Pork Scaloppine with Olives and Celery

Pork Scaloppine with Olives and Celery, or Scaloppine di Maiale con Olive E Sedano. Another recipe from Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian.

I wanted to make something really nice and rather easy for New Years Eve dinner. This was the perfect meal. I had the celery, and olives chopped and all the other ingredients set up so it took no time to get this on the table. The pork was moist. The sauce was perfect. We had a green salad as a side dish. This has been a week of a lot of carbs.

Speaking of carbs, I made some bread today. Yesterday I filled our freezer with Chicken Stock and today I loaded it up with bread. Two loaves of Olives and Rosemary Bread and two loaves of just plain Rosemary bread. And yes the house did smell amazing today!

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year right now because midnight is past my bedtime.

2017 - My Favorite Dinners

This was not a really good year for my blog. Lots of stuff was going on and posting was not a priority. That being said I picked out a few dinners that were personal favorites.

The first was from January, Slow Cooker Chicken, Bacon, and Potato Soup. I am still surprised that it was not a heavy a soup as I thought it would be. It is a recipe we have had a couple of times since January.

February would definitely be my birthday dinner at Quattro's. As my sister says you never get a bad meal there.

My favorite dinner from March was the Crockpot Corn Beef and Guinness Beer. I love  What's Cookin' Italian Style blog. This was quite good and we will probably have it in 2018 for Saint Patrick's Day.

April? Well, nothing really stood out to me.

But May was a different story.  My favorite dinner of 2017. Clam Castle. Soft Shell Crab. Really do not need to say anything else. I can not wait until next summer!!

Also in May was the 100th Anniversary Saint Lawrence School Tea.  I was fortunate to be on the committee for the tea and I met women that I would want on my Cookie Swap Dream Team. I am a self-professed cookie snob. My sister's cookies are the only ones I really like. (But this Christmas Eve Steve brought some pretty darn good cookies to the table.) Anyway, the cookies from the tea really blew my mind. OMG. They were fantastic!

June brought the first post for a pasta recipe that I have made so many times this year. The Zucchini Sauce. I have altered it every time I have made it and it is still my favorite.

In August there was a tie for favorite dinner.
First up was Skillet Gnocchi with Grilled Corn and Burrata. Put the word Burrata on a recipe and I am sold.
The other favorite was Pasta Martinelli. Veggies from my sister's garden and a few things in the fridge resulted in an amazing pasta dish.

September, October, November... Like I said a lot of stuff was going on this year.

Finally, we are in December. Any guesses for favorite dinner? Another tie! Christmas Eve Dinner and the Christmas Day Cupalets.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and hope that 2018 is a healthy, peaceful and prosperous year for all.








Ziti with Pork Rib Guazzetto

New cookbook time! Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian. Chris does know what to get me for Christmas. There are a number of recipes that will be appearing on this blog. We started with Ziti with Pork Rib Guazzetto. Let me start by saying I made only 1/2 of the recipe. We had enough leftovers to make a Baked Macaroni casserole, added some Ricotta to the pasta and sauce. Also was able to freeze 1/2 of the ribs.
While I had this on the stove today I also made 2 large pans of Chicken Stock. I picked up 2 Fowl yesterday and made my sister's stock recipe. I ended up with 24 cups of chicken broth. Yes, I froze it.


Christmas Cookies. Day One.

Let me start by saying I mixed the doughs for all the cookies that I baked today two weeks ago. I put all the dough in the freezer. Even the dough for the Snowballs. Not sure I would freeze that dough again.
The Snowballs (aka Rolly Poollys, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes) are traditionally the first cookie I bake every Christmas. Why? They were the first cookie my Mom baked every Christmas. This year I decided to freeze the dough. The jury is still out on the taste but I thought they took longer to bake and a couple of them lost their shape while baking. I know I am nitpicking but I also know what the cookie should bake like.

