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.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Taco Skillet

Taco Skillet

Most of my recipes are simple, nothing complicated. I believe that most people just want to make something quick and tasty for dinner. That is what I try to provide. This Taco Skillet only requires one pan and is easy and kid friendly. Maybe next time I’ll do something fancy. Or maybe the time after that.

Here are the tweaks: We were out of elbow macaroni, so I used ditalini. It worked out fine. You can use any small tubular pasta. You can control the heat by the type of Ro-Tel that you choose. If you want no heat at all, try Ro-Tel Mild. Ro-Tel Original is a little spicy. Chipotle, Serrano, and the aptly named Hot are much spicier. I use 2 packets of taco seasoning because I like bold flavors. That is up to you. In order to save time, you can buy diced onions and peppers in the produce section. You can also buy them frozen. If you don’t eat red meat, you could substitute ground chicken or turkey.

Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 20 minutes; Dinner in 30ish minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and a knife, a deep skillet with a lid, a colander, a can opener, a wooden spoon

Ingredients: 
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) bell pepper
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) onion
  • 8 ounces ( 1 cup) uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 can (10 ounces) Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 1¼ cup water (maybe more)
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning or 2 tablespoons of your own
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: taco sauce, hot sauce, sour cream, pickled jalapeños, chopped tomatoes, roasted bell peppers
  1. Dice the onions and green peppers. Cook them in the skillet with the ground beef over medium high. Crumble the beef while it is cooking. When it is cooked through, drain the beef mixture.
  2. Return the beef to the deep skillet. Add the pasta, the Ro-Tel (do not drain), water, milk and seasonings to the skillet. Stir. Make sure the pasta is submerged. You may need to add a little more water or milk. However, you are not making soup. You just want the liquid to completely cover the pasta.
  3. Cover the skillet with the lid and bring to a low boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, stirring once or twice, just enough to keep everything from sticking.
  4. When the pasta is tender, usually after 10-11 minutes, stir in the cheese and remove the skillet from the heat.
  5. Serve warm with any toppings that you would regularly put on a taco. This is really good as leftovers!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Blueberry Cheese Danish

Blueberry season is upon us. So, is Independence Day. So, I did a twofer-used up blueberries, made a patriotic looking breakfast. These pastries are as delicious as they are beautiful. They are very easy to make but look complicated. No one needs to know.

This Danish can be made without the fruit. You can also forego the pie filling and use just fresh fruit at the end. If you choose to do this, use more berries. You can use other types of fruit-peaches, raspberries, strawberries-if you want.

If you really  want to make them look more luxurious, you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar OR drizzle a little glaze over the top.

Servings:  11 Danishes
Time: Active time: 10 minutes; Thaw: 20 minutes Cook: 13-15minutes; Danishes in about an hour
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a clean flat surface, a rolling pin, a mixer and mixing bowl, a silicone spatula, a zester, a can opener, a 4.5 inch round cookie cutter (I used a Tupperware lid), a drinking glass, parchment paper or silicone baking mat, and a baking sheet

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets-thawed 9one box)
  • 1-8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1¼  cups of blueberry pie filling
  • 5 ounces fresh blueberries (rinsed0
  • Flour 
 
 
 
 
 
  1.  Read through the recipe before beginning. Allow the puff pastry to thaw for about 20 minutes. Set out the cream cheese, too. Zest and juice the lime. Set aside about 1 teaspoon of the lime zest for garnish. Open the blueberry pie filling. Cover the baking sheet in parchment paper (or the silicone mat) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Place the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, lime juice and lime zest into the mixing bowl. Blend until the texture is completely creamy. Set aside.
  3. Unfold one puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the sheet until it is about 1x1 inch larger on each side. With the 4.5-inch cookie cutter, cut out four circles. Using the drinking class score a smaller circle in the middle of each larger circle by pressing down but NOT through. You just want the smaller circle to be an outline. Do this with the second puff pastry sheet as well. Roll out the scrap dough to make 3 more Danishes. Place them on the baking sheet, not touching.
  4. You may need to cook in batches. Place the waiting Danishes in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Make sure they aren't touching.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each Danish. Use the spatula to spread the filling to the edge of the inner circle. Top the cream cheese mixture with 1½ tablespoons of the pie filling. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the Danishes are golden brown. Top with fresh berries and a sprinkle of lime zest.
  6. Allow the Danishes to cool to room temperature before serving.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Stuffed Meatball Sliders

Stuffed Meatball Sliders

Stuffed Meatball Sliders may seem like a great deal of work. They are. However, they are completely worth it. 2 of these make a meal and your family and guests will be so impressed. This is what you should serve on Independence  Day.

