Grilled Artichokes with Sun Dried Tomato Dip and My First Award!

As most of you know, Savoring Every Bite came about as a way for a mother to get her family favorite recipes to her daughter away at college.  Beginning her junior year in college, Gina moved into an apartment and casually asked her mother for a few recipes.  Recipes?  My daughter is expressing an interest in cooking?  Is this really MY daughter?  The one who was always too busy to spend time with me in the kitchen?  The girl with the limited attention span?

I didn’t just want to “jot down” a few recipes; she’d probably just toss the paper.  Creating a “family” cookbook? No, she’s just not a “book” person.  Gina is forever online, shopping, searching, chatting.  She must follow every fashion blog out there… and there was my connection.  I’d start a blog.

I’d cook, I’d post and occasionally Gina would leave a comment.  Honestly I knew nothing about blogging, taking photos or making it look nice like all the others.  I still can’t say I understand this fully, but I have enjoyed every moment and have found so many new “friends” on my blogging journey.  And because of these wonderful, amazing, talented new friends I received this:

I was first presented with this award from the adorably talented Lianna from The Little Spork.  She is a college student baking and cooking her way along with some quite impressive recipes!  My second “nomination” was from Yummy Chunklet, her blog caught my attention when she was celebrating her birthday the entire month!  She definitely knows how to treat herself well and post “yummy” recipes.  And lastly from Ginger Couturier .  I can always count on Ginger bringing a smile to my face and a little chuckle as her posts tell it like it is!  She’s seems like a friend you can feel comfortable telling anything to as she writes so real about life, motherhood and homemaking.

The “rules” for accepting this award is to write 7 things about yourself that no one knows and to then pass on the award to other amazing bloggers.  I don’t think I could ever top Ginger’s 14 facts about herself, but here goes…..

1.  I love to hula hoop.  I still own my very first hoop; the pink color has faded and scratches from hitting the concrete replaced the smooth feel but when I hula the beads still swirl through the hoop with the sounds of my childhood memories.

2.  After watching Under The Tuscan Sun I wished I had moved to Tuscany following my divorce instead of Florida.

3.  Which leads to my dream to one day vacation to Italy and Sicily.

4.  I loved Home Ec class in high school but was embarrassed to tell anyone I could enjoy being a homemaker.  And then Martha Stewart came along and made a fortune giving domestic tips on cooking, gardening, homemade crafts to laundry, party planning and “Living” the Martha way.

4.  Early mornings are my favorite time of the day when the house is quiet, my puppies are still sleepy and their noses are dry.  Yoga wakens my body, hot espresso charges me up; Every Day is a New Beginning (my favorite thought).

5.  I hate Diets; I hate to hear people talk about being on a Diet and then being off their Diet.  The ‘way’ people eat is their “diet”; some have to avoid gluten, other’s follow their nationality’s style of food, some eat breakfast, some don’t.  I prefer to eat real, eat light and not combine my proteins with my carbs, though it’s not a deal breaker in my life!

6.  Chihauhua’s are my favorite little dog.  They are tiny, but fierce.  They love endlessly.

7.   I am a hopelessly romantic woman; I believe in happy endings and love everlasting.

I follow and enjoy many food blogs.  The following are my favorites; those I look forward to reading and seeing what they are cooking or baking up next!  Over time, I’ve come to “know” them through their posts, especially those that share their family stories.  I’m sure many of them have received this award before or other awards acknowledging their talents and wonderful blogs.  Therefore, I forward this Award to those I am so thankful to include in my circle of friends, and truly I could list so many others:

A Spicy Perspective 

Chef in Disguise

Eat, Play, Love

Kitchen Belleicious

Rufus Food and Spirits Guide

Smart Food and Fit

Sweet and Crumbly

Sweet Caroline’s Cooking

Grilled Artichokes with Sun Dried Tomato Dip

I love playing with my food appetizers; pulling the leaves, dipping in a sauce and scraping the tangy goodness off of each petal.  For this platter, I used 2 large artichokes.  I trimmed each globe’s pointy leaves, sliced the top and trimmed the stem.  The cut artichokes were rubbed with lemon and submerged in a large pot filled with water, 1 teaspoon salt and the juice from one lemon.  Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and gently cook approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a leave is easily pulled and the bottom can be easily pierced with a knife.  Drain well and set aside.  Can be made a day ahead at this point and refrigerated.  A few hours prior to grilling and serving, cut the artichokes in quarters, remove the fuzzy center and marinate with vinaigrette mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, kosher salt and pepper.  Heat a large grill pan, drain artichokes from marinade, place artichokes cut side down and grill until nice grill markets appear, turn and grill other side.  Plate and serve with a butter sauce or the following Sun Dried Tomato Dip:

Sun Dried Tomato Dip:  Combine 6 large sun dried tomatoes, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped onion and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil in a blender.  Begin to blend and slowly add in ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, until combined well, add Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Can be made one day ahead, refrigerate and bring to room temperature to serve.

