Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner*

Last night we went into New York to see our favorite band, The Smithereens. We did not get in until after 2AM. Needless to say I needed a easy recipe for dinner. Enter Lemon Pepper Roast Chicken in a Slow Cooker. I found the recipe on The Little Kitchen site.
Easy as pie! I had purchased the chicken on sale at Roberts for $1.98 a pound. Nice price for an organic chicken. Everyone loved this dinner. Even Archie.

I made a couple of changes to the original recipe. Here it is with my changes -

3 teaspoons salt
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
zest of one lemon, then take the lemon & cut in half
4 carrots, cut into thirds
4 celery, cut into thirds or quarters
1 lemon, quartered   
4 to 5 pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel, neck & gizzards removed (if any)

Gravy (optional but too good not to make!)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 white wine
salt & pepper

Mix salt, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and lemon zest together in a small bowl and set aside.

Chop vegetables and add to a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker.

Prep the chicken
Fold wings back below the chicken. Put lemon pepper spices inside and all over the skin of the chicken. Add the quartered lemon pieces to the inside cavity of the chicken. Taking the lemon you halved, squeeze one-half over the chicken and over the vegetables. Add the two halves on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.
Lay the chicken inside the slow cooker on top of the vegetables. (No need to add water or broth). Turn slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 4 to 6 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked through to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Remove chicken with turkey lifters and place into a baking dish and broil for 4 to 6 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Keep an eye on the chicken under the broiler it can brown up pretty fast!

Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables from the slow cooker if desired.

Remove vegetables and pour chicken broth from the bottom of the slow cooker into a fat separator or use a spoon to remove any extra fat. Strain the liquid.

In skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon to cook the flour.

Whisk in 1 to 1.5 cups of the strained chicken broth. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 30 to 60 seconds. Add in white wine and stir. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes and season to taste.

The next time I make this I will add potatoes to the Crock Pot. Then it will be a perfect one pot meal!

* From
The phrase "winner winner chicken dinner" originates from 1970s casinos that were trying to attract players to underplayed tables. At the time, the most common casino bet was two dollars. Coincidentally, most casinos also offered a standard chicken dinner that was priced just under two dollars. "Winner winner chicken dinner" was called out by dealers when someone won at their tables, indicating that the player had just won the equivalent of a chicken dinner and attempting to attract others to come play at the table to have the chance to win the same thing.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Club! And Anginetti Cupcakes!!

We read the book,We Are Called To Rise by Laura McBride. And I would recommend it, but the food was the main attraction for me at tonight's book club meeting.
Kelly treated us to quite a meal. Shrimp Jambalaya! Oh my! The flavors were spot on. I was so busy eating and enjoying the wine I did not get the recipe. Sorry! I will try to get it because I know Chris would love this.

And there were desserts. There was a Cannoli Dip. I have seen the recipe online but never tasted it. What could possibly be wrong with this. Nothing. It was perfect. My only complaint was that the bowl was placed in front of me and I had a hard time not going back for more, more than once. 
I brought over Nutella Swirl cookies and Carol brought cupcakes from Sugar Bakery. There was an Anginetti Cupcake. Yes, I said Anginetti Cupcake. And yes, it tasted just like an Anginetti Cookie! It was flavored with anise flavor instead of the orange flavor that I make my Anginetti cookies with. It was a cupcake I will be having again.
I am not sure if it was because it was the end of a long work week, but the wine, the dinner, the desserts and the conversations with friends but I do love Book Club!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Day!

It's snowing. Winter Storm Anna. When it snows I bake bread. I started both of the breads I made yesterday. We all have our ways to prepare for a snow storm.

The Jim Lahey No Knead Bread was started yesterday morning. Click here for the recipe if you have not tried the No Knead Bread yet.

The Chocolate Babka recipe was started last night. I cut the recipe was cut in half. I did not want 2 large loaves of bread. This week I picked up to small loaf pans, thinking I could make 2 smaller loaves. It worked out nicely. The bread is really good. I did over bake it a bit but it retained the flaky quality. And the chocolate filling, well forgetaboutit! The recipe is from Food & Wine. Click here for the recipe. I had time today to check out the new Bon Appetit, the Bread Issue, and they have a Chocolate Babka recipe. I will have to try that one next.

Then there was dinner. I make a Crock Pot Chili. "Wow!' Yes that was a quote from Chris during dinner. It was the perfect dinner for a snowy day. I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven blog, I love the name of this blog!