I used King’s Hawaiian Slider Rolls because they are a good size for this dish, they come pre-sliced and they are YUMMY! You can use your favorite brand. Mid’s pizza sauce was perfect for the marinara sauce. It is inexpensive, made with all-natural ingredients, and most importantly, delicious. 

You can make the meatballs and peppers a day before. Remove them from the fridge to give them enough time to come to room temperature and then assemble the sliders as directed. Make an extra batch of meatballs and freeze them for another day.


 
 
 
 
Servings: 9 sliders
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, a smaller bowl, a cutting board and knives, a large heavy pan, a smaller skillet, a fork, a silicone spatula, tongs, an 8x11.5 glass baking dish, and foil (maybe a serrated knife)
Time:  Active time 30 minutes; Cook: 75 Minutes, Sandwiches in about 2 hours

 Ingredients:

Mozzarella Middle

  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12-ounce container of baby mozzarella balls (ciliegine- say ‘chili-ay-JEE-nay”)
  • Braising liquid (stock, sauce, wine, whatever strikes your fancy)
  • 1-9 pack of King’s Hawaiian Slider Rolls
  • 1 red bell pepper (8-10 ounces)-I used different colored baby bells for color
  • 1 ½ cups of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Mid’s Pizza Sauce)
  • 9 slices of provolone, cut a bit larger than the slider buns
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  1.  Remove 10 of the mozzarella balls from the container and set aside. You don’t want to contaminate the rest of the cheese.
  2. Combine the first 8 ingredients in the bowl and mix with your hands. Take a pinch of the meat and fry it. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  3. Roll out about  2 ounces of the meat, just as if you were making a regular meatball. Then pat the meat ball out flat. Place one cheese ball in the center and pinch the meat closed around it. Check and make sure that no cracks appear in the meatball were the cheese can escape while it is cooking. Make the meatball a little flat, so it sits nicely on the bun.(See the video below.) Continue to do this until you have 9 meatballs. You will have a little bit of meat left over. Make a test meatball.
  4. Heat the oil on medium.  Brown the meatballs on all sides for about 8 minutes.  Turn them ¼ time every 2 minutes. Drain the fat from the pan.
  5. Add enough liquid to the pan to cover the meatballs about 2/3 of the way.  Simmer them for about 45 minutes. Check the test meatball to see if it is done.
  6. While the  meatballs are cooking, cut the bell pepper into long then strips and cook until desired crispiness. I usually like my pepper still crispy, but for sandwiches I prefer them to be softer.
  7. When the meatballs are done, melt the butter in the microwave safe bowl. Preheat the oven to 350˚. Lay a large piece of foil in the bottom of the baking dish.
  8. King’s Hawaiian Slider Rolls come pre-sliced. If you are using another brand, use the serrated knife cut the rolls in half horizontally.
  9. Place the bottoms of the bread on the foil. Spread the bell peppers evenly over the bread. Top the peppers with the meatballs. Use the spatula to spread the top halves of the bread with marinara sauce. You can spoon a little onto the meatballs if you want. Lay a slice of cheese onto each meatball. Place the top bun onto each sandwich. 
  10. Pour the butter evenly over the sliders. Use the pastry brush to make sure all the bread is covered in butter. Seal the foil closed. You may need another sheet of foil. 
  11. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the sliders to rest for 2-3 minutes. You may need a knife to cut the sliders apart. Serve warm. 
 


 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Seared Pork Tenderloin with a Pepper, Caper, Mustard Sauce

Seared Pork Tenderloin 

Pork tenderloin can sometimes be dry. This easy recipe comes out tender and moist every time. It also only takes about 15 minutes to make.

I have included a recipe for a Pepper, Caper, Mustard Sauce but you can change the recipe up by using any sauce you like. You can also use herbs and spices or a dry rub on the pork before you cook it. You can skip the cornstarch if you want.

