Kitchen Utensils

Cluttered Kitchen Drawer - The Surprised Gourmet

Everyone seems to have at least one cluttered kitchen drawer filled with utensils

Having the right ingredients is always essential when preparing that perfect dish. But without certain kitchen utensils, making that dish would be difficult.

While, for the most part, we all have at least one kitchen drawer that is jammed packed with utensils, there are always one or more tools we keep in a special place and dare anyone to move them (or touch them). These are those kitchen utensils we use time and time again. They can be ones that have been handed down in your family for generations, items you can’t even remember where they came from or pieces purchased recently by you.

Among my go-to items are a heavy-duty chef’s knife, a small paring knife and a nonstick skillet. It seems no matter what I prepare, I use at least one – if not all – of these items.

I am careful what I use to stir, flip or remove food from my skillet. I adore cast iron skillets, but seem to use the nonstick more except if I’m preparing cornbread. The nonstick skillet is light-weight and easy to clean which makes it much handier.

four-star-6inch-santoku-knife-1

A Zwilling knife

I take extra special care of these two knives, as well as all my other knives. These two, however, are never placed in a drawer and are kept extremely sharp. I’ve found that it’s easier to cut yourself with a dull knife than it is a sharp one. While you can find good knives at reasonable prices (like I did), if I were to splurge on knives I’d have a complete set of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Knives. They are quite pricey, but I believe would be well worth the money. Made in Germany, the knives are hand sharpened and polished with a full tang. Zwilling Knives are durable and long-lasting. They’re on my Christmas wish list.

60″ RNB SERIES RANGE WITH 24″ FRENCH TOP

60″ RNB Series Range with 24″ French Top

In addition, if I were building my dream kitchen, one of the first things I would make sure to include is a freestanding, restaurant quality gas range like one of these 60-inch BlueStar RNB Series with a 24-inch French top. To me a gas range would make cooking so much easier. You have instant heat with gas and more even cooking. Having a range that is both efficient and fun to use is a perfect combination. There are so many sizes and styles to select from to fit every cook’s needs. BlueStar also has a variety of hoods to go with that perfect oven. In addition, they have a Built-In Refrigeration line that would complete any kitchen.

Thanks for stopping by today. If you were building (or have built) your dream kitchen, what would be your first ‘must have’ item? Do you have any favorite kitchen utensils you use time and time again? Were they handed down through generations or a special find you discovered yourself?

Cucina Felice!

Blue Cheese Meatballs

Blue Cheese Meatballs - The Surprised Gourmet

Blue Cheese Meatballs make a tasty meal

If you’re looking for an odd combination meal, why not try meatballs and soup. Doesn’t sound odd until you make it Blue Cheese Meatballs and Acorn Squash Soup. Add a side dish of Creamy Cheesy Spinach to round out the meal.

This is a meal that will delight your taste buds on so many levels. I shared the Acorn Squash Soup recipe here and now here’s the Blue Cheese Meatballs recipe.

In a large bowl mix one pound of ground chuck (80/20), 2 eggs (beaten), 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 2 tablespoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. When mixed well, add in 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs and 1/4 cup grated blue cheese. You can turn this mixture into three 1/3-pound blue cheese burgers or delicious Blue Cheese Meatballs.

You can roll the mixture into meatballs by hand or use a small ice cream scoop to make them out. Remember, they don’t have to be perfect. The mixture should make about 14 meatballs that are 1 1/2-inches in diameter.

If you like blue cheese like I do, 1/4 cup usually turns out to be a bit (okay a lot) more. I like blue cheese for its tart, tangy earthy flavor. I love to mix it with a little grain alcohol to make a cologne (just kidding, LOL). Seriously, add as little or as much as you like of your favorite blue cheese.

Blue Cheese Meatballs and Acorn Squash Soup Meal - The Surprised Gourmet

Blue Cheese Meatballs pairs well with Acorn Squash Soup

Heat a skillet to medium heat and go around the pan a couple of times drizzling olive oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and brown. Turn the heat up to medium high making sure to coat the meatballs all over with the olive oil and brown them on all sides.

Once the meatballs are brown, add 1 cup Clamato to the pan and coat them well. Put the pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Half way through the cooking time, roll the meatballs around in the mixture to make sure they are well coated.

When the meatballs are done, remove them from the skillet and place the skillet back on the stove. Cook the liquid until it reduces to half. When it’s reduced, add 1 tablespoon of butter, stir in well and pour the liquid over the meatballs. When you serve the meatballs, top them off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to enhance the taste even more.

