Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Perfect Standing Rib Roast

Just in time for New Year's Eve, a recipe for a standing rib roast which I know you and your friends will love.  What a great way to ring in 2012. 

The Perfect Standing Rib Roast

Christmas Eve is a special time for me. I always love Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day. It's something about the "magic" in the air and religious meaning that hits home with me. I always make a standing rib roast. 

I ALWAYS use Paula Deen's cooking technique.   Several years ago, Paula came up with the perfect roasting method.  With my simple seasoning blend, you cannot go wrong.   Thank you, Paula Deen!  I just love her and her two sweet sons!

NOTE:   I also included a recipe for my Primo Horseradish Sauce below to serve along side.

Back to Christmas Eve -

My friend, Magda, from Poland joined Dan, Mama Pirri and me this past weekend.  Magda brought these wonderful Pierogi from the Polish deli which we served.  

I also made a simple beef, sherry and mushroom gravy, rolls, and roasted Brussels sprouts which I par boiled the night before to speed up the cooking process. This is a great tip when you've only got one oven and you can't open the door until the meat is ready to rest, as with this recipe. 

NOTE 2:  You can drizzle the par boiled sprouts with a little garlic olive oil and shake on a little Parmesan cheese, and they will roast up while the roast is resting and the rolls are baking.

You don't need to wait for a holiday to make a rib roast.  In fact, rib roast will often be on sale after the holidays, so pop one in your freezer and when you have the time, make this dish and you'll have a fabulous meal.  Leftovers are great, too!

The Perfect Standing Rib Roast

1  -  5  1/2 pound Standing Rib Roast
1/2 tablespoon Lawry's ® Seasoned Salt*
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle fat cap on roast with all seasonings and rub in to ensure the top is coated evenly.  As the roast cooks, the fat will melt and it will season the meat.

Place roast on rack in roasting pan.   Roast for one hour.

Turn heat off. 

IMPORTANT:  PAULA DEEN SAYS, "DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!"  Roast should reamin in the unopened oven for 3 hours.

About 35 minutes before you are ready to serve, turn the heat back on.   Do not open door. 

This will give you a roast at about 140 degrees when you pull it from the oven.  After resting lightly tented for 15 minutes, we had a medium rare center, medium sides and medium well ends.  Something for everyone! 

Cook longer or cook less during the last part of the cooking process for desired temperature.  Remember, an overly-long carryover cooking time will dry up the juices in the meat.  So if your roast is going to sit more than a 1/2 and hour, I would opt for cooking it more on the rare side.

Primo Horseradish Sauce

1/2 cup Canola Oil Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
3 tablespoons bottled prepared Horseradish

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.

Magda opted for a slice of medium roast.

*You've got to use the Lawry's for this if you can find it.   This is the best seasoned salt.  Of course, this is not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.

Photographs by Magda used with permisson.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Polish Sausage Bake

The week between Christmas and New Year is often hectic; family might still be in town. Maybe it's back to work for you, but you've got that big New Year's Eve Party to plan.  But you don't need a holiday to make this quick and satisfying one dish meal.

Polish Sausage Bake
It's sliced Polish sausage, roasted with potato, baby carrots and onions, and topped with Caraway Seeds.  A hint of Horseradish gives it a spicy tang.  Delicious!

Here's what you need:

Makes 4 servings.


9 - 10 ounces Polish Sausage, sliced
1/2 Sweet Onion,  sliced thin
4 small Russet or 3 Red Potatoes, diced (skin on)
1/2 cup Baby Carrots
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika (regular)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Sprinkling of Caraway Seeds
3 tablespoons Butter, cubed
1 tablespoon bottled/prepared Horseradish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sausage, potato, onion and carrot into a baking pan.    Coat with Canola oil and spices.   Turn in pan with hands until all peices are coated. 

Top with Caraway Seeds. 

Bake for 30 minutes. 

Turn ingredients in pan.   Add water and stir.  Continue to bake for 45 minutes.

During the last five minutes of baking, add the butter.   This will help to thicken and flavor the sauce. 

Stir in Horseradish right before serving. 