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes-Dinner in 20 minutes
Hardware:  a measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a paper towel. a gallon, plastic bag, a heavy bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), tongs, a thermometer, a bowl
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1-pound pork tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Cooking spray

  1. Cut the tenderloin into bite size pieces. You can cut it into medallions, but I like the look of an uneven rough chop. Pat the pieces dry.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the pieces and place them and the cornstarch into the gallon, plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake like mad to coat.
  3. Heat the skillet on medium high and spray generously with cooking spray.
  4. Shake the cornstarch from the meat and add it to the hot skillet. Don’t crowd the pork because if you do it won’t sear. It will steam. You may have to cook in batches.
  5. Allow the pork to sauté for about four minutes. Flip it with the tongs. After 4 more minutes, begin to check the smallest pieces with the thermometer. Using the tongs, remove the meat and place it into the bowl as soon as the thermometer reads 145˚. Do not overcook!

 

Pepper, Caper, Mustard Sauce

You can use any sauce that you like. In reality, this meat is so juicy and tender that you don’t need a sauce, but here you go. This is also good for pork chops.

Hardware:  a measuring spoons and cups, a whisk (I use a flat whisk), a food grinder (we have a dedicated coffee grinder to use for this), a small strainer, the pan and pan drippings that you just cooked pork 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup white wine

  1. Rinse the capers. Place the capers, peppercorns and garlic in the food grinder. Pulse the grinder a few times until the peppercorns are broken down.
  2. Don’t wipe out the skillet you cooked the pork in. Just melt the butter in it, using the whisk to scrape up any brown bits left in the pan. 
  3. Add in the peppercorn mixture and the mustard while continuing to whisk. Slowly add in the white wine. Taste and adjust the salt. Allow it to simmer on low until it is thick enough to cling to the back of a spoon. 
  4. You can return the pork to the pan or serve the sauce in a bowl and allow your guest to spoon on as much as they want.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Orange Shrimp and Ramen Stir-Fry

Orange Shrimp and Ramen Stir-Fry

Chinese take-out isn’t necessarily Chinese food. It is usually very Americanized and might not even be recognized by a person who is actually from China. Orange Shrimp and Ramen Stir-Fry is Chinese take-out and not Chinese food. That being said, it is delicious and really easy to make.

I bought the shrimp already cleaned. If you are going to clean them yourself, it will add a great deal of time to the prep. I also bought different colored baby bells, just to add variety and color. If you want, you can buy a package of frozen peppers and onions to save time. They do not need to be cooked, just defrosted.







 

Servings: 6 
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and a knife, a large, deep skillet, tongs, a large pot, a small bowl and a fork, paper towels, a wooden spoon 
Time:  prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 15-20 minutes; Dinner in about 30 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 1pound large shrimp (31/35 shrimp per pound)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium bell pepper (8 ounces)
  • 1 small onion (4 ounces)
  • An orange with a really nice, clean skin
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (or more depending on your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 packages of Ramen noodles
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt
  1. If you didn't  buy the shrimp cleaned, do that first. Place them in the fridge until needed. Scrub the orange and slice it into eighths. Mince the garlic. Slice the pepper into long, thin strips and remove any white pith. Slice the onion into rings and then slice the rings in half. Slice the green onions into thin slivers. Open the packages of ramen, discarding the foil packets of salt.
  2. Fill the pot with water and put it onto boil.
  3. Rinse the shrimp, pat them dry and salt them. Drying them makes them get crispier.
  4. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. When the skillet is hot, cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side and remove to the plate. Don’t crowd them, you may have to cook them in batches.
  5. Add more spray to the same pan and sauté the garlic, onion and bell peppers until they are cooked enough for you. I like them still a little crispy. Remove them to the plate, too.
  6. Pour the chicken broth, orange juice and soy sauce into the still hot skillet. Bring to a boil and stir, scraping up any bits left on the bottom of the pan.
  7.  Add the cornstarch to a bowl with about 3 tablespoons of very cold water. Use the fork to mix until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add the cornstarchy water to the sauce and stir. Allow it to boil. The mixture should thicken.
  8. Turn the broth down to a very low simmer and add in all of the cooked veggies and shrimp. Sprinkle on the red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust the salt.
  9. Place the ramen in the boiling water. DO NOT OVER COOK THEM. It only takes 3 minutes. As, soon as the ramen is done, use the tongs to move them from the boiling water to the shrimp and toss to make sure everything is coated. Add in the orange slices and green onions and serve right away.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pasta and Greens, Sausage and Beans

Pasta and Greens, Sausage and Beans

Pasta and Greens, Sausage and Beans might sound like a carb overload, but after tasting this deceptively simple dish, you won’t care.  Beans and greens are a classic pairing in Italian cucina povera (poor food).  Adding sausage and pasta elevates  the dish some, but not too much. This is comfort food, meant to be easy on your budget and something you can just throw together in a hurry.

