Monday, January 29, 2018

Almost Classic Split Pea Soup

The other night we had ham steak for dinner. The steak was large for the 2 of us meaning there was enough leftover to be used in another meal. There was also a bone in the steak. Chris suggested Split Pea Soup. I was thinking a quiche, anything for the crust. I decided to go with the soup. I found a recipe for Classic Split Pea Soup on the Food and Wine site. Simple to make. I added the ham bone during the initial simmer and then added the cut up ham towards the end of the recipe.
Split Pea Soup usually has the consistency of wall paper paste. Or could be referred to as a stick to your bones soup. This recipe was not at all like that. It was a light consistency. It was perfect with toasted Rosemary and Olive Oil Bread!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Squash and Sausage in Tomato Sauce

We are loving the Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian cookbook. Tonight I made Squash and Sausage in Tomato Sauce. This was delicious. Sorry but you know my rule about recipes from new cookbooks. If you really want the recipe comment below. I might share it... The best part of this meal is I have leftover for two, well maybe just one, lunch.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Roasted Chicken, Again

Yes, Roasted Chicken again. But this time a Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken. A Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken with Potatoes. And to finish it off a little gravy that I just whipped up!

The chicken was so good that Chris and I and Archie and Lucy ate a lot of this chicken. The recipe called for paprika but luckily Chris asked it Archie would like it with all the spices that were in the recipe. Yeah, we keep our cats in mind when we cook. I googled Paprika and cats and found out that they do not get along. So I opted for just thyme, salt, and pepper. It was simple and perfect.  The recipe also called for garlic powder which I did not use. The meat fell off the bones and putting the roast under the broiler crisped it up perfectly! This recipe will be added to our regularly scheduled meals. It received 2 paws up from both Archie and Lucy.

Here is a link to the recipe. Click here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018: The Year Of the Unboring Crust

 The best part of a crust are the crispy ends. 
Lucia Borzillo

Chicken Pot Pie + Pate Brise = Happiness

The Pot Pie Recipe -

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups 1 percent milk
1 lb. cooked chicken, leftover rotisserie chicken  
1 10-ounce package frozen peas

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 9-inch store-bought piecrust, thawed if frozen

Heat oven to 400° F.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring 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.
Pate Brisee Recipe -
Ingredients -
1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch granulated sugar

5-1/2 Tbsp (2/3 stick) sweet butter, chilled

3 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Method -
Sift the flour, salt and sugar together into a bowl; add butter and shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is like coarse meal.
Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.
Turn dough out onto you work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cincinnati Chili

Chili is something I don't make that often. Not sure why. I found this recipe in an email. The ingredient that caught my eye was the unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder. Last year I made lasagna and used a sauce made with unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder and I loved the flavor. The recipe is from Half Baked Harvest. I have been trying a few of their recipes recently. This one is my new favorite Chili. First of all, no beans. You can add them as a garnish but they were not necessary. And the spices were spot on for heat for me anyway. I think Chris would have liked it a little spicier. I made the spaghetti squash and served it on the side. It seemed like too large a portion using the shells as bowls.

Click here of the recipe and check out the other posts on the blog. 

Time For Breakfast - Cinnamon Scone Bread

This was as amazing as I hoped it would be. We love scones. Scone Bread was a must try recipe. It was a little work with the layering but damn it was so worth it. Looking forward to having this again tomorrow for breakfast! Click here for the recipe. It was not that hard to make, just a little more time consuming than regular scones.

Friday, January 19, 2018

DIY Chicken Fried Rice

We love this recipe. It is from the Recipe Critic, Better Than Take-Out Chicken Fried Rice. I made the rice this afternoon and got all the ingredients together after work. I started making this at 6:30 and we were at the table by 6:45.

1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
3 cups cooked rice
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)

Shred the cooked chicken.
Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Pour sesame oil in the bottom. Add white onion and peas and carrots and fry until tender.
Slide the onion, peas and carrots to the side, and pour the beaten eggs onto the other side. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, mix the eggs with the vegetable mix.
Add the rice and chicken to the veggie and egg mixture. Pour the soy sauce on top. Stir and fry the rice and veggie mixture until heated through and combined. Add chopped green onions if desired.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Scalloped Potato and Beef Roll

Do you get those food videos in your Facebook feed? I do. I get a lot of them. This one caught my eye the other morning and then I realized I had everything in the house that recipe called for. Scalloped Potato Roll. The name is misleading. Chris had no idea what this was going to be when he read it on our menu for this week. Does anyone else put up a menu for the week?

