If you like steak, cheese and spinach, (three of the main food groups) you will love these cheesy pinwheels! They are quick and easy to make and will impress your guests with their attractive display.
If you can’t find skirt steak, no worries! You can use flank steak. I prefer the skirt steak because it has a beefier taste to me.
Cook / Prep Time: about an hour
Servings : Two (about 4 pinwheels)
Special equipment needed: a meat mallet or tenderizer and some kitchen twine.
1 lb skirt steak
3 ounce baby spinach leaves, chopped
Juice of one lemon
1 lg shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz shaved or shredded parmesan
4 slices provolone cheese
1 sprig fresh basil leaves
1 tsp ground thyme
Pound the skirt steak into a rectangle about 1/4” thick.
Season both sides with salt and pepper. Turn the skirt steak vertically on a counter. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil together and brush onto the beef. Sprinkle the thyme leaves on it. Spread the chopped shallots and garlic evenly onto the meat. Pinch the basil leaves and dot them over the shallots and garlic. Evenly spread the Parmesan cheese over it. Spread the chopped spinach over the parmesan cheese. Add the provolone slices evenly on top.
Roll the meat up jelly roll style and it should look like this…
Cut 4 pieces of kitchen twine about 12” in length.
Tie them around the skirt roll and cut off the excess twine. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary. At this point, you can pop it in a 350 degree oven if you want and cook for about 30 minutes until desired doneness, or you can slice them and fry them or grill them. In my case, I grilled them.
Place them on a hot grill and grill them for about 4 minutes on each side and them place them in a 350 degree oven for about another 6-7 minutes for medium rare. They will tend to be tough if well done or overcooked. Let them rest with tented aluminum foil over them for about 5 minutes and serve.
For the sauce, finely chop the carrot, shallot, celery, pepper and garlic. Place the olive oil in a saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat and add the chopped vegetables. Sauté while stirring for about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and cook another 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and turn heat down to low. Chop the basil coarsely and stir it in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently for 30 minutes.
While the marinara is simmering, prepare a cheese marinade by adding the olive oil, red wine, basil and crushed garlic and a dash of salt and pepper to a dish and add the sliced mozzarella and marinate for 15 minutes.
For the breading, whisk the egg and add the milk and stir together. Set up a breading station with a plate or dish of flour, and another with the panko mixed with the Italian seasoning.
Keeping one hand wet and one hand dry, grab a slice of cheese with your wet hand and place it in the flour and press the flour onto both sides with your dry hand. Place the floured slice into the egg wash and wet both sides with your wet hand. Remove the slice with your wet hand and place it in the panko mixture, pressing it onto both sides with your dry hand. Repeat the process with the rest of the slices.
Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium heat. When the oil gets hot, fry the cheese slices until browned and flip and brown the other side. Remove from skillet and top with the hot marinara sauce. Serve with your choice of pasta. (I used pappardelle)
Suggested songs to listen to while preparing the goodness…..
How about Luciano Pavarotti‘s “Pavarotti: The Duets” released in 2008 featuring duets with Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Sting, Frank Sinatra and others?
“Manic Monday” – written by Prince and made famous by the Bangles from their 1986 album Different Light. Just substitute the word “meatless” in place of “manic” while preparing this dish!
I consider Chilean Sea Bass the king of the sea with its thick white flaky texture and delicate flavor almost reminiscent of King Crab but not as rich. This easy recipe uses banana leaves that create steam and lock in the flavor of the fish, herbs and spices.
We have several banana trees in the yard. They are easy to grow but are hard to get to fruit before the first freeze comes along. They die back in the winter but come back up in the spring. I did get one to flower last summer but the blossoms eventually dropped off.
If you don’t have banana leaves available, you can usually get some from a Latin market.
Cook / Prep Time – about 30 minutes
Servings – 2
2 – 6 oz. Chilean Sea Bass Filets, fresh or frozen
1 lb fresh asparagus
3 large banana leaves
1 small bunch baby leeks (or green onions)
2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
3 tbsp herb butter
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or something similar)
1/2 lemon, quartered
For the herb butter:
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
I mixed fresh dill, chives, thyme, rosemary and tarragon from my herb garden, but feel free to use any of your favorite herbs.
Step # 1 – If using frozen fish filets, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Prepare the herb butter by adding the chopped herbs and salt to the softened butter and mix well. Spoon the ball into wax paper and roll up into a tube shape. Place back in the refrigerator to harden.
