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Breakfast and Brunch MettleFork Kitchen

Salmon and Caper Everything Bagel Strata

You will often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Honestly, most people tend to be more inclined to believe that if their breakfast is boring.  If you suffer from boring breakfast or bland brunches, I’m here to help elevate your breakfast and/or brunch.  Let me assist you in taking it from just a thing to EVERYTHING with my Salmon and Caper Everything Bagel Strata.

Breakfast and Brunch

I am a HUGE brunch fan.  What’s not to love about good food, endless mimosas (if you are lucky) and hopefully some good conversation.  If you’ve been following me from the beginning you will see that brunchin’ is my thang.  If you are just joining and you’d like an instant replay, check out this post for some awesome brunch spots. I must admit, it wasn’t until I joined the military that breakfast became a regular in my everyday diet.  There is just something about living meal to meal with only a few minutes to eat that changes how you look at breakfast.  In my opinion, breakfast isn’t just about sustenance it is about the experience… the food…how it tastes…how it looks.  Before the stay at home order for COVID-19, I was planning a brunch party for my friends and I.  Let’s face it, after this is over we will all need a mimosa, some good food and face to face conversation.  I started planning my brunch and since I have extra time on my hands, I started perfecting my menu.  My first attempt at my Salmon and Caper Everything Bagel Strata was a success.  If you too are a brunch lover, this is a must have in your brunch bunch.

Salmon and Caper Everything Bagel Strata

I am a huge fan of the everything bagel as I am sure most people are.  I mean even Trader Joe’s has an everything but the bagel seasoning.  If you are going to go all out with a bagel strata, my thoughts are why not include everything.  I love a good lox bagel and I wanted to capture the essence of that in this recipe.

A Lox bagel is a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers

My husband is not a huge fan of any baked egg dishes, so basically breakfast casseroles are not his thing.  I will say however, he did enjoy it so that should speak volumes as to how deliciously yummy this is.  Moving on to my next group of taste testers…the kids.  They loved it too and ran into the kitchen over and over asking for more.  It officially receives the kid approved stamp.

The Recipe

When making this recipe, I only allowed my strata to chill for 30 minutes.  Remember that anytime you are baking a dish that has been chilled, allow the dish to return to as close to room temperature as possible.  This will prevent your baking dish from shattering in the oven.  Lastly, I sprinkled Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning on top.  If you do not have that in your pantry, give you bagel a gentle shake over a paper towel.  Everyone knows, that everything bagels get everywhere lol.  Use those loose toppings to sprinkle on top of your strata.
[cooked-recipe id=”5556″]
I hope you enjoy this salmon and caper everything bagel strata. I know I’m looking forward to making this for my upcoming brunch party with my friends.
This dish is MFing good…MettleForkin’ Good

Categories
Dinner MettleFork Kitchen Recipes

Sticky Smoky Pork Belly Recipe

Pork Belly

This sticky smoky pork belly recipe is everything y’all.  If you are anything like me, then you enjoy eating pork from time to time.  I grew up eating bacon, ribs, heck even chitterlings for that matter.  As far as my memories serves me, I do not recall eating “pork belly”.  Even as I type this, the only thing that I could compare it to is what we call Fat Back.  A quick google search and voila!  They are pretty similar but the do come from different cuts of the pig.  Pork belly has some meat and is close to the area where bacon comes from.  Fat back comes from the back of the pig and is simply just that FAT!  
If you have never had the pleasure of eating pork belly, let me be the first to tell you that you are truly missing out.  It is extremely common in England and if you’ve seen my Instagram feed, you will know that I have a soft spot for these tiny morsels of goodness.  If you are looking for a few spots to try them out check out my post on Las Iguanas or Tap N Kitchen.  These places serve up some amazing pork belly bites.  In fact, they are the inspiration behind me wanting to create my own pork belly recipe.

Sticky Smoky Pork Belly

After two successful trials, I am happy to say that my pork belly is outstanding.  I tried two different cuts, the first was in small cubes the second was in 1/2 slices.  Either way is okay, I suppose it just depends on the use i.e. an appetizer for a party vs putting it in a rice bowl.  What is important is the jam packed flavor that this recipe creates.  Lessons that I am imparting on you so that you do not make the same mistake I did.

