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Summer Fresh Veggie Pasta

27 Jun

I love pasta. I love artichokes and asparagus. If you love all of those things then you will love this dish! It is great summertime dish that is quick and easy. The freshness of the lemon and crisp summer vegetables are just delicious in the light cream sauce.

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8 ounces of your favorite pasta-cooked according to package directions

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, cut in half

1 Bundle asparagus, sliced into small pieces

1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, depends on your taste for garlic

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup milk, I used 2% but you can use whatever you prefer

Salt and pepper to taste

Shaved parmesan cheese

Put olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add asparagus and lemon juice, cook for about 5 minutes and then add artichoke hearts. Cook together for about another 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Add butter to pan and melt, add garlic to melted butter. Saute until garlic is fragrant. Add flour and stir, the mixture will thicken. Slowly add milk and keep stirring until the mixture becomes smooth. Add drained pasta and stir to coat. Stir in vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese, lemon slice and enjoy!

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Rub-A-Dub-Dub a Brisket in the Oven

14 Jun

A brisket is one more thing I have always wanted to make and I finally did it. I really wanted to do it on the grill but I was making at my brothers house and his grill ran out of propane…ugh. But no worries, I did it in the oven and it was delicious; just the way it should be; tender, lots of flavor and moist. I looked up several ways to make it, from the rub recipes to how to cook it and this is what I came up with.

Brisket in a bag.

Brisket in a bag

Dry Rub

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs sea salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

 

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

I used a 3.5 lb brisket. Wash the brisket and dry with paper towels. Rub the dry ingredients on both sides of the meat. Put the brisket a plastic bag (squeezing out excess air as you seal it). I put mine in the fridge over night, you can do it for less time but I recommend at least 6 hours to let the meat soak in the flavors.

For cooking time plan for about 1 hour and 15 minutes for every pound at 250 degrees. Low and slow.

Take the brisket out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to cook it to bring it to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees, place the brisket fat side up in a shallow baking dish. I planned on cooking mine for 4 hours. Place in the oven and let it do it’s thing.

Now, I watched several BBQ shows on the Food Network and almost all of the award winning BBQ pit masters would wrap the meat in foil the last hour or so of cooking. So, I did that too and I really think that  is what kept it from drying out. After 3 hours I wrapped it in foil and put it back in the oven, let it cook for another hour.

When I took the meat out to wrap it in the foil there was a lot of wonderful juice in the pan, I saved this and put it on side to pour over the meat when it was served.

Perfectly sliced!

Perfectly sliced!

And in true Southern style I served it with macaroni & cheese and coleslaw. It was absolutely delicious and we had brisket sandwiches with the leftovers!

 

One Last Soup before Spring…

20 Mar

So, I sit here writing this on the first day of Spring and it is snowing out. When will it end? Hopefully soon but until it does, let’s eat soup. This recipe is a copy cat recipe of Olive Garden’s famous Pasta e Fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans”, it is traditionally a meatless Italian dish however this recipe adds ground beef but I stuck with tradition and left the meat out, which makes this a great meal for meatless Mondays. This is easy, healthy and makes a great meal, definitely give a whirl!

Pasta e Fagioli with shaved parmesan cheese-buon appetito!

Pasta e Fagioli with shaved parmesan cheese-buon appetito!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef* (I omitted)

2 tbsp olive oil (if not using meat)

1 small onion

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced

28oz can crushed tomatoes

15oz can tomato sauce

15oz can beef broth (vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)**you may want more depending on how you like it

15oz can kidney beans (with liquid)

15oz can great northern beans (with liquid)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp pepper

8oz ditalini pasta

*with the salt, pepper and dried herbs-increase or decrease depending on taste

Heat olive oil large dutch oven or pot, add carrots, celery, onion and sauté for about 10 minutes then add minced garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until garlic becomes fragrant.

Add remaining ingredients, except the pasta and simmer for 1 hour.

You may want to add more broth at this point depending on how you like it.

About 15 minutes before the hour is up, boil water for pasta and cook pasta for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Now, a tip from a friend is: to not add the pasta to the soup…add it as you eat it so that it doesn’t blow up in the soup and absorb all the liquid. This was great advice. I kept mine in storage container and added as we ate it. Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and warm, crusty bread; delicious!

