Sunday, February 28, 2021

Air Fryer Hamburgers

We finally got the grill attachment for our air fryer. First up, Air Fry Burgers.
A simple mix for the burgers. Ground beef, sorry I don't remember the %. I think it was 85% or maybe 80%. Salt, Pepper, a touch of A-1, and that was it.

Preheat the air fryer to 370°F. Add patties in a single layer to the basket. Cook 6 minutes. Flip burger over and cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until beef reaches 160°F. Add cheese if using and cook 1 minute more.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fettuccini alla Nerano

Yes, we tried the latest food craze. Fettuccini alla Nerano. And yes it is as delicious as everyone has said.

Back in 2018, I made a recipe for Zucchini Sauce. It quickly became my go-to recipe. Suddenly there was Fettuccini alla Nerano. The differences... hmmm. The zucchini is fried and refrigerated overnight... The pasta alla Nerano used both provolone and Parmigiana. That's all. The recipe I used in 2018 was from Bon Appetit.

If you have not seen the Stanley Tucci show, Searching For Italy, please watch it. It is a love letter to all things Italian. 

So here is how I made Fettuccini alla Nerano. Last night I fried the thinly sliced zucchini in safflower oil. And that was not easy to find!!! I got the last bottle at the store. I put the fried zucchini in a paper towel-lined bowl and sprinkled them with salt. Into the fridge they went until tonight.

At the start of the frying.

The end of the frying.

Tonight I started the pot of water for the homemade fettuccini. In a saute pan I heated some olive oil and added the zucchini.

I tossed in some diced prosciutto because I had it in the fridge. I added a knob of butter and once the pasta was dropped in the water I added a bit of the pasta water. You want to get a sauce-like consistency.

I cooked the pasta until almost al dente and added it to the saute pan to finish cooking. Some more pasta water was added to maintain the sauce-like consistency and then I added grated provolone and parmigiana. I tossed in some chopped basil and that was it.

And yes it was delicious. It was simple ingredients lifted to a stellar level. It was just zucchini and cheese. I might heat up a little for a late-night snack...

Friday, February 26, 2021

Lent Week Two. Call Rocco's.

We kept it easy tonight. Ordered 2 small pies from Rocco's Off Wooster. Best pizza in our neck of the woods. We got a Red Clam Pie and a Red Eggplant Pie.  We actually have leftovers! Breakfast anyone?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Stuffed Shells with Leftovers


This weekend I made 2 dishes of Stuffed Shells. One for tonight and one for the freezer. Tonight Chris called to get an ETA for me and he said he added the sausage leftover from last nights dinner to the Stuffed Shells. Nice additions. The shells were stuffed with a mix of Ricotta, Egg, Parmigiana, salt., pepper, parsley. The sauce was the Marcel Hazen Tomato, Butter and Onion Sauce.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Hello Old Friend

The first time I made this recipe was in 2009. It was my 5th blog post and the first time I posted a photo of dinner.

The recipe was from Jamie Oliver's Cooking at Home. Back in 2009 I was hesitant to put recipes from cookbooks on the blog. Copyright infringement was actually a thing back then. Someday I will share America's Test Kitchen story.

Here is the recipe -

1 lb ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh bay
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lb sweet Italian sausages
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Method -
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a roasting tray, large enough to take the tomatoes in one snug-fitting layer put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, and sausages. Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and pop the tray into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.

Check the seasoning and serve either with a loaf of bread (great for mopping up the sauce!) or with mashed potato, rice, or polenta.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

This recipe is from Creamy Tuscan Chicken. Amazing flavors. The sauce was seasoned perfectly. You need bread to sop up the sauce. You do not want to waste it! Easy prep. I had all the mise en place so I was able to enjoy a cocktail while cooking dinner.

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes halved
3 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan

In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. 

Add chicken and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. 

Cook until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. 

Remove from skillet and set aside. 

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter. 

Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. 

Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst then add spinach and cook until spinach is beginning to wilt. 

Stir in heavy cream and parmesan and bring mixture to a simmer. 

Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. 

Return chicken to skillet and cook until heated through, for 5 to 7 minutes.

We had left over pasta from last night as a side.

Friday, February 19, 2021

First Friday of Lent. A TikTok Sensation!

So we begin the Friday night dinners during Lent. Not someone's favorite time of the year but I am determined to kick it up a notch this Lent with dinner ideas.

