian bread to create their starting dish for their Sunday dinner. It was simply their appetizer; an antipasto, if you will!

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I found this extremely fitting plate, at this cute vintage shop near me that I adore very very much! It was perfect for the occasion, and it would actually be a crime to use any other serving platter, wouldn’t you say?

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It depends what I am in the mood to use to lay down on the platter before sitting on little vinegary bites that have a lot of oil, and juice glistened on them, but here, I am using red leaf lettuce. You could choose to use endive leaves, kale, or any other kind of whole headed lettuce, but the ombre on the lettuce is gorgeous for this particular dish. You want to definitely lay the “wet” ingredients onto something instead of just sitting them on the plate itself for two reasons.

  1. It keeps from having them slide around, making your platter not look as put together
  2. It keeps the oil and vinegar from getting onto the other items that were going to be arranging, and you don’t want that!

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A side angle.

I have pepper shooters, which are stuffed with prosciutto (Italian ham, which is normally very thinly sliced) and provolone cheese (A bit-y Italian cheese). I also piled on some marinated mushrooms. If you love mushrooms you can never go wrong with these!

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On the other side of the platter, we have assorted olives. The big green ones are stuffed with blue cheese; they have a bite to them, but they add something that something else can. The deep plum colored olives are Kalamata, and they are my absolute favorite olive ever. They have most flavor, and are very oily.

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Every antipasto needs.. no not needs… desires a goodsalty, fatty salami.

Sopressata is the best to use! I love it so much. If you’ve never tried it though, brace yourself.. it does have a stronger flavor than your typical American sandwich salami.

For perfect presentation, cut on an angle!

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I usually always choose two meats for my trays, at the least, so here I have mortadella. It is an Italian bologna, and its special because it’s extra fatty, and delicious with chunks of pistachio bites inside each slice.

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I line all of the slices up, and take my knife straight down the middle to cut them in half.

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Take each slice thats cut and roll it like a cigar.

 

 

 

 

 

Just like the meats, I like choosing two different cheeses, but I choose them in the fact that they will be accompaning the certain type of meats that I chose.

The first cheese is a peppadew cheddar, and the second is a roasted garlic cheddar.

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As I filled the tray, I accompany the food by sections, and put certain things across from each other. I ended the platter by filling it with roasted garlic and rosemary pita chips. I really felt like it would be a great accompaniment to the cheeses. I decorated the tray with wedges of vine ripened tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and chunks of roasted red peppers, to accent the flavor of our peppadew cheese triangles!

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This is everything up close so you can see how beautiful all the colors look on our antipasto platter, and to get a prefect view of how to arrange the food on the plate.

 

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Voila! In no time, and with having fun in the kitchen, you’ll get to experience an authentic antipasto! I just love the variety, and it show cases a rustic Italian flare, which would really kick off a good Italian dinner party!

Enjoy your Italian munchies! Ciao diamonds xoxo

Home away from Home

     The Hotel Hershey. 

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I can’t even try to say those three words together without smiling. As soon as the car pulls up in plain sight I feel instantly as though I entered a whole new world. This place never fails to amaze me; from the service, to how nice every single person treats you thats employed there, the presentation and taste of the high quality food. There’s so many different things that you could see, and do at the hotel. The list could go on, and the day could never end…until you finally fall asleep, of course.

There’s countless places that you go, and when you arrive you just pause, look up infront of you, take a step back, and breath in the joyfulness of how happy & at peace you are. I felt that was when I took this picture. My mom, sister-in-law, and I woke up at the crack of dawn, last Sunday morning, got ready with sleepers still in our eyes, and packed our bags for the day. One of the things I usually do in the morning before leaving the house, especially on a weekend, is enjoying a cup of coffee in front of the candles, and jotting down some blog post plans, BUT on a Hershey day, I save my cup of coffee for lounging in my rob on the balcony of the quiet room. It’s really one of the most tranquil experiences I’ve ever had. The reason for the trip was to have a nice spa day, and catch up on some relaxation. I definitely think thats something that we all don’t get enough of, which we should because just like water & food..it is essential to life!

Just as you suspected, our spa experience was nothing less of perfection, as always. Afterwards, we headed out onto the balcony to enjoy morning beverages, and views, while we waited for our lunch reservations in the Oasis. Now, picture an oasis, and thats exactly what this restaurant, lounge is; an Oasis! It’s an escape from reality before leaving the spa. Its another joy to the eye filled with a yummy fresh buffet, along with desserts made with fresh Hershey chocolate and candy bars. the selection of food is so unique that if you’re not a foodie or chef, you might not recognize, but all very delicious!

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The Oasis buffet in all its glory!

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Salad bar toppings!

  • cucumbers
  • cauliflower
  • parmesan cheese
  • bean shoots
  • banana peppers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cooked hulled barley – so so delicious on a salad if you’ve never had it! It gives it a kind of cool chewy texture from the crunchy & leafy contrast.
  • Black beans
  • shredded carrots
  • watermelon radish – it was my first time actually trying after so long of wanting to, and it was yummy! I wasn’t disappointed. It made my salad very very special. When I go there I always like to experience something that I hadn’t in my life, yet.
  • raisins
  • chopped cashews
  • olive medley

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Some mouthwatering cold salads and carbs!

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My plate after creating and concocting up at the buffet line; in my robe of course, and thats the best part of it all! Relaxing, eating, and enjoying conversations about when our next time up all together will be, in our robes. I mean come on.. when do you ever get the chance to lounge so much at home that you’re having a meal in your robe, on top of getting waited on? It’s simply the best, and if you have never been, do not hesitate! You will leave more than happy, after being at the sweetest place on earth.