  1. Remove the thick skin layer – it is just like our skin…well definitely thicker than our skin but the pork belly I had still had hair in it.  Thick course hair…and I doubt pig hair is a delicacy.
  2. Remove the thick skin layer before you cut it into chunks.  My first mistake was trying remove it after it was cut up in cubes….see #1 as to why that is a bad idea.

The dry rub ensures the pork belly bites have flavor before the sticky element is added.  I love that the dry rub gives it its smoky flavor and let’s face it pork was made to be smoky.
Dry rub for pork belly
Next, when baking the pork belly, I recommend cooking it at 400 degrees for roughly 8 minutes.  Since the pork belly has a high proportion of fat, it basically fries itself under intense heat.  Once the pork belly is cooked, remove it from the oven and place it in a skillet.  Again, the fat content of lends itself to creating a nice crispiness on the outside of the pork belly.  Lastly, the real magic happens when you top it with the glaze.  It creates a sweet sticky sauce that takes the pork belly bites out of this world.

 
 
Here is the recipe, feel free to give it a try and let me know what you think.  If you make it be sure to tag #mettlefork for a chance at a feature.
[cooked-recipe id=”5191″]
Forks Up!

Categories
Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Healthy and Budget Friendly Meal Ideas for Homeschooling

I know I am not the only one who feels they were completing thrown into being a working from home mom WFHM this past week. I give mad props to SAHM’s (I did my stent for a hot second) and homeschooling parents. Part of me feels like this is a social experiment to see how well I can balance working from home, homeschooling, being a mom and wife. My days have officially turned into the longest days ever and I’m not getting paid overtime.
The Coronavirus pandemic has turned not only our lives, but the entire world upside down. Sociology 101 couldn’t prepare me for what lies ahead. For the unseeable future my days consist of juggling work, feeding three children, keeping the house clean all while trying not to get sick and gain fifteen pounds. In all of the madness, it is easy to grab lots of canned items, chips, cookies and then bam you’ve added on that freshman fifteen you’ve been trying to lose for 10 years. In an effort to combat that, I’m utilizing my skills as a health promotions coordinator and developing a healthy and budget friendly meal plan for homeschooling.

Homeschooling

I don’t think there is a single place left that hasn’t dismissed school for a minimum of a few weeks to the outwards extend of the remaining school year. If you are one of the lucky few, take this time to prepare because your time is coming when you will join the ranks of millions of homeschooling parents. I am by no means an expert in homeschooling. I’m sure the next few weeks will bring many lessons learned for both my children and I. I am however, excited to spend time with my children and tapping into their brains and being more of a contributor to their mental stimulation and education.  Additionally, homeschooling provides the opportunity to influence what your children eat.  No more paying for school lunches you deem mediocre.

Balancing snacks

As I mentioned previously, it is easy to just give our children chips and cookies for a snack and call it a day. Half the time that is what they beg for anyways right? I’m learning more and more that children will eat what you allow them to eat. What I mean is, if I can beat them to the hunger stage and give them fruit or crackers, they never ask for the chips or cookies. It did not dawn on me until one day when I was preparing dinner (pre-pandemic) and I cut up an apple for them to eat. I had to endure roughly 10 minutes of crying from one child, but eventually she gave in and ate the apple slices. Since that moment I make a conscientious effort to have a healthy snack on hand.

Healthy and Budget Friendly Meals

As I set out to prepare for the upcoming weeks, I am keeping one thought in mind. My goal throughout this new normal is to reset how my children eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are relatively cheap and when stored correctly, can last up to two weeks in most cases. Staying healthy does not just consist of hand-washing, it consists of what we eat too. Foods that are high in Vitamin A, C, E and zinc are important parts of our diet that help keep us healthy. I look at resources such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for guidance on nutrient rich foods. Here is a great article that covers ways to use nutrition to combat illness. With this knowledge in hand, I set out and created a template for healthy and budget friendly meal ideas while homeschooling. Having an idea of what you will prepare throughout the day helps save on both time and unnecessary costs.
Healthy meal ideas
As I embark on this new journey as a working at home mom, homeschooling mom and just mom I hope that you join me along for the ride. I hope that you find some type of routine that works for your family. Be safe and stay well.
Forks Up!

