Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion and Potato Hash

Tonight's dinner was such a nice treat. I got home in record time. One hour!!! So I actually prepared dinner tonight. Okay I did chopped everything but the potatoes this morning, but still it was fun actually making dinner on the night we were eating it!
The recipe is from The Two Bite Club. I do not know how I came upon this blog but I hope to visit it again very soon.

Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion and Potato Hash from The Two Bite Club -

1 (14 ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 small or 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use my cast iron), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, around 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even browning. 
In a separate skillet, brown the sliced kielbasa for around 5 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  Remove the kielbasa from the pan and set aside.  Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. 
Add the cooked potatoes and kielbasa to the skillet with the onions and peppers and mix everything together.  Serve nice and hot!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ravioli Lasagna

Brilliant! That is how I would categorize this recipe. I found it on Iowa Girl Eats. This dinner received rave reviews. I think it was the sauce, Marcella Hazan again!

1/2 lb lean ground beef
24oz marinara sauce
1-1/2lbs frozen mini cheese ravioli (Do not thaw. Could use normal sized ravioli)
6oz shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain then return to the skillet and set aside.
Spread 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Add 1/3 the frozen ravioli, ground beef, sauce, and cheese. Repeat layers two more times.
Cover with a sheet of non-stick sprayed foil then bake for 1 hour. Remove foil then bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Italian Chopped Salad

I eat leftovers for lunch. My plan tonight was to make a salad that would result in having a weeks worth of leftovers. SCORE!!  I made this salad back in 2011. I made a big change in the recipe tonight. I did not use Romaine. I found a package of lettuce at Robert's this week that seemed kind of expensive, $4.99. But I got tonight's dinner and 4 lunches out of that package of lettuce.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

As long as you have dinner ready...

One of the things my mom always said was that as long as you had dinner ready there was no reason why you could not go out shopping. Today was 9 years that my mom past. Every year on this day I go to mass and I go shopping. And I make sure I have dinner ready.

Tonight we had meatball sandwiches. The meatballs were made last week and put in the freezer. (I was planning ahead.) I made the sauce when I got home from shopping, I was only gone 4 hours and that included going to mass. The sauce was Marcella Hazan's recipe, of course.
The salad came together quickly when I realized I had nothing else to serve as a side. I had a little farro and a little pasta. I cooked both up and added some chopped carrots and celery, some fontina cheese and cured olives. The dressing was olive oil and lemon juice with parsley and salt and pepper.

And I did by a pair of shoes and a 3 tops today! 
Thank you Mom for the many years of combat shopping training. 
And thanks for making the matching outfits!
Miss you...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Steak au Poivre

What a busy day! My niece, Makena, received her First Communion today. The mass was very nice and the kids all looked so cute. A perfect day to catch up with my brother's children. The cake was from J Cakes. I had just a taste and wow, what a tasty cake!

Dinner was really quite good. Steak au Poivre. I got the recipe in an email from the New York Times this week. I read it and it seemed simple enough. Well it was simple and the result was a delicious piece of steak. The butcher did cut it for me about 2 hours before it was cooked. That's fresh! The sauce was perfect. I used heavy cream instead of crème fraîche. Click here for the recipe.

For side dishes I made Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus that was tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Book Club

This month's book club selection was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I think this was my favorite book since joining the book club. I like history based books. I like books that I can google people's name and find photos of them.

Tonight the book club met at Kate's house. The invitation said to be prepared for a Charleston Dinner. I was not sure what to expect. What was served was a delicious meal.

We started with some apps. A Hot Crab Dip.

Red Pepper and Artichoke Heart Bruschetta. I need this recipe!

Cream Cheese with Orange Sage Marmalade. Oh my God, the Marmalade was so good!

For dinner we had a lot of things I have never had before. Collard Greens with bacon and onion cooked in chicken stock.  I think my  mom made something with Collard Greens but at that time greens were not at the top of my food favorites list. Oh but I loved these! And Pickled Watermelon! My friend, Heidi, always says how good they are and I had never tasted them. I now love Pickled Watermelon!
I loved this dish that the sides were served in!

Charleston Red Rice which was served with the Gumbo. Yeah Gumbo.
Charleston Gumbo. I have been afraid of Gumbo because of the okra. I made a soup with okra once. It did not turn out good at all. I have never had okra since then. Tonight's okra was cooked perfectly. (Note to self, ask Kate how to cook okra). The shrimp, the meat, the sauce was such a wonderful blend of flavors. There was talk of gumbo file powder which is the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree. Kate could not find this so she used powdered sassafras bark. Honestly I was so amazed by the textured of the okra that the other flavors were in perfect harmony.

Then there were the desserts. 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes!

And Doreen's Amazing Lemon Pound Cake!

What an amazing meal. The book discussion was good and we were started to talk about the quilt that was in the book. Kate then showed us a couple of quilts which were handed down in her family. There was a beautiful log cabin quilt but then she brought out a quilt with women in flowing gowns holding bouquets of flowers.
The bouquets were done in French Knots. The quilt was breath-taking to say the least. The patterns in the dresses were timeless but not anything you could hope to find today. What an amazing piece of history.

Wow! Thank you Kate for a dinner that I will not forget.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Happy Earth Day! We have a few Daffodils that the squirrels left us.

Tonight we had Calzones. I had a Broccoli and Cheese
and Chris had Bacon and Onion. Delicious!
The pizza dough was from the Jim Lahey book,
My Bread: The Revolutionary No Knead Bread Method.

 The sauce was the Marcella Hazan 's recipe, of course!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lentils with Farro

I didn't think that this would be such a perfect dinner. But today was a rainy and raw day. April showers I guess. I found this recipe on Cooking with Nonna. I cut the recipe in half and I still have enough leftovers for a couple of lunches.

Lentils with Farro, from Cooking with Nonna

1 pound Farro
1 pound Dry Lentils
1 Medium Red Onion, sliced
2 Stalks of Celery, sliced
4 Bay Leaves
2 Carrots, cubed
Crushed Red Pepper
EV Olive Oil

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the Farro.  Cook it for about 30 mins.
Drain the water and set aside.
Wash the lentils and put them in a deep pot.
Cover the lentils with water with 1 1/2" of water above the lentils.
Add all the other ingredients except the EV Olive Oil.
Cover the pot and let all the content come to a boil. Let it boil for about 10 mins.
Uncover the pot and let it continue to cook. On the side boil some hot water and add it to the pot if the lentils become too dry.
Cook for another 10 mins. Taste the lentils and stop cooking them when they reach your desired tenderness.
Add the Farro to the pot and bring to a boil.
Serve with a drizzle of good EV Olive Oil.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Baked Chicken Cutlets, Again!

Could Sunday night Pizza have some competition. Well I do love this recipe for Chicken Cutlets, and the chicken cutlets were on sale this week so I made them again for our Sunday night dinner. I think it is the lemon dressing that the baked cutlets are dipped in that makes them so over the top delicious.

For a side dish I tried Roasted Zucchini. Another winner! 

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend.
And a Happy Anniversary to Lenore and Ralph! 
The best big sister and brother-in-law ever!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Raise a Glass to a Good Man

This morning the phone rang at 8:30. Nothing ever good happens when you get a call at that hour. A good friend of ours lost her husband. Tonight we went up to Hartford to see the Martha Davis and the Motels. We had a drink before the show and toasted Nancy's husband, James Velvet. He was a wonderful and kind person. I am sending prayers and wishes of strength for Nancy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beans with Pancetta and Onions

I thought we were having just leftover for dinner. I was surprised when Chris asked if he should have heated this dish up, as it was not a leftover. Yes this was suppose to be tonight's dinner but I was glad we had the leftovers because it would not have been enough on it's own. But that does not mean it was not a very tasty dish. On Palm Sunday one of the things my brother-in-law, Ralph, served was a dish similar to this. Chris loved it. He loved the beans. He loved the pancetta so I knew I had to make this for him. The beans were a smaller bean than a cannelini bean. I never used them before. The pancetta was cubed and browned in some olive oil. Diced onions were added and sauteed and then the beans and parsley were tossed in the pan. Quick and easy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Polenta Pasticciata, Baked Polenta with Meat Sauce

Tonight's dinner was from Biba's Italian Kitchen. It was one of the recipes that my Mom had marked that she wanted to make. I do not know if she ever made this. But as I was eating tonight I imagined her and my Father enjoying this meal. The polenta, as simple a dish as it is, was the perfect base for this amazing sauce to rest on. I did not follow the recipe as it was written in the book. Mushrooms are not used in our kitchen. But damn it was delicious without them. And I suppose I cheated by using Instant Polenta but seriously it is so much easier and faster!

My version of Polenta Pasticciata, Baked Polenta with Meat Sauce from Biba's Italian Kitchen.

Instant Polenta, prepared according to package
1 pound mild sausage
1 pound ground pork
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finelly minced yellow onion
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to tast
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Prepare the polenta. Spread it 1/2 thick on a cookie sheet and let it cool.

Remove the casing from the sausage and chop very fine. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat when the butter foams add the onion and cook stirring 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is pale yellow. Add the sausage and the ground pork. Cook, stirring to break up the meat with a large spoon until the meat loses its raw color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it's almost reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir the tomato paste into the broth and add to the saucepan together with a cup of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce has a medium thick consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hour. If the sauce reduces too much add a bit more water. At this point the sauce can be made several days ahead.

Preheat the oven to 400. Warm the polenta, slice and serve with a generous serving of sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Baked Ham-and-Cheese Rice Casserole, Piso Al Forno

Baked Ham-and-Cheese Rice Casserole, Piso Al Forno. The recipe came from Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan. And I served it with some of Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.

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

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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk

Excuse us while we take a break from our featured cookbook. Do you have cookbooks that you turn to and always find a good recipe? Every Night Italian by Guiliano Hazan is one of my go to cookbooks. Yes it is written by Marcella Hazan's son. I have not made a recipe out of the book that I would not make again. Tonight we had Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk. I have made Pork Loin Roast braised in milk but never beef. And why not? This was so delicious. The meat was tender and the sauce was the perfect consistency and was not heavy.

Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk from Every Night Italian -

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2 or 3 pieces to fit comfortably in the pot
Freshly ground black pepper
1 med. yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 med. carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup whole milk

Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a heavy breathing pot, then add the pieces of beef and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot and season it with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat to medium-high and add the onion and carrot and cook stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar and let it bubble away until it has reduced by half scraping up with tasty bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Add the milk. As soon as it begins to boil lower the heat to a steady similar and return the meat to the pot. Cover with a lid slightly askew and cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork about an 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Turn the meat every 20 minutes while it is simmering. if all the liquid evaporates before the meat is done at a little water. When this is done the sauce should be a dark walnut color and the consistency of mustard. If it is too thin, remove the meat and raise the heat to reduce the sauce until it thickens. Slice the meat, return it to the pot to coat with sauce and serve.
This dish can be made up to three days ahead of time reheat over gentle heat adding 2 tablespoons of water if necessary

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce

This week's featured cookbook is Biba's Italian Kitchen by Biba Caggiano. This was the last cookbook my Mom bought me. When she gave it to me there were slips of paper with recipe names and page numbers stuck in the book. She said that those were recipes she would like to try. I still have the papers in those pages. 
Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce was the most delicious dinner I have made in a very long time. Wow Wow Wow! The sauce was delicious. Not as spicy as it could have been but I had to stop myself from taking a third slice of bread to sop up the sauce. The meat was so tender. I was happy. Chris was happy. And the cats were happy. Yes, we gave them a little of the chicken meat. It was so good we had to share it. Chris said this recipe can be put in regular rotation. Using one whole cut up chicken we have enough for 2 meals.

Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce from Biba's Italian Kitchen

Ingredients -
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, washed and tried on paper towels
Salt to taste
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 - 2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
Dried red pepper flakes to taste
8 - 10 pitted black olives, thinly sliced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed

Heat the oil in a wide bottomed casserole over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, slip the chicken pieces without crowding them. Cook until the chicken is golden on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes. You may have to do this in batches depending on your pan size. Transfer chicken to large platter.

Discard half of the oil in the casserole. Add the anchovies and stir quickly a few times. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Return the chicken to the casserole, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan partially. Simmer 40 to 50 minutes, turning the chicken pieces and stirring occasionally. Add the olive and the capers, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer. If the sauce is a bit thin, transfer the chicken pieces to a large platter, rise the heat under the pan, and boil the sauce down to a thicker consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chicken Cutlets and Roasted Green Beans

Last week I saw this video on Facebook and I knew I had to make this recipe.
I, unfortunately, do not have any "food" memories of my Nonnie. I was named after her, thank you Lenore and I remember her as being a loving Nonnie. But no food memories. She passed away when I was in First Grade. I remember going to her house and sitting on the radiator in the kitchen but that is all. I remember her bedroom bureau as being large with hidden compartments. But no food memories. I will have to check with my sister to see if she had any food memories.

I am so glad I made this recipe. This Chicken dish was amazing. 
I loved it. Chris loved it and Archie loved it too.
It was as good as my Mom's recipe.
I especially liked the Lemon Dressing that is added at the end.
What I liked best about it was that it was baked and not fried.
Please watch the video for the recipe.

Our side dish tonight was our new favorite vegetable recipe. Roasted Green Beans.
I know that they have been the rage on food sites but this was our first time trying them.
It will not be our last.

2 lbs green beans
2 tablespoon olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
Put green beans on a jelly roll pan.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shriveled.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Blogiversary!

It's okay that I did not receive any cards. Surprisingly this is an untapped event at Hallmark. Six years ago tonight I started this little blog. It has become an important part of my daily life, well almost daily. What amazing culinary delight did I plan for tonight? One of my favorites... Reservations!

I started the night of with a SGT Pepper. There are not enough 'o's in smooth to describe this. Smoked pepper infused local organic Rime vodka dirty martini garnished with Sriracha blue cheese stuffed olives.
For appetizers we had Mac & Cheese Bon Bons. What an amazing idea. Fried Mac & Cheese. What's not to love. Tasso ham, orzo pasta, artisan cheese served with a red pepper coulis. Along with the Bon Bons we had Crisp Calamari served with Snap peas, daikon radish, napa cabbage, carrots, lemon ginger aioli.

For dinner Chris had the Shoulder Tenderloin and
I had the Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak. Delicious!

 And we had dessert. A Chocolate Lava Cake. So good!

 And tomorrow I will be back in the kitchen!