Artichoke Carbonara

Somedays I simply crave a creamy, warm pasta dish.  Carbonaro is one of these dishes with egg yolks and parmesan cheese creating a rich sauce.  While Carbonaro can be tricky to make as the eggs need to be tempered slowly to avoid a scrambled, cooked egg, the dish does come together quickly to satisfy those urgent cravings.  Other recipes use raw eggs, followed by the “Raw Egg Warning“!

Awhile back I saw a recipe from Giada using a fried egg to top her pasta.  I immediately like this idea.  The egg is quickly fried to not overcook the yolk and once plated on the pasta and cut, the creamy yolk saturates into the pasta.  Similar to the frisee salad topped with a fried egg, which I love also!  The presentation is also so cool, however, my picture doesn’t do it justice!  Plus the fact I used a green plate with white & spinach (green!) egg noodles, green pesto sauce and green ish artichokes!!  Aside from the green look, the taste is fabulous!  The creamy herby sauce blends with the tang of the artichokes and the texture of the thicker egg noodles creates a wonderful balance.

Artichoke Carbonaro

1 9 oz package of frozen artichokes, simmered and drained
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped pancetta
1/2 lb egg noodles or tagliatelle or spaghetti
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pasta water or heavy cream (I use the cream!)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pesto
4 eggs and butter for frying

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the pancetta and artichokes.  Saute until lightly browned.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm.  Drain pasta and add to the artichoke pan.  Stir in the pesto sauce, cream, parmesan cheese and pepper.

In a separate skillet, light fry the eggs in a small amount of butter.  Platter the pasta on individual dishes and place one fried egg on top of each serving.  Sprinkle on freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Stuffed Artichokes

Over the weekend I saw these gorgeous artichokes at my Italian deli.  Perfectly round, leaves close, soft green color.  I decide on the dishes I will prepare for the week based on the meats, seafood, poultry and fresh veggies and fruits I find when shopping.  I rarely shop specifically for a recipe as I am more inspired by high quality, fresh ingredients.  When I do have a specific recipe in mind, I will adjust the ingredients based on what is in season, freshly available and looks tempting!

Stuffing these artichokes was my first choice.  My mother served us stuffed artichokes consisting mainly of eggs, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  I began including crumbled Italian sausage turning this into more of a main entre.  I lightened it up this time using Italian turkey sausage.

For basic artichoke preparation tips, the California Artichoke Advisory Board provides a detailed, visual at this link, http://artichokes.org/basic_prep.html

Sausage Stuffed Artichokes

2 globe artichokes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Italian Sweet Sausage links (or Turkey sausage) casings removed *
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese (this time a used a Monterey Jack Cheese w/jalapeno!)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the stem and cutting off about 1 inch from the top of the artichoke.  Immediately rub a cut lemon on the cut top.  Use scissors to trim the outer leaves of their prickly tips and remove the lowest leaves.  Place the artichokes in a large saucepan and fill with water to cover.  Artichokes should fit snug in the saucepan so they stay somewhat submerged.  Add a teaspoon of salt.  Cover and bring to boil and reduce to simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until a leaf can be pulled out easily.  Drain in a colander and allow to cool.  (Artichokes can be made ahead at this point and refrigerated until the next day or a few hours).  Once cooled, spread out the leaves and use a small spoon to scoop out the inner leaves and fuzzy part.

To prepare the stuffing, brown the sausage, stirring to break up and crumble the sausage.  Remove from the pan and cool slightly.  Mix in a beaten egg, the parmesan cheese, minced garlic and shredded cheese.  Place the artichokes in a lightly oiled casserole dish and gently fill the leaves with the mixture.  Add about 3 tablespoons water to the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking another 5 minutes to lightly brown up the top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 2.

* Use Hot Italian sausage for a spicier version.