Step # 2 – clean and trim the asparagus then parboil it in boiling water for just a few seconds until it turns bright green. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Step # 3 – rinse the banana leaves and dry them with a paper towel. rinse the sea bass and pat dry with a paper towel. Set the three banana leaves on the counter and set the asparagus in the middle of one, and the fish filets in the middle of the other two.
Step # 4 – if you are using a charcoal grill, get the coals started. Season the fish and the asparagus with the lemon pepper and Cajun seasoning. Unroll the herb butter and add a tablespoon slice to each fish filet and the asparagus. Add the baby leeks, lemon wedge and rosemary sprigs to the fish and wrap each fish filet and the asparagus tightly with the banana leaves. Secure with toothpicks or use these ovenproof rubber bands like I used.
Step # 5 – if using a gas grill, turn on medium heat and preheat you oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish and asparagus in the banana leaves on the grill. Grill the asparagus for two minutes on each side and remove from the grill. Grill the fish for about 8 minutes per side and put all three leaf packages on an ovenproof tray and place in the oven for about 6 more minutes until the flesh of the fish is tender, white and flaky.
Unwrap the fish and asparagus and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the Sea Bass…..
This is a sort of a tropical dish, so how about some reggae? It doesn’t get much better than Bob Marley and the Wailer’s “Legend” featuring all of his best songs on one album, recorded from 1972 – 1983.
And “The Name Game“ by Shirley Ellis from 1964. “ Banana nana fo fana fee fi mo mana – banana” !!
Quarantine got ya a little crabby? Looking for something to cook while self isolating? This cheesy, crabby treat is easy to make and is a delicious dish for dinner or brunch!
This is a variation of another Morrison’s Cafeteria favorite and anytime we put it on the menu back then I would treat myself to it. I prepared these in small 12 oz casserole / rarebit type dishes, but it can also be prepared in one large casserole dish. In the past, I have used half & half for this recipe, but that tended to make it a little too rich so I used whole milk this time.
Cook / Prep Time – About an hour
Servings – 4
8 ounces lump crab meat
8 ounces shredded cheddar/jack cheese
1 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs (or croutons)
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
A sprinkling of paprika
For the sauce…
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp ap flour
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sherry wine
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot sauce (I like choulula)
2 tbsp shredded cheddar/jack cheese
1 tbsp shredded Parmesan
Cut and toast the bread cubes. I made croutons using some sourdough bread I made last week.
Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When melted, add the flour and continue to cook while stirring to make a roux. Do not brown.
When the roux starts to bubble, continue stirring while adding the milk. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble again and add the sherry, mustard, salt, hot sauce and the two cheeses. Turn on low heat continue to stir until well blended. Remove from heat.
Line up the dishes. Spray them with pan spray and add 1/4 cup of sauce to each dish.
Divide the bread cubes between the 4 dishes and place them on top of the sauce.
Pick through the crabmeat to check for any shell pieces and remove them. Then divide the crabmeat evenly and add to the 4 dishes on top of the bread cubes.
Divide the remaining sauce between the 4 dishes and cover the crabmeat.
Top with the cheeses and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until brown and bubbly around the sides. You can also wrap them and freeze them for up to a month.
Here are some quarantine songs to listen to while preparing the crab….
“Alone Again (Naturally)” by Irish singer songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan from 1972.
“Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol from his album of the same name from 1981.
Since Tommy James turns 73 today, how about “I Think We’re Alone Now” by him and the Shondells released in 1967.
“Lonely Too Long” by The Young Rascals from 1968.
“Isolation” by John Lennon from his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
(Ain’t Nothin but a) “Houseparty” by the J. Geils Band from 1973.
During the Covid-19 Stuck at Home order, I have spent a lot of time cooking, baking, and gardening. (Thank God for spring).We haven’t been able to see our children or grandchildren for a month. 😒 Although I am a sports fan, I’m not into watching reruns of sporting events I have already seen. I also love to listen to music and ride my bike. While I have always read, I’ve recently had to time to increase my reading, too!
First of all, I’m going to share a list of my favorite authors:
Pat Conroy – the late Pat Conroy was a true poet with words. Author of such classics as The Water is Wide, Prince of Tides and The Great Santini among others.
Michael Connelly – a crime fiction novelist and creator of characters such as Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. Check out his Bosch tv series on Amazon Prime. The new season starts Friday.
Greg Iles – a great southern author out of Mississippi, his descriptions of the South and its culture is spot on. I wish he would publish new books more often.