*If you would like to do the meat version the first thing you do is cook the ground beef until browned, drain the grease. Set browned ground beef aside and cook veggies as above in same pot, when veggies are ready, add ground beef back into pot and follow the recipe from there. Enjoy!

 

 

Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken and Dumplings

22 Feb

This is something that I have always wanted to make but was for some reason intimidating, I think it’s the dumpling part that had me scared. So last week with all this crazy cold weather here in the Northeast I decided to put my fear aside and found out there was nothing to be afraid of!

Chicken:

2 1/2 lbs chicken (breasts, thighs, drumsticks)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup flour

Salt & pepper

Broth:

1 cup diced carrots

2 stalks diced celery

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup flour

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 bay leaves

5 peppercorns

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)

salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings:

2 cups cake flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1-1 1/4 cups milk

1. Mix flour, salt and pepper and dredge the chicken in the mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place chicken in heated pan to brown it on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Don’t overcrowd it in the pan, do it batches. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, it will finish cooking in the stock later. Put browned chicken aside.

A batch of chicken being browned.

A batch of chicken being browned.

2. In the same Dutch oven, add carrot, celery, onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and toss to coat, cook another minute. Add white wine and deglaze the pan, and dissolve the flour. Add chicken stock, bay leaves and pepper corns along with the chicken. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Saute the veggies.

Saute the veggies.

3. While the chicken cooks in the broth, make the dumplings. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add melted butter and 1 cup of the milk and stir well to mix. If dough is too sticky add more flour, if too dry add a bit of milk. It should be thick and cake-like. Do not over mix. Using a spoon scoop out 2 inch dumplings and put on a wax paper lined baking tray. Set aside.

4. Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and using a fork pull the meat off the bones and shred. Return shredded chicken to the broth. Remove bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and add dumplings. Cook, covered for 15 minutes, do not remove the lid while the dumplings are cooking, this is very important! This way they will be light and fluffy. After the 15 minutes remove lid and add heavy cream, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bon Appetit!

The finished product...the ultimate comfort food!

The finished product…the ultimate comfort food!

 

 

Boeuf Bourguignon: A Fancy French Beef Stew

1 Feb

Here in the Northeast we are in a deep freeze and waiting on another snow storm, so what can I make that is hearty and warming? Beef stew but not just any beef stew, a French stew that is quite easy and very delicious. My husband actually said it was amazing!

Getting prepared...

Getting prepared…

Here’s what you’ll need:

Light olive oil

3 lbs Stew meat, cubed and trimmed

1 lb Carrots, peeled and cut into coins

2 Yellow onions, thinly sliced

10 Cloves of chopped garlic

1/2 Cup Cognac

2 Cups good quality dry red wine

2 1/2 to 3 Cups beef broth

2 TB tomato paste

1 tsp Dried thyme

4 TB Room temp butter

3 TB Flour

1 lb Whole, frozen pearl onions

1 lb Fresh button mushrooms, thickly sliced

3 Bay leaves

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Using paper towels, dry the beef cubes thoroughly and sprinkle with evenly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and sear the beef cubes in a single layer, working in batches until they are browned on all sides. Do not crowd the cubes, give them room to cook properly. Set seared cubes aside.

Add carrots, onions, garlic, 1 TB kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper to the Dutch oven and sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are browned. You may need to add more oil. Once the onions are nicely browned, add the cognac to deglaze the pan and cook another 10 minutes on medium.

Add beef back to the Dutch oven with the juices. Add wine and enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, stir occasionally. Once liquid starts to simmer slightly, cover with lid and cook on low for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork.

Now, mix the 2 TB butter with the 3 TB of flour in a small bowl, set aside. Saute mushrooms with butter just until mushrooms become soft.

Add the mushrooms, pearl onions, and the flour/butter mixture to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, add salt and pepper if needed.

Garnish with fresh parsley, serve with crusty French bread, egg noodles or mashed potatoes and of course a nice red wine!

The finished product with mashed potatoes! Bon Appetit!

The finished product with mashed potatoes! Bon Appetit!

Shrimp with Tomato Black Bean Sauce

14 Oct

If you are like me, you are always looking for something new for dinner that is relatively easy and good for you, well this is it! My friend and co-worker Lisa shared this with me and both my Mom and my husband loved it. Now the original recipe didn’t have garlic in it but we added it and it definitely added great flavor.

