RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Al Dente

Posted on

My love affair for pasta began long before I could say spaghetti, far before fettuccine and carbs ever occurred in the same thought process, and well before wheat pasta became all the craze. Yes, pasta and I go back to humble beginnings, where miniature stars called pastina were fed to me by my Grandmother as my first solid food.

I write this blog as I savor a bowl of spaghetti ragati with vodka sauce, no protein, just noodles… see!

I often get faced with dinners alone where I have to contemplate the century old question, “What shall I make for dinner”. And of course, rain or shine, 90 degrees or 30 below, pasta always seems to hit the right note. Maybe it’s the comforting nature of an easy to make and relatively quick hot dinner that gets me, or maybe it’s the evenings of watching my mom pluck a strand of pasta from our huge boiling pot and bite it to see if it was deserving of some sauce…. Or perhaps butter and parm?

Whatever the case may be, pasta, like a big hug, defines comfort and comfort food for me. It is happiness and it is home, no matter where I am in this crazy world.

Image

Chicken and Red Pepper Pappardelle

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts- skin on, bone in
  • 1 package of pappardelle pasta
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (though home-made is always tastier)
  • 1tsp Red chili flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Place the 2 chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on) on rimmed baking sheet. Rub the tops with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until cooked through. (Internal temperature should be 170-175 degrees). Set baking sheet aside on rack to cool. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones and skin, keeping just the meat. Cover, and set aside.
Next boil a large pot of water that you have liberally sprinkled with water. The goal here is to have the pasta water taste like the ocean… this will be your only chance to flavor the pasta.
As the water begins to boils, dump the entire jar of tomato sauce into a warm skillet and the tsp of red pepper flakes,  and begin to warm over low heat. Next, remove 2 large roasted red peppers from their juices and chop into small pieces. Add those pieces as well as the chicken  into the sauce and stir.
By now the water should be getting close to a boil. Once there, add your pasta and cook until al dente. This should take about 10 minutes. Once cooked, quickly transfer the pasta into the skillet of sauce and peppers and combine. After cooking together over medium heat for 2 minutes or so, transfer to a plate and serve with a healthy topping of Parmesan cheese… and no, any cheese coming from a green container that you don’t need to refrigerate is not cheese is my opinion.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments below! Bon appetitio!

Dessert is Spelled with Two S’s…

Because you always want more of it!

Let’s talk dessert… Sweet, chocolately, warm, melting, frozen, juicy dessert –YES – With the passing of Valentine’s Day, there will soon be a shortage of such sinful confections in my house, which means it is time to bring out the big guns and make sure the much desired dessert train keeps making its stop at my place…  All aboard!

What I wanted to discuss here are two desserts in particular; two desserts that have not seen the light of day since college. The reason for this lack of appearance you ask? Well the answer to this question is really two-part. The first reason or excuse if you will, is because in college I was living with five of my closest girlfriends, with an additional three not too far away, and having a dessert around always seemed to be the best way to keep everything on an even keel; no drama, just dessert. Back then, dessert was fulfilling more than just an impulsive sweet-toothed need- it had some real responsibility! Not only did it keep claws from coming out, it helped distract us from the “less- classy” tub of raw cookie dough we always seemed to have sitting in our freezer.

The second reason I decided to put away the eggs, milk and sugar oh so long ago was because skinny jeans became all the craze… Clearly, whatever Rachel Zoe wanna-be that had the urge to create such a torturous style pant was “not a dessert person”… Yes, I DID just quote my new favorite show, ‘New Girl’.

But, with skinny jeans and Valentine’s Day on the out, and with two new, awesome, and dessert loving rommies on the in, I will once again dust off my mixer and venture forward with sharing two of my most favorite desserts…. Wait for it… Warm bread pudding in a vanilla cream sauce and a creamy yet refreshing Italian panna cotta with berries…. I will save the Bananas Foster for another post.  As always, your comments and questions are much appreciated! Enjoy!

~*~ Down-Home Vanilla Bread Pudding ~*~

  • 4 ½ cups of egg or challah bread, cubed (I just buy a loaf and munch on the rest)
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmug or cinnamon

For the Vanilla Sauce

  • ½ cup of butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for the Bread Pudding:

Place the cubed bread in a large bowl. Next combine the half-and-half and butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Pour over bread and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, brown sugar, eggs vanilla and nutmeg/cinnamon. Spoon into a greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until pudding is set in the center.

Directions for the Sauce:

Combine butter, sugar and whipping cream in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until mixture comes to a full boil and thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in vanilla and spoon over warm bread pudding.

Makes about 8 servings

~*~ Giada’s Italian Berry Panna Cotta ~*~

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cups honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups assorted fresh berries

Directions

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta and serve!

Why I love these recipes so much: I figured this answer was pretty self explanatory! 😉

Picture credits: Zen Foodskin

Hi There!

Thought everyone might like an easy to make, holidayish appetizer recipe! A big THANK YOU to my college roommate Megan’s mom, Mrs. Groh, who handed over this recipe about 5 years ago! x0.

