Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just a Big Salad

Let's take a break from the over eating and just enjoy a big salad. Oh, but we did have Meat Pie too!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Wow! An amazing meal at Lenore and Ralph's house. Delicious food. Antipasto, Homemade Pasta with Cinghiale Sauce, Roasted Chicken, Green Peas, and Butternut Squash. Oh and let's not forget the birthday cake. Enjoy the show -

The Antipasto -

 Homemade Pasta with Cinghiale Sauce (Ralph referred to this as an American version)
 And the wine for the pasta course -

Roasted Chicken, Green peas and Butternut Squash (Veggies were from their garden)
 And the wine pairing for this course -

And Friday is Ralph's 70th Birthday! 
We had an Italian Cream Cake with Rum and Strawberries from Meriano's Bakery.

I hope everyone had a enjoyable Palm Sunday.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pasta with Fried Eggs and Pangritata and Pizzagaina

Now let's see. Last weekend I made the pie dough for the Pizzagaina. That means this weekend is when we bake the Pizzagaina. Yup today was the day I made my Mom's Pizzagaina recipe. I ended up with 6 pies, and that is just from doubling her recipe. I use to go to her house on Holy Thursday night and we would bake until after midnight. But now I will see my brother and sister on Palm Sunday so I baked them today. 
There is something about Easter baking. It was after a day of baking for Easter that I started this little blog.  Again I am sitting here after a day making my mom's recipe with a glass of wine next to me and I would love to be able to pick up the phone and give her a call. Of course I am sure she would have been following my day's work on Instagram.
For dinner tonight I made a recipe I had pinned not too long ago. Pasta with Fried Eggs and Pangritata. Of course making 6 Pizzagaina and another tart, Zucchini and Potato, would not make me not make homemade pasta for tonight. I used the food processor and the "new" favorite recipe for pasta. Gosh this was quite delicious. Not sure if it was the pasta or the Pangritata that made this so good. It was hard not to reach in the pan for one more forkful....

Click Here for tonight's recipe.

I'm Back!

Wow, it has been forever since my last post. Last weekend I went to DC to visit my nephew and his family. We took his daughter's dress shopping. It was a wonderful weekend. This week we ate meals I had in the freezer, I am the queen of planning ahead. Chicken Noodle Soup, Ham Steaks, Pasta with Meat Sauce, Grilled Cheese, and a Frittata Sandwich were the week's selection.
but we are starting off this week on a high note. Pork Chops. I don't remember the last time I made them. The last time was December 6, 2014!!!!
As I side dish I made Rice Timbale. Arborio Rice with fresh Mozzarella and sauteed Zucchini. Not bad.
Today I made the pie dough for the Pizzagaina. I will freeze it until next Saturday when I plan on baking. I also made a Deep Dish Eggplant Parmesan, more on that later in the week.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Book Club

Tonight was Book Club. This month's book was Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I enjoyed this book. It was a change from my usual reading, it didn't take place in WWII Europe.  It took place in Minnesota during the summer of 1961. It had murder and mystery and sadness and sorrow and I was sad when the story ended.

But enough with my literary ramblings. LOL. Dinner at Kelly's was so good. She prepared an Indian dinner. I do not eat Indian food that often. I think the last time might have been, oh a very long time ago when I lived in New Haven. Tonight we started appetizers, 2 kinds of Samosa, Veggie and Chicken. She served them with a Peach Salsa. I loved the Veggie one!

Dinner was Chicken Tikka Masala with Jasmati Rice. This was so good I had a second helping! She also made one my favorite things in the world, Roasted Cauliflower. And there was also Asparagus and a salad (no photo). Delicious!
Desserts were a Raspberry Tart that looked wonderful (another week until Lent is over) and Doreen made those amazing Chocolate Cookies. Oh I really wanted one of those!

Good food, good wine and wonderful conversation. See you next month!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stuffed Peppers

I love when red peppers are on sale. Two reasons. First I love red peppers. The green pepper for some reason do agree with me. The second reason I love when red peppers are on sale is that they remind me of my Dad. He always said that when they were on sale he could not resist them.