Stuart Woods – he published a classic novel, Chiefs back in 1983. He lately has become a kind of a book producing factory similar to James Patterson, and like Patterson’s, in my opinion, the quality of their later novels have deteriorated. I do, however, still enjoy his Stone Barrington novels as some fun escapism.
Harlen Coben – a mystery novelist, he is a master with plot twists. I am currently reading his latest, The Boy from the Woods.
James Patterson – see my above comments about him. The only series I still read by him is his Alex Cross series because I have been reading them so long I feel as I know all the characters.
John Grisham – Another good Southern author, although I think the quality of his newer novels are not in the same class as some of his earlier titles such as The Firm, A Time to Kill, and The Pelican Brief.
Linda Castillo – I have always been fascinated by Amish life and I enjoy her series featuring Kate Burkholder, who left the Amish life, but returned to her Amish village as the chief of police.
Since my blog is mainly a food blog, I will start with a few food related books.
Do you like love stories? Check out Jim Gaffigan’s book, Food – A Love Story. This hilarious humorist and acclaimed lover of food talks about his love of delicacies such as bacon, gravy, BBQ, steak, donuts, pizza, French fries, and and greasy burgers and hot dogs and about his distaste for terrible foods such as salads, vegetables and fruits.
I love this bread cookbook by Peter Reinhardt. He is a baking instructor and faculty member at Johnson Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina his cookbook Crust and Crumb was the 2002 James Beard cookbook of the year, and his recipe for San Francisco Sourdough bread, while quite complicated, is my go to sourdough recipe. I made a few loaves last week.
Cemetery Road by Greg Iles. A fantastic southern crime story. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I wish he would publish more books. I hate waiting, but the quality of the writing is worth the wait! Here is a description of the book from the publisher…. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.
And a quick review from The Washington Post… “An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment.”— Washington Post
Dear Edward by Ann Neapolitan – a story of a twelve year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed all the other passengers including the rest of his whole family. Angie Kim of The New York Times called it “a haunting novel that’s a masterful study in suspense, grief and survival” and Stephanie Larratt of The Today Show wrote “its a book about shared humanity, new beginnings and finding hope through even the most trying experience” personally, I thought it was a little depressing but had some good insights into the mind of the twelve year old protagonist.
The Boy from the Woods –Harlen Coben. My current read, I am about halfway through and I am enjoying it. Here is the publisher’s description.
A man with a mysterious past must find a missing teenage girl in this shocking thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away.
Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.
No one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.
Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.
Next on my reading list….
Camino Winds by John Grisham. Due out on April 28th, 2020. Here is a brief description from the publisher’s website…
When Hurricane Leo threatens Florida’s Camino Island, the Governor is quick to issue an evacuation order. Most residents flee but a small group of diehards decide to ride it out. Amongst them is Bruce Cable, proprietor of Bay Books in downtown Santa Rosa.
The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are levelled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people are killed. One of the victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s who wrote timely political thrillers. But evidence suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of Nelson’s death – he had received several mysterious blows to the head.
Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed with the aftermath of the storm and in no condition to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels were more fact than fiction. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel – could the key to the case be right there, in black and white? Bruce starts to look into it and what he finds between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists – and far more dangerous.
Hit List by Stuart Woods. The 53rd book in the Stone Barrington series, (I read the other 52). He is a former cop turned P.I. turned lawyer turned millionaire.I like the escapism and the familiar characters in this series. Stone’s favorite things are beautiful women, Knob Creek bourbon, airplanes, fine wine, yachts, and vodka gimlets (in that order). I must say that the earlier books in the series were better. I’m hoping for the best with this newest one.
Fair Warning by Michael Connelly. Due out on May 26, 2020. Connelly is a former police reporter for The Los Angeles Times and a fantastic crime novelist. This will be his third book in his Jack McEvoy series, following The Poet and The Scarecrow. I’m looking forward to this one.
Outsider by Linda Castillo. Due out on July 7th, 2020. The 12th book in the Kate Burkholder series. This one is supposed to be an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.
Happy Reading and stay safe!
Looking for something to listen to while doing some quarantine reading? In honor of Al Green’s 74th birthdayyesterday, enjoy his 1975 greatest hits album featuring all of his classics songs.
Also, a quarantine song suggestion by my sister Cathy, how about The Bee Gees 1977 disco classic “Stayin Alive”
Also, Happy Birthday today to another sister, Debbi!
Here is a delicious bacon flavored bread that you can make while sheltering in place, especially if you cannot find bread in the grocery store. (I couldn’t) But I did find bread flour, yeast and bacon! Everything I needed! (Except toilet paper) This bread makes an excellent B.L.T. !
