Friday, November 16, 2018

Sausage, Spinach and Bacon Hash Brown Nests

How about one of these sinfully delicious spinach, cheese and sausage hash brown cups to start your holiday in the right direction?!? 
It can't get any better than this!

If you are looking to outshine any other bite at your holiday brunch table, look no farther. These hash brown nests have it all. Not just the perfectly cute and un-sharable two-bite size. But also an irresistible sausage and cheesy spinach filling, served over a crispy-at-the-edges scrumptious potato cup. And for the top: perfectly grilled pieces of bacon which will make tastebuds scream in delight, and your kitchen smell like heaven. And wait, that is not all! The best part?!? 
Drum-roll please ...
These hash brown nests are easy, and can be made ahead of time. Just bake and have them ready to be warmed up right before serving. 

I simply love recipes that work on my schedule. Especially around the holidays when things can get a little hectic. 

Now, let's talk potatoes for a second. For this recipe I made hash browns from scratch. Yes, you heard me!I made it from actual potatoes :)
Of course you can use frozen ones, but it's really not that big of a deal to make it yourself, especially if you have a food processor with a shredder blade. 
Here are a few tips for you before you ran to peel the potatoes: I recommend cutting the potatoes in half before shredding in the food processor, so that the pieces  won't come out too long. Make sure to put the just-shredded hash brown in a bowl full of cold water immediately, so they won't turn reddish/brown. Rinse thoroughly to remove the starch, or as much as you can. For this, I recommend placing the shredded potatoes in a colander and run under cold water, turning the potatoes with your hands. After that, you'll need to remove as much water as you can. Squeeze the potatoes with your hand, or use a potato ricer (do not rice the potatoes, just press to get the water out). Whatever you do, get ALL THE WATER OUT!!!! Sorry for the yelling, but I get really passionate about my hash browns!
If there's too much water in the potatoes, they won't turn out crispy and crunchy. But more soggy and ... blah! 
Now look at my nests!

Look wonderful right?!? Even better when filled with the rest of the ingredients! 
One last suggestion: if you are planning to have a lot of guests over for brunch, make sure to double up the recipe, and bake a lot of these. Trust me, these hearty and cozy bites will go quickly!


YIELD: 12 nests, 4-6 servings
    • 2 lb (900 gr) of Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
    • 1 1/4 cups (150 gr) of shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • 6 pork links (6 oz, 170 gr) 
    • 3 slices of classic bacon
    • 5 oz (140 gr) of fresh baby spinach
    • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
    • salt and pepper to taste


TIME: about 1 hour
    Preheat the oven to 450℉ (230℃).
    Peel the potatoes, cut in half, and shred using a food processor (or a grater if you don't have one).

    Place immediately in bowl full of cold water (or they will turn reddish/brown in color).
    Rinse thoroughly under water to remove the starch. You can place in a colander and run under cold water turning the shredded potatoes around with your hand.

    Remove as much water as you can from the potatoes. You can squeeze them with your hand, or press them in small batches in a potato ricer (do not rice the potatoes, just press till the water comes out).

    Place in a paper or kitchen towel, and dry them well.

    Place the shredded potatoes in a bowl, add 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss.

    Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. If you are using silicone mold like I am, there's no need to grease. Divide the hash brown mixture evenly in the 12 cups, and with your fingers or the back of a spoon press and pack the potatoes down and up the edges.

    Bake at 450℉ (230℃) for 20 minutes until the edges brown a little.
    While you wait prepare the rest of the ingredients.
    Cook the bacon following the direction on the package. I placed the slices of bacon on a baking sheet, in one layer and baked in the oven with the potatoes also for 20 minutes.
    Pat dry to remove excess grease when ready, and cut in pieces.

    Follow the directions on the package to cook the sausages. I placed them on small pan, add one tablespoon of water, covered the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove the lid, brown the sausages on all sides for about 10 minutes.

    Remove from the pan and cut in four pieces each.
    In the large pan add the fresh spinach with one tablespoon of oil. Sautee' the spinach for a couple of minutes while turning until wilted.

    Remove the hash brown nests from the oven and lower the oven temperature to  325℉ (165℃).
    If necessary, pack the hash browns around the cup some more with a spoon.
    Add two pieces of sausages into each nest. Top with the spinach (divide equally in the 12 cups).

     Top with about one tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese.

    Top with a few pieces of bacon, and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the hash brown fully cooked.

    Wait a couple of minutes to remove the nests from the mold, and serve.
    Buon Appetito!


