Stuffed Calamari


Score! I got my brother-in-law Ralph's Stuffed Calamari recipe! This was so good, dare I say as good as Ralph's. I made a salad with shaved Parmigiana and a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice to go along with dinner.

Here is the recipe for Stuffed Calamari as emailed from Ralph.
Stuffing is made beforehand and at/close to room temp prior to stuffing...... Just 2 cans of crab meat with a bit of its liquid sauteed w/four five tablespoons of butter ..........a splash of white wine, some chopped parsley..When mixture is bubbling, remove from heat.........Add breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly.....Add enough breadcrumbs to achieve a consistency between dry and wet if that makes sense.....(call Goldilocks for more specific info)........The most important thing is not to cram/over stuff .....This will cause the calamari to split.....A long spoon (ice cream soda) works well.....I will force some stuffing to the bottom and then add more stuffing gently tapping down but not packing......Use a toothpick to seal at the top................Sauce is a can of crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic...... Be generous with the olive oil covering pan bottom and then some..... saute garlic along with red pepper flakes depending on how much heat is desired.....(I keep adding more each year and it's not quite where I like it yet.).......... adding tomatoes when garlic is browned....add red wine/water equal to 1/3 of the tomato can......... 

     I make the stuffing first, set aside, and then do the sauce. When the sauce gets to a boil, lower temp to simmer slowly...... I then stuff the calamari and at some point will add the tentacles to the sauce. After the stuffing is completed, I will add the calamari carefully to the sauce, bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer........

Easy recipe top follow and you will be so pleased with the results.

Chicken Parmesan

This weekend I made a double batch of my Mom's Chicken Cutlets, always like to have these in the freezer. Tonight Chris added some marinara sauce, from the freezer, and made Chicken Parmesan. This chicken recipe always results in a moist breast with a delicious fried egg coating. The sauce and cheese only added even more flavor.

Mom's Chicken Cutlet Recipe -

Have 2 dishes set out. In one put bread crumbs. In the second put in the eggs but first separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites then mix in the yolks. Dredge the cutlet in bread crumbs, then dip in to the eggs. (I added fresh chopped parsley to the egg wash) Let as much egg drip as off possible before adding to the hot oil. Do not touch the cutlet until it looks like the eggs is set. You will be tempted to move it around but do not!

Once the egg is set flip the cutlet to cook the other side. Drain fried cutlets on paper towels and put in 350˚ oven for about 15 to 20 minutes to finish cooking.

Minestra Maritata


When I growing up my mom use to make a large pan of Minestra. We would eat Minestra for at least 3 nights in a row, it was one of my Dad's favorites. Sunday I made a large pan of Minestra. We will be eating this for dinner for at least 2 nights, I will freeze the rest.
I love this recipe. It is the closest to my mom's recipe that I have found. For meat I purchased a Prosciutto end at the deli, some sweet chicken sausage, hot pork sausage, salami, mortadella, chicken legs and chicken thighs. I added some Parmesan rinds that I had in the freezer. The recipe is from Cooking with Guiseppe. The result was a delicious bowl of the perfect soup for a cold January night.

Calzones!

Wow these were some large calzones. Looks like dinner and lunch to me. I made Chris a bacon and onion Calzone, while I had a spinach and black olive Calzone. Ricotta, fresh Mozzarella and Parmesan and parsley were also part of the stuffing. The dough was the Jim Lahey recipe, so I have half a batch stashed in the freezer.

Pork Chops Pizzaiola and Baked Zucchini Sticks

Today I asked Chris if he would prefer Breaded Pork Chops or Pork Chops Pizzaiola for dinner. He picked the Pork Chops Pizzaiola. I was going to make them the way I usually make Steak Pizzaiola. But I decide to check out the Internet. I found Stella's Pork Chops Pizzaiola Recipe. I love the name Stella. And we loved these Pork Chops!

Ingredients-
2 bone in pork chops
1 14 Oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 large onion (sliced rings)
2 potatoes (sliced into wedges)
1/2 cup Romano cheese
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Black pepper
Olive oil

Method-
Preheat oven to 350º

Place pork chops in large baking dish
Place potatoes around pork chops
Cover with onions, tomatoes, parsley
Sprinkle with Romano (or cheese of choice)

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes! 

As a side dish I made Baked Zucchini Sticks. I have wanted to make Baked Zucchini Sticks for what seems to be forever. Tonight I finally tried it. Wow, I should have made these a long time ago. Fantastic!

