Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Bread

I created Buffalo Chicken Bread and Jalapeño Popper Bread in an attempt to up-date the popular appetizers they are inspired by. Very successful.  Crunchy, spicy, a little messy, and scrumptious.  I am already thinking of other appetizers to prepare this way.

Servings: 12-14 pieces
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; cooking:  20 minutes
Hardware: knives and a cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, a mixer, a mixing bowl, a silicone spatula, a large serrated knife, parchment paper and a baking sheet

Ingredients:
  • Foot long French loaf
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • cup ranch dressing
  • 2 ounces blue cheese (optional)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (½ pound)
  • ½ cup hot wing sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. To make clean up easier, line the cooking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the cream cheese and ranch dressing until smooth. Stir in the blue cheese.
  3. Cut the bread in half long ways, like a hot dog bun. Scoop out some of the bread so that each half is a little canoe.
  4. Fill each side with the ranch mixture.  Put face up on the baking dish. Distribute the chicken evenly over each half loaf and pour the wing sauce over the chicken. Cover in shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the bread is crunchy. Cut each half into 6-7 slices.  Serve right away.  This may be a little messy, but that is why you have napkins.

Buffalo Chicken Bread

Jalapeño Popper Bread

Jalapeño Popper Bread
We have been invited to two parties this New Year’s Eve. We are going to the one that starts earliest, visit for a while, and then head to the other. I created Jalapeño Popper Bread and Buffalo Chicken Bread for the parties.  I am just going to mix up the toppings and finish them at the party. 

I wanted to do something new, but not too new.  People want something familiar.  I decided to rift on some old stand-bys.  If the way my husband ate them up was any indication, these turned out really well.

Servings: 12-14 pieces
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; cooking:  20 minutes
Hardware: knives and a cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, a mixer, a mixing bowl, a silicone spatula, a large serrated knife, parchment paper and a baking sheet








Ingredients:
  • Foot long French loaf
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cooked crumbled bacon
  • cup pickled jalapeños
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. To make clean up easier, line the cooking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Stir in the bacon and jalapeños.
  3. Cut the bread in half long ways, like a hot dog bun.  Spread each side with the jalapeño mixture.  Put face up on the baking dish and cover in shredded cheese.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the bread is crunchy. Cut each half into 6-7 slices.  Serve right away.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Easy Cheesy Sausage and Macaroni Casserole

This casserole is warm, hearty, and comforting. Perfect for cold, dreary weather. I also like it because it is so easy and takes little prep. I make it when I want something that isn’t fussy and tastes great.

Another reason to love this recipe is that it is easy to tweak. You can stir in any veggie that you like.  I have added countless combinations of mushrooms, zucchini, corn, and carrots. Just soften them with the onions. You can also use a pound of cooked ground beef or cooked, chopped chicken in place of the smoked sausage.  I always sprinkle a little chopped fresh parsley, chives, or green onions on top before serving just for a little green.

Servings: 6-8
Time:    Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 45 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a can opener, a wooden spoon, a deep skillet, and an 8x11 glass baking dish

Ingredients: 
  • Cooking spray
  • Olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet
  • 1 onion (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound smoked sausage
  • 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes-undrained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup bread crumbs 
Easy Cheesy Sausage and Macaroni Casserole
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray the dish with the cooking spray.
  2. Cut the sausage into 1 inch slices. Roughly chop the onions and garlic.
  3. Heat the oil in the skillet on medium high. Add the sausage, onions and garlic. Allow the sausage to get brown and crispy on the edges (5 minutes).  Stir occasionally.  
  4. Add the tomatoes, their juices and the broth to the skillet.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, macaroni, cheese, and salt.
  6. Pour the mixture into the glass dish and top with the crumbs.  The pasta will finish while baking.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with a side salad. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Roasted Carrots

Roasted Rainbow Carrots
I love carrots. When I saw rainbow carrots at the grocers I grabbed them. Then I forgot about them. By the time I remembered the carrots were there, I didn’t have any grand plan but I wanted to use them while they were still fresh.  So I decided to roast them. Carrots, because they are sweet, can be paired with almost any herb. But like I said, no grand plan.