Pre-heat the over to 325 degrees.

Ingredients

1 can of artichoke hearts (rinsed and diced into small pieces)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (use the real stuff and reserve about a tablespoon to sprinkle on the top)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
1 small can of green (Ortega) chili’s (Can usually find this in the international food section of the market or by the salsa)
Dash of black pepper
1 bag or tortilla chips

Directions

1. In a bowl mix the above ingredients, creaming together until well combined.
2. Spread into a squared or circular Pirex style dish (If you can put it in the oven it will work.)
3. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
4. Bake at 325 for roughly 45 minutes to one hour or until brown on the top.

Serve warm and with a bowl of tortilla chips!

Why I love this recipe:

Besides the fact that it is delicious… It is easy to make and a tad different from your run of the mill holiday dips because it requires the extra step of baking! To fancy it up, serve with pretty crackers and bake in a shallow oven dish. Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Sweet November Applesauce

I love a cozy house, and I especially love when it smells like the holidays! The aroma of food simmering away on the stove, or cookies in the oven, even cinnamon or all spice notes wafting around the kitchen get me all excited for family and for the winter!

This past weekend I wanted to make something that was both cozy, healthy, easy, and a little out of the ordinary from my usual go-to items. I decided that home-made apple sauce was just the thing!

This recipe is seriously simple, only calling for four ingredients! I let it simmer away for half of the day in a slow cooker, and boy did it turn out delish! Also, depending on how you like the texture of your applesauce, if you have an immersion blender, now is the time to take it out, even though the only kitchen items you truly need consist of a pot and a potato masher!

Add a little something  cozy to your Thanksgiving left-overs this weekend with this home-made applesauce recipe!

~ Sweet November Applesauce ~

Ingredients:

11 small or 8 large Gala or Pink Lady apples (I do a combo of both)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 cup of water

1/4 cup or less of brown sugar (or white sugar)

Directions:

1. Wash and dice apples as shown below:

2. Throw them in a slow cooker or large pot.

3. Add 1 cup of water, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup of brown or white sugar.

4. Cook for at least 2 hours or until apples are easily mashable and tender.

5. Enjoy with family and friends!

Why I love this recipe:

Well I think the over-riding theme is that to me, making applesauce is cozy! I love how it makes my house smell, and I love, love love how it tastes! It is also a healthy alternative to typical desserts- just serve with a sugar cookie or two! 🙂

Let’s Talk Turkey!

 

Why hello fellow readers! Let me start out by saying that I apologize for my lack of blog posts this past week and a half. The truth is I started a new job, and it has been taking up most of my time, BUT where there is a will there is a way! Between my deep love for cooking, and the great enjoyment I get from sharing my recipes with all of you, there is definitely a way! 🙂

This past weekend I had my first ever Thanksgiving Extravaganza, and boy do I have a lot of friends to be thankful for! This gathering consisted of over 39 lbs of turkey, two kinds of potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, a green bean casserole, mac-and-cheese, gravy, cranberry sauce, (home-made and from the can), rolls, and don’t get me started on the dessert!

*Takes deep breath! * Pumpkinapplepecanpiepumpkincheesecakebarsandmuffinswithbananapumpkinnutellabread and more pie! Phew! Good thing it was a pot-luck style party!

Before I continue any further, I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for being able to watch my Uncle Mark through the years, adding a bit of this and that to each dish at Thanksgiving, I would have literally been in the dark with this whole thing! My Uncle Mark is the gravy and turkey KING as far as I’m concerned, and rules the kitchen on most family holidays! Lucky for me, this past weekend I was able to channel my inner Markey and offer a decent Thanksgiving turkey to all that joined!  ❤ you Uncle Mark!

SO let’s talk turkey! I’m not going to lie, this was my first encounter with actually making the bird, I’m usually the sides girl… But I have to say that being in charge of the bird was quite an honor this time around! Such an honor in fact, I got a little too serious about it… See what I mean???

I wanted to keep it traditional but at the same time add my own personal touch, and that is where citrus came into the mix! Adding one entire juicy orange along with one tart lemon, garlic, sage, rosemary and small brown onion, distinctly cut through the heaviness that is so closely associated with Thanksgiving dinener. Have a look at the recipe below and try it for yourself!

 ~*~ Citrus Herbed Turkey ~*~

Ingredients:

1 large Thanksgiving worthy turkey

1/4 cup of canola oil

1/2 stick of butter

Handful of Sage

Handful of Rosemary

1 large and juicy orange (the brighter orange, the better!)

1 lemon

1 small-medium sized brown onion

3 cloves of garlic

Salt

Pepper

Lawry’s seasoning

Garlic Powder

Directions:

1. Wash the bird, inside out with warm water, being sure to take out any giblets that may have been left inside.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees on the bake setting.

3. Microwave the orange and lemon for 30 seconds to release some of the juices, and then roll a few times on a cutting board and set aside.

4. Peel and cut the onion in half and place inside the cavity of the bird.

5. Cut both the lemon and orange in half, squeezing the juices over the turkey and placing the squeezed orange and lemon peel into the cavity.