Categories
MettleFork Kitchen

Bacon and Shrimp Linguini Toss

This bacon and shrimp linguini toss has been a weeknight staple in my house for nearly a decade.  It has brought many smiles, full bellies and happy plates and is still the most requested pasta dish in my household.  You know you’ve got a winner when picky two year old’s clean their plates and ask for seconds and thirds.
Now I wouldn’t say it is the healthiest when you think about the bacon and cheese but it definitely worth a cheat day if you are going on a low carb diet.
Bacon and Shrimp Linguini Toss
I have made many variations of this linguini toss, bacon no bacon, shrimp, chicken you name it, I’ve tried it.  This is my go to pasta dish when I don’t know what to cook for dinner.  The reason this a staple in my house is because 90% of the time I already have both the pantry items and the perishables readily available.  Both the perishable and pantry items I pick up regularly to keep as staples because they are often used in many of my other recipes.
Pantry items:
Linguini pasta
Roasted, diced tomatoes
Chicken Stock
Perishables:
Onions
Bell Peppers
Mushrooms
Cream cheese
Parsley
Garlic
If you try this recipe please use the hashtag #mettlefork for a chance to be featured.
Substitutes:
To make this recipe vegetarian friendly substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock.  It does not take away from the flavor essence of this recipe.  I often use this substitute on meatless monday.
If you are not big on shrimp or bacon, you can also substitute with chicken.
[cooked-recipe id=”4911″]
 
Forks Up!
 

Categories
Dinner Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Chicken and cheese tortellini soup

Tonights meal was a really quick and easy meal I’d love to share with you all.  I had stocked up on some fresh pasta from the Tesco because all of their pasta variations looked great. My original plan was to just throw some Alfredo sauce on top because my husband had asked for a quick and simple pasta.  If you’ve gotten to know me, then you know I rarely do quick and simple.  If you’ve been reading you are well aware I’m on a soup kick and I’m trying to work out recipes for my upcoming cookbook.  I’ll let you know now, this one is definitely making a feature.  Since this wasn’t my original plan I had to run out to the store and grab some chicken.  I was sooo close to grabbing some breasts to cook and dice up and then I saw it,  the last roasted rotisserie chicken in the store.  I took it a sig that this was destiny.  By using the rotisserie chicken, the flavor would be so much better and the cook time so much quicker.  I grabbed it and some extra broth and made my way back home.

The base of this recipe started with mirepoix which is the french version of the trinity – Carrot, Celery and Onions.  I sautéed that first before adding in the remaining ingredients.  All in all start to finish this recipe only took me about 30 minutes with minimal dishes. I know, I know I said I rarely do quick and simple which was not my initial plan.  I however, could not have asked for a better soup with so much flavor bursting from each spoonful in such little time.  The carrots were supple, the tortellini was fresh and cooked to perfection.  The chicken was so tender it literally fell off the bone as I was preparing it.  When it all came together it was holy matrimony. As an added bonus I had 2/3 of a whole chicken left for a second meal.  My only regret in making this recipe was not making a bigger pot so feel free to double it.

Chicken and Cheese Tortellini Soup

2 cups Roasted Chicken                      3 cups mirepoix – (carrots, onion, celery)

32oz chicken broth                              1 Tbsp butter
1 pkg cheese tortellini                         3 cloves of garlic minced
4-5 fresh basil leaves                           2 Tbsp Tuscan seasoning (if available)
2 cups of water
 
In a large stockpot melt 1 Tbsp of butter and add mirepoix.  Saute mirepoix for 4-5 minutes until it the onions and celery start to become translucent and slightly caramelized.  Next add the minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes be sure it doesn’t start to burn.  Then add in the chicken broth and allow it to come to a rolling boil.  Add chicken and basil allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Next add 2 cups of water and 2 Tbsp of Tuscan seasoning.  Add tortellini and allow to cook until pasta doubles in size and floats about 5-6 minutes.
 

  • You can substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and remove the meat to make it vegetarian friendly.
  • If Tuscan spice isn’t available mix equal parts – 1Tbsp of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley then add 1 tsp of salt, black pepper, garlic powder and lemon pepper and onion salt.

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Categories
Dinner MettleFork Kitchen

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.  I’m not sure about everyone else but this past year has been a complete whirlwind for me.  The New Year reminds me that so many wonderful things can happen in such a short time.  This past year I finished my Master’s Degree and welcomed a new baby girl into my family.  As if that wasn’t exciting enough,  I decided to start my food blog and ended the year by moving across the pond to England.  What!  When I look back at those major events and the not so major events, I’m amazed by what I was able to accomplish.  I hope 2018 brings many more personal victories for not only myself but for you, my readers.

