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, 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.

 

 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Hamburger Potato Bake

I was digging around in the pantry trying to throw dinner together. This happened. It is delicious, inexpensive, easy to make and kid friendly. It is also a casserole.

Don’t be afraid. I know sometimes casseroles are mushy. Often, they are made up of cream of something soup or have hot, canned tuna in them. I am not down on you if you like any of those things, but many people do not. I cannot blame them. My Hamburger Potato Bake is nothing like that.

The trick to making sure that nothing is mushy is not to cook everything together. Potatoes take longer to cook than ground beef. If you cook them together the burger will be gray and mushy. Make your own cheese sauce. Or don’t. If you want to save time, just melt equal parts Cheez Whiz with milk. But don’t get angry and say my casserole wasn’t good.

 I use baby golden potatoes because they cook quickly, and you don’t need to peel them. I also use a mandoline to slice the potatoes because a) the potatoes cook evenly if they are sliced about the same thickness and b) I got a mandoline for Christmas and use it ALLLLL the time now.

Hamburger Potato Bake

Servings: 4-6

Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 50 minutes; (An hour if you are making your own cheese sauce); dinner in an hour
Hardware: Cutting board and large knife, measuring cups, a large bowl, a slotted spoon, and a 10-inch skillet that can be used in the oven. If you do not have an oven safe skillet, just transfer the pan drippings to a 9X9 inch glass baking dish and go from there.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • 4 ounces ( ¼ cup or one small) onion
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1-pound golden baby potatoes
  • 1-9-ounce bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup of up of cheese sauce
  • ½  cup of shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚.  Slice the onion into rings and then slice the rings into quarters. Chop the bacon.
  2. Heat the bacon and onions on medium high for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the ground beef, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and cook and crumble until the beef is no longer pink. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.
  3. While the beef is cooking, wash the potatoes. Slice them as thin as you can. Make sure to try to keep each slice the same thickness.
  4. Using the slotted spoon, remove the onions, the bacon and the beef from the pan and into the bowl. Do not drain the pan. Add the potatoes to the pan and make sure that they are covered in the pan drippings. Lightly salt and pepper them. Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake until the potatoes are tender. This should take 25-30 minutes.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, follow the directions on the package, and microwave the broccoli for about 30 seconds less than recommended.
  6. When the potatoes are easily pierced with a  fork, fold the meat mixture, broccoli and cheese sauce into the potatoes. Be careful, you don't want to tear the potatoes. Top with the shredded cheese and return to the oven and roast until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown, probably 5-7 minutes.
  7. Serve right away.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Day number 6 thousand of the pandemic,  I am going stir crazy and as a result am doing some weird stuff with food (don’t get me started on the tuna pinwheels.) But out of my boredom and off-kilter imagination, good things often happen. These Buffalo Chicken Bites are one of those good things.

Dear Lawd, these are delicious. I have made them three times. Once I had them for breakfast. My mom, the pickiest person on Earth, likes them.

I always give you suggestions for making my recipes your own. Don’t  change a darned thing. Don’t. I shredded a rotisserie chicken for ease. I also used Hooters wing sauce because it is thick. I usually use Franks. You can use your  favorite sauce. But otherwise, do this.

Servings: 25-30 pieces
Time:  Active: 15 minutes; Freeze: 1 hour; Cook: 10 Minutes; Bites in about 90 minutes
Hardware:  A hand mixer, a large mixing, a silicone spatula, a large plastic container with a lid, large plate, 3 shallow bowls, a deep skillet, a large metal slotted spoon (or a skimmer/spider web), a paper towel covered plate, an oil thermometer

 Ingredients

  • 1-8oz package cream cheese
  • 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of wing sauce (I used Hooters)
  • 1-1 oz packet of ranch dressing mix (this is optional, you could skip it and just add a dash of salt)
  • 2 eggs (maybe a third)
  • 1 ½  cups of breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ cup of flour
  • 1-2 cups of oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing 
Buffalo Chicken Bites
  1. Put the cream cheese out to soften.
  2. Using the hand mixer, mix the softened cream cheese, wing sauce and dressing mix OR salt together until the cream cheese and wing sauce are thoroughly combined. Then mix in the shredded chicken and cheddar cheese. You will need to stop mixing and use the spatula to clear the beaters a few times.
  3. Roll 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture into balls. If you make them too large, they won’t cook all the way through later. Place the balls in the freezer for at least on hour. (I froze them for 3 days and they were okay.)
  4. Remove the Bites from the freezer. Put enough oil in the skillet to cover the Bites.  Preheat the oil until it is 350°.  You will want to monitor the oil temperature and keep it between 320° and 350°.
  5. While the oil is heating, place the eggs into one bowl and beat vigorously. Place the flour into the second bowl and the crumbs into the third one. Stir a little salt and pepper into the flour and the crumbs.
  6. Dip a frozen Bite into the flour, then the egg and then the crumbs. You can dip it in the same order twice if you need to, but make sure it is completely encased in crumbs. Repeat this for all the Bites.
  7. Place a few Bites in a single layer in the hot oil. Don’t crowd the skillet. You will have to cook in batches.
  8. Allow them to cook until they are golden brown. Flip them over at least once. I find that it is easiest to just cook one and then cut it open. If it is still frozen in the middle, turn the oil down and increase the cooking time. Use this test Bite to gauge how long to cook them.
  9. As they finish, place them on the paper towel covered plate to drain.  You can place the plate in the oven on the lowest setting to keep them warm.
  10. Serve right away. Offer your guests ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.