We started off with that TikTok Sensation - Baked Feta Pasta With Tomatoes.

Insert crowd cheers.

Have you seen this video? As soon as I saw it I knew it would be a hit in our house.

It is so damn easy. One baking dish and one pot. Gotta love an easy clean-up on a Friday night.

This recipe is very adaptable to anyone's taste.  I read that you can use goat cheese instead of Feta. And the pasta can be whatever you like. It was recommended something like a bowtie pasta but I opted for homemade fettuccini. 

We loved this. Both of us went back for seconds. The sauce was so delicious. It is a good idea to save some of the pasta water in case the pasta looks like it could use more sauce once it is added to the baking dish.

Click here for the original recipe.

This was my version of the recipe tailored for our tastes.

12 oz. pasta of your choice
1/2 cup olive oil 
1 box cherry tomatoes (around 10 oz) 
1 block feta about 8 oz
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Then toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a baking dish.

Stick a block of feta in the middle and add another glug of olive oil along with a few more cranks of fresh pepper.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the feta is brown and the tomatoes have burst. Then stir to mix.

Boil water for the pasta, remember to add salt!

Cook the pasta, saving some of the water in case there is not enough liquid in the sauce.

Chop the basil. 

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add red pepper flakes and stir.

Stir in the cooked pasta.

Garnish with basil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lent Begins. Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Ash Wednesday. No Meat. Enter the Air Fryer.
Fish Sticks. Easy enough to buy a box of Gordon's but Cod was actually on sale. Fish on sale during Lent!

This was easy to put together and 12 minutes to cook. The coating was light and crispy. Next time I may add some cayenne pepper to the flour.

The Tartar Sauce was made by Chris. We all have our specialties and his tartar sauce is much better than mine.

Air Fryer Fish Sticks

2 large eggs
3 tbsp milk
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 oz. Cod, cut into sticks
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch ground black pepper
Tartar Sauce for serving

Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl.

Pour the breadcrumbs into a pie plate, or some dish that has sides. 

Pour flour in a second pie plate.

Coat the fish sticks in olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Dip the fish sticks into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs.

Insert the Fry Tray into the basket of the air fryer.

Set the cooking temperature to 350˚F and cooking time to 3 minutes to preheat the air fryer.

Place the fish sticks in the basket. Insert the basket into the air fryer.

Set the cooking time to 12 minutes.

Flip the fish sticks halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with the tartar sauce.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day!

A year ago tonight was the last time Chris and I ate in a restaurant. It was Rocco's and I wish we could have been there tonight. 

For Valentine's Day, I did prep work. Lent starts on Wednesday and one of our go-to meals on Friday nights during Lent is Fettuccini Alfredo. And of course, we have to make it with homemade pasta.

I now have 2 packages of pasta in the freezer!

Next, I made Mac and Cheese Balls for the Air Fryer. I am ashamed to say that I have never made Mac and Cheese from scratch. You know like Krafts or Annies. What the hell is wrong with me. It is so freaking easy. All the years we have been eating processed mac and cheese. I will go stand in the corner.

Here is the recipe I used for the Mac and Cheese -

1 (8 ounces) box elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour 

½ teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour milk into butter-flour mixture while continuously stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add Cheddar cheese to the milk mixture and stir until cheese is melted 2 to 4 minutes.

Fold the macaroni into cheese sauce until coated.

Now for the Mac and Cheese Balls, this is what I did -

I chilled the Mac and Cheese in the fridge.

After it was chilled I used a tablespoon and shaped each tablespoon into balls.

I mixed 3 eggs with 3 tbsps of milk in a bowl.

In another bowl, I mixed 1 cup of panko bread crumbs with a tsp of salt and a tsp of paprika. 

Next, I placed each of the mac and cheese balls in the egg and milk mixture, coating the entire ball, then add to the panko mixture, then add to a lined parchment paper cookie sheet.

Place in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.

When it is time to bake, or air fry I will do that by setting the Air Fryer at 360 degrees. I will place the mac and cheese balls into the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch. Air fry for 8-10 minutes until light and golden on the outside. Remove, serve, and enjoy.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Shrimp Etouffee - International Cooking Club

This month the International Cooking Club was celebrating Mardi Gras by making Shrimp Etoufee.

Now, this is something I have never even considered making. I am a New Orleans Saints fan but the cooking from the region is foreign to me. Until now...