Categories
Dinner Kid Friendly MettleFork Kitchen

Carrot and Basil Soup

In this issue of the soup chronicles, I wanted to try something different.  I’m not completely sure what inspired me to try and make carrot soup other than the fact my husband loves carrot juice.  I figured If I made it and he loved it, it was a win.  Little did I know it was like the championship game victory with play by play action.
When I first started with the idea of the carrot soup I had no intentions of adding basil…in fact I had no direction at all.  I bought 1 package of carrots and well that was that. Ha!  How naive was I to think all I needed was carrots and broth.  I started by peeling my carrots and slicing them into medallions to boil.  I figured it would cook much faster this way.  I was right only I didn’t have enough carrots…I send husband back to the store to buy more.

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1 inch thick cut medallions

Next is where the tricky part came in.  With the carrots all boiled and soft how was I to make them into a creamy soup?  Due to our move and the uncertainty of living arrangements, I left most of my electrical appliances in storage in the states.  That meant I had no blender or hand mixer…what the what?  Panic began to set in because I had no idea how I was going to make a creamy soup.  What I did next was out of pure desperation.  I grabbed my potato masher.
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I mashed and mashed and mashed… still not smooth

I continued to mash those potatoes thinking of all the gadgets I had in my half unpacked house that could help me make it smooth.  My mind wandered to the soup maker I had seen at the local Tesco and how I should have just bought it, then I dawned on me.  I had mailed my mini ninja from my office before I left.  I started tearing through boxes and I found it!  I was saved…well kind of.  The ninja only held about 3-4 cups of the carrots at a time.  I had to scoop, blend, pour back in the pot and then scoop again.  It was a process y’all.  Little did I know, this whole ordeal turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I was able to get the soup to the creamy and smooth consistency it should be with a few chunks of carrot here and there.  To be honest, it worked out for the best because it added a layer of texture that would not have been there if it were completely smooth.  I’m glad I was able to work pull off this soup because it was AMAZING!!!  My 7 month old gobbled this soup right up and it was the perfect consistency for her. I even used the fresh basil from my basil plant.  Here is the finished product and recipe below (minus the crazy kinks).
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Carrot Basil Soup

3lbs carrots                                                                       2 Tbsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)

1/4 cup heavy cream                                                       2 Tbsp fresh basil (finely chopped)

32 oz. chicken broth or vegetable broth                     2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp butter                                                                    1 Tbsp sugar

Peel and chop carrots into 1 inch medallions and add to stockpot and boil until soft.  Drain carrots and add to blender.  Puree until smooth or desired consistency is reached.  Add 1 Tbsp of butter to stockpot and melt then add carrots into pot. Let cook 5-10 minutes.  Add salt, sugar and 1/4 cup of heavy cream and stir.  Add basil and parsley and cook additional 10 minutes.

Makes 6-8 Servings.

*Add additional basil to taste – (I like a lot of basil)
**To make completely vegetarian friendly substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth**

Categories
MettleFork Kitchen

Mini breakfast quiches

This morning I was off the hook for cooking breakfast.  Everyone had grabbed a bowl of cereal.  Don’t you just love mornings like that? Sleeping in,  cartoons and cereal that’s what Saturday mornings are made of.  I, however was not in the mood for a bowl of cereal.  I just completed a trip to the grocery store, so my fridge is packed full of fresh vegetables ready to use. I must admit  cereal was definitely the quicker option but mini quiches was the funner one.   They are a cuter version of an omelete or loaded scrabble eggs.  Besides I wanted to channel my inner chef lol.
In case you are interested,  here’s how I made them.  First,  I gave a though chop to my veggies. This morning I chose tomatoes,  mushrooms and some cilantro.

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Chopped vegetables

Next crack 6 eggs and season with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste and add 2Tbsp of milk. I personally don’t even use enough to actually measure.
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Eggs before the beating

Now it’s time to start assembling the mini quiches.
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Place the vegetables in the muffin tins

It’s almost time to pop them in the oven.  I’ve preheated the oven to 350° and once the oven is ready I’ll pop them in.
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Fill each cup evenly and bake for 25 minutes

Once they are done,  pull them out the oven and remove them from the muffin tin.  They are ready to eat with your favorite topping. I loved the sour cream and picante salsa combo.

I certainly enjoyed making these mini quiches this morning.  Its something I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. They are great to make ahead of time and just grab for a quick breakfast. Cereal was definitely not missed today.
Enjoy!