This is a fun and delicious take on traditional meatballs. Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have a favorite meatball recipe? Think you might like Blue Cheese Meatballs? If you give this a try, please let me know how it turns out.

Cucina Felice!

Blue Cheese Meatballs

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 3-4 servings

Not your average everyday meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 Pound ground chuck (80/20)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ Cup fine bread crumbs
  • ¼ Cup grated blue cheese
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • 1 Cup Clamato
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix one pound of ground chuck (80/20), 2 eggs (beaten), 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 2 tablespoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. When mixed well, add in ½ cup fine bread crumbs and ¼ cup grated blue cheese. You can turn this mixture into three ⅓-pound blue cheese burgers or delicious Blue Cheese Meatballs.
  2. You can roll the mixture into meatballs by hand or use a small ice cream scoop to make them out. Remember, they don't have to be perfect. The mixture should make about 14 meatballs that are 1½-inches in diameter. Also remember to add as little or as much as you like of your favorite blue cheese.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium heat and go around the pan a couple of times drizzling olive oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and brown. Turn the heat up to medium high making sure to coat the meatballs all over with the olive oil and brown them on all sides.
  4. Once the meatballs are brown, add 1 cup Clamato to the pan and coat them well. Put the pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Half way through the cooking time, roll the meatballs around in the mixture to make sure they are well coated.
  5. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the skillet and place the skillet back on the stove. Cook the liquid until it reduces to half. When it's reduced, add 1 tablespoon of butter, stir in well and pour the liquid over the meatballs. When you serve the meatballs, top them off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to enhance the taste even more.

 

Acorn Squash Soup

Acorn Squash Soup - thesurprisedgourmet.com

Acorn Squash Soup is good as an appetizer or side dish

As the days begin to warm this spring, a  delicious bowl of Acorn Squash Soup hits the spot.

People tend to think of the acorn squash as a winter squash, but it’s good anytime of the year. Acorn Squash Soup can be a flavorful appetizer or a delicious side dish with a meal.

Cut an acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place the squash open side down on a greased baking pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and cook for 40 minutes. When the squash is done, take out and set aside to cool.

Once the squash has cooled, remove the squash from the skin and place in a boiler. Add 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the cooked squash.

Mix the ingredients well. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup mixture until the desired consistency.

Acorn Squash Soup Meal - The Surprised Gourmet

Acorn Squash Soup goes well as a side dish to a meal

This makes 2 to 3 servings and can be served hot or cold. For an added touch, place a dollop of sour cream in each soup bowl when it is served.

When I prepared this Acorn Squash Soup, I served it with Blue Cheese Meatballs (recipe to come later) and Creamy Cheesy Spinach.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed you to try this Acorn Squash Soup recipe. If you do, please be sure to stop back by and let me know how it turned out. Do you have a favorite Acorn Squash Soup recipes? Do you have a favorite type squash you like to cook?

Cucina Felice!

Acorn Squash Soup

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2 to 3 Servings

A flavorful appetizer or side dish
Ingredients
  • 1 Large acorn squash
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • ½ Cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 Teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Cut an acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place the squash open side down on a greased baking pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and cook for 40 minutes. When the squash is done, take out and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the squash has cooled, remove the squash from the skin and place in a broiler. Add 2 tablespoons softened butter, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of Kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to the cooked squash.
  3. Mix the ingredients well. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup mixture until the desired consistency.
  4. This makes 2 to 3 servings and can be served hot or cold. For an added touch, place a dollop of sour cream in each soup bowl when it is served.

 

Sloppy Joe Sliders

Sloppy Joe Sliders - The Surprised Gourmet

Open face Sloppy Joe Sliders are a hit with the entire family

There are days when you need (or want) a quick and easy meal and Sloppy Joe Sliders is the perfect answer.

This dish is a simple meal you can throw together at the last minute and still be delicious. It’ll be a hit with the entire family.

Begin by browning a pound of ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain off excess grease and add a 6 ounce can of tomato pasta, 1 cup of water, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 Roma tomato (seeded and diced), one large garlic clove (minced), 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon dried minced onions, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Stir well and cook for about 10 minutes.

Sloppy Joe Sliders - The Surprised Gourmet

Sloppy Joe Sliders are a quick and easy meal

Remove from heat and spoon on the top of slider rolls. This can be served open face on the rolls or as a sandwich. Either way, it can be a bit messy so have a few extra napkins handy.

