Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Strawberry Recipes for Desserts

Make and take this effortless side, or get it going while your main course is on the grill or stovetop! It’s all about grilling and chilling this Memorial Day Weekend.

Whether it’s burgers, brats, ribs, or steaks, the sides are just as important as the main course when you’re planning your Memorial Day bash.

There’s lots of planning and lots of dishes to prepare. Here’s a way for you to make things just a little bit easier on yourself this year. 

Start with grilled veggies!

Any veggie will work here. My favorites are thick asparagus spears, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini and yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms. 

For the asparagus, break off the tough ends and trim. For the mushrooms remove the cap and inner gills. Slice the eggplant and red onion into ½-inch circles. Cut the squash diagonally into ½-inch ovals.

As you slice your veggies lay them onto a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper to layer everything on top of each other. Brush both sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now you are ready to grill.

Use an open flame or your trusty grill pan to cook each slice turning once so that you have grill marks on both sides.

Make sure you do not over-cook. You want firm veggies, not mushy ones. Remember things keep on cooking after you remove them from the heat.

Transfer the veggies from the grill to the baking sheet. You can cook these the day before your barbecue. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Chill ‘til you are ready to serve. 

 

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Now, here is where we get creative!

1: Layer the veggies onto a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Shave thin slices of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

2: Stack the veggies, beginning with eggplant and layering from largest slices to smallest. Layer in a slice or two of mozzarella cheese and add a few leaves of fresh basil on the top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3: Layer the veggies onto a platter and add slices of tomato and watermelon. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of the watermelon that are about the same size as the tomato slices. Add a sprinkling of blue cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction.  

4: Chop the veggies into similar size pieces and stir into rice for grilled veggie pilaf.

5:  Slice the veggies into thin strips and pair them with your grilled beef or chicken for fajitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

The secret here is that you can grill the veggies in advance and with little effort assemble the dish while the main course is sitting on the grill. What a great plan!

Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts for Fat Tuesday

Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts for Fat Tuesday

mardi gras king cake donuts

Need a Mardi Gras party food idea? Make Fat Tuesday delicious with this twist on traditional King Cake, from Jorj’s kitchen to yours!

Skip to Recipe

Twelve short days after Christmas is Three Kings Day (also known as the Epiphany).

This date marks the official beginning of Mardi Gras which last until the first day of Lent. Most of us don’t celebrate the entire season, after all, there are other holidays in-between!

So many Mardi Gras celebrations are left for the two weeks before Ash Wednesday.

My Mardi Gras memories settle themselves in my Grammy’s kitchen on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, known as Fat Tuesday.

My sweet, itty bitty Polish grandmother would create the most delicious pillowy donuts that day. Hot from the frying oil they were doused in powdered sugar and lasted just moments before we popped them into our mouth.

Traditional Polish donuts known as packzki are rich and filled with cream or fruit. My Gram filled hers with grape jelly. But she saved the unfilled donuts for us to gobble up. 😋 

I’ve made jelly-filled donuts before.

I’ve even made pumpkin spice donuts with maple glaze.

This year, I’ve decided to make King Cake donuts to celebrate the season.

These are big, fluffy, light-as-air donuts doused in a sugar glaze and sprinkled with traditional colors of the season, purple, yellow, green, and gold sprinkles.

Want some?

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Jorj’s Mardis Gras King Cake Donuts

Servings

Makes about 9 large donuts plus holes

Ready In:

15 minutes for dough
15 minutes to cut out
2 hours to rise

Good For:

Dessert
Parties
Breakfast

Ingredients

For Donuts

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (you can substitute with instant)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For Glaze:
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons half and half or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles (green, yellow purple and gold!)

Jorj’s Mardi Gras King Cake Donuts

Place the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, and nutmeg into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Whisk the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together. Stop the mixer, cover the bowl with a clean towel, and rest for 5 minutes. Change the paddle attachment to a dough hook and beat until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Dump the dough into a bowl sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Turn the dough to coat on all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. The dough is doubled in size when you stick your finger into the dough and the indentation stays.

Roll out the dough and use a donut cutter (or round biscuit cutters) to cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place these onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place into the warm place and let rise until doubled in size again, about another 30 minutes.
Heat oil to 350° in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Only let the oil fill the pot one third up the sides so that when it bubbles up it won’t overflow.

