The Local Ladle

Balsamic Strawberries, Figs & Goat Cheese Crostini’s

Balsamic Strawberries, Figs & Goat Cheese Crostini

EAT RED AND SAVE LIVES!

This June, you can join Chef Mario Batali and the culinary community to help (RED) #86AIDS by  eating (RED).

Launched with The (RED) Supper hosted by Chef Batali with Anthony Bourdain in New York City on June 2.  To continue spreading the word, (RED) will be hosting events in several cities around the Nation to help make a difference!

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Watermelon & Feta Salad

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It’s quickly approaching summer and to me that means watermelon season!  Watermelon is hands down my favorite food.  Usually, when I tell people I get the oddest looks. Yes, out of all the amazing dishes and ingredients I have tried,  a refreshingly juicy bite of watermelon is still top of my list.  If you want to get on my good side it’s simple, just bring me a watermelon!  Read more

Chorizo Jalapeño Poppers

Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers 1

Every time I open a restaurant menu and to see jalapeno poppers under the appetizers, it’s like the remainder of the menu is a blur. It’s not even an option, I have to order the addicting spicy bites! This past weekend in Chicago, I fought over the last of Old Crow Smokehouses amazing bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers! They sparked the idea of me making jalapeno poppers of my own. Instead of using a bacon, that it most commonly used, I decided to go with a Mexican chorizo. The deep smoky and spicy flavor of the chorizo could not be a better match with the cream cheese and fresh jalapeno.

Check out my notes at the bottom for some great vegan substitutions! Read more

BBQ Pulled Pork Southern Nachos

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos 3

Moving away from the south, I realized one of the dishes that I easily took for granted was the Southern Nachos. For whatever reason,  some brilliant southerner swapped out tortilla chips for potatoes and added BBQ sauce instead of salsa! My idea of nachos has forever been changed! In Georgia I ate nachos weekly made with crispy homemade potato chips and in Nashville I indulged in nachos  made with tator tots as the base.

Instead of making a weekly trip down to Nashville, I’ve decided to create my own Southern Nacho recipe made with fries. Let me tell you, they are pretty darn close to the real stuff! These nachos are also delicious with fried chicken instead of the addition of pulled pork… I mean you might as well, it’s not like your watching your figure with this unbelievable finger licking appetizer! Read more

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Spotted dog is what the Irish Americans call “Irish Soda Bread.”  Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country. This was because it was made with only the most basic of ingredients, which included flour, baking soda, soured milk to moisten and activate the soda, and salt. One of my favorite facts is that a cross was traditionally cut on the top with a knife to ward off the devil and protect the household. From the earliest of times in Ireland,  bread-making was an integral part of daily life in almost every home.

Made in just about 2 or 3 minutes and baked in only 30-40 minutes, this Irish Soda Bread might just be the easiest bread you will ever make . By the end of culinary school in Ireland, I probably could have made this bread with my eyes closed! This bread is also terrific canvas for experimenting with different variations and uses. Some of my favorite variations are with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions. Read more

Surprisingly Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip

At every single one of my family holiday parties you can always count on there being Spinach Artichoke Dip somewhere in the line up of appetizers. Believe me, I am not complaining! I love the stuff, but how could you not? The dish is packed with all different kinds of cheeses.

I know that eating healthy isn’t the first thing on your mind when at a holiday party, but I decided to create a new healthier version of my moms oh so famous Spinach Artichoke Dip. It never hurts to cut out a few calories without even knowing it! Read more

Taco Cups

Taco Cup Appetizers

These Taco Cups are my “go to” party favorites! I am constantly asked to make them, but secret is they are probably the most low maintenance and quickest appetizers you could make.

The wonton wrappers might seem scary to some, but they are actually an amazing canvas for so many different ingredients! Fried or baked, these wonton wrappers are incredibly easy to work with. Read more

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