So What Are We Having For Dinner? Soup and Sandwich!

I had Escarole and Bean Soup in the freezer. The Grilled Cheese was divine! Italian Bread. Provolone and American Cheese. Sweet Capicola. Oh it was tasty!

So What Are We Having For Dinner?

Tonight was that leftover pizza, reheated in the oven. Funny how fast it heated up. I made a big salad to go along with the pizza. Actually I made my lunch for next week too!

The Day I Did Not Bake Christmas Cookies

I should not have typed the other day that the oven was still working fine. Nope. I put in one tray, thank God it was just one tray, of the Snowballs. Snowballs are the first cookie I bake every Christmas. It is my little tradition. I set the temperature and set the timer for 10 minutes. I am preparing the next tray of snowballs and I smell something burning. I look at the stove timer and it is has 6 minutes to go. I open the stove and look at the cookies and the bottoms are black!

Now you have to imagine what the kitchen looked like. I was planning on baking all but one kind of cookie today. I had all my mise en place ready to go.

There was no way I was going to risk the time and money baking in that oven. So I mixed the dough for 3 of the cookies and froze them.

Dinner tonight was a large 1/2 Sausage and Pepper and 1/2 Eggplant Pizza from New Haven Apizza & Bakery. I got the large so we can have leftovers tomorrow night.

I can not believe I have to wait a week for the new stove.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner at my sister's house. Delicious as always. A nice day with family.
Two and three year old cousins playing. 

 
Antipasto.
 Soup. 
And the turkey and all the trimmings.
 My sister's stuffing and Chris's stuffing.

And there was pie! 

And of course wine. Happy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Sauasge and Peppers with Homemade Pasta


On Sunday I roasted Sausage, Peppers and Onions. I added a small portion of homemade sauce that I had in the freezer. Tonight I reheated the Sausage and Peppers and boiled up some homemade noodles that I also had in the freezer. Wow!  Not bad for a Wednesday night! The bread was baked on Sunday.

On other news, I bought I new stove today. I have been having issues with our current stove and we are now down to one burner, the small one, of course. The oven still works so Friday I can hopefully start baking Christmas cookies. The new stove will be delivered next Friday!

So You Say It's Your Birthday

 
Happy Birthday Chris!
Yes, I made a cake. I started it as soon as Chris pulled out of the driveway this morning. Working from home today made baking the cake possible. I don't do a lot of cake baking. Cookies are easy for me but cakes seem like a challenge. My mom baked at least 2 cakes a week. So they were second nature for her. But I was thrilled with this recipe and the results. Moist and light and the chocolate flavor was oh so perfect! This is now my official go to Chocolate cake recipe. I found this recipe on DessertForTwo.com. Mini Chocolate Layer Cakes. I made my cake in a 8 inch square pan. I frosted all 4 sides plus the middle of the layers. There was not enough frosting so I added in some store bought canned frosting. Sorry about that.

Mini Chocolate Layer Cakes

Ingredients-
For the chocolate cake:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup cold water

For the frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 teaspoon milk (as needed for consistency)


Method-
First, preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray an 8 x 8'inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder and salt.

Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the oil, vanilla, vinegar and cold water.

Stir to combine very well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely. Once cool, cut in half. Freeze until ready to frost, if you freeze the layers there should be less crumble when you frost.

To make the frosting: beat together all of the ingredients until light and fluffy. Add additional milk as needed to achieve a frosting consistency.

Stack the two cake layers and add frosting in between the layers.
Frost the sides and decorate.

And yes there was dinner! Balsamic-Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. The recipe is from Cooking Light. What I liked about this recipe was that I could make it last night and just reheat it tonight. I was afraid if I got busy with work making a Birthday dinner might not happen. This recipe made everything work out perfectly.

Ingredients-
Ribs:
Cooking spray
4 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups finely chopped red onion
2 cups low-salt beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chopped plum tomato

Potatoes:
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3/4 cup warm 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method-
Preheat oven to 300°.