Ingredients-
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 3" x 1/2" sticks
1 large egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated  Romano cheese
Salt
Fresh pepper
Chopped parsley
Dried oregano

Method-
In a small bowl, beat egg whites and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, mix bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.   

Dip zucchini sticks into eggs, then into bread crumb and cheese mixture. Place the breaded zucchini in a single layer. Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

I made some Roasted Chickpeas as a snack today. Perhaps I went a little too heavy on the cumin!


For Christmas I gave Chris a 4 month subscription to the Wine of the Month Club. He will be getting 2 bottles of California red wines each month. Today the first 2 were delivered. It was perfect with dinner.

Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

I am back! Finally feeling well enough to get back to blogging. Not that blogging is exhausting but... Enough excuses for my absence. What did I make for dinner?  Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary from RealSimple.com. This was a perfect work night dinner. It came together in 15 minutes, did not fill the sink with too many dishes and was delicious!

From RealSimple.com, Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

Ingredients -
12 ounces orecchiette (about 3 cups)
1 2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
kosher salt and black pepper

Method -
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones.

Toss the pasta with the chicken, rosemary, reserved pasta water, ½ cup of the Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Becco


 
Becco, or as I can now refer to it as my new favorite Italian restaurant in New York City. Chris and I went into New York today for a show at B.B. King's, The Smithereens. Yes they are our favorite band. We wanted dinner before the show so Chris picked Becco. We had 4pm reservations, the Smithereens concert started at 8pm so we had plenty of time. We had to wait in the bar to be seated. The walls of the bar where lined with pots and pans that looked ancient. There were shelves lined with what looked like carrots and berries of some kind that had been put up. They reminded me of my parents little cellar.

We sat in the back dining room. The tables were close to each other but we ended up talking with our neighbors on both sides. It was a very casual and comfortable atmosphere.
We started off with cocktails. Bread and bread sticks were put on the table. A dish of olives and a dip made with cannelini beans were also on the table. We made quick work of the that dip.
  

We had Caesar Salad. (The photo I took was very blurry). I use Lidia's recipe for Caesar Salad when I make it at home. But the salad they served tasted so much better, probably because I did not have to clean up anything.
 
The appetizers were next. Polpette di Manzo. House-made all beef meatballs in “Sunday Sauce”, finished table side with grated Grana Padano. Oh my God. A plate of these with some bread was all I needed. They were cooked perfectly and were delicious. We asked if they could be FedExed to our home. We also tried the Arancini, Rice Balls. I have to say they were disappointing, rather bland. But the meatballs made of for them.

Dinner. I had a special, Braised Short Ribs. (The photo I took was very blurry). They were served with Butternut Squash and sauteed Swiss Chard. Chris had the Osso Buco alla Becco. Where to start.... Both dishes were very good. Fantastic. Delicious. As I am typing this my mouth is watering. The marrow from the Osso Buco tasted like it was flavored with rosemary and parsley. Mind blowing. Absolutely mind blowing.

The wine was my selection, I checked the wine menu online the other night and did some research and narrowed down our selection to 4 bottles. Chris did make the final choice. It was a perfect match with our meals.

We passed on dessert, but I did have a piece of Key Lime Pie at B.B. King's, sorry no photo.




Barley Soup and Black-Pepper Breadsticks

For Christmas, Chris gave me a copy of Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking. I love Lidia. Her cookbooks always fun to read and filled with recipes that I want to try. The first recipe I tried from this book was Barley Soup.

Perfect for this time of year when it is just so darn cold. I made the whole recipe and have a couple of portion tucked away in the freezer.

And a sneak preview- We are eating at Becco on Saturday!!!!

From Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking, Barley Soup

(serves 8 or more)
Ingredients -
2 smoked ham hocks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 pound split peas. rinsed
3 cups barley, rinsed
12 ounces baby spinach
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Method -
Put the ham hock in a saucepan, and cover them with water. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes to remove some saltiness. Drain and rinse.
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, and saute until they being to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks, carrots, and celery, and saute until everything is coated with oil. Add 8 quarts of water, the split peas and the ham hocks, and bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer, uncovered until the peas have broken down, about 45 minutes.
Add the barley, and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. The split peas should be broken down and have made the soup thick and creamy at this point. Add the spinach, corn and salt and simmer until the spinach is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.



With the soup we had Black-Pepper Breadsticks. I found the recipe on the Food and Wine site. They tasted just like Frezels, little black pepper crackers my mom made. I am not sure I have the spelling correct on that. I will have to check with my sister.