Simple is best.  These were so freaking delicious. I want more.  Now.

Servings:  4-6
Time: Prep: 5 minutes Cooking: 25-30 minutes
Hardware: A cutting board and large knife, a large mixing bowl, a cookie sheet, nonstick foil

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚ degrees. Line the cookie sheet with foil.
  2. Wash the carrots and cut about ½ inch from the top. Cut them in half length-wise.
  3. Toss the carrots in the bowl with the olive oil.
  4. Spread the carrots out in a single layer and sprinkle them lightly with salt.  Roast them for 25-30 minutes or until desired tenderness.
  5. Taste and adjust the salt.  Top with a few grinds of black pepper.  Serve warm.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to Make Gravy

While I was making the shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner my husband was looking over my shoulder and said, “Gravy.” I informed him that I was making gravy, not buying it. Homemade gravy is VERY easy to make and so much tastier than the stuff in a jar.

Quite a few of my readers have asked me how to make gravy. I guess people are afraid to try it at home, because they are afraid it might be lumpy or runny or something. But in reality it is really simple. The rules are cook on low, never quit stirring.

This recipe is going to follow a different format than my normal recipes, because I’m going to give you a few different ways to make gravy, all of them easy, all of them yummy.  This recipe can be used for chicken, beef, or pork.  Just change up the stock


Homemade Gravy


************************************
Basic Recipe 1
Servings: 4 cups
Time:    Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 10 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a whisk, a sauce pan

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • S & P

  1. Melt the butter over low heat.
  2. Slowly whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour is the color of very light honey, maybe 2 minutes.
  3. Whisking the entire time, slowly add about ¼ cup of stock. When that has been stirred in add another ¼. When that is completely incorporated, add half the remaining stock. Turn up the heat and allow the gravy to come to a slight bubble.  Stir in the rest of the stock. Allow the gravy to come to LOW simmer and salt and pepper to taste.
You can add some interesting flavor to your gravy and make the color more appealing by adding a level teaspoon of instant coffee, ½-1 teaspoon of soy sauce OR ½-1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce before adjusting the seasonings.

************************************
Basic Recipe 2
Servings: 4 ¼ cups
Time:    Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 5 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a whisk, a fork, a bowl, a sauce pan

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • S & P

  1. Bring the stock to a low boil.
  2. Stir the cornstarch into the water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  3. Stir the cornstarch-y water into the boiling stock. Stir and allow the gravy to thicken.  Salt and pepper to taste.
************************************
Better Recipe
Servings: 4½ cups
Time:    Prep: 15 minutes, Cook: 10 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a strainer/sieve, a fat separator, a whisk, a sauce pan

Ingredients:
Pan drippings
Butter
½ cup flour
4 cups of chicken stock
½ cup heavy whipping cream
S & P

  1. Pour the stock into the bottom of the roasting pan when you place the turkey into the oven. Baste the turkey throughout its cooking time with the stock.
  2. While the turkey is resting, drain the stock from the bottom of the pan, through the strainer, into the fat separator. Separate the fat from the stock.
  3. Add enough butter to the pan dripping fat to make ½ cup.  Heat the fat over low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour is the color of very light honey, maybe 2 minutes.
  4. Whisking the entire time, slowly add about ¼ cup of stock. When that has been stirred in add another ¼. When that is completely incorporated, add half the remaining stock. Turn up the heat and allow the gravy to come to a slight bubble.  Stir in the rest of the stock. Allow the gravy to come to LOW simmer
  5. Stir in the whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste.
You can substitute white wine for the cream. If you use wine then add it first so that you cook off the raw wine taste. You can add some interesting flavor to your gravy and make the color more appealing by adding a level teaspoon of instant coffee, ½-1 teaspoon of soy sauce OR ½-1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce after adding the cream and before adjusting the salt and pepper.  You can also make onion gravy by cooking 1 cup sliced onions in the fat/butter until they are soft.  Push the onions to the side and then follow the other directions.  You can do the same with mushrooms.  In fact, after you master the basic recipe, play around.  Practice is the best way to learn to cook.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Creamed Spinach