Fry the donuts in batches. Don’t overcrowd the oil. We want them to swim in the oil… not drown! Fry until they are golden on one side and then carefully flip so that they are golden on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the donuts to a rack set over paper toweling to drain.

Whisk together the sifted confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and cream. Dip one side of the donuts into the glaze. Return to the rack and douse with sprinkles.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Need dinner ideas for Valentine’s Day?

Inspired Global Recipes

With Love From Jorj

#wanderlove

This Valentine’s Day, let’s take a trip around the world without leaving your own cozy kitchen. Let’s create a menu inspired by far-away places. Let’s create a dish or two to share with those you may not have seen in a while. And while we’re doing all of this, let’s share some LOVE…’cause all you need is….

FOOD!

Food that you can share with your loves. Canvas and Cuisine, the book I wrote with Susan Fazio is filled with foods that are inspired by our travels. But, more than this, the book is about love… love of family, love of neighbors, love of friendships. My gift to you this Valentines’ Day is all about LOVE. It’s about creating dishes that inspire you. Food that takes you just a bit your of your comfort zone. And dishes, that beg for your inventiveness.

Canvas & Cuisine

Grab the book that contains ALL of my travel adventures, and original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

#inthekitchenwithjorj

Let’s go!

 

Download your taste of travel adventure and make memories around the table.

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

thanksgiving dinner ideas 2021

It’s TURKEY TIME and we’re together again…finally! Extraordinary times call for extraordinary meals, and this year is especially filled with gratitude and good meals at the family dinner table.

When is Thanksgiving in 2021?  Thursday, November 25th!  That’s right around the corner.

Whether you’re hosting a family gathering, a Friendsgiving or a neighborhood potluck, we come to gather and give thanks at this time of year and this year is special.

We may not have seen each other in a while, so this Thanksgiving it’s more important than ever that you, the host, enjoy your day as much as everyone else does!

I have a sure-fire plan that allows you to make sure that you have as much FUN on Thanksgiving as your guests.

Here’s how we’ll do it!

 

Turkey Day Planning

Avoid Shortages: Order Ahead

This year especially you want to make sure that you reserve the items that you need for your menu and that you pick them up in plenty of time. Pick up your frozen turkey as soon as you can (and put it on your calendar to order ahead for festivities in December).

If you’re choosing a fresh turkey, make sure you reserve it at the grocery store for pick up several days in advance. The same is true if you are getting your turkey from the farm or market.

Make sure you are ready to pick up your reserved turkey when the farmer is ready to deliver.

Accept Help!

 

If Aunt Edna’s offers her pumpkin pie, accept!! If Cousin Ben offers to bring an appy, accept!!

If your best friend offers to help with the dishes, accept!!

You are the host, not the restaurant owner. This meal is about being thankful for our blessings and friends and family are those blessings.

 

Turkey Day Take-Alongs

Plan Your Menu

Turkey is the star, of course.

But choose the sides based on your oven space. If you have one oven, having six casserole dishes that need heated at the last minute won’t work out well.

Make use of your slow cooker, Instapot or warming drawer for extra help.

 

Break Down Everything into Its Smallest Part

 

If your appy is a cheese platter, have everything chopped and rolled so that all you have to do is assemble it.

Make your desserts ahead. Assemble your casserole dishes ahead, so all you have to do is bake them.

Make your gravy ahead and heat it on the stove while you carve the turkey.

Set your table in advance. If you are tackling a centerpiece, do this in advance.

Have a plan that lets you wake on Thanksgiving morning to a day with very few chores left to do!

 

Take a look at these ideas to get you started:

The Best Gravy Recipe EVER

 

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever. This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!

Out of time or inspiration? Get my very best Thanksgiving recipes with easy-to-follow instructions to make this the most tasty holiday yet!

Shop Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
Great Gift Ideas 😉

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

 

The holidays are here, and cookies and cocktails are the name of the game as we countdown to Christmas Day!  Check out my favorite recipes with a healthy dose of Yuletide cheer.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.  Read On

I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka! Read On

These cookies are perfect when you’re looking for just a little something, as Doreen would say.  Pair with a spiked hot chocolate, vodka martini, or a big red wine like a spicy zin.  Read On

Moscow Mules aren’t just for summertime!  Try cranberries and rosemary for a holiday twist.  Read On

These ginger cookies are perfect to stack and pack and safely share.  Read On

Once you make these lovelies, just about any candy or specialty chips work in a batch!  Read On

It Started With Gravy…

It Started With Gravy…

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever.  Click to skip to the recipe

 

 

Right after Al Gore invented the Internet, a good friend reached out to me to help her with the launch of her website BlueSuitMom.com.

It was and continues to be a website filled with content to help busy working moms balance childrearing with their demanding jobs.

She appointed me Director of Lifestyle content and gave me a list of food-related questions that she gleaned from her marketing surveys.

The number one asked question was, “how do I make gravy without lumps.” I found this question fascinating.

Of all the food questions you could have, this was the most disconcerting? Gravy is gravy. Sauce is sauce. It just comes together, right?

Well, apparently not. I did my research and answered the question with several tips on how to make lumpless gravy.

I answered this and other questions and my food-writing career was born.

It’s been almost twenty years since the birth of BlueSuitMom and the publishing of my first book, At Home in the Kitchen.

I featured a recipe in that book for roasted turkey with a really good gravy.

Jump to 2020, when we are all spending way too much time in our kitchens and I think I finally get why that gravy question was so important to so many cooks.

It’s not about lumps. It’s about accenting your meal with love.

It’s about texture, depth, richness, velvetiness, pourability. It’s about the icing on the cake, the cherry on your sundae, the crème de la crème.

Gravy is the crowning achievement lavished on a meal well-done.

This might be stretching it a bit. But you get the point.

Every fine dish prepared by a dedicated cook has a splash of sauce or a puddle of gravy somewhere on the plate.

A warm, silky gravy takes a humdrum chicken breast to a level of refinement. A wine-laced sauce takes your supermarket beef steak from commonplace to company-worthy. Each and every Southern knows that a sauce made from butter, milk, and a crumb or two of sausage elevates the every-day biscuit to the star of Sunday brunch.

When you get right down to it, it’s all about the gravy.

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever.

And what’s even better is that you can use this recipe as a guideline for creating any sauce that you like.

Simply by switching the ingredients from poultry to beef and swapping the veggies and seasonings, you can create a lovely sauce to go with your standing rib roast on Christmas Day. And I guarantee you no lumps!

Enjoy this and a few of my other favorite holiday recipes included in upcoming posts. Stay healthy and safe and I’ll see you in 2021.

 

Make Ahead Gravy

This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 heads garlic, halved

2 medium onions peeled and cut into chunks

4 large carrots, trimmed and cut into chunks

6 celery stalks, cut into pieces

4 large turkey wings, about 3 pounds 

2 (or more) tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons course black pepper

1 teaspoon ground sage

Serves A Crowd

Time: 30-minute prep cuisine with some roasting and simmering

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle the olive oil onto a baking sheet with lip. Place the vegetables and turkey wings into the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and roast until the turkey wings are golden brown, about another hour. During that time, check to make sure that the veggies are not sticking to the baking sheet. You can add water to loosen everything. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Scrape everything into a large pot or Dutch oven. Place the pot on the stove. Add 1 cup dry white wine and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 minutes. Cover the vegetables and turkey wings with water, about 1 quart. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the stock until it is reduced by half, about 1 hour. 

Pour the stock through a wire mesh colander and into a medium-size bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push the veggie and turkey pieces into the bottom of the colander to push through all the juices. Place the bowl with the stock into the fridge to chill for up to one hour or for several days. (You can sift through and gather enough turkey meat for a couple of yummy hot turkey sandwiches!)

To make gravy from stock, remove the bowl from the fridge. Use a large spoon to skim off and discard the thin layer of fat from the top. Transfer the stock into a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. As the stock slowly boils, stir in the cornstarch slurry. The gravy will begin to thicken. You can add as much thickener as you like to get your desired gravy consistency.

Reduce the heat to low and let the gravy simmer slowly. Season the gravy with sage, salt, and pepper, stirring in just a bit at a time and tasting while you stir.

Tip:

Here’s another great tip. You can use this same method for beef stock that turns into a lovey gravy or sauce. Simply exchange beef bones for the turkey wings! I use beef short rib bones. I choose the skinny ones from the package and reserve them until I collect enough to make a really good beef stock. I use red wine instead of white and adjust the seasonings from sage to thyme and rosemary. It’s pretty darn delicious!