Smoked salmon & herbed cheese wrap up

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We are indeed nearing the end of summer, which means I need to indulge in all my favorite summertime bites, of course. Smoked salmon, and cream cheese is probably my absolute favorite combination in this entire world, and I have very many favorites, being a foodie and all, so thats saying A LOT! I usually associate my lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese on a bagel with fall because to me, thats exactly what it tastes like, BUT as soon as you put it in a bright green tortilla, and roll it up around beautiful colored vegetables, it becomes summer; to me at least.

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You could choose any vegetables that you desire to put into this wrap, but I think all of these specific kinds together compliment each other super well. Also, when choosing the smoked salmon in the super market, instead of selecting the fish that is packaged in broken off pieces that still appear raw to the eye, I picked the whole filet that was smoked instead. I felt that the filet in particular works better for the wrap, and the others work better on a bagel or croissant.

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Due to the fact that I did not work with the smoked salmon that I do when I make a bagel sandwich using regular fresh cream cheese, I decided to switch that up as well. In this case, we’re going to be using an herbed spreadable cheese. The texture itself is much like cream cheese, except it packs a punch of flavor! Which is exactly what we want, considering the tortilla itself isn’t going to give us as much flavor as a bagel normally would.

 

This is what you want to see! Gorgeous summertime colors. Bright and fresh!

You will need : 

  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Fresh chives
  • Smoked filet of salmon
  • Vine ripened tomato – sliced
  • Alfalfa sprouts. If you do not enjoy sprouts of any kind, youre welcome to use spinach, or I think “frisée” or “red leaf” would be an awesome touch as well!
  • Your choice of flavor tortilla. I am using spinach!
  • Creamy herbed spreadable cheese
  • Nice slices of red onion – if you’re not a raw onion kind of fan, you could leave this one out. You’ll get a mild onion flavor from the fresh chives, and also from our cheese.

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A closer view of everything you’ll need, so nothing is forgotten!

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Lay your tortilla flat on a plate, and go ahead and spread our herbed cream cheese all around the middle, without going over the edges. The cheese is going to act as glue, as we pile on everything else!

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With your hands, for a more rustic element, rip your fresh chives, and let them fall onto the cheese.

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Up close and personal, to see the tears of the chives!

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Add the slices of red onion after the chives so that it sticks and holds in place, using the cheese for support.

 

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Add slices of tomato. The amount would be up to you. I used two!

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Lay on four slices of a bright green cucumber.

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Rip the smoked salmon into flakey chunks, pile it for the last thing on top of your goodies in the wrap.

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A little closer look at the salmon so that you are able to see how big I broke the fish into pieces.

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Pile on alfalfa sprouts, and let them fall where they may!

 

 

Time to roll it up! All I did was fold in one end on the bottom, and then rolled it up sideways!

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The only step left for you to do, is garnish and take the biggest bite! I used some left over sprouts to add greenery, and a few slices more of cucumber for some layering.

Enjoy your last dishes of summer, and ill be back next week with a few more spiced up flavors!

Original Oiled Oranges

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     Unfortunately, my grandfather ( My fathers, father) passed away years before I was even born. Happily enough, my dad has told me very much about him. The stories that intrigued me most were the ones about him and food. He giggles at the thought that he could have been rich from taking ice cream, and putting pretzels with chunks of cake mixed in together; considering back then no ice cream brands at that time were doing such a thing. My Pop Pop used to experiment with so many different food combinations, some even being very simplistic. My dad would tell me over and over again.. “Briana, my dad would slice oranges, drizzle them with olive oil, finish it with a dash of salt & pepper, and it was to die for! The oil, mixed with the flavor of the oranges, being brought out by the seasonings, just made it so mouth watering.” You might think to yourself that you don’t want olive oil anywhere near your oranges, but think again! It actually makes the orange rich tasting, accompanied with a silky texture left on your tongue. Also, if you truly take a step back and think about it.. what makes up 70% of salad dressings? EXACTLY.. OIL! Olive oil.. you’d be surprised, is in probably every salad dressing, and many condiments that you use everyday. Regardless if you make it yourself, or buy from the grocery store. 

     Being that I didn’t just want to introduce to you his dish he created, and left it at that, I wanted to make it my own. I like being original, while still being influenced, even if it is by my own family members. What I did was kick it up a notch, using some crunch, and fresh herbs. It makes another layer of tastes, and textures on your palette. 

 

 

Showing you up close and personal what you will need on hand, besides the oranges, of course. 

  • Fresh mint leaves 
  • Good olive oil – whatever brand you love best. I also suggest that you purchase an olive oil specified for dressing, marinades, and dipping, rather than sautéing and grilling. It will make a difference! 
  • Sunflower seeds – I used honey roasted, but if you do not prefer those, theres salted & unsalted. For this dish keep in mind, the salty taste is what you want/need! 
  • Salt & pepper TT ( “tt” is “to taste” ) 

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Peel your oranges using your hand or knife.. however you choose is just fine. Then spread the orange open in half, taking out any white parts that are left in the center. 

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Break the oranges into wedge segments, as you would if you were just going to eat them, but instead, lay them onto a platter of your choice. 

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Sprinkle the segments with the salt and pepper, along with the sunflower seeds! 

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Then, drizzle with your olive oil! 

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Finally, break off pieces of your mint leaves, and rip a few by hand onto the oranges, and let them scatter, for a more rustic look! 

     This dish is as simple as you can get, while still impressing your guests if you desire to showcase this at your next house party! It is a great appetizer, without filling people up before the main course, and not having to make them feel guilty!

Heres to you, Pop Pop! xoxo