I love spinach.  I love Creamed Spinach even more. I first had Creamed Spinach at Izzy’s Steaks and Chops in San Francisco. Izzy’s is old school and so is Creamed Spinach. I imagine that when my grandfather was out on the town he ordered Creamed Spinach with a huge, rare steak and a glass of Cutty Sark, straight up. It is simple, yet elegant. Fancy without being fussy. And very easy to make.

Creamed Spinach makes an excellent addition to any meat dish.  I often serve it with steak or pork loin.  But truth be told, I like to eat it right out of the pot, all by its lonesome.

Servings: 4-6
Hardware:  Food processor, knives and cutting boards, measuring spoons and cups, a deep skillet, a whisk and a wooden spoon
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 10 minutes

Creamed Spinach
Old School Elegance
Ingredients: 
  • 2 pounds baby spinach leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 shallot (⅛ cup)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup cream
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  1. Chop the spinach leaves in the food processor. Dice the garlic and the shallot.
  2. Over medium heat melt the butter in the skillet, add the diced shallot and garlic clove.  Sauté until the shallot is soft, for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the flour.  Whisk until it is a paste and the color of honey.
  4. Stir in the cream, cheese and spinach. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg and salt.
  5. Cook on low for 5-6 minutes, stirring often.  Taste and adjust the salt.
  6. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Artichoke and Mushrooms over Pasta

My husband is out of town so I can cook whatever I want. Artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives are not his favorites, but they are mine. After eating this they will be yours, as well.

I serve this over whole wheat pasta because, in addition to being better for you, the pasta adds a nice texture to the dish. You can throw in cooked ham, chicken or shrimp at the end if you absolutely must have meat, but this is hearty enough to eat as is.

Servings: 4-6
Time:    Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 30-35 minutes
Hardware:  measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a large heavy bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a colander, a wooden spoon, zester

Cook at home


Ingredients:
  • Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces of baby portabella mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 15 pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 6 ounce jar of marinated artichoke heart
  • 1 cup of a sweet wine (I used Mascato)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt
  • 8 ounces cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  1. Mince the garlic. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms.  Chop the tomatoes. 
  2. Drain the artichokes, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid.
  3. Heat the oil on medium.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  Cook on medium for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes and mushrooms begin to give up their liquid. Stir occasionally.
  4. Add the artichokes, rosemary, reserved liquid, and wine. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  This should take 20 minutes or so.  Stir enough to keep anything from sticking.
  5. Zest the lemon over the sauce. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Taste and adjust the salt.
  6. Serve immediately over whole wheat spaghetti. 
Artichokes & Mushrooms over
Whole Wheat Pasta

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Potato Leek Tart

If you follow my blog then you know that I am not a vegetarian.  However, we do try to go Meatless on Mondays. I was going to make a quiche, but realized that I had no pie crust. I did have a puff pastry, so I decided to make a tart instead.

This was really easy and very delicious.  I used dill, because I had feta cheese and those flavors pair well together. I didn’t know how those would taste with potatoes.  The answer is scrumptious.  Even my carnivore husband loved it. I’m already looking forward to making this again. Next time I may add mushrooms and spinach.  So good.