To prepare ribs, heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add half of ribs to pan; cook 8 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining ribs; remove from pan.

Add onion to pan; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Return ribs to pan. Add broth, wine, vinegar, sugar, and tomato; bring to a simmer.

Cover and bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Cool slightly. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Skim fat from surface of broth mixture; discard fat. Cook over medium heat 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

To prepare mashed potatoes, place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain. Combine potatoes, milk, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mash potato mixture with a potato masher. Serve with ribs and cooking liquid.

The side dishes were the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Brussel Sprouts With Parmesan and Breadcrumbs.

Chris made our wine selection with dinner.

Farro Soup With Chorizo

Tonight we had the other half of the Chorizo sausage. Farro Soup With Chorizo. We have had this soup before and loved it. The recipe is from RealSimple.com. We have enough for tomorrow night's dinner too. Really looking forward to that already!

Ingredients-
1 tablespoon olive oil
8ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage) or kielbasa, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1tablespoon tomato paste
4cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2cup farro
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped 


Method-
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the carrots, onion, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it is slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the broth, farro, and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the farro is just tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, chard, sausage, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the chard is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

As a side I had a loaf of Pizza di Scarola in the freezer. Oh this is heaven!!! 

Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach

I had a package of Chorizo Sausage in the freezer. I had 2 recipes that wanted to make using the sausage. Tonight we had Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach. It is a Mark Bittman recipe that I love! Chris seems to enjoy it too, even though it has spinach, and tonight it had baby spinach and baby kale! Shhhhhh. Our secret!

And I am submitting this to the I Heart Cooking Clubs. Their monthly featured Chef is Mark Bittman. I was glad I was planning on making this tonight. Perfect timing! I love Mark Bittman. I have used his recipes on this blog 31 times, RealSimple comes in at first place with 42 times! I have given his cookbooks as gifts and love his simple approach to good food.


Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach

Ingredients-

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, as dry as possible (rinse them first if using canned, then gently blot dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner.  If they are wet when you put them in to the oil they will spatter)
Salt and black pepper
4 ounces chorizo, diced
1/2 pound spinach, roughly chopped (I used a package of baby spinach and 

baby kale)
1/4 cup sherry
1 to 2 cups bread crumbs

Method-
Preheat the broiler.

Put three tablespoons of the oil into a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chickpeas and spread them out into a single layer (they won't brown well if the pan is too crowded). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat a bit and cook, shaking the pan occasionally (you mostly just want to let them sit there and fry in the oil), until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes or so. Add the chorizo, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crisp (taste a couple to make sure). Use a slotted spoon to remove chickpeas and chorizo from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan. When hot, add the spinach, then pour the sherry over it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until the spinach is wilted and soft and the liquid has pretty much evaporated. Add back the chickpeas and chorizo and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Put the whole pan under the broiler to lightly brown the top.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Roasted Flank Steak with Olive-Oil Herb Or Turn to Post 9/26/15

On September 26th I made a dinner which we enjoyed. We enjoyed it so much that I repeated the whole thing tonight. Except this time I used a Flank Steak.  I even made the Potato and Autumn Vegetable Hash!
The recipe is from Cooking Light. I did omit the garlic.

Ingredients-
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2-pound) flat iron steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

Method-
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over steak. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Add wine and broth; cook 1 minute. Spread herb mixture over steak; place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with pan sauce.


I do love this side dish. It is a Bon Appetit recipe, Potato and Autumn Vegetable Hash. Sadly I used the last Butternut Squash from my sister's garden. I did start the recipe last night. Roasting the beets and prepping the greens. I used the beet greens and Swiss Chard.

My version of Potato and Autumn Vegetable Hash.

Ingredients-
Herb oil-
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Hash-
2 large golden beets
1 bunch Swiss Chard, trimmed and chopped
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 pound garnet yams or other yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
herb oil

Method-
Herb oil-
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.