I will be showing you some of what I prepared on the holiday.  A guest photographer took those pictures and I'm waiting to receive them.  We had the most perfect prime rib for dinner.  I cannot wait to share that with you this week.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lamb Ragu over Cheese Ravioli - And Confessions of a Sappy Holiday Movie Watcher

Lamb Ragu over Cheese Ravioli

I WILL admit it!   Around the holidays, there are always great movies on TV.  Hallmark runs an entire series of classic TV Christmas movies.  And I love them! 

Only problem is, I cannot make it through one without crying!  Is it any wonder that I spend the entire holiday season a bit melancholy? 

I was watching "Holiday Magic" the other night -  without ruining it for you;  first you think she's dead, then she's not, and she ends up with the guy and the little girl knows she's an angel! 

Here come the tears...

The men who read this blog are now going,  "Yeah, okay.  I think 'Pale Rider' is on tonight."

It is, by the way... 

I digress -

This is a festive meal; perfect for watching one of those sappy holiday movies.   It's great for a cozy night in by the fireplace. 

It can be doubled or tripled very easily if you're serving family in from out of town.  If you are a college student or you're on a tight budget  - and who isn't these days?  -  you can make this meal for just a few bucks.

You don't need to purchase an $8.00 jar jar of pasta sauce either.  I used a 99 cent can of a well-known brand for this recipe and it came out great.  The sauce was "on special" at my local store.

My only real advice to you here is to not use a sherry "cooking wine."  Buy a sherry that you could drink, even if it's a lesser expensive brand that your grocery store carries.

I served the lamb ragu over cheese ravioli with a side of zucchini and squash.  It's also great over barley or brown rice.  

The ragu is made in a crock pot, so it also saves time, and hey -who couldn't use more of that?

I didn't write the weight in my recipe for the lamb shank.  

"Oh, why not, Mary Kay?" 

"Well, here's why" --  she says with great enthusiasm. 

The bone makes for part of weight.  Sometimes you get a big bone and just a little meat.  Look for a shank that seems to have a fair amount of meat on it.  Ask your butcher if you need advice on how many people each shank will feed.

This recipe serves 4:


1 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
1 meaty Lamb Shank
Coarse Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 Carrots, sliced
4 stalks of Celery, chopped
24 ounces of store-bought pasta sauce (Garlic and Onion flavor)
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
3  tablespoons Sherry wine
2 tablespoons 2% Milk
1/8 cup Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese, plus extra for the table

Cooked  Cheese Ravioli
Chopped fresh Parsley

Preheat slow cooker on high.*

Heat heavy pan with oil added.  Salt and pepper lamb shank; press salt and pepper into the flesh of the meat.  Brown on all sides, about five minutes.

Add browned meat to warm slow cooker along with carrot and celery.  Add sauce, Italian seasoning, sherry wine and stir.  

Cover with lid and cook on high for four hours.  

Remove shank.  Pull meat from shank and return to slow cooker.  Stir in milk and cheese.

Serve over cooked ravioli.  

Top with more cheese and fresh parsley if desired.

I'll be taking some much deserved time off over the holiday weekend.   But I'll be back next week to share my holiday meal recipes with you.   These recipes will be perfect for New Year's Eve or for any special occasion.

Have a great holiday weekend.   See you soon!  

*For low heat, cook for 8 hours.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Breakfast - Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Capers

Family coming in from out of town for the holidays?   If you're going to have a house full of people and you're already planning to spend half the day in the kitchen cooking an early dinner, take a break for breakfast. 

This egg dish is very easy to prepare.   It's fancy enough to serve with champagne if you're making a brunch, and simple enough for a quick morning bite with hot coffee or tea. 

If you are planning on serving your main meal about two or three in the afternoon, this breakfast is perfect for those occasions.  It will keep your guests happy and full until dinner is ready.   

Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Capers

Serves 4.

8 large eggs, beaten
1/8 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons Low Fat  Cream Cheese with Chives
4 ounces Smoked Salmon, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Capers (rinsed)
Freshly chopped Chives for garnish (optional)
Hot Sauce for passing at the table

Other:  Butter flavored cooking spray

In a medium bowl, beat eggs well.  Add in milk and whisk in the cream cheese. 

Add in the smoked salmon and capers and give it a quick stir.

Spray skillet with cooking spray.  Heat skillet over medium heat.

Pour in egg mixture.   Work with spatula so that the eggs fluff up as they cook.

Serve with whole wheat toast.   Top with fresh chives and hot sauce. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dinner for Three? Braised Italian Chicken with Olives and Potatoes

Braised Italian Chicken
with Olives and Potatoes

This is the time of year when old friends drop by.  Often you feel like you should ask them to stay for dinner.   What do you do when you normally cook for two and all you've got on hand are two boneless chicken breast halves and four red potatoes? 

I like to have a few "go to" meals where you can feed three or four people from what seems like a little bit of food.   Make your dollars stretch with this great recipe.  It's chicken breast braised in Sweet Red Wine and Tomatoes, with chopped mixed olives and crispy potato slices added in at the end. 

Here's what you need and what you need to do:

For the Chicken:

2 plump Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
1 tablespoon Chicken Seasoning for the Grill (Such as Weber Canadian)
Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon Grapeseed or Light Olive Oil
4 ounces frozen Seasoning Blend (chopped celery, onion and pepper)
1/4 cup Sweet Red Wine
1  15 ounce can Diced Tomato with Basil, Garlic and Oregano
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
10-12 assorted Olives, pitted and chopped

For the Potatoes:

4 Red Potatoes, sliced
1/2 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
1/2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 tablespoon Chicken Seasoning for the Grill

Other:  Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese; Torn Fresh Basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season chicken breast with grill seasoning.  

Add cooking spray to pan.  Heat over high heat.  Add oil.   Sear both sides of the chicken until browned.  Remove to baking dish.

To the same pan, add the seasoning blend.  Coat with juices from the pan.

Deglaze with wine.   Scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes, Italian Seasoning and olives.  Stir well.  Pour mixture over chicken in baking pan.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes.  Coat with oil, Italian Seasoning and grill seasoning.  Place potatoes in one layer on pan.   Bake along side chicken for approximately 40 minutes, until juices in chicken run clear. 

Remove chicken from pan and let rest.  Combine potatoes with sauce.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer until sauce thickens to your liking.

Slice Chicken and serve with sauce and potatoes.  Top with grated cheese and fresh basil.

Try a glass of the sweet wine with the dish or one of my Sweet Wine Manhattans.

So good, and so easy.  You'll have plenty of time to spend with your friend.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Burgundy Braised Beef over Linguine

Burgundy Braised Beef over Linguine

I promised you a recipe that was fit for holiday season company.   What could be better than a braised pasta dish to impress your guests?

Genoese merchants settled in Naples in the fifteenth century and as a result, French Cooking was introduced to the region.  In the style of Genoa, this recipe is a little bit French and a little bit Italian, kind of like my husband, Dan.

Layers of flavors including onion, garlic, Burgundy wine and tomato create a flavorful braise for country style boneless beef ribs cut to bite-sized chunks.   Add in dried and fresh herbs, and you've got a meal to remember.  

In case you are not familiar, Grapeseed oil is made from the seeds of wine grapes.   It's a light and delicate oil with a slightly nutty flavor.  It's perfect for browning meat before a braise.    Because it's so light, it doesn't make your sauce heavy on oil as it reduces.  And once you try it, you'll be hooked.   It's cheaper than Olive Oil, too!

I also went back to one of my old tricks when I prepared this dish; I used bottled minced garlic.  When you use an oil with a high smoke point, like Grapeseed, fresh garlic can burn very easily and it can get bitter on you.   I find fresh bottled minced garlic to be a good fit here.

Note:  If you cannot find the boneless Angus Beef Ribs, you can substitute stew meat.  Just make sure that it's good quality.  Ask your butcher for help.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
One pound boneless Angus Country Style Beef Ribs - cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup diced Onion
1/2 tablespoon Bottled Minced Garlic
1/2 cup Burgundy Wine
1 cup Beef Broth
14 ounces Tomato Puree
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning; more to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Butter
1/8 cup 2% Milk
Fresh Oregano and/or torn Basil and Fresh Parsley (optional but recommended)
Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese
Other:  Cooked low carb Linguine Pasta (Suggest Dreamfields)*

Add oil to pan and heat until smoking hot.