Snowballs (makes 36 cookies)

1 c. Butter
1/2 c. Sifted Confectionary Sugar
1/2 c. Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 c. Chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 400˚.
Combine butter and sugar.
Mix in all ingredient for cookies.
Roll dough into small balls.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

Coat cookies right out of the oven with additional Confectionary Sugar.



The Striped Cookie recipe is from a Martha Stewart magazine dating back to the early 90s. This is my husband's favorite cookie. You make a vanilla dough and then a chocolate dough. You can shape them in bars for the striped cookies or in bullseyes. I did both but for the bullseyes, I made the dough into square.. I think they look pretty cool!
The original recipe called for the dough to be mixed together and then divided and that just got too messy. I mix the doughs separately. I tried to find a link to the original recipe but could not.
The Vanilla Dough -
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 c. Confectionary Sugar
3 3/4 c. bread flour 

The Chocolate Dough-
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 c. Confectionary Sugar
3 3/4 c. bread flour

Place butter, vanilla, sugar, and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until well combined.

For the Chocolate Dough add 1/3 cup of Dutch-process Cocoa Powder to the ingredients and mix.

Now for constructing the cookies-
1. Divide both doughs into 4 equal pieces. Place each piece between two 12x14 inch pieces of parchment. Roll into 3 1/2x12 inch rectangles. Transfer to baking sheet; chill 30 minutes. Repeat process with all the chocolate and vanilla dough.

2. Remove the top piece of parchment from all the rectangles. Using the bottom piece for support, invert one vanilla rectangle onto a chocolate one; remove parchment. Repeat, for a total of four layers. Wrap. Make a second brick with remaining four rectangles. Chill at least 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 375˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Unwrap bricks; trim evenly by 1/8 inch. Slice into 1/4 inch thick rectangles; place on baking sheets spaced 2 inches apart.

4. Bake until barely golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Bake or freeze remaining dough.


This year's new recipe is the Orange Cranberry Shortbread. Wow. New favorite cookie. Loved the smell of these in the oven. The recipe is from Mom On Time Out blog. Here is the link.

Next week I will make the rainbow cookies and maybe one or two more recipes.

About dinner. All this baking and we still have to eat dinner. Picked an easy recipe for tonight. Yes, ordering pizza would have been easier. We had Chicken Cutlets and Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe.

First, the oven was preheated to 350˚. The Chicken Cutlets were added to a bowl of beaten eggs, chopped parsley, Parmesan Cheese. Next, the cutlets were then dredged in a mixture of breadcrumbs (I used 1/2 plain and 1/2 plain Panko), flour, Parmesan Cheese, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. I placed the cutlets on a baking sheet, covered with parchment, and drizzled olive oil over both sides of the chicken. The temperature of the oven was raised to 450˚.  They baked for about 20 minutes until the underside started to get toasted. The cutlets were flipped and baked for about 5 more minutes.

The chicken was moist and the breading was crisp.

The Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe was a nice side after the Christmas Party Carb overload from last night. The squash was split. PLEASE be careful if you try this at home. The seeds were scooped out and discarded. Yes I know I could have roasted them but I had a lot going on already. I put the squash in a roasting pan, cut side down and put about an inch of water in the pan. The squash was roasted at 375˚ for about an hour. Using a fork I pulled the squash away from the shell.

I heated up butter in a saute pan. The cooked squash was added to the pan, along with the zest of 1/2 a lemon, chopped thyme,  and ½ cup Parmesan, stirring to combine, until squash is heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in pepper and season with salt. Serve topped with more Parmesan.

The Answer to Where Have We Been And What Have We Been Having For Dinner

We have been right here. And we have been on Instagram. It is so easy to post photos. Give the photos a little title and add hashtags.

I recently or since before the last blog post added ads to the blog. I might make a little cash for writing the blog. Imagine that. It seems after adding the ads the load time was slow. I am a busy person and if I go to a blog or website and it takes too long to post I am gone. So with that being said the ads might disappear soon. Make money from blogging? But what is the real cost?