From Food and Wine, Black-Pepper Breadsticks

Ingredients -
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 envelopes)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
4 teaspoons kosher or Maldon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Method -
Preheat the oven to 350° and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast and 2 tablespoons of the flour and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour along with the shortening, salt and pepper and knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 7 to 8 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and divide it into fourths. Cut each quarter into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 9-by-1/2-inch rope. Using a knife, trim the breadsticks to 8 inches; arrange on the baking sheets and bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and firm, shifting the pans halfway through baking. Transfer the breadsticks to racks and let cool before serving.

Scallop Piccata with Sautéed Spinach

Wow, wow, wow! This was so good. Or was it that I was just so hungry? No it was good.
I bought nice big scallops, U/10s. And I cooked them perfectly, was nervous that I would over cook them but did not! The whole wheat pasta was a nice change. It tasted healthy! And the spinach, well I enjoyed it.

From Cooking Light, Scallop Piccata with Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients -
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (about 12)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup vermouth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons capers
1 (10-ounce) package fresh baby spinach

Method -
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over scallops. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add scallops; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned and done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped garlic to pan; cook 10 seconds. Add vermouth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Add parsley, fresh lemon juice, butter, and capers, stirring until butter melts. Pour sauce in a bowl.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add spinach; saute 30 seconds or until spinach almost wilts. Drizzle sauce over scallops; serve with spinach.

Serve over whole wheat linguine.

Sunday Night Chili

I have never been a big chili fan. Not sure why. Tonight I have changed my opinion. This was a delicious dinner. Perfect for a crazy cold day.

My version of Sunday Night Chili recipe is from RealSimple.com

Ingredients -
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped, plus more for serving
2 red bell peppers, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed

Directions -
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add the beef, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes (with their juices), beans, ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

Thank God for that freezer!

Still coughing today so I was not about to venture in the kitchen to cook dinner. Maybe tomorrow. But there is the freezer and delights it holds. A dish of Wine Braised Short Ribs and a dish of Butternut Squash and Pasta. The squash dish was layered like a lasagna but without cheese. The short ribs were so delicious. I mean really good. The sauce from the ribs was so good I used it on top of my portion of squash. Chris asked if we had more dishes of short ribs in the freezer. Sorry but we do not.

And on a side note, today would have been my Mom's birthday. If it was not for her and her love of food I would not be writing this blog. Happy Birthday Mom!


The Care Package aka My Sister's Meatloaf

First day back to work after a long, well a seven day vacation. A vacation that I did spend in bed with a virus. I am still not feeling 100%, so I worked from home. The funny thing is that my job does not involve any heavy lifting. I work on web pages, pretty light weight stuff. But I was exhausted. I got so use to being in bed and just dozing off that sitting up all day wiped me out.
Thankfully my sister dropped off a meatloaf yesterday. Just had to heat it up. I tossed some cauliflower and broccoli in the oven to roast and heated up a package of Arborio rice that I had in the freezer.  The meatloaf was delicious. So moist and there were mushrooms in it! It was so great to put a nice meal on the table that my sister cooked. I could get use to this...

Pasta with Lentils, Soppressata & Zucchini

Buon anno! 2014 is here. And I am still slightly under the weather. My sister brought over a meatloaf for us which we will be eating tomorrow night, first day back to work and all that. But tonight I was, for the first time in about a week, up to making dinner. We had to have lentils, being New Years Day. As I was not about to send Chris out looking for cotechino sausage I had to make do with what I had in the house. It does pay to keep a well stocked pantry for just such an evening.

I prepared 8 oz of lentils, only used about 4 oz but the others will freeze. I sauteed diced zucchini in olive oil and a knob of butter. Sauteing for about 5 minutes.  I added diced Soppressata Salami and 1/2 or maybe 3/4 cup of white wine. I let the wine reduce and then added the cooked lentils. Meanwhile the pasta, a German pasta - Bechtle, Chili-Tomato was cooking. I added the cooked pasta along with a cup of pasta water to the saute pan. About a quarter cup of ricotta cheese was added. The ingredients were stirred to combine and topped with fresh cut parsley.

The first word out of my husband's mouth was, "Wow!" It was quite good. The Soppressata combined with the spiciness of the noodles was a perfect match. The lentils and zucchini were more of a decoration. Yes we have leftovers but will they last to be used in a Pasta Pie... stay tuned. And Happy New Year!