Slow Cooker Chili from Gimme Some Oven -

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium red or yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped (*add more for extra smokyness and heat)
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (**see below for substitution ideas)
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 cup beer or beef broth
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
(Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips or strips, thinly-sliced green onions, sour
cream, salsa, etc.)

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, onion and garlic and cook for about 7-10 minutes or until the beef is completely browned, crumbling the beef with a spoon as it cooks. Drain about half of the excess fat. Then transfer the beef into the bottom of a slow cooker.

Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper or seasonings if need be.

Serve warm, with desired toppings.

And I made Homemade Cheez-Its from Food 52 to go with the Chili. You can not eat just one. At first I thought I put in too much salt but heck no! Perfect amount. Next time I will try adding some cayenne pepper.

Homemade Cheez-Its from Food 52-

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 1/2 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) finely grated sharp cheddar
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until very well combined. Add 2 tablespoons water and pulse until the dough is just wet enough to hold together when squeezed. Add up to 2 tablespoons more water if necessary.

Divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Press each half of dough into a flat square, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Working with one square at a time, roll the dough out to a scant 1/8-inch thick. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4 inch-wide strips. Then cut the dough in the other direction to make 3/4-inch squares. Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each square. Freeze the dough until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Brush half a sheet with the egg white and sprinkle with salt. Use an offset spatula to gently break the egg washed dough apart and place the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until puffed and set and browned on the bottom, about 14 to 16 minutes. (Make sure to cook them well so that the finished crackers are crisp. Completely frozen dough may take a few extra minutes to bake.) Transfer the parchment with the bake crackers onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining frozen crackers. Store the cooled crackers in an airtight container. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Short Rib Farrotto with Carrots and Parsnips

I like Farro. Chris likes Short Ribs. Perfect recipe. And how! Time intensive? Yes. But it was a rainy day so lets just say I got a lot of cooking done. This recipe is from Food & Wine. I had a $20 coupon for Robert's Food Center (Thank you Maureen!) Yesterday I did my shopping and there will be meat showing up alot.

The dinner, while not a quick fix, was a meal that is very filling. Spoiler alert- We will be having this again tomorrow night!

Of course I left out the garlic but the broth was something special. I had beef broth in the freezer for the last time I made short ribs. When I took it out of the freezer to thaw I knew this would be good!

Short Rib Farrotto with Carrots and Parsnips from Food & Wine-

1 quart low-sodium beef broth
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds well-trimmed boneless grass-fed beef short ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Fine sea salt
2 thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 cipollini onions (3/4 pound), peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) unpearled farro
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine the beef broth with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Add half of the short ribs to the casserole, spreading the pieces out, and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the casserole. Add the thyme sprigs, garlic, onions, carrot and parsnip and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the farro and the browned short ribs. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, stirring and scraping the bottom of the casserole, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the warm broth, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Repeat this process twice, adding 1 cup of warm broth each time and cooking for about 15 minutes between additions, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat to high. Add the remaining 1 cup of warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time and stirring constantly, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more. Cook the farrotto until creamy and the farro is al dente, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the casserole from the heat and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the butter, chopped thyme and the 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano. Season the farrotto with salt and pepper and serve hot, passing additional Parmigiano at the table.

The farrotto can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Gently reheat, adding broth or water as necessary.

And today I had an observer....

Friday, January 15, 2016

Blood Orange Vodkatini

Wednesday is my favorite day to read the local daily paper. The New Haven Register. My Dad worked there for 49 years (He retired before reaching the 50 year mark because they would not let a WWII vet take extra time to go to a reunion). After that I boycotted the paper for quite a while.

Wednesday is the day they have the food section. Today I saw the recipe for a Blood Orange Vodkatini. The recipe is from Susan Russo, who writes for the This was my first visit to that site. Lots of good stuff there. I will be visiting it again. But as I was reading the post for the Blood Orange Vodkatini I saw that the recipe came from Food Blogga. Yes, that is the blog where I found the Ricotta Pie recipe and that Stuffed Artichoke recipe!!! Again, another delicious recipe!

So here is the recipe from Food Blogga-

3 ounces vodka, preferably Ketle One (I used Absolute)
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces fresh blood orange juice
Add ingredients and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake under your fingers feel frozen. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And The Nominees Are...

Yes, we have a nominee for the best of list for 2016. I know it is early in the year, but the fact is this will be tough to beat. Tonight we had the leftover Beef Bourguignon. I had put the leftovers in the freezer and they were as delicious, if not more, delicious than the night the dish was made. Let's see if we can do anything else this month that might beat out the Beef Bourguignon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Chicken Parmesan

Yesterday I made "those chicken cutlets" and I made and extra batch. With the extra batch I did not use the lemon dressing. Instead I topped the baked cutlets with "that sauce" along with some fresh mozzarella. Wow! Best Chicken Parmesan!!!! Even the photo looks delicious.

