Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Italian Baked Crusted Flounder with Pasta in Wine Sauce Pasta


Ever had that feeling of déjà vu with a recipe? Like it takes you back to memories of childhood dinners around the table? That's exactly what happened to me with Claudia's Italian Baked Crusted Flounder with Pasta in Wine Sauce from What's Cooking Italian Style.

Claudia's recipes always capture the essence of Italian home cooking, reminding me of the comforting meals my mom would put on the table. So, when I stumbled upon this flounder dish for Ash Wednesday, I knew I had to try it.

And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The fish was baked to flaky perfection, its crispy breadcrumb crust infused with fragrant herbs. Each bite was a symphony of flavors.

Now, about the sauce. It was pure heaven! But as a self-proclaimed "butter watcher," I couldn't resist tweaking the recipe slightly. I used only one stick of butter instead of the two, but don't worry, I kept the wine flowing freely! The result? A rich, creamy sauce that perfectly complements the flounder without being overly heavy.

I opted for fettuccini for the pasta. I had a small enough portion for 2 servings.

The best part? This dish came together in a flash, only dirtying a couple of pans. Win-win! And let's not forget the rave reviews from the other side of the table. Every forkful was met with satisfied hums and requests for seconds.

So, would I make this again? Absolutely! It's a delicious recipe that's perfect for busy weeknights or special occasions. Plus, it's easily customizable – adjust the wine, herbs, or even swap the fish for another white variety. Give it a try, and I guarantee it'll become a new family favorite!

P.S. Huge thanks to Claudia for sharing her amazing recipe! You keep inspiring me to recreate those cherished flavors of home in my own kitchen.

Click here for the recipe.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

A Saturday In January

Today it was 12 degrees outside. Our kitchen was toasty warm.

What was going on?

Mom's Meat Sauce.

Escarole, Sausage and Bean Soup

Beef and Onion Studel

Italian Bread


Mom's Meat Sauce: A Time-Tested Tradition

The day began with a simmering pot of Mom's Meat Sauce—a cherished recipe.


My Mom’s Meat Sauce

Ingredients-
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. sweet sausage
4- 16 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
3 to 4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste

Method-
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add ground meat

Brown and then stir.

Add chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes. 

Add all the meat. 

Cook over medium heat until browned. 

Drain off fat from the pan.

Add tomatoes and simmer covered for 1 to 2 hours. 

Add tomato paste to thicken, adding 1 tbsp. at a time as needed. 

Add herbs, salt, and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Let cool completely. 

Remove any grease from the top of the sauce. 

Freeze extra sauce in containers or zip-lock bags.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Remembering Dad Through Pasta Fagioli

My Dad and Pasta Fagioli. The connection runs deep. Whenever I indulge in a bowl of this hearty soup, memories of my father flood back—laughter, stories, and the comforting aroma that filled our home.

"The Olive Garden makes the best." Those words have become almost a mantra. Yet, tonight, a surprising revelation from Chris added a new layer to the tale. "Your father would have liked tonight's Pasta Fagioli better than the Olive Garden," he remarked.

A couple of years ago, I decided to recreate the magic of Pasta Fagioli that my Dad cherished. I stumbled upon this recipe on the Italy Magazine site. For tonight's dinner, I had every ingredient, with one exception—I didn't have any pancetta on hand. Improvisation led me to thick slices of salami, an unexpected but delightful substitution.

As I stirred the pot, the kitchen filled with the familiar scents. The simmering beans, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs recreated a scene from the past. The thick salami added its unique twist.

Tonight, as I savor a bowl of Pasta Fagioli, I reflect on the significance of this simple yet profound dish. It's more than just a recipe; it's a tribute to a father's favorite meal.

In every spoonful, I taste the love and warmth that defined those moments spent around the table with my Dad. Pasta Fagioli is a dish that transcends time, connecting generations through the shared experience of a delicious journey down memory lane.


Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients

14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

350 gr (dry ditalini or pipette)

Canned chopped Tomatoes 14.5 oz 

small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 carrot diced

1 tbsp olive oil

60 grams of salami (or pancetta) cut into cubes or strips 

1/2 liter chicken stock

black pepper to taste


Method


Sautè all the ingredients and then add the chopped tomatoes. 