This recipe serves 8 people so I cut it in half. I worked from home today so I did the potatos before work. The rest I did at lunch time then baked for 20 minutes after work. I ran into a problem when I rolled had to roll it up. I think I put too much filling in becauce the roll broke open. I quickly grabbed a loaf pan and placed the roll in it. It was not a pretty as the video but it tasted pretty darn good.

6 potatoes, peeled
2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
3 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 sweet onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
14 ½ oz diced tomato, 1 can, drained
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Using a knife or mandolin cut the potatoes into slices ⅛-inch (3 mm) thick.

On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese and spread until it is evenly covering the parchment paper.

Place the potatoes over the parmesan so each potato is overlapping the previous potato both vertically and horizontally. Continue until the entire pan is filled with potatoes.

Sprinkle to rest of the Parmesan evenly over the potatoes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and the potatoes are flexible and slightly crispy.

In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, and cook until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Add the beef break up and mix with the onion until cooked. Mix in the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of parsley, paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Stir, cooking until the beef is browned and cooked through. Remove from heat.

In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach, cook until wilted. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the garlic. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

In a bowl combine the spinach mixture and the ricotta. Set aside.

Evenly spread the spinach mixture over the cooked potato sheet.

Evenly spread the beef mixture over the spinach. Sprinkle mozzarella over the beef.

Take one end of the potato sheet holding the parchment paper begin rolling upward, making sure the ingredients are not coming out the ends.

Once the it is completely rolled place the potato roll on the parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley for garnish. Slice and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lentil Soup

We all have go-to recipes. This is my go-to Lentil Soup Recipe. It is Mark Bittman recipe. It is so simple to make. You can add things to the soup. Mark Bittman suggests variations with the spices. I like to add things like cooked chicken, cooked sausage or if I bring leftovers for lunch some diced tofu.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
Ground black pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil. Once it is hot, add the onion and cook until soft, 1-2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook another 2 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and stock. Sprinkle with pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir it sometimes.

Food styling by Chris.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Baked Ham, Cheese and Rice Casserole

Riso al Forno. I think the last time I made this was in 2015. This is such a good winter meal.
The recipe came from Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan. This is an amazing casserole. Rice in a creamy béchamel sauce with ham and cheese. It is crispy and creamy. Mmmmmm.

Baked Ham, Cheese and Rice Casserole-
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 tbsp butter, plus more for the rice and the baking dish
2 cups milk
1/4  cup all-purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper
6 oz. boiled ham, sliced fairly thin and chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 oz. fresh mozzarella (I used Shredded Mozzarella this time)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fill a pot with at least 3 quarts water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tsp salt and the rice and stir well. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked but still firm to the bite. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss the rice with a bit of butter to prevent the grains from sticking together.

While the rice is cooking, make a béchamel sauce. Heat the milk until you can see steam rising, being careful not to let it come to a boil. Melt the 4 tbsp butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the hot milk, a few tablespoons at a time at first, whisking until the mixture is smooth before adding more milk. Do not be alarmed if the béchamel becomes very thick at first. It will get thinner as you whisk in more milk. Once it has become quite thin, you can pour the milk in more rapidly. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the sauce thickly coats the whisk. Season with salt and pepper before removing from the heat.

Pour the béchamel over the rice, reserving a few spoonfuls for the top of the casserole. Add the ham and all but 2 tbsp of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 2 1/2 quart baking that is about 3 inches deep. Pour in half of the rice mixture. Slice the mozzarella about 1/8 inch thick and layer the slices over the rice. Add the remaining rice mixture and smooth the surface with a spoon. Spread the remaining béchamel over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes the top is not speckled with brown, place the casserole under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the top beings to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to settle for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Julia Child's Favorite Roasted Chicken

A perfect Sunday dinner. Roasted Chicken, Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy. When you make Julia Child's Favorite Roasted Chicken you are bound to end up with a happy family. Chris and both cats were head over heels for this one. One thing I did which is not in the recipe was to add a little flour to the broth and pan drippings so it was a smoother gravy. Delicious!