Excuse me while I step off my soapbox.

The last post I did was back in October. I have some half written posts from the time in between then and now that I will be reworking and get posted. We have actually had quite a few amazing meals. And it is getting about time to do some baking. That's right Christmas Cookie time is upon us.

So for those of you how actually read this blog - We Are Back! Fasten your seatbelts, but not too tight, there is a lot of food coming your way.

Gnocchi, Pancetta, Swiss Chard, Mozzarella, and Beans

Gnocchi, Pancetta, Swiss Chard, Mozzarella, and Beans. This was a dinner without a recipe.

Wash and chop the Chard. Saute the Pancetta. Remove the Pancetta and wipe out the pan. Add some olive oil to the saute pan and then add the chard and cook until wilted. Add some wine and let that cook down. Stir in the drained and rinsed beans. I used cannellini. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi. Add the cooked gnocchi along with some of the pasta water. You might want to add a knob of butter. I did! Stir in some Parmesan cheese and add more of the pasta water until you have a sauce. Stir in the Mozzarella. I used Perlini Mozzarella. That is all there is to it.

Vacation Day Baking

Today was a perfect vacation day. I baked 2 loaves of French Bread, a loaf of Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, and Ice Tray Cookies. And I made pasta for tonight's dinner.

One of my favorite bread recipes. 
Always a perfect crust and texture.

Rosemary and Olive Oil Bread. 

Fresh Pasta. I love the recipe.

Dinner was the homemade pasta along
with my favorite summer sauce recipe.


And last but certainly not least -

Slow Cooker General Tso's Chicken

I am not sure how I found this recipe. I get a number of food-related emails with lists of the best recipes, the easiest dinner recipes, slow cooker recipes, chicken recipe, to name a few.  Remember when you had to read cookbooks to find recipes?!

The recipe is from Chef Savvy. Only 3 hours in the slow cooker set on low. The aroma was amazing. The taste was as good as take-out. Take out still has the advantage of fewer dishes to wash!
Slow Cooker General Tso's Chicken from Chef Savvy -

Ingredients-
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
green onions for serving, if desired 
     
Method-
Add chicken and cornstarch to a large ziplock bag. Toss to coat the chicken with the cornstarch.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok.

Saute chicken until golden brown on both sides about 2 minutes on each side. (Note the chicken will not be fully cooked and that is ok)

Add the chicken to the slow cooker.

Add hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil to a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

Pour the sauce onto the chicken and stir to coat the chicken.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours.



Serve over rice with sauteed Broccoli or Zucchini. Sprinkle with green onions.

Cheaters No Knead Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread

Another item checked off the bucket list. No, my bucket list does not have things like hang gliding or white water rafting. Macaroon Cookies,  Madeleine Cookies, Italian Rainbow Cookies (that was checked off a couple of years ago), Stuffed Breast of Veal. Making these are a few of my bucket list items. Sourdough Bread was a the top of this list. Then I found this recipe. 

 
Use the bread for breakfast or for grilled cheese. The post were I got the recipe suggested having it toasted with Apple Butter. I can imagine how good that must be.

The recipe is from Half Baked Harvest. I strongly recommend that you try this recipe.

Ingredients-
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup plain greek yogurt (any % fat will do, but I use full fat)

Directions-

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, honey, flour, salt, and yogurt. Using the dough hook, mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Alternately, you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 2 hours or until it doubles size.

 If time allows, punch the down, cover the bowl, and transfer the bowl of dough to the fridge and let sit overnight. This will help develop a stronger "sourdough" flavor.

Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl. It should be loose and sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place in a parchment lined 4 quart or larger dutch oven. Allow to rise 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

Preheat to 475 degrees F.  Bake, covered for 20-25 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the hot lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep, golden brown, about 20-30 minutes more. Remove from the oven. Carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. Don't slice into the bread right out of the oven, the bread continues to cook as it cools. Enjoy!