6. Throw in one peeled garlic clove in as well.

7. Next stuff both the sage and the rosemary around the citrus pieces (remember, its important to get the fresh herbs as far in as possible so they don’t burn.

8. Take the remaining two peeled garlic cloves and using your finger, gently slide one garlic clove between the skin and the actual meat part of the turkey. I like to put the garlic cloves in the crevasse between the turkey leg and lower breast!

9. Next take your canola oil and with a pastry brush (or your fingers) coat all the turkey skin with the oil.

10. Liberally sprinkle with the Salt, Pepper, garlic powder and Lawry’s seasoning.

11. Tipping the bird back a bit, pour one cup of hot water into the cavity… Don’t worry if some spills out.

12. Place in the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes on the lowest oven rack. I check mine at 25 minutes to make sure the top isn’t burning.

13. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 325, and take the bird out and smother it in the 1/2 stick of butter. I feel that fingers are the best tools for this job!

14. Cook for another hour at 325 and then using a turkey baster, pour some of the liquids over the top. Continue doing this for another 21/2-31/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey is at a minim of 165 degrees.

15. Let rest at least 20 minutes on a grooved cutting board before carving!

Enjoy!

Why I love this recipe:

Food always seems to taste better when its being shared with family and close friends. Though I’m not the biggest fan of actually dressing the bird with stuffing, adding aromatics inside the turkey not only adds a better taste, but a more visual pleasing presentation. Though citrus is mostly associated with summer, there is still something warm and cozy about the subtle taste of orange and lemon when combined with sage and rosemary. I hope you enjoy roasting your turkey as much as I did, until next time… Happy cooking and happy early Thanksgiving! x0

Geno’s Green Chicken Enchiladas

There are two genres of food that tie in my book of ‘favorite kind of food to eat’…Mexican food and Italian food. I could honestly eat either or every day of my life, for the rest of my life, and be content. With that said, I always find making Italian food less challenging than Mexican.

Maybe it is because pasta tops the list of one of the easiest dinner items to cook, or that Italian food was just more prominent growing up. Whatever the case, I am sooooo happy that my dear family friend Geno, brought his Green Enchiladas into my life. Not only does his recipe taste authentically amazing, it is a cinch to make! Within the past two weeks, this dish has been on my plate on three separate occasions (…and no, that does not include when I ate it as left-overs!).

Great for serving a crowd, Geno’s Green Enchiladas are the perfect meal to go along with you’re skinny (or not skinny) girl margarita on the rocks!

~Geno’s Green Enchiladas ~

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of Las Palmas Green Enchilada Sauce
  • 12 small corn tortillas cut in half
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, chicken shredded
  • 1 bag of mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • cilantro (About 1/4 of a cup, finely chopped)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Directions
 *Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  1. In a 13×9 inch glass pyrex, pour 1/4 of a cup of the green enchilada sauce to cover the bottom.
  2. Cutting the tortillas in half, and place 8 tortilla halves on the bottom of the pyrex.
  3. Next add 1/4 of a cup of the shredded chicken over the tortillas
  4. Add 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  5. Add a sprinkle of cilantro (about a tablespoon)
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of the garlic powder salt and pepper
  7. Cover with 1/4 cup of the green enchilada sauce
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 twice more, finishing with the cheese on top of the green sauce and final layer of tortillas
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and melted!
  10. Serve with a slice of lime, chips and salsa, avocado or a margarita… The possibilities are endless!
Why I love this recipe:
It is just so gosh darn easy… You are literally making layers like you would a lasagna. So sure, it isn’t your traditional rolled style enchilada, but who has the time to make 20 of those? I made this recipe today and actually timed myself. If the prep is done, (which took me all of 5 minutes), the assembly took just 7 minutes! The key is in buying an already pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. If you don’t have the luxury of having these guys roasting around your nearest grocery store, regular raw chicken breast can be boiled with some garlic (about 4 small cutlets and 4 cloves of garlic) and will do the trick as well!
Thanks to Geno for sharing is easy, but oh, so delish, green enchilada recipe! This one is definitely a crowd pleaser! 😀

Halloween Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

With Halloween around the corner, and weekend masquerades up ahead, be sure to start some fun with these Paula Deen, Pumpkin Gooey Bars! Ghost and Ghouls alike will simply die at the taste of these wicked good treats!

~Halloween Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes~

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.

3.Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.

5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together.

6. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.

7. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey but somewhat firm.

 Serve with fresh whip cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top!

 Why I love this recipe:

The first time I ever ate these pumpkin bars was actually at a Thanksgiving pot luck, and let me tell you, it was love at first bite! The silky, sweet texture of the pumpkins, combined with chewy vanilla crust was simply divine! That was 5 years ago, and I have made them every Halloween and Thanksgiving since.

For an extra treat, I like to sift some powered sugar, and place a candy corn on each individual square! I hope this recipe satisfies your scariest Halloween sweet tooth!

~*~ HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ~*~

…BOO! Did I scare ya? 

%d bloggers like this: