Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn

Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn is the third Ample Bites version of a warm, salty-spicy, creamy Mexican corn salad. This one is the best of the three. Give it a try.


Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn

Yields 3 cups

2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt

6 ears sweet corn (can be frozen, if that is all that is available)
1/2 red onion, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
3/4 cup cojita cheese, divided
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Zest of 2 limes

To prepare Chili-Cayenne Salt: Combine the chili powders with the salt and store in an airtight container.

For the corn: Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until hot. Brush the corn lightly with oil. Add the corn to the grill and char on all sides, turning occasionally, until blackened in parts, 12 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the kernels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add charred corn kernels and cook until warmed. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro and lime zest. Season with 1 teaspoon of Chili-Cayenne Salt. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cojita cheese on top and sprinkle with more Chili-Cayenne Salt, to taste.

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Homemade Bacon

Homemade Bacon is really easy to make if you have access to pork belly. Ample Bites got the pork belly for this recipe from the local Costco. At Costco the pork belly pieces are 8-10 pounds, so the recipe needs to be doubled. A local butcher will have the ability to provide you with a 5-pound pork belly.

The rest is about having the correct, simple equipment and ingredients, having some patience, and following simple directions.



Homemade Bacon
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Yields about 3 1/2 pounds bacon

5 pounds pork belly, skin on
1/4 cup Kosher salt
2 tsp pink curing salt
1/4 cup packer dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds

Rinse the pork belly and pat dry. Cut in half crosswise. Transfer each half to a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. To make the spice rub, mix the kosher salt, pink salt, brown sugar, honey, red pepper flakes, paprika, and cumin in a bowl. Using half of the rub mixture for each piece, coat all over.

Close the bag squeezing out as much air as possible and seal. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 7 days, flipping once a day, until the pork belly feels firm.

Remove the pork belly from the bags, rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Refrigerate on a rack, uncovered, 48 hours. Meanwhile soak applewood or hickory strips in water in a large tupperware container. Remove from refrigerator at least an hour before smoking.

Using a three-burner gas grill, heat to a constant temperature of 200F using only the left burner. Put wood chips in a large foil packet, poked through the top to allow the smoke to escape. Place over the hot burner. In a foil tray fill to 1″ deep with cold water. Place over the center and right burner, which are turned off. Place the bacon over the drip pan. Smoke for about 3 hours, or until bacon reaches an internal temperature of 150F.

To store, vacuum seal and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

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Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce are bite-sized pastry puffs with the earthy flavor of gorgonzola cheese. When dipped in the accompanying sweet sauce the flavors become even more complex. These puffs are easy to make and they can be served hot, right from the oven, or hours later at room temperature.

Not a fan of gorgonzola? Substitute gruyere or another heartily-flavored cheese.


Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes about 40 puffs

1/4 cup honey
Balsamic vinegar

1 cup 2% milk
1 stick (1/4-pound) unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 green onions, white and light green parts finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/4 cup shredded white sharp cheddar
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

Prepare dipping sauce by drizzling vinegar into the honey until desired consistency is achieved. The sauce should be smooth and thick enough to cling to a spoon.

Preheat oven to 425F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat milk, butter seasoned with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper over medium heat until scalded. Add flour and stir vigorously over low heat until the mixture comes together and then another 2 minutes. Empty the mixture into a food processor. Immediately add the eggs, green onions, gorgonzola and cheddar. Pulse until the eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag. Pipe in mounds 1 1/4-inches wide and 3/4-inch high. Brush the top of each puff lightly with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden outside but still soft inside.

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Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey

Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey is a sauceless but especially tasty pizza.


Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Epicurious, 2015)

Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 (9-oz.) can artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 lb pizza dough
2 cups freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus more cheese shaved for garnish
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine honey and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature while preparing and baking flatbreads.

In a large skillet over medium heat bring 2 tablespoons of oil to a shimmer. Add garlic and parsley and cook, stirring 30 seconds. Add artichokes, toss to coat, and cook, covered, until the artichokes are tender, 10-12 minutes. Uncover and add spinach. Cook until just wilted. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in lemon zest. Set aside.

Sprinkle two large, rimmed baking sheets with cornmeal. Roll out half of the dough on a floured surface to a 12-inch-by-7-inch oval. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush the edges of each dough with oil.

Sprinkle each dough with 1/2 cup Parmesan, then top with half of the artichoke-spinach mixture. Top doughs with remaining Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crust is golden brown, 20-22 minutes.

Remove flatbreads from oven. Top with prosciutto and drizzle with spicy honey then garnish with shaved Parmesan. Cut and serve along with a side salad of choice.

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Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites

Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites is an appetizer that allows you to creatively use your stuffing left over from a holiday meal. If you don’t have any leftover stuffing (a common affliction) make up a new batch using a couple of boxes of stovetop brand with some freshly browned chorizo mixed in.


Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes about 32 appetizer-sized bites

5 – 6 cups of leftover stuffing
2 lbs thick-cut bacon
8 – 10 oz. chorizo, uncased and browned

If you are making stovetop stuffing for this recipe substitute turkey broth for the water. Make and combine with chorizo a day ahead of time and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350F using convection setting.

Combine the chorizo with the leftover stuffing. To form the stuffing into four 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch diameter logs place a sheet of plastic wrap (about 12-inch by 16-inch) on work surface and lay one-fourth of the stuffing mix on the plastic wrap. Roll, compressing to make the stuffing mix tight and dense. Set aside. Repeat three more times with the remaining stuffing.

Cut bacon slabs crosswise to create 4 to 5-inch pieces. Lay eight pieces from each half slab of bacon next to each other on a works surface. Unwrap one stuffing log an place it on the bacon. Close each piece of bacon around the stuffing and secure each piece of bacon with a toothpick. Cut the log between the pieces of bacon and place them one a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining three half slabs of bacon and the three remaining stuffing logs.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and browned. Serve warm.

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White Lasagna

White Lasagna is a very rich and indulgent pasta dish with a rosemary, garlic and thyme infused bechamel sauce and lots of Fontina cheese. Serve with crumbled Italian sausage, pesto and sautéed wild mushrooms.



White Lasagna
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, December 2014)

Serves 10 – 12

1 1/2 boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 gallon 2% milk
Kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

To make the bechamel: Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened but not yet browned, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until the roux is light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes total. Press the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Set aside and allow to cool at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To assemble the lasagna: Brush a deep 9-by-13 baking dish with oil; spread a layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of pasta over the sauce. Spread another layer of sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle a quarter of each cheese over the sauce. Place another layer of pasta over the cheese. Repeat until all of the sauce and cheese is used with a layer of cheese on top of the lasagna. The lasagna can be assembled a day ahead of time and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Seal the lasagna tightly under aluminum foil. Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove the foil and place 6-inches below the broiler. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes until the top begins to brown taking care not to burn the top. Remove and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Beef Bulgogi – Korean Barbecue

Beef Bulgogi is a spicy-sweet Korean barbecue that can be served alone, over rice or as a taco. This same recipe can also be made with pork or chicken.


Beef Bulgogi – Korean Barbecue
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, November 2015)

Makes 6 – 8 servings

1 1/2 lbs. sirloin steak cut into stir-fry strips
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
4 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp grated peeled ginger
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Vegetable oil
4 green onions, sliced crosswise on a bias, both green and white parts

Combine the steak and the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 8 hours before cooking. An hour before cooking remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Working in batches, and adding more oil along the way as needed, remove meat from the marinade and cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally until cooked through and crisp at edges, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with sliced green onions.

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Creamy Crab Dip

Creamy Crab Dip is a hot appetizer that will be the hit of any casual gathering or holiday party.


Creamy Crab Dip
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

16 oz. crab meat
2 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
6 oz. mayonnaise
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
1/4 large sweet onion, finely chopped
6 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5-6 dashes of hot sauce, to taste
3 green onions, white parts finely chopped, green parts sliced crosswise and reserved for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the green onion garnish and pulse until smooth. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the sliced green onion and serve with crackers, baked pita pieces, or crostini.

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Eggs in Pepper Boats

Eggs in Pepper Boats is a fun way to serve eggs and a healthy way to cook the eggs – think … “no oil or grease”. Baking the eggs takes a little bit longer but it is worth it. This recipe can be adapted to use different meats and cheeses. It can be made without meat altogether. Add some fresh herbs for a twist.


Eggs in Pepper Boats
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes 4 servings

2 large peppers (poblano or cubanelle), halved and seeded
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 strips applewood smoked bacon, baked to just short of crisp
Hot sauce for serving

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, place the peppers cut side down in 1/4 inch of water. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Flip the peppers over and cook for another 4 minutes, taking care not to over cook the peppers. You want them to be firm enough to hold an egg in each of them.

Place the cooked peppers cut side up on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Put a quarter of the cheese in each pepper boat. Top with each with a half strip of bacon. Top each with an egg, taking care to keep the egg within the confines of each boat. Carefully place in the oven and cook until the egg whites are solid and yolks reach preferred doneness, about 6 to 8 minutes for sunny-side-up. Serve immediately with pepper and your favorite hot sauce.

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Savory Waffles with Cheddar Cheese and Dried Basil

Savory Waffles with Cheddar Cheese and Dried Basil don’t need any maple syrup to finish them. Try some sour cream and sliced grape tomatoes or mix a little Sriracha in the sour cream and top with fresh basil leaves.


Savory Waffles with Cheddar Cheese and Dried Basil
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of and Chicago Tribune, 2015)

Makes about (8) 6-inch diameter waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose baking mix, see recipe below
2 Tbsp crumbled dried basil
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp canola oil
Reduced fat sour cream for garnish

All-Purpose Baking Mix

In a large bowl, combine 3 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp fine sea salt; whisk until blended. Store in a plastic zip-top bag for up to 2 months. Ingredients will settle, so stir or shake before using.

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