Add the chopped rib meat to pan (do not season at this point.   Salt will pull moisture from the meat).

Brown meat on both sides, about four minutes total.

Remove meat to bowl and set aside.

Add onions to pan.   Coat the onions with the pan juices and cook for about three minutes. 

Add garlic and stir.  Cook for one more minute.

Add wine.  Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add broth and tomato.   Stir in dried herbs.

Add salt and pepper to meat and to the sauce as desired.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. 

Add meat and any juices back to the pan.  Stir.  Cover and braise for approximately 2 1/2 hours until meat is fork tender, stirring occasionally. 

Remove meat from pan to rest.   Bring sauce to boil again and reduce to simmer.  Add butter and milk.   Continue to cook until sauce thickens.  

Add fresh oregano and basil to pan if using.  Add meat back to pan. 

Serve over cooked linguine.  Top with fresh parsley and grated cheese.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Entertaining Tip #3: Create a Specialty Drink

Food Network hosts have been promoting this tip - offering your guests a specialty drink - for years now.  It makes sense; you buy less alcohol so you save money on your party.  The components of the drink can also be served on their own for the guests who just don't want the specialty drink.  It saves you time, too.  You don't have to spend all night playing bartender.

The real trick is finding one that most people will enjoy.   That's not an easy task.

My friend, Ginny, likes to take sweet Florida Muscadine wines and create martinis and cosmos with them.  I borrowed this idea from her.   I think I came up with a winner.   My drink is a -

Sweet Wine Manhattan

1 part Scotch
2 parts Sweet Red Wine

Shake it all up with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Serve in a martini glass and garnish with an orange slice

How simple is that?

What I love about this drink is that it's not a "girly" drink.  Men and women will enjoy it.  Even people who say that they don't like Scotch won't even realize it's in there. 

Lakeridge Winery in Florida has a wonderful Southern Red that not only works great for this drink, but also for mulled wine and for making Sangria.  If you can't find a sweet Red Muscadine wine in your area (Lakeridge does ship to many states), an old classic such as Inglenook Sweet Red will do you in a pinch.   It's very inexpensive; might even bring back a few memories for you of your younger days -  especially if you are a country girl like me!

By the way, did you know that Francis Ford Coppola plans to revive the Inglenook brand?

You don't need to break out the aged single malt for this either.   A nice blend will do.  Just look how pretty and festive that drink is!

Next,  I'm going to be posting an Italian style meal that is perfect for easy entertaining.  

See you soon!

Not an endorsement, and no product was supplied to blogger.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Entertaining Tip #2: Don't Stress over Drop-In Guests

We've all gotten this call at one time or another over the holiday season;  "Hi, I'm going to be in your neighborhood later today.   I thought I would drop over with your gift."

Your first reaction might be "Yikes, I haven't had time to go shopping for YOUR gift!"   Your second reaction;  "Do I EVEN have anything in the house to serve you?" 

You don't have to scramble all over your house for a re-gift idea - and risk giving your friend the same gift that he or she gave you last year.... oops;  Here a four ideas that you might want to consider.

Keep a few extra bottles of wine on hand and a few wine gift bags.   If you don't give the wine as gifts, you can open it for dinner one night.  With life being what it is these days, you don't need a special occasion to celebrate with a glass of wine.   Think every day is special.

Bake extra cookies and freeze them.   When you get that eleventh hour call, defrost a dozen, and put them into a decorative plastic bag with a bow.  

When you've got a few extra bucks when you go to the grocery store, purchase a $10 grocery gift card and set it aside.  Keep a few generic holiday cards on hand.  When that unexpected  friend shows up, dig into your grocery card and greeting card stash.  People appreciate grocery gift cards in any denomination.   A ten dollar gift card can purchase a 10-15 pound turkey on sale.   You can always use one of the grocery cards you picked up if you need something in a pinch and you don't want to pull out the credit card.