Potato Leek Tart
Fast, easy, yummy
Servings:  4 Time:  Thaw: 30 minutes, Prep: 20, Cook: 30 minutes total
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a bowl, a clean flat surface, a rolling pin, a pastry brush, 2 baking sheets and parchment paper, a spatula

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill (more for garnish)
  • Salt
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Flour for dusting
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.  Cover the baking sheets in parchment paper and set aside. Allow the pastry to thaw for about 30.
  2. Slice the leek into rings. Place the leek into a bowl of water until you need it.
  3. Scrub the potatoes and slice them as thin as possible. Liberally salt the potatoes and spread them out on one of the baking sheets.  Place the potatoes into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Lower the oven temperature to 375˚.
  5. Unfold the pastry sheet onto the lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out to a 12’x12’ square. Place the pastry onto the other baking sheet.
  6. Toss the potatoes with the drained leeks, the torn dill, cheese, and a little more salt. Spread the potato mixture evenly on top of the pastry, leaving about a one inch boarder. Fold the edges of the pastry over and lightly press down.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tart is golden brown. Immediately brush the tart with butter and sprinkle with more dill.
  8. Cut into quarters. Serve warm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili
Autumn is the perfect weather for chili. However, we eat Tex-Mex around here so often that I get bored. So I decided to make White Chicken Chili.  AND because I have been at work every day from about 6 am ‘til 4 pm, I decided to cheat.  I opened cans and used a rotisserie chicken that I purchased from the deli.  It turned out great.

Servings: 6-8
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives-or a food processor, measuring spoons and cups, a large Dutch oven (or other big pot with a heavy bottom), a wooden spoon, a can opener
Time:  Prep:  10 minutes    Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, diced
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño peppers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon each, salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-4 ounce can mild green chiles
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2-16 ounce cans white kidney beans-drained
  • 3 cups cooked chicken-chopped or shredded
  • Rice, sour cream, corn chips and shredded cheese for garnish

  1. Wash the onions and garlic and dice them.  Dice the jalapeño. Roughly chop the cilantro. OR throw the onions, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until everything is practically a liquid. Set the veggies and herbs to the side. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven on medium. Add the onions, garlic, pepper, and cilantro into the Dutch oven. Stir and allow the onions, etc to sweat for 4-5 minutes.  The onions should be bubbling, but not browning.  Stir occasionally. 
  3. Push the veggies to the side. Turn up the heat to medium high.  Add the spices and flour to the empty spot in the pan. Allow the flour to brown, but not burn.  Stir often.
  4. Add the stock and scrape the bottom of the pan, loosening up all the brown bits of flour.  Allow the stock to come to a boil. Stir in the beans and chiles. Allow the chili to come to a boil and then turn down to low.
  5. Simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the salt. Stir in the chopped chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.  If you add it earlier, it will get mushy.
  6. Serve over rice.   Garnish with sour cream, corn chips and shredded cheese.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Italian Beef

Italian Beef
The Italian Beef is a version of the French Dip.  It was created by the Italian immigrants who worked in Chicago’s stockyards.  The beef for the authentic sandwich is slow roasted and an au jus created from the pan drippings. It is topped with giardiniera, a relish made of pickled vegetables.  The entire sandwich is then dipped in the au jus before being served.  It is a sloppy, delicious mess.

This is my version of an Italian Beef.  It may seem like a lot of work for a sandwich, but trust me it is worth it.  And this is about 500 (billion) times easier than making a genuine Chicago Garlic Hot Wet Beef (which is how you would order this.)
 
Servings: 4 sandwiches (enough to serve 8)
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes   Cooking:  2 hours (active time 10 minutes)
Hardware:  A cutting board and knife, measuring spoons and cups, a gallon plastic bag, a large pot, a sieve, a large bowl, tongs, a spatula, a baking sheet and foil

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (maybe more)
  • 1 ½ pounds the best deli roast beef cold cut slices you can afford (I used Boar’s Head Londonport)
  • 4 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 32 ounces low sodium beef stock
  • Beef shank (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons garlic butter
  • ¼ pound thin sliced provolone cheese
  • 4-6 tablespoons hot, cherry pepper hoagie spread (I use Cento)
  • 4 hoagie rolls