Note: you can make regular white bread by eliminating the bacon and replacing the bacon fat with shortening, but why would you? You could also use a few extra bacon strips for a more intense bacon flavor.
Cook/Prep Time: 3-3 1/2 hours
Makes two large loaves
1 1/2 cups milk
4 strips bacon
1/4 cup bacon fat
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp salt
2 pkg active dry yeast
6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup warm water
Fry the 4 strips of bacon. Reserve and cool the bacon fat. Set the bacon aside to cool.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it set until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
Warm the milk and add the salt, bacon fat and shortening . Place in a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add 5 cups of the bread flour, the yeast mixture and the 2 eggs. Mix it on low speed for a few minutes until it all comes together. Place the bacon strips in a food processor to form a paste. Add the paste to the mixing bowl. Slowly add the rest of the flour as needed and mix on medium speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
If you still have some of the reserved bacon fat, grease a bowl for the dough. Place the dough on the counter and knead it for a few minutes, then place it in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm draft free place and let it set for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Grease two 9×5 loaf pans. (I only had one pan, so I used a baking stone for the 2nd loaf)
Punch the dough down, removing the air bubbles, and place back in the covered bowl again and let it rest until doubled in size again, 30-45 minutes.
Place the dough on the counter and divide the dough into two dough balls. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into a 9×12 rectangle. Roll them up and pinch the ends to seal.
Place the loaves in the pans, sealed sides down. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 350 degrees in a convection oven.
Using a bread lame, razor, or sharp knife, make a small slice across the top of the loaves. When the bread is ready, place in the oven and bake 30-40 minutes until well browned and they sound hollow when tapping them. Remove them from the oven, brush with bacon fat and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Suggested songs to listen to while self isolating and baking the bread….
“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police from their third album “Zeno-atta Mondatta” released in 1980.
“From a Distance” by Bette Midler from her 1990 album “Some People’s Lives”
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor from her album “Love Tracks” released in 1978.
Browse my blog for more recipes to fix at home while social distancing…..
This is a great easy to make hearty soup for a cold winter day or a Meatless Monday!
This would also be an awesome meal to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, which is just around the corner!
Cook / Prep Time – about an hour
Servings – 4
2 tbsp butter
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (I used the baby ones)
1 1/2 lb leeks (white and pale green parts) washed and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onions, celery, leeks and the shallot. Cover and and cook from 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown them. Add the stock, potatoes, bay leaf and half of the chopped chives. Cover and reduce to low heat and cook for another 30 – 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Turn the heat off and add the milk ,half and half and nutmeg.Using a blender or an immersion blender, and process until smooth. Put it back on the heat to heat it back up and serve. Top with the remaining chopped chives. That’s it!
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the soup….
Since the very talented singer / songwriter Carole King had a birthday this week, how about “Tapestry” her classic album released in 1971?
Beef Jerky is very easy to make, and you can customize the flavor you want by simply manipulating the marinade ingredients!
This is a basic recipe for regular beef jerky that I made, but you can make it more sweet or more spicy by having fun and being creative with the marinade.
I used an air fryer that has a dehydrate function. If you use a dehydrator, temperatures may vary.
Cook / Prep Time – overnight plus three hours
Yield – plan on losing about 60 % of the original weight of the beef due to moisture loss.
1/2 lb thin sliced eye of round
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tbsp smoked sea salt
1/8 cup sugar (I used maple sugar, but you can use white or brown)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp minced garlic
4 drops liquid smoke
As long as you start with a soy sauce base, you can add more or less sugar, pepper, garlic, liquid smoke, and seasonings. You can use crushed red pepper flakes, honey, hot sauce or wine. You can add onions or jalapeños to the marinade. Teriyaki flavor? Add ginger and pineapple juice. It all depends what kind of flavor profile you’re looking for.
* Our local Publix grocery store stocks thin sliced eye of round, but you may need to ask your butcher to slice some for you.
Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the sliced beef strips. Place in a ziplock bag and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, drain and discard the marinade, squeezing the liquid out of the beef. Place the strips, sides not touching, on the air fryer baskets. Set at dehydrate at 160 degrees for one hour and turn the strips after 30 minutes. After one hour, turn the dehydrate temperate down to 120 degrees for two hours, again turning the strips around every 30 minutes. That’s it! Happy jerking!
Suggested music to listen to while preparing the jerky…..
“Walls and Bridges” a John Lennon album released in 1974 featuring the songs “Whatever Gets You Thtu the Night” , #9 Dream, and of course “Beef Jerky”