This is an ultimate comfort food for a cold winter meal.

Thanks for stopping by. Are Sloppy Joe Sliders a favorite at your house? If so, how do you serve them? Hope you’ll give this a try. If you do, please be sure to let me know how it turns out.

Cucina Felice!

Sloppy Joe Sliders

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6-8 servings

A quick and easy meal
Ingredients
  • 1 Pound ground chuck
  • 1 Can (6 ounces) tomato pasta
  • 1 Cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Roma tomato (seeded, diced)
  • 1 Large garlic clove (minced)
  • ¾ Cup finely chopped onion
  • 1½ Teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onions
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 8 Slider rolls
Instructions
  1. Begin by browning a pound of ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain off excess grease and add a 6 ounce can of tomato pasta, 1 cup of water, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 Roma tomato (seeded and diced), one large garlic clove (minced), ¾ cup finely chopped onion, 1½ teaspoons of Kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon dried minced onions, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Stir well and cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and spoon on the top of slider rolls. This can be served open face on the rolls or as a sandwich. Either way, it can be a bit messy so have a few extra napkins handy.

 

Non-traditional Salisbury Steak

Non-traditional Salisbury Steak - thesurprisedgourmet.com

Tasty Non-traditional Salisbury Steak using cube steak

What do you do when you want Salisbury Steak but don’t have the right ingredients – you make Non-traditional Salisbury Steak instead.

Most cooks know Salisbury Steak is made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients you put together. Then you form the mixture into a shape to resemble a steak. If you don’t have ground beef on hand, you use what you have and create a Non-traditional Salisbury Steak. I used cubed steak for my recipe.

Put 1/4 cup flour and 4 tablespoons bread crumbs in a zip lock bag. Sprinkle the cube steak with fresh ground Kosher salt, garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper pushing the seasonings into the meat. Turn the meat over and repeat. Put the steak in the bag and coat well with the flour/bread crumb mixture.

Add enough canola oil to a skillet to coat the bottom of the pan well. Shake off an excess flour mixture and put in the hot skillet to brown on each side. Takes about 60 seconds on each side to brown (the reason it’s called minute steaks). Set aside to drain. Wipe out the excess crumbs in the skillet to keep them from burning.

Mix together 2 tablespoons corn starch, 3/4 cup water and 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce to make a slurry. Set aside.

Non-traditional Salisbury Steak with potatoes - thesuprisedgourmetcom

Delicious Mashed Potatoes and Non-traditional Salisbury Steak, a winning combination

Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to a medium hot skillet. Put in one white onion (thinly sliced), stir gently and cook until golden brown. Dissolve 1 tablespoon beef base bouillon in 1 cup of hot water. Add beef base to onion and then add the slurry. Cook on low, add the steaks back to the pan making sure to cover them completely with the sauce.

If the gravy is thicker than you want, you can thin it down by adding a little water until you get the desired thickness. Let the steaks simmer for a few minutes to seal in the flavor.

This tasty dish of Non-traditional Salisbury Steak is delicious served with Mashed Potatoes.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you enjoy Salisbury Steak? Do you have your own version of a Non-traditional Salisbury Steak recipe? If you give my version a try, please be sure to stop back by and let me know how it turned out.

Cucina Felice!

Non-traditional Salisbury Steak

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 2 servings

A delicious twist on an old favorite
Ingredients
  • 2 Cubed steaks
  • ¼ Cup flour
  • 4 Tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Fresh ground kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¾ Cup water
  • 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 White onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon beef base bouillon
  • 1 Cup hot water
Instructions
  1. Put ¼ cup flour and 4 tablespoons bread crumbs in a zip lock bag. Sprinkle the cube steak with fresh ground Kosher salt, garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper pushing the seasonings into the meat. Turn the meat over and repeat. Put the steak in the bag and coat well with the flour/bread crumb mixture.
  2. Add enough canola oil to a skillet to coat the bottom of the pan well. Shake off an excess flour mixture and put in the hot skillet to brown on each side. Takes about 60 seconds on each side to brown (the reason it's called minute steaks). Set aside to drain. Wipe out the excess crumbs in the skillet to keep them from burning.
  3. Mix together 2 tablespoons corn starch, ¾ cup water and 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce to make a slurry. Set aside.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to a medium hot skillet. Put in one white onion (thinly sliced), stir gently and cook until golden brown. Dissolve 1 tablespoon beef base bouillon in 1 cup of hot water. Add beef base to onion and then add the slurry. Cook on low, add the steaks back to the pan making sure to cover them completely with the sauce.
  5. If the gravy is thicker than you want, you can thin it down by adding a little water until you get the desired thickness. Let the steaks simmer for a few minutes to seal in the flavor.