Tonight we had Stuffed Peppers. They were stuffed with Aborio Rice and Sausage. I served them with the Marcella Hazan Sauce. I made stuffed the peppers this weekend and it was the perfect meal to reheat after work.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Salad Nicoise and Escarole and Sausage Stuffed Bread

Making it a little lighter tonight. (And planning my lunch for the week.) I have been wanting a salad for a while now. Perhaps it has been the endless snow and cold but I could not face a heavy winter meal. Don't get me wrong I love winter comfort foods. Putting something in the oven to simmer for 3 or 4 hours is perfect for January. But I think we are in March. Enough already. Potatoes, Green Beans, Hard Boiled Eggs, Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Olives, Roasted Golden Beets and some Scallions. I did not add the Tuna. Honestly there was plenty in the bowl to choose from. I made a simple vinaigrette consisting of Cider Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Olive Oil, Parsley, Tarragon, Salt and Pepper. It was a nice change from beans in soup.
Now on to the bread. Last week I saw on Leon's Restaurant's Facebook page a photo of a Stuffed Bread with Sausage and Dandelion Greens. It looked delicious and I wanted to make some. I had Pizza Dough in the freezer and I picked up small head of Escarole and some Sausage. I cooked the Escarole, sauteed the Sausage.  Then I put everything along with some Provolone Cheese on the pizza dough and rolled it up to make the bread. A perfect side to the salad and enough leftovers to go with my salad for lunch. Always thinking ahead.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuscan Bean Soup

Back in January we had our book club meeting to discuss the book Mona Lisa, A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales. The evening was filled with interesting conversation, some darn good food and some very nice Tuscan wines. For that night, I tried to make food that was predominately from Tuscany, where the book was based. In doing my research for the menu,  I found that food from Tuscany has a reputation for being nourishing, plain and simple, and beans are used extensively. I decided on a Bean Soup. I found the recipe on glutenfreeyummy.com. One of the women in our book group is gluten free. So this was perfect. Everyone loved this soup. Click here to see all the goodies we enjoyed.

I wanted to make the soup for Chris. The forecast was a repeat of the night of book club. Cold and snow. Yes it is almost spring and we are still getting snow! It was a perfect night for this soup. I left out the chicken, I wanted it to be a meatless meal and of course I left out the garlic (surprise!). I could imagine this type of soup being served back in the days of Mona Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo. But Idon't think she would not have used canned beans and tomatoes!

If I had not given up sweets for Lent I would have made the Olive Oil Cake that I made for the book club. That will have to wait until after Easter.

My version of Tuscan Bean Soup from glutenfreeyummy.com.

1 Medium onion (chopped)
1 stalk celery (chopped)
1 Large carrot (chopped)
 32 fl oz chicken stock
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
15oz canned garbanzo beans
15oz canned cannellini beans
15oz canned chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup Kale (Chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Place onion, celery, and carrots into a large soup pot with 3 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Stir frequently, cooking on medium high heat until onion is translucent. Add chicken broth and water to the vegetables and stir. Add canned, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans and tomatoes. Add all herbs and spices and turn down heat to simmer soup. Simmer for at least 15 minutes on low, then serve warm in bowls.

I am submitting this post the the Novel Food Event held at Briciole
I am looking forward to reading the other Novel Food entries. 
Might get ideas for future book club meetings!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cheesy Stuffed Meatball Subs

Let's make this a short post tonight. I have to get ready for a little trip I am taking this weekend. Tonight we had Meatballs Stuffed with Fontina Cheese. 
Yes, stuffed with Fontina Cheese. You can see it oozing out of the meatballs in this photo. They were browned in the oven and than finished in a pan with Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.
And we made sandwiches out of the meatballs with spreadable Parmesan cheese and Provolone cheese on sliced Italian bread. The meatballs, the sauce, the bread, the cheeses all added up to meal that was so delicious.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spanish-Style Lentils with Spinach

Another recipe from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything The Basics. This dinner got rave reviews! I was glad because we got to have lentils and spinach for dinner.