Hash-
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add Swiss Chard and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain well. Set aside. Scrub beets; place in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Pour half of herb oil over beets; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each beet in foil and roast beets until tender when pierced with small sharp knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let beets stand until cool enough to handle. Peel beets; cut into 1/2-inch pieces and reserve. DO AHEAD Swiss Chard and beets can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Combine squash, potatoes, and yams in large bowl. Add remaining herb oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread vegetable mixture evenly on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until vegetables are tender when pierced with knife and lightly browned around edges, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 50 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Stir beets and beet greens into roasted vegetables; dot with butter cubes and continue to roast just until beets are heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to large bowl and serve.

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

I found this recipe on Pinterest. Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash. The recipe was on the Evertything Mommyhood site written by a guest blogger, Reesa from MommyLew.

I had extra Farro from the Stuffed Peppers so I used that in place of the rice. These were very good.

Prepare the Squash:
Slice the Acorn Squash in half. Scoop out the center, removing the seeds.
Pour about 2 tbsp of olive oil on a cookie sheet.
Season your squash with salt and pepper and lay cut side down on the cookie sheet.
Cook approximately 30 minutes, until the squash is tender and soft.

Stuffing Recipe:
Dice half of a large onion & 1 stalk of celery. Cook until soft and translucent in 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Remove from the pan to keep from burning.
Add about 1lb of ground sausage and brown.
Dice 1 large apple and add to the pan. Add the onion and celery back into the pan.
Cook 1 cup of white rice (I used the extra cooked farro).
Season with 1/2 tbsp of pumpkin spice and salt & pepper to taste.
   
After your squash is finished roasting, it is time to stuff it! Fill the centers with your stuffing mix. Place back into your oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes so that the flavors meld together.

Please remember to thank a Veteran today.

Peppers Stuffed with Farro and Smoked Cheese

I found this recipe, Peppers Stuffed with Farro and Smoked Cheese, on the NY Times Cooking site. It if from Martha Rose Shulman. She has an article entitled Just Add Farro. Or what my husband might call No More Farro Please! There is another recipe for Ratatouille with Farro which I can not wait to try. Sorry Chris!

Peppers Stuffed with Farro and Smoked Cheese

Ingredients-
2 cups cooked farro or spelt
3 ounces smoked cheese, such as smoked gouda, cut in very small dice
¼ cup chopped walnuts (1.5 ounces)
½ pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, grated (I used a can of diced tomatoes)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika, and additional for sprinkling
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 medium-size or smallish bell peppers, any color (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
½ cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Method-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an oven-proof, lidded casserole or Dutch oven large enough to accommodate all of the peppers. In a large bowl, mix farro, cheese, walnuts, tomatoes and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut tops away from peppers and gently remove seeds and membranes. Season the insides with a little salt, then fill with farro mix. Sprinkle a little paprika over the top and replace tops of peppers. Place upright in the casserole.

Mix water, lemon juice, salt to taste, tomato paste and olive oil and pour into the casserole. Cover, place in the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until peppers are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly in the casserole. Remove tops and spoon liquid from the casserole over the filling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Panko Coated Chicken Schnitzel

What a nice meal. The flavors from the sauce were a perfect blend. The chicken was easy to prepare. The cutlets were moist and with the crispy coating. Loved it!  I found the recipe on the Food and Wine site. The recipe is from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry.

Panko Coated Chicken Schnitzel

Ingredients-
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), butterflied and pounded 1/4-inch-thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method-
Set the flour, eggs and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the eggs and coat thoroughly with the panko, pressing lightly to adhere.

In each of 2 large skillets, heat 1/4 cup of canola oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, then transfer

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and cook over moderately high heat until browned and nutty, about 4 minutes. Stir in the capers, lemon juice and parsley; spoon over the chicken and serve.

An Evening With The Smithereens

In case you could not tell, our favorite band is The Smithereens. Tonight was our 5th time seeing them this year. We saw them in January at BB King's in New York. In May at the Infinity Hall in Norfolk, September at the Kate in Old Saybrook and in October in New Jersey at Pat DiNizio's birthday bash. Tonight we went to the Infinity Hall in Hartford. The venue is really nice. The seats are very comfortable, with drink holders! And the sound is excellent. We ate in the bistro before the show.

Of course we started off with cocktails and appetizers. I had the SGT Pepper Martini which is a Smoked Pepper Infused Vodka Dirty Martini with Sriracha Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives. I love this drink. Chris had the Classical Score which is Rebel Yell Rye, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, a Luxardo Cherry and Bitter Infused Guitar Ice Cube. The ice cube was in the shape of a guitar. Very cute.

We had the Crispy Calamari and the Panko Crusted Mac n Cheese. The Crispy Calamari was served with Banana Peppers, Daikon Radish, Carrots, Snap Peas and Sake Ginger Aioli. The dressing was excellent. We have this whenever we are at the Hartford or Norfolk Infinity Hall. Always delicious.

We also had the Panko Crusted Mac n Cheese. We had this on our first visit to the Hartford Infinity Hall and loved it. Tonight it was rather bland. Salt maybe?

For dinner Chris had the Housemade Gnocchi which was served with a Lamb Ragu, Preserved Lemon, Roasted Onion Puree and Asiago. Nice and light. Just the way Gnocchi should be.

For dinner I tried something I knew I would not make at home, plus I could not have pasta again. I had the Chicken Stir Fry Dumplings. They had a Pomegranate Hoisin Glaze, Snap Peas, Carrots, Onions, Bok Choy and Sesame Seeds. Loved the flavors.

The show was excellent as always!
Rock on!

Bad Ricotta = Good Pasta

Tonight I was planning on making Baked Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Burrata from Tasting Table. I had the squash, thank you Lenore and Ralph, which I had roasted on Sunday. I picked up the Burrata and the shells last night. But I forgot the ricotta. Not a problem as I had to run to Robert's at lunch. I worked from home today so instead of sitting in traffic after work I got to make dinner. I love being able to do this.

I boiled the shells and got the ingredients on the counter and was about to put the ricotta in the bowl and I thought to myself, "taste the ricotta." Bleah! Bleah! No good!
The shells were done so there was not turning back. I thought quickly, yes the first idea was to order Chinese. Then I decided to change directions a bit. I had sauce in the freezer. I had some leftover ziti with meatballs from the other night in the fridge. I thawed the sauce and added it to the ziti and meatballs and tossed in about 1/2 of the cooked shells. I also added some mozzarella. I put the pasta mixture in baking dish and topped it with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the Burrata. It baked for about 25 minutes.
It was delicious! Could it have been that I added a little dark chocolate to the sauce? Shhhhhh. This might be my secret ingredient!

Rosemary Balsamic Pork Chops

Another book I got from the library was The Campagna Table. And my new work schedule allows me to work from home 2 days a week! Yeah that is very cool.
So tonight I made dinner! Does not seem a big deal but cut out at least an hour and 15 minutes commute, if I'm lucky, and I can make dinner instead of having Chris heat something up. Tonight I made Rosemary Balsamic Pork Chops. Nice! A real meal, mid week.
 
The sides were Pierogi and sauteed zucchini.

From The Campagna Table, Rosemary Balsamic Pork Chops-

Ingredients-
2 Pork Chops, at least 1 inch thick
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary leaves
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Rub each chop with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange in a baking dish and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until firm but springy to the touch. Remove the chops from the oven and sprinkle with rosemary and vinegar. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more to caramelize the vinegar. Serve immediately. I used the pro tip at this point -
To give the sauce a creamy texture with no added fat, mix a tablespoon of mustard with the vinegar before adding to the pan.