Slow Cooker "Melt in Your Mouth" Pot Roast

 
We have another Slow Cooker Recipe that will be on our Top Ten List.

I found this one on Joyously Delicious Blog. It was melt in your mouth. The meat was juicy and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. The gravy was delicious. I am not usually crazy about Pot Roast. This recipe has changed my opinion. And the leftovers will be featured later in the week.

Here is the link to the recipe and I also copied it here. The only change I made was not using a packaged seasoning mix.

 Slow Cooker "Melt in Your Mouth" Pot Roast

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Ingredients-
1 chuck roast (I used a roast that was 2 1/4 #)
Olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks (optional)
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon corn starch

My version of the Seasoning Mix-
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp parsley
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary

Method-


Combine together seasoning mix in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Coat both sides of meat with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a third of the seasoning mix onto each side.
Cook on low for 9 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Using a turkey baster, retrieve most of the cooking juices from the slow cooker.  Transfer juices to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stovetop.  Whisk together the cornstarch with a little water.  Blend into the pan juices while whisking.  Bring back to a simmer until thickened.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer the roast and vegetables to a large platter.  Ladle the gravy over.  Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

I have been looking for a slow cooker recipe for Chicken and Dumplings for a while. All of the recipes I have found call for canned cream of celery or cream of chicken soup. NO. That is not what I want to put in my dinner. I finally found this perfect recipe on RecipeGirl.com. It called for chicken broth. I had homemade broth in the freezer. The finished product was amazing. I went back for seconds. It reminded me of something my Mom would have made. It was just pure comfort. We will have this again. It will be a perfect winter dinner.

My version of Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling -

Ingredients-
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Method-
In the bottom of the slow cooker, layer the onions, carrot, and celery. Place the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables and pour the stock over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with thyme, salt Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred into bite-sized pieces with a fork. Return to the slow cooker.

Whisk the half and half together with the cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt.  Work in the butter using your fingers until course crumbs begin to form.

Stir in the milk and combine well until a sticky dough begins to form.

Drop tablespoon sized dollops of dough over the stew in an even layer. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 1 additional hour or until dumplings are cooked through.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

I was not the only one who enjoyed this tonight. Chris is not a big Eggplant Parmesan fan. But this received high praise! I am sure it was the prosciutto that made this as good as it was.

The eggplant was peeled and sliced. The slices were placed on a paper towel lined cookie rack. Salt was sprinkled on top and the slices sat for 1 hour. After the hour the salt was wiped off and the eggplant was dipped in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs were seasoned with Oregano, Basil, Parmesan Cheese, and pepper.

The oven was preheated to 450˚. The breaded eggplant was baked for 25 minutes. I turned the eggplant over halfway through the baking time.

I had made tomato sauce using the tomatoes from my sister's garden. I coated the bottom of a pyrex baking dish with some sauce. Next a layer of eggplant. Then I added a small slice of prosciutto. That was topped with a couple of dollops of ricotta that had been mixed with oregano, and parsley. Some Mozzarella cheese, shredded, and some Parmesan were layered over the ricotta. More sauce and I repeated this until I ran out of the eggplant. More sauce and Parmesan on top.

That was all done on Sunday.

Tonight it went in the oven, covered with foil, at 350˚ for 35 minutes. The dish was uncovered for the last 10 minutes. The total time in the oven was 45 minutes.

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Not bad for a Monday night. I prepped these meatloaf muffins yesterday. Chris just had to put them in the oven for 25 minutes. I even made the mashed potatoes yesterday. Brilliant! Nothing but compliments for this dinner.
Ingredients-
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup ketchup, divided
1 pounds ground beef, extra lean (raw)
1/2 cup finely bread crumbs
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp horseradish sauce
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons ketchup
Method-
Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, and chopped carrot, sauté 4 minutes. Cool.

Combine onion mixture,  ketchup, and the remaining ingredients except for cooking spray and 2 tsp. ketchup, in a large bowl.

Spoon the meat mixture into 8 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes.