Sunday, March 30, 2014

One Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

This was quite the dinner.
 I probably should have cut the recipe in half. 
The recipe does serve 6. 
So guess what we are having tomorrow night! 
And maybe some for later in the week...

From Closet CookingOne Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

4 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes, set aside on paper towels to drain and drain the grease from the pan.

Cook the ground beef and onion in the same pan over medium-high heat, about 5-7 minutes, and drain any excess grease.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pasta, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer covered until the pasta is al dente tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on the cheese and simmer, covered, until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes, and serve garnished with the bacon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Funny, but this seems to be turning into a weekend blog!

Dinner was delicious. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. The spiciness and saltiness of the sauce were a perfect blend. The sauce could have been eaten by the spoonful. Okay, I only had two spoons full.

From Williams-SonomaSpaghetti alla Puttanesca

1 1/2 lb. (750 g.) diced canned tomatoes with their juices (or ripe fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped)
2 Tbs. Chopped red or  yellow onion
1/2 cup (1/2 oz./15 g.) firmly packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) chopped pitted Gaeta or other Mediterranean-style black olives
2 Tbs. Chopped, rinsed capers
2 Tbs. Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 lb. (250 g.) spaghetti
1 1/2 Tbs. Butter or extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese for serving

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, half of the basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the olives, capers and parsley and simmer for about 1 minute longer. At this point, the mixture should be fairly thick. If it is still watery, simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package directions.

Just before the pasta is ready, reheat the sauce until hot and remove from the heat. Stir the remaining basil leaves into the sauce along with the butter. Drain the pasta and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Add the sauce, toss to combine, top with more parsley, and serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 2.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Baked French Dip Sandwiches and Lentil & Vegetable Salad

Happy Sunday! Sunday is now my favorite day of the week because I get to eat sweets. I gave them up for Lent, but my Mom always said you were allowed to break the fast on Sundays. I picked up a Nutella Brownie Sandwich from Merriano's Bakery. I only had half, saved the other half for Chris. It was not easy not eating the whole thing. I really miss chocolate.

For dinner, I made two excellent recipes. The first was the Baked French Dip Sandwiches. I found the recipe on This was the best sandwich I have had in a while. I added sauteed onions and peppers and then added the cheese, Provolone of course. The au jus was in the freezer from the last time I made short ribs. Fantastic sandwich.

The salad recipe was from In Pursuit of More. Living With (Just a Little) Less. I had the Lentils in the freezer so this was pretty easy to prepare. I used a simple balsamic vinaigrette that I made the other night. We loved this salad.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chicken Saltimbocca, Roman Style and Mashed Potato Cakes

Wow, what a delicious dinner. The Chicken Saltimbocca was from Lidia's Favorite Recipes. The sauce came out perfect and the chicken was so moist. The potatoes were a perfect match for the chicken and its sauce. Sadly, I had to make frozen veggies, but they were not bad. The flavors blended nicely with the chicken. And we had a appetizer, see the end of the blog for more on that.


Chicken Saltimbocca, Roman Style, from Lidia's Favorite Recipes

Ingredients -
chicken scallopine


freshly ground pepper

2 slices imported Italian prosciutto, cut in half crosswise
4 large fresh sage leaves

all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock, or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth

Method - 
Season the scallopine lightly with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the prosciutto is cured with salt. Cover each scallopine with a half slice of the prosciutto. Tap the prosciutto with the back of a knife so it adheres well to the meat. Center a sage leaf over the prosciutto and fasten it in place with a tooth pick, weaving the toothpick in and out as if you were taking a stitch. (Alternatively, you can place the sage leaf directly over the scallopine and cover it with the prosciutto.)

Dredge the scallopine in the flour to lightly coat both sides. Tap off excess flour. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until the butter is foaming. Slip as many of the scallopine, prosciutto side down, into the pan as fit without touching. Cook just until the prosciutto is light golden, about 2 minutes. (Overcooking will toughen the prosciutto.) Turn and cook until the second side is browned, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on
paper towels. Repeat with remaining scallopine, adding more oil if necessary. 

Remove all the scallopine from the skillet and pour off the oil. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the wine. Add the remaining 2 tablespoon of  butter and cook until the wine is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a vigorous boil. Tuck the scallopine into the sauce. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and lightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

The potatoes were actually suppose to be baked in cupcake tins, but the scone pan was in arms reach so I went with that. Basic mashed potatoes seasoned with butter, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Milk and stir until smooth. Into a greased pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Nice. Crispy on the outside and creamy inside.

Seeing this was such an easy meal to put together, I grabbed some rice balls I had in the freezer. Doesn't everyone have rice balls in their freezer? I heated them up and opened a jar of what will be our new store bought tomato sauce. Rao's Sensitive Formula Mariana Sauce. No garlic! Thank you! It was so good! And it was on sale this week! Even better.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ravioli with Zucchini and Sand

This dinner came together as I stood at the stove. It started out as basic ravioli with butter and cheese. Then I remembered I had baby zucchini in the fridge. I sauteed up the sliced zucchini in some butter and added lots of fresh ground pepper and fresh thyme. Then I remembered I had the bread crumb mixture left over from the artichokes. I was thinking of Pasta with Peppers and Sand. I added the cooked ravioli to the saute pan, some of the pasta water, salt, pepper and more fresh thyme and tossed in the breadcrumbs. I tossed the ingredients together a couple of times and sprinkled some grated Parmigiana on top. There were no leftovers. It was delicious. We cleaned out the saute pan as we finished up our wine. This was a perfect dinner to relax and unwind over.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Last Day of Winter?

Only time will tell if spring will arrive tomorrow. I am really over the sweaters and layers and coats and scarves. But tonight's dinner reminded me of spring. I stopped by Bishop's to pick up the ingredients for tonight's frittatta and I saw a bin with giant artichokes. $2.99 each. They were so big that I only needed to buy one for the two of us. Not a bad deal. I stuffed them with what I think is close to my Mom's stuffing. Not bad but still need more practice.

And Happy Feast of St. Joseph!
Did you have a Zeppole today? 
I did, well just half of one. And it was so good!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sausage and Pepper Calzone in 3 Shots

 Fresh from the oven.

Topped with homemade Marinara Sauce and
a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Cut in half. The filling, sausage 
and roasted red and green peppers, on top of 
Ricotta, oregano, basil and parsley and 
Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella cheeses.

I should have taken a photo of the empty plate!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pasta with Spicy Winter Squash

Tonight's recipe is from Food and Wine. It is a Mario Batali recipe. I made a couple of changes to the original recipe. First being the pasta. I do not understand why our grocery store has become so generic in its pasta selection over the last few months. The other changes were of course leaving out the garlic. And adding wine. When I went to add the squash it seemed like it would be a good thing to add some white wine. Yes it was a very good thing.

This recipe resulted in very generous portions for the two of us and enough to put in a casserole dish for the freezer.

Ingredients -
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pounds pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Method -

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of white wine. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the squash mixture in the skillet, then stir in 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and toss gently to combine. Add the 3/4 cup of cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir gently; add a little more pasta water if necessary. Serve the pasta right away, passing more cheese at the table.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gamberi Coi Fagioli

Ah, the first Friday of Lent. Chris is already counting them down. Tonight we had the same meal we had last year on the first Friday of Lent. This year I omitted the Pancetta, the pope did not step down this year. A salad and some Italian bread rounded out the meal.

Gamberi Coi Fagioli, adapted from Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan.

Ingredients -
1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced crosswise

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups drained canned cranberry or cannelini beans

6 to 8 fresh sage leaves 

3 tbsp dry white wine 

2 tsp finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley


Freshly ground black pepper

Method -
Put the onion and 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan and place over medium heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color. Add the beans and sage and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shrimp to the sauté pan and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the wine and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp until they turn completely pink, about 2 to 3 minutes.

The salad dressing recipe is from Mark Bittman. Super fast to put together. So fast you might wonder why you have store bought in the fridge.

Ingredients -
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Method -
Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake. That's all you have to do!

And I think we need a little injection of spring...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Round Veggie Lasagna

And then the Lord said, "Let there be Round Veggie Lasagna." I found this recipe on the Proud Italian Cook blog. It is one of my favorite blogs to visit. I was excited to try this, but Chris was not over the moon about the idea of a meatless lasagna. We had it on Monday night and it was well received. We had the other half on Wednesday night, Ash Wednesday and all and Chris actually said he would not mind eating this dish any night of the week. This is when I saw the heavens parted and angels singing. I had after 20+ years found a meatless meal that my husband was requesting to have again.

I used eggplant, red pepper, zucchini and onion. I roasted them, brushing the veggies with olive oil and seasoning them with salt and pepper.  The cheeses were fontina, Parmesan, Mozzarella and ricotta. The ricotta was Sorrento Galbani, which is a new variety of Sorrento. It has that "authentic Italian taste."  We did like the taste of the ricotta. It tasted fresher.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Broccoli Rabe Pizza

A couple of weeks ago I tried to recreate an appetizer we had at Becco. Broccoli Rabe with Burrato. At the time I did not find the Burrato cheese, but I found it at the store this week. I steamed the rabe and then sauteed it with olive oil and crushed red pepper. Then I made pizza. I made our usual Jim Lahey recipe for the crust. I topped the crust with the rabe and put it in the oven at 450 degrees. When it was almost done, I put slices of the Burrato cheese on top and sprinkled on some olive oil. Back in the oven for another 5 minutes. It was very good. The rabe was seasoned perfectly. And Chris liked it. Yes, Chris liked a broccoli Rabe pizza. My work here is done! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ribs, Asparagus Fries and Baked Macaroni

Yes, getting back to our normal dinner routine. Tonight I made the ribs I was planning on making for Super Bowl Sunday, but had to put them in the freezer because of the hand in a cast.

Baked Pork Ribs with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce, from Ingredients
4 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
1/4 cup Sherry
4 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1. Place ribs in large roasting pan. Pierce meat with fork. Sprinkle with Chinese five-spice powder and onion powder; rub mixture into meat.
2. Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl to blend. Pour sauce over ribs, turning to coat. Turn ribs meat side down; cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake ribs, covered, until just tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover and turn ribs meat side up; bake until ribs are cooked through, basting occasionally, about 35 minutes. Cut meat between bones to separate ribs and serve.

Side dish number one was Asparagus Fries. The recipe is from Closet Cooking blog. It has been on my Pinterest Board for not too long.

And our number two side dish was Baked Macaroni was from KC's. Loved it!!!! It could have been dinner on it's own.