Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stuffed Shell with Meatballs

Wow! What a nice dinner. I just boiled the shells and added the filling. The filling was ricotta, egg, parmesan and mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper. I had the meatballs and sauce in the freezer. There were 2 shells left which will be my lunch tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Black Bean Soup

This is a go to recipe for me. I found it in a magazine ad when we were first married. We also had some of Rocco's Loaded Steak Stuffed bread. Nice.

Black Bean Soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 chopped red pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cans (15 oz.) Black Beans (drain liquid from 1 can)
Black pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion and pepper in hot oil for five minutes.
Stir in cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Puree one can of beans (the can that was not drained) add to the pot. Add remaining can of beans, the can that was drained. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add black pepper to taste.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Parmesan Risotto

Tonight I had my first Vodka Gimlet since this whole virus situation started.  Both Chris and I are still going to work every day so we are not experiencing the #stayhome way of life. We get up, go to work, come home and hunker down.

Grocery shopping has taken on a new life. If the parking lot is not crowded I will go in. Twice this week I have pulled into Bishop's Market and did not stop because I know the size of the store and there were too many cars in the lot to be sure there would be a 6 ft social distance between other shoppers. Crazy times! Next week I will order my produce online from Bishops and sit in the pick-up line.
Tonight for dinner I made what has to be my favorite Saturday night dinner. Breaded Pork Chops. I pan fry them and finish them in the oven. Always moist!

But the star tonight was the Parmesan Risotto. The recipe is from The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook. Spot On Risotto.

2 1/2 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion chopped or 2 shallots chopped
salt and pepper
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Bring water and broth to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove heat, cover and keep warm. 
Melt 1 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until grains are translucent around edges, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 4 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups reserved warm broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed about 12 minutes.
Stir 1/2 cup reserved warm broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 times, until rice is al dente, you may have broth leftover. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and parmesan.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Friday Night in Lent

No mass on Sunday, now including Easter Sunday, but it is still Lent. And that means No Meat on Fridays. Chris suggested the same thing we had last Friday night for dinner. And Eggplant Pie from Roccos off Wooster. Perfect.  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pastine in Chicken Broth

We can all use a little comfort right about now. When I was little one thing my Mom would make for me was Pastine in Chicken Broth. Actually, she also made Pastine in milk with butter. That will be another post at another time.

I made the soup when I got home from work and we heated up some "Loaded" Steak Stuffed Bread From Roccos off of Wooster. It was so damn good!

Pastine in Chicken Broth
4 cups homemade or store-bought chicken broth.
1 2-inch piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1/2 box pastina pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste

In a large stockpot, bring the chicken broth and Parmesan rind to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add the tiny pastina and cook until the pasta is tender for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the Parmesan rind and discard.
Stir in 1/2 of the cheese.
Season with sea salt to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, if desired.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Rye Bread

I started this bread last night in the midst of the Friday Night Baking Event. This is too easy not to make. Just mix the ingredients and let it rise for 18 hours. The recipe is from the Jim Lahey book, My Bread. The week we will be having Corned Beef and Cabbage so this bread seemed to be the perfect match.

Like I said it is simple -
Mix together in a large bowl -
300 grams Bread Flour
100 grams Rye Flour
8 grams Table Salt
2 grams Dry Yeast

Next, add -
300 grams cool Water (55˚ to 60˚)

Stir using a wooden spoon until you have a wet sticky dough, about 30 seconds.
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. The dough should double in size and the surface will be dotted with bubbles.

Generously dust a work surface (a wooden or plastic cutting board is fine) with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece. Use lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

This is where I differ from the "recipe". I shape the dough into a boule and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression. If it doesn't, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered 4 1/2–5 1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Very carefully place the dough seam side up into the pot. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Don't slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Just Another Friday Night

We all have different ways of unwinding after a stressful week. Maybe I should have bought toilet paper. Honestly, it is getting serious. They closed the New Haven Library. That freaked me out a little. To relieve stress I pour myself a glass of wine, usually red, and head for the kitchen and start baking.

Tonight I baked Irish Soda Scones and a new cookie! The Irish Soda Scone recipe is from The Joy of Baking site.