 

Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie

A slice of Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie - The Surprised Gourmet

This Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie taste scrumptious

A trip to the grocery store a couple of weekends ago lead me to make the most delicious Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie I’ve ever made.

The local grocery had four packs of Red Delicious apples on sale. Each pack contained four beautiful apples that were just starting to mellow. I planned to take the apples home and make a pie that night but one thing lead to another and I didn’t.

Before I knew it the week had slipped by, it was the weekend again and I still hadn’t made a pie. Looking at the apples I knew I had to make one now or lose the apples completely if I waited another day.

I peeled the apples, cored and quartered them. I lost about a third of the apples to bad spots since I had waited so long. But I still had about 6 cups of apple quarters when I finished. I put half the apples in a bag and froze them for a later project.

Looking on the internet and through my cookbooks, I had come across a recipe for a Dutch Apple Pie but it seemed a little plain to me. I decided to perk it up a bit by using the Red Delicious instead of tart apples, adding cinnamon and making a few more tweaks that suited my taste buds.

Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie - The Surprised Gourmet

This dessert is mouth-watering delicious

Here’s the way I made my Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie. The original recipes hadn’t called for a deep dish, but I’m glad I decided to use one. It turned out to be a good-size pie. You may already make a pie similar to this one, but give it a try anyway … it’s so delicious you won’t be disappointed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and quarter enough Red Delicious apples to make 3 cups (about 6-8 apples depending on size).

Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats and 3/4 cup melted butter in a large bowl. When completely mixed, take out 1 cup of the mixture to use later as part of the topping. Press the remaining mixture into a deep 9-inch pie pan and place in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the filling.

Using a 3-quart saucepan, combine 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons corn starch, 1 1/4 cup cold water and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixing until smooth. Bring the ingredients to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Stir constantly. Once it thickens, remove from heat and take the pie crust out of the fridge.

While the cinnamon mixture is hot add 4 tablespoons of imitation vanilla flavoring and 3 cups of quartered apples. Make sure the apples are completely coated and then pour everything into the pie crust.

Take the cup of reserved crust mixture and mix with 1/3 cup of chopped pecans. Combine well and then completely cover the pie. Place the pie in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You can place the pie on a baking sheet just in case any excess filling runs over. When done, remove from oven and place on cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

The crust will be firm and easy to cut into wedges. However, the pie slices won’t be easy to remove while still warm because the filling is so full and slightly juicy. You may need to use a spoon to help get the pieces out or put the pie in the fridge to chill before cutting.

This Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie will be so delectable you won’t need any extra topping like ice cream, just a huge appetite.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have a favorite apple pie recipes? Is it anything like this Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie recipe? Be sure to let me know if you try this recipe.

Cucina Felice!

Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6-8 servings

A yummy dessert that will hit the spot anytime of the year
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ½ Cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¾ Cup melted butter
  • (Reserve 1 cup of mixture for topping)
  • FILLING:
  • ⅔ Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1¼ Cup cold water
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tablespoons imitation vanilla flavoring
  • 3 Cups peeled, cored, quartered Red Delicious apples
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 Cup reserved crust mixture
  • ⅓ Cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and quarter enough Red Delicious apples to make 3 cups (about 6-8 apples depending on size).
  2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar, ½ cup quick-cooking oats and ¾ cup melted butter in a large bowl. When completely mixed, take out 1 cup of the mixture to use later as part of the topping. Press the remaining mixture into a deep 9-inch pie pan and place in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the filling.
  3. Using a 3-quart saucepan, combine ⅔ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons corn starch, 1¼ cup cold water and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixing until smooth. Bring the ingredients to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Stir constantly. Once it thickens, remove from heat and take the pie crust out of the fridge.
  4. While the cinnamon mixture is hot add 4 tablespoons of imitation vanilla flavoring and 3 cups of quartered apples. Make sure the apples are completely coated and then pour everything into the pie crust.
  5. Take the cup of reserved crust mixture and mix with ⅓ cup of chopped pecans. Combine well and then completely cover the pie. Place the pie in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You can place the pie on a baking sheet just in case any excess filling runs over. When done, remove from oven and place on cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

 

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