This was taken while the chicken was in the oven-

Julia Child's Favorite Roasted Chicken-
Ingredients -
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely diced carrots
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1 teaspoon thyme, savory or mixed herbs, or 2 fresh thyme or savory sprigs
One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken
Freshly ground pepper
Parsley stems
Celery leaves
Six 1/8-inch-thick lemon slices
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chicken stock or broth

Method -
Preheat the oven to 425°. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet. Add the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat until softened. Stir in the herbs.

Wash the chicken rapidly inside and out with hot water and pat thoroughly dry. For easier carving, cut out and discard the wishbone. Pull the neck skin up over the breast and secure it to the back with a toothpick. Salt and pepper the cavity and spoon in the cooked vegetables, a handful of parsley stems and celery leaves and the lemon slices. Massage the chicken all over with 1 tablespoon of the butter, then truss it. Alternatively, tie the ends of the drumsticks together and tuck the wings under the body.

Choose a flameproof roasting pan that is about 1 inch larger than the chicken. Salt the chicken all over and set it breast up on a rack in the pan. (Thoroughly wash all surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with the raw chicken.)

Roast the chicken in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes**, as follows:
At 15 minutes: Brush the chicken with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Scatter the sliced onion and carrot all around. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
At 45 minutes: Brush the lemon juice over the chicken. If necessary, add 1/2 cup of water to the vegetables to prevent burning.
At 60 minutes: Baste with the pan juices.
Test for doneness: The drumsticks should move easily in their sockets; their flesh should feel somewhat soft. If not, continue roasting, basting and testing every 7 to 8 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°**

Spear the chicken through the shoulders; lift to drain; if the last of the juices run clear yellow, the chicken is done. Let rest on a carving board for 15 minutes; discard the string.

Spoon all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the juices in the pan. Add the stock and boil until lightly syrupy, 5 minutes. Strain; you will have just enough to bathe each serving with a fragrant spoonful.

** Our chicken took about an extra half hour for it to be cooked through.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Everyone's Favorite Chicken Cutlets

Yes, I do mean everyone's favorite Chicken Cutlet. Chris. Myself. Archie. And Lucy. This recipe was adapted from a video I watched awhile ago.


I made this recipe a number of times. But I wanted to change it up a little. Archie, yes Archie The Cat, was not crazy about the lemon dressing.

This is my rendition of that recipe. It is the same recipe as in the video, minus the dressing.

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Put the chicken breasts in a bowl with beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, and stir to coat. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs which were mixed with flour, oregano, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. The chicken is placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with Pam. Drizzle a little olive oil on the chicken. Raise the temperature of the oven to 450˚. Bake the chicken for about 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes. 
Just remember when you share this with your cats please remove all breading from the chicken breast.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Baked Ziti with Pork Rib Guazzetto

In December I made Ziti with Pork Rib Guazzetto from Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian. There was a lot of leftovers. I had ricotta cheese and fresh Mozzarella in the fridge. I added the Ricotta and Mozzarella along with some Parmesan to the pasta and the sauce. It went into a baking dish and topped it with breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. It went into the freezer. Tonight we baked the pasta and enjoyed what was the best-baked macaroni I have had in a long time. That sauce was fantastic!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Eggs in Purgatory

I love eggs poached in tomato sauce. This is a recipe my Mom made quite often. The sauce was a basic Marinara. Once the sauce was done the eggs were dropped in the sauce and left to poach. Some Italian bread and a glass, or two, of wine and you are done.

Lucy wants to know when we will have chicken for dinner again...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Leftover Beef Stew!

I had some Polenta in the freezer. I took it out yesterday and when Chris got home tonight he fried it up in a saute pan. We put the leftover Beef Stew over the polenta. Comfort food!

A friend of ours, Maureen, gave us her FoodSaver. Guess the first thing I used it for. Yeah another meal from the batch of Slow Cooker Beef Stew. I was reading online that you should first freeze what you are going to wrap using the FoodSaver. Well I did not freeze the stew and the vacuum and the sealer worked perfectly! I love this new gadget.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

It is Sunday and I had so much to do. I needed something for dinner that was made in the slow cooker. This is one of our favorite stew recipes. I think it from Epicurious or Bon Appetit. This recipe makes enough for at least 3 meals, that is if you only have 2 people to cook for.