  1.  Place the meat, olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the Italian seasoning and the pepper flakes into the plastic bag. Shake to make sure the slices separate and are coated with seasoning.  You may need to add more oil. Place in the fridge until needed.
  2. If you are using the beef shank cut the bone open so that the marrow is exposed.  Place the shank, stock, crushed garlic, bay leafs, and the rest of the Italian seasoning into the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the broth to a low simmer.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  If you simmer it low enough this should take about 1 ½ hours.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚.  Cover the sheet in foil.  Cut the rolls open, but not through.  Spread them with garlic butter and toast in the hot oven until they are lightly browned (like garlic toast.)  This takes about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid through the sieve. Return the liquid to the pot.  Discard the stuff you strained out. Pour the lunch meat into the hot liquid.
  5. Use the tongs to pile meat onto the garlic toast. It is okay if it is messy. Spread with hot pepper spread.  Top each sandwich with slices of cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts, another 2 minutes.
  6. Serve each sandwich with a small dipping bowl of the broth.
Chicago Tradition-Southern Style

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tomatoes Gratin

Lamb was on sale at the market last week.  I needed an easy, tasty side dish.  I decided on Tomatoes Gratin.  ‘Au gratin’ refers to a cooking method that creates a crispy crust on top of the dish.  When tomatoes are prepared this way their natural sweetness deepens.  Lamb tastes earthy and this offered a nice balance.

Tomatoes Gratin takes very little time and no skills, but is different and tasty enough to serve to guests.  I like to eat the leftovers with rice for lunch the next day.

Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 15 minutes
Hardware: Cutting board and large knife, measuring cups and spoons, a bowl, 9’x13 inch baking dish

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ pounds (6 medium) tomatoes 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking spray
  1. Spray the dish with cooking spray. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚.
  2. Slice the tomatoes into ¼ inch slices. Salt and pepper them generously.
  3. Layer the tomatoes on the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping them.
  4. Drizzle the pesto over the tomatoes.  You can buy pesto or you can make your own.
  5. Mix the onion flakes, bread crumbs, and cheese. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the tomatoes. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Serve alone or over rice.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sausage Potpie

Potpies have been around since the Roman Empire. They have remained popular because they are so delicious and easy to serve. Everything-meat, veggies, and bread-all in one little package. They are a great way to use up leftovers, as well.

These are not classic potpies, which are usually filled with stew. These are breakfast potpies packed with creamy sausage goodness. You can use your favorite sausage.  I used spicy Italian because it has the bold taste we prefer. You can add other veggies like mushrooms or cubed boiled potatoes.  Sometimes I include different shredded cheeses, in addition to the cream cheese.  Cheddar and Swiss are good choices.

These can be frozen and rewarmed.  However, these are NOT tasty cold.  The cheese become gelatinous.  When I make these I serve a side of fruit or scrambled eggs.
Sausage Potpie
Servings:  6 pot pies
Time:  Thaw: 30 minutes, Prep: 30 minutes, Cook: 35 minutes total
Hardware:  Measuring spoon, a cutting board and knives, a skillet, a wooden spoon, 6-6 ounce ramekins (or individual pie plates), a clean flat surface, a rolling pin, a fork, a baking sheet, a kitchen towel, serving plates

