Potato and Green Bean Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

Our first salad of the summer season that did not have Farro in it! Why is it dark? The Balsamic Vinegar. I suppose I could have used a white Balsamic. Maybe next time....


Potato and Green Bean Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients-
2 lbs small red potatoes (cooked until tender)
1 lb small green beans, rinsed and stems trimmed (cooked until firm-tender)
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
Balsamic Vinaigrette-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Method-
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, green beans, and onion. Mix/whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together (I like to shake it in a small jar). Add in the Balsamic vinaigrette mixture to the warm potato/bean mixture; toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Oh, and we had our first grilled hot dogs too!


Pasta Primavera

I love when I have homemade pasta that was in the freezer. Tonight I sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, orange pepper, and sweet onion in some olive oil and a knob of butter. The vegetables were seasoned with salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper. I added a little white wine and let that cook down a bit.
Once the pasta was just about done I added the pasta along with a little pasta water to the saute pan. At this point I added about a tablespoon of butter. That was stirred and simmered for a few minutes. Feta and parmesan cheese were sprinkled on top.

And we finished up our leftovers from Luciano's.

The Farro and Chickpea Salad

So today we went to Pat DiNizio's house for a Memorial Day Picnic. Yes that Pat DiNizio from America's band, The Smithereens. What an awesome day it was. Music, Friends and Food! Really good music.

And the food was perfect picnic food. Burgers, Dogs, Sausage and Peppers, Ribs, Pulled Pork, the MOST amazing Corn Bread I have ever had. Cookies, Brownies, Fruit...
This is the event that I made the Farro and Chickpea Salad for.

And of course I brought Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Thank you Pat for a wonderful day!!!!

Luciano's, Rahway, New Jersey

We are in New Jersey this weekend! More on why we are in New Jersey this weekend in tomorrow's post. Tonight we had dinner reservations at Luciano's in Rahway. The setting was perfect. Everything you would expect from an upscale Italian restaruant. The music that was playing when we walked in was Sinatra so the stage was set. The bar was beautiful. The drinks were delicious.
For dinner we started off with Mamma Maria's Meatballs. They were a steal for the price.

We also had the Grilled Moroccan Spiced Octopus. Or what could be called the best damn app we have had a very long time. Forgettabout fried or grilled Calamari, this is the winner. It was the type of dish that you don't forget the flavors or textures. It is something you want to have again.

I was going to have the Cavatelli con Salsiccia & Broccoli until I heard, "And tonight's special is Soft Shell Crab." So very glad I had the special. It was so good. The dish was served with an arugula salad covering the crab. That was not necessary. The crab was the star of the plate. And it was served with Vegetable Risotto.  So I had Arugula Salad, Sauted Soft Shell Crab and Vegetable Risotto. Or what I would call the trifecta!

 Chris had Sicilian Braised Short Ribs. The Short Ribs were braised in a Madeira-plum tomato sauce with seasonal root vegetables and creamy potato purée.

The wine selection was quite nice. We did not end up with what we picked but the one they selected was a good choice.

We will go back to Luciano's the next time we are the area.

How To Pack For a Weekend Away


Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad

Remember that Grill Pan I won a couple of weeks ago?
I used it tonight for the Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad. I saw a recipe a while ago. I worked from home today so I was able to make it for dinner. I used the recipe for cooking the shrimp from Cooking Light, but we like the Caesar Dressing from Lidia Italian-American Kitchen.

Caesar Salad Dressing from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen-

Ingredients-
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 hard-boiled egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce, or anything you prefer

Method-
Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovies in a blender or work bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding some of the 1/3 cup olive oil if there is not enough liquid to move the mixture around the blender jar. Add the mustard, hard-boiled egg yolk, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining olive oil if any.  Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste the dressing; if it's a little too tangy, pour in a splash or two of olive oil and blend until it's incorporated. Pour over greens and toss to cover the lettuce.

The Grilled Shrimp-

Ingredients-
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cooking spray
1 pound peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp
Method-
Combine shrimp and 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl; toss to coat. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until well marked and done. Remove shrimp from pan.

Toss the grilled shrimp with the salad.

I also made croutons to go with the salad.

The Best Burgers

The grill is open and burgers are on the menu for tonight.

Ingredients-

Method-
Soak 2 slices of rye bread in milk, add just to milk enough to moisten the bread. Squeeze out excess liquid.
Tear up the bread, like when you make meatballs.
Add the bread to the meat and add about a teaspoon of A-1 Sauce and about a teaspoon of Horseradish sauce. Mix ingredients together.
Form the hamburger patties the same size as the rolls you will be using.
Make an impression in the middle of the patties, this will keep them from shrinking.
Grill and eat!

The Farro and Chickpea Salad. This coming weekend Chris and I are going to a picnic in New Jersey. I was asked to bring something Vegetarians could eat. This was quite the project. I had to find something that could be prepared in advance and stand up to being outside. I finally decided on the Farro and Chickpea Salad. I saw a recipe for a Farro Salad and I decided the Chickpeas and a few other things would be good additions.

Farro and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients-
Salad-
1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced orange pepper
1/2 cup diced  yellow pepper
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 14.5 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Dressing -
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
salt
pepper

Method-
Rinse and drain the farro. Place in bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak in refrigerator over night.
Drain the farro. Place in pot and cover with 3 cups of stock, enough to cover the grain. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, check to see if is done. Cooked farro looks a bit like barley but it has a chewier texture. Drain off excess liquid .
Transfer farro to a mixing bowl, and add in remaining ingredients. Prepare the dressing and add to the salad. Toss until combined.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

We have been eating this the past couple of days. Believe me when I say we have been eating a lot of farro lately. I tried a few recipes and added and deleted things here and there. Chris has been the prefect tester! We found that this salad actually tastes better after it has been in the fridge for a day.




Grilled Chicken

I love grilled chicken pieces. I am a leg and thigh person and Chris prefers the breast. So it works out perfectly. Archie, well he likes the whole chicken. This is how we grill chicken. We roast before putting it on the grill. Marinate the chicken parts in olive oil, lemon juice a dash of hot sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then into a roasting pan for 30 minutes in a 350˚ oven. Flip the chicken over.  Roast for another 30 minutes. You want the chicken to be cooked through. You can stop at this point, which is what I usually do, and continue the next day. After removing the chicken from the oven, Chris put it on the grill for about 10 to 15 minute, so the skin gets crispy. Delicious! I'm happy. Chris is happy and of course, Archie is happy!

Scones on Friday

Why Scones on Friday? I worked from home. I had all the ingredients in the house. And I was only working a half day.

These were moist and really quite good. I added some lemon peel to the scone mix. I thought the glaze would be too sweet but I was surprised how good it was.

Click here for the recipe for Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze.

Dinner was up in Hartford tonight. We had dinner at the Infinity Hall Bistro, before the Delbert McClinton show. For apps we had Calamari and Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers. No complaints with either one.
We had burgers tonight. Good but I had to eat it with a fork and knife. A wee bit messy.

Before dinner, we stopped at Ted's Montana Grill for cocktails.

 
Chris tried a cup of their Bison Chili. Nice!!!! We may eat there the next time we see a show at the Infinity Hall.

Pasta e Fagioli with Escarole

The original recipe for tonight's dinner was called Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli with Escarole. Well, I added a sliced Hot Dog and a Georgia Hot. The Georgia Hot added just enough heat. Could we have a new favorite Pasta e Fagioli recipe?

This is my version of the Bon Appetit, Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli with Escarole-

Ingredients-
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1¾ cup dry white wine
1 14.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1 Hot Dog, sliced
1 Georgia Hot, sliced
13 ounces dried lasagna or other flat pasta, broken into 1–1½-inch pieces
1 ½ small head of escarole, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Method-

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium. Cook onion and carrots, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands, and cook, stirring often, until liquid is almost completely reduced, 12–15 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add drained beans; cook until flavors meld, 12–15 minutes. Add the sliced Hot Dog and the Georgia Hot. Add pasta; cook, stirring and adding more water as needed, until al dente, 15–20 minutes. Add escarole and cook until wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Serve soup drizzled with oil and topped with Parmesan.

That Italian Beef Sandwich with Au Jus

Today was a spring cleaning day. I wanted something that would require not a lot of hands on work. I decided the Italian Beef Sandwich with Au Jus from Tuttorosso would fit the bill. And did it ever. After a very busy day this was so tasty.

Here is the recipe from Tuttorosso.

Ingredients-
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 pounds boneless chuck roast
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 jar banana peppers, cut into strips
1 cup beef stock
2 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can Tuttorosso® Crushed Tomatoes with basil
1 (28 ounce) can Tuttorosso® Peeled Plum Italian Style Tomatoes, drained and cut into half horizontally and then sliced vertically
8 hoagie rolls
8 slices provolone cheese

Method-
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.  Brown the roast on all side and transfer to the slow cooker.

Top with green bell peppers, yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, roasted red peppers, banana peppers, beef broth, beef bouillon cubes, crushed tomatoes and tomatoes.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  About 30 minutes before the meat is done cooking, transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with a couple of forks.  Return meat to slow cooker and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Spoon the shredded meat, peppers and onions on the bottom half of the roll.  Spoon some of the sauce over the meat.  Top with a slice of cheese and the top half of the roll.

Option: Leave sandwich open-face and top with cheese.  Place under broiler to melt the cheese.

Serve with Au Jus sauce for dipping.

Tuscan Pork Kebabs

A couple of weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs, The Proud Italian, and there was a giveaway for a grill pan. I entered the giveaway and went on with my life. A few days later I get an email from Marie, from The Proud Italian, informing me that I won the grill pan! Wow! The pan was delivered soon after that and I used it tonight.

What a beautiful pan! It is an Italian cookware brand, Lagostina. The pan is the Bistecchiera Grill  Pan. Tri-ply stainless construction provides fast and even heat distribution throughout the entire pan. The pan was handcrafted in the Lagostina factory in Italy.

The recipe I used called for the meat and veggies to be on a kebab. Well, I remove the kebab's because the meat was not resting on the surface of the pan. And being a pork dish I wanted to be sure it was cooked. The recipe was from Cooking Light and it was delicious!

From Cooking Light, Tuscan Pork Kebabs -
Ingredients
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
16 (1-inch) pieces red bell pepper
16 (1-inch) pieces yellow bell pepper
Cooking spray 
 

Method-
1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
2. Combine olive oil, grated lemon rind, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic in a large bowl, stirring well. Add pork; marinate at room temperature 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.
3. Thread pork and bell peppers alternately onto each of 8 (8-inch) skewers. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until pork is done, turning occasionally.


And Lucy wanted some blog time because yesterday was all about Archie.

Oven Baked Artichokes, Maybe Not

When I saw the recipe for Oven Baked Stuffed Artichokes I thought, "Brilliant!" I made the artichokes on Sunday but we did not eat them until Monday night. I had Chris warm them in the oven. That was a mistake. I should have steamed them. Monday night we split one and I did not like it. I DID NOT LIKE an artichoke!!! Too dry. Today for lunch I steamed the remaining artichoke. Much better. But I still prefer them boiled. They retain their moisture. And that is the way my Mom made them.

Friday the 13th Chicken Pot Pie

Happy Friday the 13th! Being the owner of a black cat, Friday the 13th are kind of a special day.
I worked from home today so I was able to "work" with Archie.

And I made a dinner with him in mind. Chicken Pot Pie. I used the recipe I always use, from RealSimple.com. I left some of the chicken meat out of the mix that had the onion so Archie could have a treat too!


And the pie was decorated with cat cutouts to continue the Black Cat theme.

Here is the recipe. I used the meat from the Roasted Chicken instead of poaching the chicken breast.

Ingredients-
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups 1 percent milk
1 10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables (not from Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 9-inch pie crust

Method-
Heat oven to 400° F.
Cook the chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool, then shred.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stir-ring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.
Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.