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, January 25, 2015

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli means ‘pasta and beans’ in Italian.  It is often pronounced pasta ‘FA zool’ in America, but it is correctly pronounced pasta ‘FA jzoel ee’.  It is traditionally meatless.  However, I always make it with sausage or pancetta.  Like many other Italian-American favorites it started on the tables of poor immigrants as a filling dish made up of inexpensive ingredients.

Now Pasta Fagioli can be found in most Italian-American restaurants.  Every winter, I always make a big pot at least once a month.  It can be frozen and it tastes great the next day.  It also keeps you warm and fills you up.  Perfect on a cold day.

Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 30 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a can opener, large soup pot, a wooden spoon

  • Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 1 small onion (½ cup)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (1½ teaspoon dried)
  • ¾ pound Italian sausage (optional)
  • 2-15 ounce cans white kidney beans
  • 1-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces ditalini pasta
  • Salt & pepper
Pasta Fagioli
The ultimate comfort food

  1. Roughly chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Drain the tomatoes.  Rinse and drain the beans.  Set aside.
  2. Cover the bottom of the soup pot in oil and heat on medium high.  Remove the sausage from the casing, cook and crumble, until it’s no longer pink.  (7 minutes)
  3. Add the fresh veggies and the herbs.  Sauté until the veggies are soft. (4 minutes)  Spoon off most of the fat.
  4. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth.  Bring to a boil. Lower and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat back up to a boil and add the pasta.  Boil for 8 minutes and turn off the heat.  Remove the herb stems if you used fresh herbs.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.  Allow to sit for 3 minutes as the pasta will continue to cook.
  6. Offer your guests hot sauce and crusty bread.  This taste great the next day.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beef Chimichanga

Chimichangas are like deep fried burritos.  So yum!  The exact origin of the dish is unknown, but it is a favorite at Tex-Mex restaurants and our house.  You can stuff a chimichanga with anything. Instead of beef tips you could use cooked ground beef, shredded chicken, or shredded pork.  Instead of rice, you could stir in diced boiled potatoes. I used rice, because I had some leftover.  I have even had chimichangas filled with meat, peas, and carrots-sort of like a Tex-Mex pot pie. You could even omit the meat and double the beans if meat isn’t your thing.

Servings: 6
Time:  Prep: 15 minutes   Cooking:  20-30 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knife, measuring spoons and cups, 1 large bowl, a large spatula, tongs, toothpicks, a paper towel covered plate, a deep skillet

Beef Chimichanga

  • 6 extra-large flour tortillas (I used El Banderito)
  • 1 pound beef tips
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • 1-15 ounce can refried beans
  • ½ cup prepared rice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup of your favorite salsa (I used Frontera Chipotle Salsa)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Oil for frying
  1. Remove the tortillas from the fridge and allow them to rise to room temperature.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, and seed and chop the jalapeño.
  3. Cover the bottom of the deep skillet in oil and heat over medium high.  Add onion, garlic, jalapeño and sauté until the onions are transparent, about 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Add the beef tips and cook, stirring often until the beef is just browned, about 5-6 minutes.  Be careful to not overcook as the tips will get tough.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt & pepper.  Stir until there are no lumps.  Add the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Immediately remove from the heat.
  5. Stir in the can of beans and the cooked rice.  Taste and adjust the salt & pepper. Place in a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Wash the deep skillet and fill it half way up with oil. Turn the heat to medium
  7. Only make two tortillas at a time because they will get soggy.
  8. Off center of the tortilla spoon on  1/6 of the meat mixture.  Fold the burrito over the mixture and tuck in the two side ends.  Continue rolling until you have a secure package.  You may need to use a toothpick to secure the seam.  I have found that if you roll carefully, you don’t.
  9. Place the chimichangas seam side down into the oil.  I find this is easiest to do with a wide spatula.  Do not crowd them.  You may need to cook them in batches.  Fry the chimichangas until they are golden brown. Flip them and fry until the other side is browned, as well.
  10. Place the chimichangas on the paper towel covered plate and keep warm on the lowest setting in the oven.
  11. Chop and seed the tomatoes.  To plate make a bed of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.  Place the chimichanga on the lettuce.  Sprinkle with cheese and top with salsa and sour cream.  Serve right away.
Beef Chimichanga

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are so very 90s, but they have been around much longer than that.  Italian restaurants began serving them as a delicacy as early as the beginning of the 20th century. They probably evolved from the Italian tradition of stuffing zucchini blossoms, a tradition which strangely hasn’t taken hold.  Eventually everyone and his brother was serving them.  And just like everything that becomes popular, stuffed mushrooms have become passé.

But just because something is no longer cool, doesn’t mean it isn’t still wonderful.  I like stuffed mushrooms.  They taste good, they look pretty, they actually are finger food, and they can be started early and finished up later.  Usually stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs, mushrooms can be stuffed with anything.  I love them stuffed with spicy Italian sausage.  One day, I’ll prepare mushrooms stuffed with crab, but for now-enjoy.

Servings:  24 mushrooms
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, knives and a cutting board, a slotted spoon, a large spoon, 2 bowls, a mixing bowl, a gallon plastic bag, a food processor/chopper, a skillet, a baking sheet
Time: Prep-15 minutes, Cook-45 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon + more olive oil
  • 24 stuffing mushroom caps
  • ¾ pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 baby bells or ½ a large bell pepper
  • 1 small carrot
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ + 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. Clean the mushrooms.  Remove the stems.  Use the large spoon to remove the mushrooms’ gills to make more space for stuffing. Set the caps aside. Heat the skillet over medium high. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom. Add the mushroom stems and gills. Sauté them until they are lightly browned (5-7 minutes).  Put the browned stems in the small bowl and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and add just enough oil to cover the bottom again.  Remove the sausage from its casing and cook until it is browned (7-10 minutes).  Use the slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan.  Set the pan aside but do not clean.
  4. Add the onion, stemmed and seeded peppers, cooked mushrooms, and garlic to the food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Return the skillet to medium high heat and sauté the veggie mixture for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt & pepper.
  5. Put the sausage in the food processor and pulse until it is the same consistency as the veggies.
  6. Mix the veggies, sausage, bread crumbs and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese together.
  7. Place the mushroom caps, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon or so of olive oil in the plastic bag.  GENTLY toss the mushrooms so that they are completely covered in oil.
  8. Use the large spoon to stuff the mushroom caps. You can really pack the stuffing down and allow it to heap up on top of the caps.  (At this point you can cover the mushrooms in plastic wrap, place them in the fridge, and finish up later.)
  9. Place each stuffed mushroom onto the baking sheet.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cheese onto the stuffed caps. Bake for 30 minutes or until the stuffing is set and the caps are beginning to shrink.
Serve warm.