2 1/2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and diced into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
3 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium beef broth or chicken broth, divided
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried1 (7-inch) single sprig rosemary (or 3/4 tsp dried)
1 1/2 lbs yellow potatoes, diced into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (don't use thin carrots)
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch (depending on how thick you like it)
1 1/2 cups frozen petite peas
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Working with half of the beef at a time, dab both sides dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sear in skillet until browned, turning once halfway through, about 4 - 5 minutes total. Transfer beef to slow cooker. Add an additional 1 Tbsp oil to skillet, repeat with remaining beef. Leave excess oil in skillet.

Add remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil to oil in skillet (there should be about 1/2 tbsp left after searing beef), reduce burner to medium. Saute onions and celery 3 minutes, then add in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

Pour 1 cup beef broth into skillet along with Worcestershire, soy sauce,  thyme and rosemary. Add potatoes and carrots over beef layer in slow cooker, then pour broth mixture in skillet into slow cooker along with remaining 2 cups beef broth. Season lightly with salt and pepper (add more to taste at the end). Cover and cook on low heat for 7 - 8 hours.

In a small bowl whisk together cornstarch with 1  1/2 Tbsp cold water until smooth. Pour into slow cooker and gently stir, cover and cook on high heat for 20 - 30 minutes until thickened slightly. Stir in peas and half of the parsley. Serve warm garnished with remaining parsley.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Spinach and Egg Fettuccine Alfredo

The pasta recipe I use is from Tide and Thyme. This recipe never fails me. Today I split the recipe in 1/2 and made 1/2 egg pasta and the other half spinach pasta. For the spinach pasta, I just microwaved 1/2 of a package of frozen chopped spinach. I squeezed out all of the water that I possibly could. I mixed the spinach in with the flour before adding the egg, olive oil, and water. Next time I might not add all the water to the spinach dough. I probably could have gotten a little more of the water out of the microwaved spinach.
The Alfredo sauce is from Epicurious.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Dried egg fettuccine
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)

Method-Melt butter in a large saute pan.
Cook fettuccine in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain fettuccine in a colander.
Immediately toss the fettuccine with butter and salt in the sauté pan, then slowly add 3/4 cup cheese, tossing constantly and adding enough of cooking water to keep pasta moist.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Dinner was delicious and light. The bread was an olive and rosemary bread I made last weekend. I took it out of the freezer earlier today and heated it up for dinner.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Chorizo Cassoulet with Spicy Bread Crumbs

For Christmas Chris gave me two cookbooks. One of them was Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sara DiGregoria. I looked through the book and put sticky notes on the recipes I wanted to try. 
There were quite a few. We had the Wedding Soup earlier in the week and tonight I made Chorizo Cassoulet with Spicy Bread Crumbs. It was delicious. Perfect for a night when it is 5˚ outside. As I was looking through the book again before I did this post I noticed the forward was written by Grant Achatz. Yeah that Grant Achatz! Wow! Eating dinner at his restaurant, Alinea, is on my bucket list. Funny but most of the things on my bucket list involve food.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mom's Pizza

Today would have been my Mom's birthday. There was a mass said for her at St. Lawrence Church this morning that I was planning on attending. But there was this storm. Cyclone blizzard. Whatever it was called there was no way I was venturing out. Even my sister did not go. The weather conditions made working from home the only option. For dinner, I decided to make my Mom's Pizza. Luckily I had pizza dough in the freezer. I decided to keep the toppings simple. My mom only used tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese. That is what I did but also added some shredded Mozzarella.

I have to say it was so close to what my Mom use to make on Sunday nights. The crust was crispy and light. I still wish I could pick up the phone and call her. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Italian Wedding Soup with Sausage Meatballs and Escarole

Let me start out by saying that this was supposed to be Italian Wedding Soup with Sausage Meatballs and Kale but I am so over Kale. It is a garnish! Unless it is the Lacinato Kale. That I like. I am more of an Escarole person. This recipe is from Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sara DiGregoria. I got this book for Christmas. Lots of recipes in it!!

The best part of this dinner was the broth! It was from the batch I made on Saturday. Just delicious.
I would like to thank Chris for handling the food styling for the photos. Would like to write more but we are getting a bomb cyclone tomorrow. Not sure what to expect.