Shrimp with Black Bean Tomato Sauce

Shrimp with Black Bean Tomato Sauce

Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, chopped

1 Celery Stalk, diced

1 Large Clove Garlic

2 Tablespoons Chili powder

1 28 oz. Can Whole Plum Tomatoes

Salt

Dried Oregano

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

2 16 Oz. Cans Black Beans, drained

1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

1 Pound Peeled, Deveined Large Shrimp

In a 12″ skillet over high heat, in 2 tablespoons olive oil, cook onion, garlic and celery until tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes with the liquid, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; heat to boiling, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Stir in black beans, chopped parsley and vinegar; heat through.

Meanwhile, in 10″ skillet over high heat, in 2 tablespoons hot olive oil, stir-fry shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes until shrimp turn pink and are tender.

Now, I served this over a bed of rice, I like a starch to make the meal complete and I also tried this with some leftover chicken and it was delicious too.

To serve, spoon tomato black bean sauce over a bed of rice and top with shrimp. Makes enough for about 6 people.  Enjoy!

Steak and Potatoes-The Way to a Man’s Heart

3 Mar

First I would like to apologize for the pause in posts, 2 sinus infections in a row and computer problems kept me from blogging but I’m back. My computer and my sinuses are healthy. So I am going to back track a bit to Valentine’s Day. My husband I usually go out but this year we decided to stay in and I cooked.  John (my husband) is a typical man, he loves meat and potatoes. The menu for our meal was simple: filet mignon, smashed fried fingerling potatoes and portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese-all of which are easy and delicious.

Dinner Prerp

Preparing for Valentine's Dinner

For this particular post I do not have tried and true recipes, this meal was made from asking questions and trial and error. I’m going to write this the way I cooked it because timing is always an issue when you want the foods for the meal to be ready at the same time. One important thing you will need for this is a cast iron skillet or a skillet that can go into the oven, this is for the filets. So, here goes… 

Filet Mignon

I take the steaks out of the frig and put in a shallow dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper, Adobo seasoning  and some Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.  I let the steaks set out in this marinade for about 30 minutes while I get the other foods going. Now, I know alot of people who think that anything more than salt and pepper on a filet is terrorizing it and my husband was one of those people until he tasted these. 

Fingerling Potatoes

I used a bag of  white fingerling potatoes, toss them lightly in olive oil and roast for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet. Once they are roasted you will need to smash them slightly with a wooden spatula-just enough so that the skin cracks but you don’t want them to fall apart. 

Sherry Vinaigrette

Make this ahead of time for the portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese. This recipe is from Bobby Flay, as is the portobello mushroom idea but I have changed it quite drastically. His recipe doesn’t cook the spinach and he stacks them which I just thought was too much. 

1 small shallot finely chopped ( I LOVE shallots)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.    

Portobello Mushrooms

Put a light coat of olive oil on the mushrooms and put bottom down on a jelly roll pan and put in a 400 degree oven, turn over after about 5 minutes. Keep your eye on them so they don’t get overdone. They should cook for a total of about 10 minutes-5 minutes each side. 

Fingerling Potatoes

Put vegetable oil in a large pan to fill it to about 1/2 way and heat the oil to 350 degrees ( I didn’t measure the temperature but I did look it up on-line to see what it should be).  Once the oil is hot enough add the smashed potatoes and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes and turn to fry the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes until nicely browned. When done drain on paper towels then put in a large bowl and toss with sea salt and chopped chives.

Filet Mignon

Heat up a skillet on high heat with a bit of vegetable oil spread evenly on the bottom, I actually pour a bit into the skillet and use a paper towel to spread it around and take up the excess. Once the pan is nice and hot put the steaks in and sear each side for about 3 minutes. While they are searing turn the oven to 400 degrees to preheat. Once the filets are nicely seared, turn off the heat and put the skillet with the filets in the oven. For rare I cooked them about 6 minutes and for medium about 9 minutes but it will really depend on the size of the steaks and your oven.

While the filets are in the oven I put a bit of olive oil in a small saute pan and add about a 1/2 bag of baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Then put a portobello mushroom on each plate, top with wilted spinach, whisk the vinaigrette and pour over the spinach then top with grated manchego cheese.

At this point the filets should be done so you can plate them along with the potatoes and enjoy a really great satisfying meal!  I would have a picture of this complete meal but before I could remember to get the camera it was all gone…

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