When the tomatoes turn mushy, add one or two ladles of stock and let it simmer.


While the sauce is cooking, sauté the salami (or pancetta) in another saucepan; fry it with its own fat, then add the drained beans.

Flavor the beans with various herbs and spices, like garlic, sage, and bay leaves, you can also add some pork rinds or the bone of a prosciutto. 

Then add a couple of ladles of stock and when it gets absorbed by the beans add them to the first pot with the vegetables and tomatoes, and let it simmer. 

Boil the pasta of your choice (such as ditalini, pipette, or even broken long pasta) in salted water, and halfway through the cooking time drain them and add them to the bean soup. 

Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water or the stock, if necessary, and simmer together until the pasta is ready.  

Make it as soupy or as dry as you like by adding more or less warm stock.

Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Air Fryer Baby Back Ribs

Yeah, Air Fryer Baby Back Ribs is a real thing.

This was just a delicious dinner. And it was pretty easy to prepare and with cautious plating, it was easy to clean up. The ribs were on sale this week so it was also an economical dinner.

I found the rib recipe on All Recipes. I had to air fry the rack in two batches, but we only ate 1/2 a rack for dinner tonight. We will have the other 1/2 rack later this week.

Ingredients-

1 rack baby back ribs



1 tablespoon olive oil



1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring



1 tablespoon brown sugar



½ teaspoon salt



½ teaspoon ground black pepper



½ teaspoon garlic powder



½ teaspoon onion powder



½ teaspoon chili powder



1 cup BBQ sauce
( we used Guy Fieri Kansas City BBQ Sauce)


Method-

Remove membrane from back of ribs and dry ribs with a paper towel. 

Cut rack into 4 pieces. 

Mix olive oil and liquid smoke in a small bowl and rub on both sides of the ribs

Combine brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and chili powder in a bowl. 

Season both sides of the ribs generously with seasoning mix. 

Let ribs rest for 30 minutes to enhance the flavor.

Preheat an air fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Place ribs bone-side down in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not touching; cook in batches if necessary.

Cook for 15 minutes. 

Flip ribs over (meat-side down) and cook an additional 10 minutes. 

Remove ribs from air fryer and brush bone-side of ribs with 1/2 cup BBQ sauce. 

Place basket back in the air fryer and cook for 5 minutes. 

Flip ribs over, brush meat-side with remaining 1/2 cup BBQ sauce; cook an additional 5 minutes or until desired char is achieved.


The Air Fried Mac and Cheese Balls were a nice side. They were extra cheesy. The recipe is on an earlier post. Click here for that recipe.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Chicken Cordon Bleu


One of our go-to meals when we were first married was Barber's Chicken Cordon Bleu. The frozen meal tasted good and was easy to get on the table.

Today I was scrolling through the New York Times Cooking app and a recipe called the Original Chicken Cordon Bleu appeared on my screen. The key instruction is that the chicken breast needs to be pounded thin.

The dinner was delicious. Thumbs up from both sides of the table.


Ingredients-

4 chicken cutlets

4 thin slices of ham

2 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into 4 equal strips

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/4teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock

3/4 cup white wine


Method-

Lay the chicken breasts between pieces of wax paper and use a mallet to pound them to ¼-inch to ⅛-inch thick. 

Take care not to pound holes in the chicken. 

Layer each breast with the ham, then place a strip of cheese in the center. 

Roll up to completely enclose the ham and cheese and secure with toothpicks.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. 

Lightly dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg and coat with bread crumbs. 

Place on a baking sheet and chill for at least 15 minutes and up to 4 hours.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the butter. 

Add the chicken and cook, turning carefully with tongs, until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. 

Add 1/2 cup of the stock to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through 10 to 15 minutes. 

Move the chicken to a warm platter.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock to the skillet, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring up browned bits clinging to the bottom, for 1 minute. 

Add the wine (or heavy cream or additional stock), lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the consistency of gravy, about 45 seconds. 

Pour over the chicken breasts and serve.


This is life behind the camera. Lucy likes to sit with us when we eat dinner.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Rotisserie Chicken


Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Rotisserie Chicken is from EatingWell.com.
I was not sure about the rating of this recipe but it received a resounding thumbs up.


Ingredients-
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
1 cup chopped carrots (from 2 medium carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (from 2 large stalks)
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
4 ounces uncooked whole-wheat egg noodles
3 cups coarsely chopped rotisserie chicken breast (from 2 rotisserie chickens)
1 cup frozen green peas

Method-
Melt butter with olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 

Add onion, carrots, celery and salt and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

 Add flour and stir to coat. 

Stir in stock and milk and let the mixture come to a boil. 

Add uncooked noodles to the boiling mixture. 

Cover and cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes. 

Stir in chicken and peas and cook until pasta reaches desired doneness and chicken and peas are warmed through, about 1 to 2 more minutes. 

Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Skillet Chili and Meatballs


A perfect Sunday supper recipe has been found! This is from Delish.com. One bowl to mix the meatballs and one skillet to cook. Gotta love it.

The meatballs used Cilantro and Chili Powder. We are not usually fans of Cilantro but we both loved the taste.

The chili recipe called for 2 cans of beans but we opted for just one.


Will we make this again?

YES!

Here is the original recipe which serves 8. I cut the recipe in 1/2 and left out the black beans.

Ingredients-

2 lb. ground beef

2 large eggs

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

3 tsp. chili powder, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1 tbsp. reserved for serving

1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes with juices

1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (4 oz.) can of mild green chiles with juices

1 c. water

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese (about 6 oz.)

Sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and tortilla chips, for serving


Method-

Combine beef, eggs, panko, cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. 


Roll into about 24 (1 1/2") meatballs and transfer to a plate.



In a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. 


Cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. 


Return to plate.



In the same skillet over medium heat, cook onion, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 2 minutes. 


Add black beans, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, chiles, water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder. 


Stir to combine and add meatballs.



Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. 


Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and tossing meatballs occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened and meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper.



Heat broiler to high. 


Scatter cheese over skillet and broil until cheese is melted and light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. 


Let cool slightly. 


Top with sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and reserved onion. Serve with tortilla chips alongside.


Friday, October 6, 2023

Finally a Delicious Chicken Cutlet

Tonight, I must extend my apologies for three decades of chicken cutlets that were less than delightful. While my previous attempts were decent, tonight's endeavor was truly exceptional.

In the past, I opted for baking our chicken cutlets, adhering to the belief that frying is "unhealthy" with baking being the virtuous path. I must confess that frying undeniably imparts a superior flavor.

The decision to fry tonight's cutlets was influenced by Chris's request. I managed to snag chicken breasts at a steal—$1.99 per pound. Following the guidance from two instructional videos (links provided below), I transformed them into succulent cutlets.

  1. https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-make-chicken-cutlets-from-chicken-breasts/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsL90m9JMMY)

For the coating, I adhered to the usual recipe— a blend of plain and Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of cornstarch. The frying process involved a mixture of 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 vegetable oil. As for the timing, I found that 5 minutes on one side, followed by a careful flip and an additional 3 minutes of frying, yielded the perfect result.






Saturday, September 23, 2023

A Busy Day in the Kitchen!


A rainy day spend in the kitchen. 



I started the 18-Hour Bread yesterday morning before leaving for work. Click here for the recipe on Food and Wine.



It was a perfect day for a sauce to be simmering on the stove. I opted for Lidia's Bolognese recipe. Just so damn good!  The recipe is here




Of course, we had to have fresh pappardelle noodles for the pasta. I used my favorite recipe for the pasta. I have been using this for years. I found it on Tide and Thyme's blog back in 2012! It is still the only recipe I use.

The pasta recipe-

Yields about one and a half pounds of fresh pasta

Ingredients-
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surfaces
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
pinch salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed

Method-
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl or on a work surface, creating a well in the center.  

Crack the eggs into the well.  

Using a mixer or by hand, slowly mix, incorporating the flour into the egg mixture a little bit at a time.

Once you have a dry, shaggy dough, mix in the olive oil and water and knead by hand until the dough is fairly smooth and homogeneous.

Divide the dough into four portions and cover with a damp towel.  

Let rest for 20 minutes.  

At this point, proceed with thinning and cutting as desired, depending on the equipment available.

To cook, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until al dente. 

Drain well and serve immediately.


While I was hanging out in the kitchen I also made Apple Scones, 
Butternut Squash Soup, and Baked Macaroni!