My version of Spanish-Style Lentils with Spinach-

2 tbsp olive oil
½ lb smoked chorizo, chopped
medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1 c lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 bay leaves
½ c red wine
2 c water (or chicken or vegetable stock)
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it is hot add the chorizo and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the sausage begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the paprika and stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Stir in the lentils, bay leaves, wine and water, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to keep the beans submerged, until the lentils are no longer crunchy but are still a little too firm to eat, 20 to 30 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves.

Stir in the spinach, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and keep cooking until the lentils are fully tender, the spinach is wilted and the mixture is saucy and thick, another 5 to 10 minutes. Adjusting the seasoning and serve.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lasagna, My Way

As I was looking through Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything The Basics for recipes for this week I came upon his recipe for Lasagna. I had all the ingredients in the house. Perfect. My lasagna had a few extra things added. Yes I used meat sauce, I had a small container in the freezer. I also had a container of sauce from Chicken Cacciatore. And I had the end cut from the Roast from Christmas dinner. Yes I am attempting to clean out the freezer.

The result, well lets let the picture tell the story -

Monday, March 9, 2015

Barley Soup with Hearty Greens

This week's featured cookbook is Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything The Basics. Yes the Mark Bittman who recipes have been used on this blog 28 times. I just love his cooking, his writing and his videos. He even does a tribute to Charlie Chaplin in the beginning of some of his videos. What's not to like about this guy. And I do have a autographed copy of this book!

So tonight we start with Barley Soup with Hearty Greens. Super easy and wow it was delicious.
I love the texture of the barley. I opted for Swiss Chard for the green.

Barley Soup with Hearty Greens, from How To Cook Everything The Basics

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup pearled barley
7 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock (I used chicken stock)
About 2 pounds hearty greens (I used kale and the leafy tops to a head of celery)

Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the onion and cook stirring occasionally, until it's soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly to coat every grain in the fat, until it starts to toast and stick to the pot, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is almost tender  but still with a bit of crunch, 20 to 25 minutes. (My barley took a lot longer than 25 minutes but came out perfect). Add up to 1 cup of water if the soup looks too dry.

Meanwhile, separate the leaves of the greens for the stems. Keep the leaves and stems separate and roughly chop both.

When the barley is just tender, turn the heat medium-high, uncover the pot and add the stems. Bring the soup to a boil, and add the leaves, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily again. Cover and cook until the barley is fully tender but not mushy and the greens are bright colored and tender, another  5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, add another 1 or 2 tablespoons olive and serve.

And as if the soup was not amazing enough, we had some leftovers from the Muffaletta Pinwheel Steaks we had on Saturday night. I popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes. We made little sandwiches! We used the spreadable Parmesan Cheese on Italian bread. The steak and cheese and the olive salad! I wish I took photos! They were as delicious as the other night, if not better!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Zuppa Arcidossana

This is one of my favorite meals. I do not make it often enough. It is truly comfort on a plate. The sausage is browned and perfectly cooked. The onions and carrots melt in your mouth. And the bread, well that just makes it all so much better. This recipe came from a Mark Bittman New York Times article. I made it for the first time back 2009. It is delicious and we both went back for seconds.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 cup 1/2-inch-diced carrots
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 cup stale bread (use coarse, country-style bread), cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

1. Put oil in a large pot or deep skillet and brown sausage over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When sausage is cooked through and leaving brown bits in pan, add carrots and onion continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Add bread to pan and stir for a minute or 2; add spinach and continue cooking just until it wilts, a couple of minutes.
3. Add about 2 cups water and stir to loosen any remaining brown bits from pan. This is more of a stew than a soup, but there should be some broth, so add another cup of water if necessary. When broth is consistency of thin gravy, ladle stew into serving bowls and top with cheese and some freshly chopped parsley if you have it. Serve immediately.

I am taking a trip to Maryland next weekend and did some baking for the trip...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Muffaletta Pinwheel Steaks

Thank you to the Proud Italian Cook Blog for providing and sharing this recipe. Yes it was delicious. Yes Chris liked it. Would I make it again... Yes! The filling had quite a few of my favorite things in it. But I did not get the Hot Capicola, seems like I picked up 2 packages of Mortadella by mistake. Actually the next time I make this I will omit the Mortadella, one of us is not a big fan. But I would use sweet and hot Capicola. Click Here to view the original recipe at the Proud Italian Cook blog. And once you are at that blog prepare to check out a lot of other amazing recipes.

For side dishes I roasted asparagus and made Near East Parmesan Couscous. We have not had that in a very long time.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Escarole and White Bean Soup

Another Lenten Meal. This one is from Lidia's Favorite Recipes, I guess we are still featuring that cookbook! I made this yesterday at my lunch break, 2 soups in an hour, not bad.

I did make a couple of changes in the original recipe, time being the factor. I had bean stock in the freezer so that helped a lot. The taste soup was nice and light. I served this with Italian bread and spreadable Parmesan cheese.

My version of Escarole and White Bean Soup from Lidia's Favorite Recipes.

1 14 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups bean stock
salt, pepper and ground thyme to taste
1 head of escarole coarsely shredded, washed and drained
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Heat the bean stock, which I had in the freezer from the last time I made dried cannellini beans.
Adjust the seasonings.
Add the escarole and cook stirring occasionally until it is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and the beans. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Week of No Cooking, Well Almost...

This week I did not really make dinner, well except for Thursday. The past 2 weekends have been occupied by making cookies for a fund raiser for a co-worker's friend. The co-worker asked if I would bake some cookies. She supplied all the ingredients I supplied the cookie baking. Needless to say there was no way I could cook for this week and do the cookies. So we went to the freezer.

We started the week off on a high note with leftovers from a dinner at Leon's. Chris had the Chicken Zingara, "Gypsy Chicken", boneless chicken, fennel sausage, caramelized onions, hot cherry peppers, fried potatoes, red wine vinegar reduction. This is now his favorite menu choice, unless Osso Bucco in on the goodies list. I have had this dish before and it is wonderful. I chose Risotto Funghi. Arborio rice, sautéed wild mushrooms, spinach, pecorino-romano, and white truffle essences. This is the item I will be ordering from now on at Leon's. Each little piece of risotto was like a cloud that I wanted to rest my head on. Okay maybe a little dramatic but seriously it was perfect. I was so sad when I cleaned my plate tonight because I wanted more.
To go along with the leftovers I had some Vegetable Stew in the freezer.

On Tuesday we got more snow. It started snowing right before the evening commute. It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to get home. I can not tell you how happy I was to walk in and find Chris plating Pasta with Meat Sauce.

Wednesday was actually a nice commute home. I was home in one hour! I had Chicken Cutlets in the freezer and there was left over pasta from last night. Just the perfect amount of food.

And then on Thursday it snowed. Again. All day. It was crazy how much snow we got. Close to 8 inches in 8 hours. I do not think we will see our lawn any time soon.

Dinner Thursday night consisted of Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup from Lidia's Favorite Recipes which I was made when took my lunch break.

My version of Pappa al Pomodoro, Tomato and Bread Soup, adapted from Lidia's Favorite Recipes.

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the finished
1/4 cup onions, finely diced
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 cup water
2 slices Italian bread, crusts removed
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil

In a deep, heavy 4 to 5-quart pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Crush the tomatoes by hand.

Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Add the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once the tomatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, add the bread to the pot and bring back to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the basil and adjust the level of heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes. The soup was rather chunky from the bread so I used the immersion blender to give it a smooth texture.

Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. 

And about those cookies. Well, here are some photos of the finished cookies packed and ready for delivery...

Cinnamon Sticks

Lemon Shortbread
Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate Covered Mints

Vanilla and Chocolate Butter Cookies

Rainbow Sprinkle Cookies

Lenore's Oatmeal Raisin

Chocolate Chip Cookies