Only to make my life easier, here is the recipe for those chicken cutlets. If you try this recipe you have to watch the video of the grandson cooking with his Nonna. It is priceless and so dear.

Frank Pinello's Nonna's Chicken Cutlet Recipe -
These are my notes from the video. You will need to watch the video to get the whole recipe.

1.   Mix eggs with Parmesan Cheese
2.   Mix bread crumbs, flour, pepper, Parmesan Cheese and parsley
3.   Coat baking pan with oil
4.   Toss chicken in a bowl with the egg/cheese
5.   Coat chicken with bread crumb mixture
6.   Place chicken in pan
7 .  Drizzle oil on top
8.   Heat oven to 350 and then raise temp to 450.
9.   Place tray in middle of oven
10. Mix lemon juice, parsley, pepper and oregano
11. Flip cutlets when they look like they do in the video (!!!)
12. Dip baked cutlets in lemon bath.


Today started with the news that David Bowie passed on. 
Sad does not really come close to how I feel. 
His music was the soundtrack of my youth.

Friday, January 8, 2016

By George, I Think I've Got It!

It has been a while now. I have tried and tried to make a Stuffed Artichoke that came close to what my mom use to make. They were a meal by themselves. In all my attempts the stuffing was not perfect. Until tonight. Delightful. Delicious. Every bite brought back wonderful memories. I used the same recipe that I have been using for a while but tonight I nailed it. The only thing I did different was maybe I used more bread. Maybe more olive oil. Or perhaps it was the Hail Mary's as I was mixing the stuffing. I figured that wouldn't hurt.

Oh that leftover Pot Roast, I turned it into a Shepherd Pie. Chris liked it. I was only focused on that artichoke!

And the recipe for those Artichokes can be found here.

And while you are at the Food Blogga check out the Rice Pie recipe. Amazing!

I do not usually post fund raisers on my blog but this one is close to home. The wife of Jim Babjak, the lead guitarist in our favorite band, The Smithereens, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. The cancer has spread to her lungs and liver and is now considered Stage 4. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with ongoing bills and to continue Betty's treatment and care. Click here for more information and to make a donation.  If you can not make a donation please keep Jim and Betty in your prayers. Thank you.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Easy Italian Style Pot Roast

Last weekend I went to the library and took out The Complete Crockery Cookbook. Tonight's recipe is from the cookbook. Honestly I was not head over heels about this dinner. I think it was over cooked and bland! Yes I know this is only my second Crock Pot dinner but just not crazy about it. I am not even going to type out the recipe. It was not a keeper.

Of course there are leftovers for tomorrow night. I am looking forward to the other thing I will be making tomorrow night for dinner. Sorry no spoilers here. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

This past weekend I did an inventory of what I had the freezers. We have a freezer in the garage, my savior, and the one in the kitchen. I was pleased to find a few things I could use up this week for dinner, and next week too! I had made Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash back in November. Of course I made too much stuffing so I froze what was not used. I picked up an Acorn Squash on Saturday and tonight we had a delicious dinner. Maybe it was because all I had to do was stuff the squash with the prepared stuffing (a lot less dishes to wash!!!) and pop it in the oven. Here is a link to the blog post with the recipe. Not much time to write tonight, 2 hour crossover episode of NCIS!!!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy Birthday to the Woman Who Taught Me How To Cook!

Today would have been my Mom's 95th birthday. This year will be 10 years that she has passed. Damn, I miss her a lot. Hence this silly little blog. Tonight I made a soup that I remember my Mom making, Stracciatella with Pastine. The broth was from batch I made up before Christmas. Thank you freezer! I added the egg to some of the broth and crossed my fingers. I whisked away and it came together perfectly. I knew my Mom would smile if she saw what I had done. I made a pot of soup that looked and yes tasted just like she use to serve us. 

Stracciatella with Pastine.
(there are no amounts or times in this recipe, 
my Mother would have said to add as much as you need
and you will know how long to cook it.)
Heat oil in a pot. Saute diced onion and sliced carrots until tender.
Add chicken broth. Simmer. 
Put some of the broth into a small pan and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat and slowly add beaten eggs. 
Whisk until the eggs they come together, the texture should be like scrambled eggs. 
Add the eggs and broth to the soup pan. 
Add frozen mixed vegetables and chopped spinach, fresh or frozen. 
Add cooked chicken meat. Adjust the seasonings to your preference.
Make the pasta, thin noodles or pastine in a separate pot and add to soup before serving.
And I did add one thing to this recipe. I squeezed a little lemon juice in at the end.  