Ingredients
  • Olive oil to cover bottom of the skillet
  • 1 ½ pounds bulk sausage
  • ½ large bell pepper (¾ cup)
  • 1 small onion (¾ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces soften cream cheese
  • Salt
  • Flour
  • 2 sheets thawed puff pastry
  • Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Dice the veggies.
  2. Cover the bottom of the skillet in olive oil and heat over medium. Add the sausage and veggies.  Cook and crumble until the sausage is no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Drain.
  3. Add the sausage mixture, pepper flakes and the cream cheese to the skillet over medium low and stir until the cheese completely melts. Taste and adjust the salt. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool while you prepare the crust.
  4. Spray the ramekins liberally with cooking spray. On a slightly floured surface roll the first pastry sheet out to a 12”x 9”. Cut it into six squares.  Place a square into a ramekin.  Gently push the dough down into the bottom.  Make sure that some dough hangs out the sides because you will need to seal the pies.  You can use kitchen scissors to cut off a piece and wet it with a little water to make a patch if needed.  Repeat for the rest of the ramekins.  Fill each pie with the sausage mixture.  The mixture can mound up a little.  There may be some filling left over.  It is great served over rice.
  5. Roll out the second pastry and cut it into 6 pieces.  Lay a top crust on each pie.  Crimp the edges of each pie.  Make sure each one is sealed. Use a knife to cut three vents in each top.  If you have leftover dough, you can bake it and serve it with the pies.
  6. Place the pies onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  7. Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to cool for about five minutes. Holding the ramekin with a kitchen towel, carefully turn a pie upside down over a small plate.  It should gently slide out.  You may need to run a thin knife along the edge, but be careful not to pierce the pie.
  8. Serve warm.
Creamy Sausage Goodness



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Seafood in Brodo

This dish is so simple and so elegant that I often serve it to guests.  I have a friend who requests it every time he visits.  If you prep everything before your guests arrive you will spend very little time in the kitchen.  Serve it with a salad of bitter greens and a white wine. 

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes, Cooking:  Less than 30 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knife, a large skillet, kitchen tongs,  a large bowl, measuring cups & spoons, a large skillet

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices of thick pancetta or bacon
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes –DO not drain
  • 2 cups of a DRY white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice)
  • 1 cup fish or chicken broth
  • 1 dozen hard shell clams-cleaned & purged
  • 1 dozen mussels- cleaned & purged
  • ½ pound large shrimp (31/35 count)-cleaned but do not remove the tails
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 4-5 basil leaves for garnish
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Piles of Shellfish
  1. Dice the garlic and the pancetta. Wash the basil and remove the stems. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium. Add pancetta, garlic, and red pepper to the pan and heat until the garlic begins to sweat (about 2 minutes.)  Do not allow anything to brown.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the wine, tomatoes, and broth and allow to come to a boil.
  4. Add the clams in a single layer and monitor them constantly. Using the tongs remove the clams as they open and place them into the bowl.
  5. Make sure to stir and do not allow the tomatoes to stick. Add the mussels in a single layer and remove as they open. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.
  6. Add the shrimp to the soup and boil for 3 minutes. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the broth. Boil for 2 more minutes.
  7.  Return the other shellfish and any juice to the broth and remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  8. Stack the basil leaves that you set aside for garnish and roll them up. Cut them into very fine strips. (This is called chiffonade.)   Place everything into the serving bowl. Pile the basil garnish in the middle.
  9. This can be served with crusty bread.  Or to make the dish heartier serve with pasta or rice.  Make sure to place a bowl on the table so your guests can have a place to discard shells.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

I often make Cheesy Broccoli Rice, but this is just as tasty and cooks in half the time. Cheesy Broccoli Orzo is an easy side dish at dinner or a hearty meatless lunch.

Prepare this while Braised Chicken with Tomatoes is in the oven.  Then open up a pre-washed bag of salad and you have a meal that everyone will love.