    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Traditional Italian Torta della Nonna (Grandma's Cake)

    Make your day sweetly amazing with this crumbly and soft pastry
     filled with rich and delicate custard cream, and topped with tasty pine nuts

    I know I know, I've posted this recipe before. But it was back in the spring of 2016. Given that the holidays are approaching quickly, and we are all in a baking-frenzy mode (...I'm sure it's not just me!!) I thought: why not share this again?! 
    I bet this torta della nonna would look really good on your holiday table.
    Just look at THIS!! Wanna make you grab that little fork and dig in, right?!? 
    Photos can speak louder than words sometimes.

    Friday, November 2, 2018

    Casarecce Pasta with Braised Beef and Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore

    Irresistible Italian casarecce pasta coated with fork-tender braised beef, slow cooked in red wine, flavorful porcini mushrooms and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese
    Truly unforgettable!
    This post is sponsored by Santa Cristina Wines in collaboration with Honest Cooking Magazine. All opinions are mine. #ad
    With the holiday season quickly creeping up on us, have you started planning your dinner menu yet?!? 
    It's never too early to think out what you will bring to the table for your family and friends. It's sure nice to serve the always-delicious turkey with all the fun stuff around it, from the flavorful stuffing to the creamy sweet potatoes, from the dense gravy to the cannot-be-forgotten cranberry sauce.
    But for once, why not add something new?!? Something exciting. Something elegant and scrumptious. Something that will wow your guests, leave them in awe and all talking about those amazing, non-traditional but so-Italian casarecce pasta you made. Topped with a fall-apart-tender and extra flavorful beef ragu' braised in red wine. How about that?!? 

    Tuesday, October 23, 2018

    Halloween Rice Krispies Treats

    This Halloween let's get creative with these fun and spooky
     white chocolate rice krispies mummies and skeletons
    So easy and super cute!
    Halloween is just in a few days. Are you ready to celebrate?!?
    I always get as excited as my kids about this fun holiday. Maybe because of the spooky decorations all around the neighborhood, the carved out pumpkins, the crazy costumes and the abundance of candies... Yeah, it's probably the chocolate bars that do it for me :)
    Chocolate candies AND the fact that I can create (and EAT!) fun and indulgent sugary treats and not feel guilty about it! 

    Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    How to Make Homemade Pasta

    Here are all the steps and secrets to make the perfect fresh, handmade egg pasta 
    It's easier than you think. All you need is flour, eggs and a rolling pin

    Here it is. My recipe on how to make homemade, fresh pasta! It's National Pasta Day and I couldn't miss the chance to post this again. 
    Making fresh pasta is pretty easy and a lot of fun. And check out the list of ingredients. ONLY flour and eggs! Amazing, right?! And all you need in addition to the flour and eggs is a rolling pin or a pasta maker to roll the dough. I don't own a pasta machine, but  yes! it is in my Christmas' wish list :-) The rolling pin can do all the work, but the machine is probably a good investment, saving you some time, making the pasta all the same thickness, and cutting it in perfect shapes. Hand cut pasta will not be perfect, but I find that's the beauty of it too... otherwise, how would your guests know you actually made it?!?

    Thursday, October 11, 2018

    Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta Galette

    Scrumptiously healthy and light rustic tart, topped with tasty tomatoes and delicate ricotta cheese over a flaky and buttery crust
    A must try!
    This post is sponsored by Milk and Eggs. All opinions are mine.
    Maybe  it's my love for summer fruit and veggies to inspire this post, and reminding me that tomatoes won't be in season pretty soon.
    Or maybe, just maybe, it's all the desserts I've been baking lately, and the loads of chocolate I'm eating while taste-testing for Halloween recipes (... yes,  I've got a new one coming for you!).
    Either way, today I present you with this light, vegetarian and deliciously healthy galette topped with sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes, creamy ricotta cheese, fresh basil and oregano. The perfect way to have one last taste of summer... before it's too late!

    Thursday, October 4, 2018

    Gnocchi alla Romana with Artichokes and Bacon

    Unsure what to cook for dinner tonight?!?
    Here is an scrumptious Italian recipe for you.
    Soft, delicate and cheesy semolina gnocchi served with a savory artichoke and crispy bacon sauce
    I know what you're making for dinner tonight. Or sometime this weekend... Or as soon as you have a little bit of time to bake this mouthwatering, easy and very Italian dish. 
    Today's recipe is not for your traditional gnocchi, made with a mixture of mashed potatoes and flour and cooked just like pasta in boiling water. Not these!
    Gnocchi alla Romana are just as tender and as delicate.  But they are made with semolina flour, milk, egg yolks, a touch of nutmeg and lots of cheese. And they are baked with butter and MORE cheese, until golden and bubbly.