Ingredients -
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk

Method -

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk.
Using one hand, a wooden spoon or spatula, mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until you have a soft and moist dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a 7 inch round. Cut this circle into 6 triangular sections. Place the scones on your prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with a little buttermilk or milk and then dust with a little flour. This gives the baked scones a floury brown crust.
Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place it on a wire rack. These scones are best served warm from the oven with a little butter and jam.
Makes 6 large scones.

The Cookie. Biscotti con Formaggio Cremoso. Or Cream Cheese Knot Cookies.
 I love this cookie. I have heard mixed reviews from the sidelines.
The recipe was from Cooking with Nonna Book.

I made 1/2 the recipe. Will I make these again? Yes!

1 1/5 cups flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
2 az cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp anise extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tbsp Sambuca liqueur

Method -
Preheat oven to 350˚. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk flour, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a bowl for a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese, butter, and sugar. Mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the egg. Add the anisette and vanilla. Mix to combine. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour and baking powder mixture and mix it until fully absorbed. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
On a clean work surface, roll a chunk of dough into a rope 1/2 inch wide. Cut the rope into 4 to 5 inch long pieces. Shape into little knots and place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake for10 to 15 minutes or until the cookies just began to color. Cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar, anisette, and the milk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies and decorate with the nonpareils.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Creamy Tomato Soup with Tortellini

Today I went fabric shopping with my sister. Yeah, I love to sew. I find it very relaxing. But being out meant I needed a quick dinner. I found a recipe this week for Creamy Tomato Soup with Tortellini. It was quite good and very easy to make. But of course, I needed something to go with the soup. I have heard someone say that soup is not a meal... This is where Rocco's stuffed bread comes in. I ordered the Meatball bread and picked it up after Mass tonight. Wow, it was really, really good.

Here is my version of the Creamy Tomato Soup with Tortellini Recipe -


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek, white & light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed and sliced
1 (6 ounces) can no-salt-added tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or no-chicken broth
1 (28 ounces) can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano 
1 teaspoon salt
1 (9 ounces) package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups half-and-half
½ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leek. Cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Remove the bay leaves.
Whisk flour and half-and-half in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the soup.
Add basil (or parsley). Cook, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Monday, March 2, 2020

An Unforgettable Beef Stew

This is the second time this year I have made this stew. The recipe is an adaptation of Ina Garten's Unforgettable Beef Stew which I found on the Veggies By Candlelight blog. I also adapted that recipe to fit our tastes and to what I had in the house for ingredients.

In the blog post on Veggies by Candlelight, there are rules that the writer received from the person who gave her the recipe. They are really good and they should be followed.
Again from Veggies by Candlelight-

  • You must sear the meat, not simply brown the sides. This will have to be done in batches because the beef cubes need to sizzle in a hot pan for a good five minutes before nudging them. Only when the bottoms have a dark crust and come away easily from the pan can you move on to the other sides.
  • Whatever you do, please don't scrimp on the time. Stew meat takes a good long stretch of cooking before it becomes tender. Cook it low and slow for at least two hours
  • Use chicken stock instead of beef. That is unless you make your own beef stock.
  • For seasonings Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and good red wine.  Substituting a good dark beer for the wine is usually a great choice.  Keep the seasonings fairly simple.  If you've seared the meat well and cooked it long enough, a good stew can really stand on its own without much else.

1 pound good-quality beef chuck, cubed into ~ 1 ½" sized pieces
1 1/2 cups of good red wine
2 bay leaves 
1 cup flour  
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil 
1 yellow onion, chopped 
2 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 ½" chunks
1/2 lb small potatoes halved or quartered
1 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp chopped dried rosemary
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
5 oz package frozen peas

The night before, or a couple of hours before you start...
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine and bay leaves.
Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Brown the Beef
The next day, preheat the oven to 300° F.
In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour,  1/2 tbsp salt, and pepper, and combine.
Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, discard the bay leaves, saving the marinade.
In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mix before shaking off the excess.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. See the notes above.
Place the seared beef in a bowl and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) 
Remove the beef and place in a bowl.

Prep the Veggies
In the Dutch oven, heat another glug of oil before adding the onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetables to the bowl with the beef.
Finish the Soup
Add the reserved marinade to the empty Dutch oven and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon 
Add the stock, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. 
Add the meat and vegetables, including all the juices to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. 
Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, or until all of the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking.
If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275° F. 
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.