Happy Birthday Mom!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pizza Night!

Pizza with the Works, Borzillo style.
Those Chorizo Meatballs from the other night and sausage, peppers and onions from a meal that will appear later this week. The dough was Jim Lahey's recipe, of course. Baked at 450 degrees in the convection oven for 25 minutes. "Delicious!"

The small pie was spinach and olive. Yeah that was darn good too!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Chicken Bake

When I was working on my Year In Review post and I saw this recipe I knew that I had to make it very soon. Well tonight was as soon as I could make it. The chicken was on sale for $1.99 a pound! I love the flavors of this dish. The toasted bread, the roasted tomatoes, the olives, the perfectly baked chicken and then the pancetta. You have to try this recipe. Trust me on this.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Bake-

Small ciabatta loaf
8 chicken thighs or drumsticks (I used a whole chicken cut into parts)
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
Bunch of basil, leaves picked
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, skin on
Handful of black olives, stoned
Olive oil
1 dried red chili
8 slices of pancetta, or thin-sliced smoked streaky bacon

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Get a deep roasting tray big enough to fit all the chicken in one layer. Rip the ciabatta into medium-sized chunks and place in the tray with the chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic cloves and olives. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the chili. Toss to mix up well, then reposition the chicken on top. Bake in the oven, turning the chicken after 30 minutes.

2. After another 30 minutes, drape the pancetta or bacon on top of the chicken and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Chorizo Meatballs with Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

For Christmas I received Cooking Like A Master Chef by Graham Elliot. As I flipped through the book the first recipe that jumped out at me was Chorizo Meatballs. The recipe included a Spicy Tomato Sauce but I knew what sauce I wanted to use, Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
I had some pasta that I had ordered from Borgatti's in the Bronx. Spaghetti alla Chitarra. It was the prefect pasta for the sauce and the meatballs.

I did make a couple of adjustments to the meatball recipe. The original recipe called for chives. I did not have any. It called for 2 Chorizo Sauasages. One was plenty. It called for 2 eggs. I went with one and the meatball mix was prefect to handle. The recipe also called for sumac and cayenne pepper. Didn't add it. And it called for lemon zest. Last year Chris got me another cookbook that called for lemon in their meatball recipe. I added it and we did not like it. So I left out the too.

My version of Chorizo Meatballs-

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
 8 oz. ground pork shoulder
 8 oz. lean ground beef
1 Spanish chorizo sausages, casings removed, sausage meat minced
1 eggs
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c. red wine
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When hot, saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent and softened. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, mix pork, beef, sausage, egg, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, wine, parsley,  and a little salt. Add cooled onion and garlic. Using your hands, work mixture until ingredients are well mixed. 

Season with salt. Roll meat between your palms to make 20 small meatballs, about the size of walnuts.

In another large skillet, spread remaining oil (you only need a film of oil to coat the skillet) and heat. Brown meatballs on all sides and transfer to baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
And I made scones for breakfast today. I found this recipe on Local Kitchen Blog. These were delicious!

Ginger Orange Scones from Local Kitchen Blog-

2 cups (9 oz) whole grain all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp (4.5 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup turbinado sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Zest from 2 medium oranges (about 2 tbsp)
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, frozen for at least 30 minutes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3/4  cup chilled  milk, plus extra for glazing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 F convection).

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; whisk for approximately 1 minute until well blended.  Transfer flour mixture to the bowl of a food processor.  Add butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Mix orange zest and chopped ginger into flour mixture.

Gradually add the liquid, tossing with a fork until moist clumps form.  Stop adding liquid when it seems the dough will stay together; if the dough is too sticky, the scones will lose their shape upon cooking. If the dough seems crumbly and will not hold a shape, add more liquid 1 tbsp at a time.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead briefly to bind the dough; about 4 turns should be enough.  Cut the dough in half, and form each portion into a 1- to 2-inch thick round.  Cut the round into 8 triangular pieces with a sharp knife or pastry cutter. Transfer wedges to a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, spacing approximately 2 inches apart. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.

Using a pastry brush, glaze the tops of each wedge with the extra milk. Sprinkle a small amount of turbinado sugar on top for added crunch.

Bake for 10 minutes (8 minutes convection), then turn pans in oven 180 degrees.  Continue to bake for 10-15 minutes (7-12 minutes convection), until the tops of the scones are golden brown and they feel somewhat firm to the touch.

Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.