Cheesy Broccoli Orzo
Serves: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 20 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a sauce pot, and a wooden spoon

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • ½ a small onion (¼ cup)
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 cups liquid (I used 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken stock)
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli florets
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Cut the onion and broccoli into tiny pieces.
  2. Heat the onion and butter on medium until the onions begin to sweat. Add the orzo and stir. Toast the orzo until it is golden brown.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Allow the liquid to come to a boil.  Stir, lower the heat, and cover. Simmer the pasta for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  Taste and adjust the salt.  Serve warm.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes


This is so easy to make that I cannot believe that I haven’t written it down for you before.  This is my go to meal when I have no idea what to make for dinner. You need NO SKILLS to make this delicious main dish. If you can chop vegetables and use a can opener, you can do this.
This is also versatile. You can change the herbs to create a completely different meal. I used rosemary because I had extra on hand.  However, you could use Herbs de Provence, Italian seasonings, chili powder and cumin, or even curry. If you use curry, substitute water for the wine. 
Only use the fresh tomatoes if you plan on serving them as a side dish. They are delicious served over rice. If you just need a braising liquid, the can will do.

Servings: 4
Time:   Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 60
Hardware:  measuring cups, a cutting board and knives, a large heavy bottom skillet that can be used on the stove and in the oven (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a wooden spoon, tongs, a can opener, a plate, a thermometer

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes –DO NOT drain
  • 1 cup white wine (maybe less)
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary (½ tablespoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried parsley
  • 2 or 3 large tomatoes (optional)
  • Salt

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚.
  2. Dice the onion and garlic. Slice the tomatoes. Set aside.
  3. Salt both sides of the chicken very generously.
  4. Heat the olive oil in the skillet on medium high. Add the chicken skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Turn the chicken with the tongs and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken to the plate and pour off most of the fat.
  5. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet. Cook until the onions are translucent, for 2-3 minutes. Lay the tomato slices down in the pan. Pour the can of tomatoes on top of the fresh tomatoes.
  6. Sprinkle in the parsley and the rosemary if you are using dried. Toss in a pinch of salt.
  7. Lay the chicken on top of the tomatoes, skin side up. Pour in enough wine for the liquid to come half way up the thighs.  Don’t cover up the crispy part of the skin as it will get soggy.
  8. Tuck in the rosemary if you are using fresh.
  9. Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until the thermometer reads 160 degrees when inserted into the meatiest thigh.
  10. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Remove the rosemary stems.  Taste the tomatoes and adjust the salt.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

I realized that I don’t make many desserts.  I don’t have a very sweet tooth.  Also, my husband and I are a little round so the last thing we need is sugary treats.  But my summer is over.  And to celebrate (mourn?) the beginning of the school year, I wanted a little something.

So cheesecake.  I also realized that this would be my 3rd cheesecake so I changed the shape and made cheesecake bars.  That’s different? Right?  I used raspberry preserves because that is what I had.  You could use any preserves or even marmalade. I think this would especially  taste great with orange marmalade. I was also thinking of using peanut butter cookies in the crust, and calling this peanut butter and jelly cheesecake.  If you are an adventurous cook, try one of them and let us know.  But we’re getting away from ourselves.

This, the way I made it, turned out well.  Enjoy the end of summer and the beginning of school.

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


Servings:  9 squares
Time:  Prep: 15 minutes, bake time 1 hour
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a food processor, a mixer, a large mixing bowl, a rubber spatula, a 8x8x2 inch glass pan, parchment paper, a knife or skewer

Crust
  • 1½ cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (1 sleeve crackers)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
Filling
  • 2-8 oz. blocks cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • ⅓ cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the butter.  Set out the cream cheese and the eggs. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan.  Cut two pieces of parchment paper wide enough to fit into the bottom of the pan and long enough to stick out over the edges. Place one piece of paper in the bottom of the pan in one direction and the other piece in the opposite direction
  2. Crush the graham cracker in the processor.  Add the sugar and then the butter.  Blend until the mixture is a fine crumb.  Press the crust mixture firmly into bottom of the pan. Bake 8 minutes.
  3. Place the cream cheese and sugar into the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and zest. Continue to mix on low speed until smooth. Pour ¾ of the cream cheese mixture evenly over the hot crust. Add the raspberry jam to the remaining cream cheese and mix until smooth. Dollop the raspberry filling over the cream cheese layer randomly. Use a knife or skewer to gently swirl the two layers.
  4. Bake 45-50 minutes or until center does not wiggle when shaken.
  5. Cool completely.  Use the bottom piece of the parchment paper to carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan.  Cut it into 9 squares. Store covered in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature topped with fresh raspberries.







Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Carrot Zucchini Pancakes

Savory over Sweet
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  I am also not a huge fan of bread.  So pancakes are not one of my favorite foods.  The thought of a big piece of dough drowned in syrup does nothing for me at all.  However, pancakes need not be sweet.  They can be savory.  So I whipped these up for brunch.  They are really, really good.  Really.

I tried a few different herbs.  Tarragon, basil, and oregano (separately-not together) were very tasty.  I just happened to like dill the best, but you could substitute any of the others.  You could also add a little onion or garlic to the batter.  Experiment, but don’t add lemon zest, I had to throw those out.  Also, don’t over stir the batter once you’ve added the flour as that makes the pancakes tough.  You can make the batter the night before, just store in the fridge in an airtight container and stir before using.

Servings: 12-15 silver dollar pancakes
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes, Cooking:  6 minutes per batch (I finished in 30 minutes)
Hardware:  A veggie peeler, a food processor (or grater), measuring cups and spoons, a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a non-stick skillet, a spatula, a plate

Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. zucchini (3 medium squash)
  • ½ 1bs. carrots (2-3 large carrots)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill (depending on your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Sour cream and chopped green onions
  • Cooking spray
  1. Peel the zucchini.  Use the grater attachment on the processor to grate the carrots and the zucchini.  Then use the processor to chop the veggies into little crumbs. Alternatively, you can grate and roughly dice the veggies.
  2. Mix the veggies, herbs, eggs, and salt.
  3. Gently stir in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. 
  5. Use about ¼ cup of batter for each pancake.  I use a measuring cup or an ice-cream scoop to make sure my pancakes are uniform.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side.  You might want to adjust the heat because you want the center to cook before the outside gets too brown. Keep the pancakes warm by placing them onto a plate in the oven on the lowest setting while you finish.
  6. Top with sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and chopped green onions.

Carrot Zucchini Pancakes

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Caprese Burger

Caprese Burger
I am having a harder time coming up with new ideas for this blog. I have created roughly one recipe a week for almost 5 years.  I had a sudden inspiration after eating a Caprese Salad. I have used the ingredients from that delicious salad-basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella-and put them into a burger. Bingo.

This tastes best if you make your own basil pesto. The cheese will be easier to slice if you freeze it first.  Serve with a side of Rosemary Parmesan Potatoes

Servings:  4 burgers
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and a knife, mixing bowl, a spatula, a plastic container with a lid, a spoon, a heavy bottom frying pan
Time: Prep-10 minutes, Cook-7-10 minutes
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef (the best that you can afford)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1½ tablespoons + 1½ tablespoons basil pesto
  • ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt + more
  • 4 thick slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 large vine ripened tomatoes
  • Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
  • Fresh shredded basil leaves for garnish
  • 4 buns
  1. Mix the mayo, 1½ tablespoon pesto, and the balsamic vinegar. Place into the plastic container and put in the fridge until you need it. Thinly slice the tomatoes. Cut thick slices of cheese. Set aside.
  2. Mix the beef, 1½ tablespoons pesto, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and salt. Don’t over handle the beef as it will make tough burgers.
  3. Divide the ground beef into 4 equal ¾ inch patties. Salt both sides. Make a small dimple in the center of each burger, this will keep your burgers from having a hump in the middle as it cooks..  In the pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Place the burgers into the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip. Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Check the largest burger for desired temperature. Place a cheese slice onto each burger during the last minute or so of cooking so that it will melt.
  4. To serve, place the warm burgers onto the split buns, cheese side up. Top each burger with 1½ tablespoons of mayo and 2 tomato slices. Add a few shreds of fresh basil.