Usually this is made with Swiss chard, but I am not a fan. You can use any green you like. Even collards.  You will need to adjust the cooking times depending on the greens you use. The magic of this dish is in the different textures. To this end, do not overcook the pasta and use Parmesan shavings and not the shaker cheese stuff.




 

Servings: 4-6

Time:  Active time: 15 minutes; Cook: 40 minutes; Dinner in under an hour

Hardware:  a large pot, a colander, measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board and knife, a large skillet with a lid, a plate, tongs, a can opener, a large ladle

 Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 4 sweet Italian sausage links
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1-15-ounce can cannelloni (white kidney) beans
  • 8 ounces of baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of shaved Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • water
  • salt
  1.  Wash the spinach.
  2. Place links in the skillet and add enough water to cover them.
  3. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 -12 minutes.
  4. Pour off about half the water and return the skillet to the stove. Cook on medium high, uncovered, until the water evaporates. Continue to cook, turning often until the sausage is browned. Turn off the heat and remove the sausage to the plate. Allow the sausage to rest while you put on the pasta water.
  5. Put the pasta onto boil and cook following the package directions. DO NOT overcook. Throw the spinach in during the last 2 minutes of boiling.
  6. While the pasta is boiling, slice the sausage into bite sized pieces. Return the sausage, all the juices, the rosemary and the entire contents of can of beans to the skillet over medium low heat. Add 2 ladles of pasta water and the pepper flakes. Bring to a very low simmer. You are just allowing the flavors to meld; you are not cooking anything. Don’t allow this to cook for more than 2 minutes.
  7. Add the drained pasta, spinach and Parmesan cheese to the sausage and gently toss everything. Taste and adjust the salt.
  8. Serve right away with crusty bread.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Parsley Pesto

Parsley Pesto and Shrimp

When you hear the word pesto, you probably think basil. We love Basil Pesto here! However, the word roughly translates to “has been crushed.’ So, really you could use many herbs to make pesto. I am going to do just that.

This is Parsley Pesto. Which is made the exact same way as basil pesto except you use parsley! (Read that in my most sarcastic voice.) You also substitute walnuts for the traditional pine nuts. I used Pecorino Romano cheese because it has a sharper taste than does Parmesan. I thought parsley needed something sharper. You can use Parmesan if you want to though.

I put a pot of fettuccine on to boil. In the 12 minutes the pasta was boiling, I pan fried lightly salted shrimp and sweet, cherry tomatoes. Pan frying means that you fry the food without oil. This technique works best in a very hot cast iron pan and helps maintain the moisture in the food you are cooking. If you don’t have a suitable pan, use a sparing amount of olive oil to fry the shrimp. When I flipped the shrimp, I added about ¼ cup Parsley Pesto and ½ cup pasta water to the pan. I stirred everything until the pesto and the pasta water made a light sauce. I served the parsley Pesto Shrimp over the fettuccine and garnished the dish with toasted walnuts and more grated cheese. So very good!

Servings:  1 cup
Time:  10 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a food processor or blender, a strainer, a rubber spatula, and an airtight container

 Ingredients:

  • 2 packed cups fresh parley
  • 4 ounces of the best Pecorino Romano cheese you can afford
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of walnuts 
  • 3 cloves garlic of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  1.  Wash the parley leaves and set them aside in a strainer to dry.
  2. Chunk up the cheese and place it and the in the food processor and pulse a few times until the cheese is the size of small gravel. Scrape the cheese into the container.
  3. Place the garlic and the walnuts into the food processor and pulse 3 or four times. Scrape this onto the cheese.
  4. Place the parsley and the salt into the food processor and turn on. The parsley will become almost a paste. You may need to stop and scrape the sides.
  5. Add everything back into the processor and turn it on. With the processor still running, slowly add the olive oil. Everything should begin to blend.
  6. Stop and scrape down the sides the spatula a few times. Taste and adjust the salt.
  7. Store in the fridge until ready to use.