I liked this. A lot. Yes, I should have salted it more but there was that little bit of heat that came through from the cajun spices. Actually, the only ingredient that gave it a bit of spice was the cayenne pepper. Everything else was part of our usual seasonings.

It was fun to make something that was American but out of my comfort zone. I made Shrimp broth! And it tasted really good!

Making the golden roux was something I have not done before. I have always made a bechamel sauce so letting it get brown was different. 

I did cut the recipe in half. I did not use the garlic and I only used red pepper.

I knew that this would be good because the recipe was written by Molly O'Neill. I got to sit in one a writing lecture she gave at Foodstock back in May of 2012. I always looked forward to her articles in the NYTimes. She left us much too soon.

Shrimp Etouffee  By Molly O’Neill 

YIELD: Four servings 

TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes 


½ teaspoon vegetable oil 

1 ½ pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved

1 ¼ cups white wine
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 medium-size onion, peeled and chopped
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons water


 Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and the water, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.

Heat 1/4 cup of shrimp broth in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add onion, peppers, and celery, lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly and rapidly with a small spoon, add the flour. Continue stirring and cook the mixture until it turns a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining shrimp broth.

Stir the thyme, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf into the vegetable mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth mixture, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper and cook until just cooked through about 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaf and serve over white rice.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

You Can Make This Any Time!

As I was typing the title of this blog it sounded like we do not eat healthy foods. But we really do. The Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls are not an everyday occasion. Yet...

This recipe came with the Air Fryer. It puzzled me at first. It calls for 1 cup of leftover mac and cheese. Isn't that like leftover wine? Who has leftover mac and cheese? Our go-to
Mac and Cheese brand is Annie's. The one with the bunny on the box.

Mac & Cheese Balls

1 cup leftover mac and cheese, refrigerated
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup plain breadcrumbs

Combine the macaroni and cheese and the cheddar cheese in a bowl.

Put the flour in a second bowl.

Combine the eggs and milk in a third bowl.

Put the bread crumbs in a fourth bowl.

Form the mac and cheese and cheddar cheese into small ball shapes. This was not as easy as it seemed. It took a few tries but with a little effort, they came together.

Roll the balls in the flour, and then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

I put the Mac and Cheese balls on a tray and put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Insert the Fry Tray into the basket. Insert the basket into the Fryer.

Set the cooking temp to 360˚ and the cooking time to 3 minutes. Let the air fryer preheat.

Place the mac and cheese balls in the basket.

Cook at 360˚ for 5 minutes. Rotate the mac and cheese balls and cook for another 5 minutes.

I served them with a little of Rao's Marinara Sauce. 

Rave Reviews!! You can make this anytime. You can make it and freeze it!

And we did have a protein for dinner tonight too! I picked up a 1 1/2 pound spoon roast. I coated it with olive oil and a mixture of 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Into a 450˚ oven for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 255˚ for 45 minutes. The temp was between medium-rare and medium. Perfect for both of us.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Ralph's Stuffed Calamari

I believe the exact quote was "Damn this is good." I think because this is usually a Christmas Eve dish for us so tonight it was a nice treat. And it was damn delicious. My brother-in-law, Ralph made these yesterday. He and Lenore dropped them off today. I had a vacation day and it was nice not having to think about dinner. Well, I did spend a good part of the day waiting for this dinner.

I do not have the recipe yet. But when I do I will post it. Promise!


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sausage Frittata

Tonight I made Sausage Frittata for dinner. Not just a Sausage Frittata, but a Sausage Frittata sandwich on homemade bread. But not just Sausage Frittata sandwiches on homemade bread, but Sausage Frittata sandwiches on homemade bread with Air Fryer Potatoes.

I got the recipe for the Sausage Frittata from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. It was simple to prepare. I chopped up sweet and hot sausages. Browned them in very little olive oil until they were cooked. I drained off the grease and added a tablespoon of butter to the saute pan. Returned the sausage to the pan and added the beaten eggs. I put the pan in the oven after the bottom had cooked. It was in a 375˚ oven for about 10 minutes.

The bread was the Jim Lahey 18 Hour No Knead recipe.

You need to plan ahead if you want to make this.

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.

And Air Fryer Potatoes!! Tossed cut potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano, and rosemary. Place in Air Fryer, spraying the grate first. 15 minutes at 400˚.

That is all there is to it.