Candles make great gifts.  Stores often practically give them away the day after Christmas.  Purchase several and set them aside.   If you don't give them as gifts, you can use them on your own holiday table.  FYI - Ladies, even your male friends like to get candles.   It's not something they are going to go out and buy for themselves.  He might like to "entertain" a special someone one night, and the candle would be a nice touch. 

Now for the quick snack ideas: 

Warm Honey &
Orange Holiday Crunch
I remember the days when you you used to have to make your own Chex Mix®.  Now they sell it pre-packaged in all sorts of varieties.  You can still "kick it up a notch" as a famous celebrity chef would say.   

This easy entertaining recipe features store-bought mix , which takes on a special twist in this Warm Honey and Orange Holiday Crunch:

For every three ounces of Chex Mix®  Honey and Nut Flavor*

You will need -
3 tablespoons Honey
Zest of 1/2 an Orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees®.  Combine Mix, honey and Orange Zest.   Bake for 10 minutes until warm.    Let cool slightly before serving.

Note:  Once completely cooled, this takes on a brittle consistency.  

Drink suggestion:  A nice winter ale will hold up to the sweetness and the saltiness of the snack.

No time to plan.  Your guests are on their way and all you've got is last night's leftover chili. Try this delicious and super easy Chili Cheese Dip:

2 parts Leftover Chili (or mild canned chili)
1 part Processed Cheese (chunked)
A few shakes of Hot Sauce (optional)

Place ingredients into a microwave safe bowl.   Cover with plastic wrap and and heat on high for two minutes.   Carefully remove plastic wrap.   Stir.  Replace wrap and microwave for one more minute or until mixture is hot.  Stir well before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Drink Suggestion:  Serve with a cold Mexican Beer with a lime or a Margarita. 

The last recipe I will showcase tonight could double as a late supper if served with dilled potato salad.

For each Panini you will need -

2 slices of gourmet Artisan bread or medium sliced French Bread
1/4 ounce Smoked Salmon
1 tablespoon Light Cream Cheese with Chives
Other:  Butter flavored Cooking Spray

Heat a non-stick skillet.

Spray both sides of the bread with the cooking spray.

On one slice of bread, add the salmon.  On the other side, spread the cream cheese.

Press the two slices together.  Add to hot pan.  Weight the sandwich down with a panini press, a brick covered in tin foil, or another pan.   You only need to cook each side about one minute.

Drink Suggestion:  Semi Dry Sparkling Wine or a Dirty Martini

Tomorrow night -  I've never done this before -  I'm featuring a great holiday cocktail as inspired by my friend, Marilyn.  

See you again soon!

* Recipe was tested with this brand.  Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Mini Panini

Chili Cheese Dip

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Entertaining Tip #1 - Solving the Dip Dilemma

Note:  The "dip dilemma."  Ha!   Sounds way more important than it really is, but I thought you'd enjoy this tip anyway! ;.))))

Spinach and Water Chestnut Dip

In my last few posts I focused on quick and easy winter-style meals that are prefect for weeknights during a busy holiday season.   But what about the nights when you entertain? 

My next few posts will be devoted to holiday entertaining tips.   As the finale of this series, I'm going to show you a great dinner party recipe that is so simple to toss together, you're sure to stress less.

Dips and chips are very popular at parties, especially over the holidays.  It's simple way to fill in a buffet.   Many of the traditional dip recipes that you find out there are downright delicious.  

Spinach dip can be a particular quandary as it can tend to be a bit messy.  After a half hour on the buffet, you will likely find that you have to clean and refresh the plate.  

Snack companies make all these little dipper chips now in assorted varieties.   I used Tostitos® Scoops!®*  In case you are not familiar, these are white stone ground corn chips formed into a little cup shape.  Instead of having my quests "dip" using the Scoops, I topped a few dozen with my simple Spinach and Water Chestnut Dip. 

Plate these as you would any cold Hors d'oeuvre.  You guests will take a few on their plate along with the other appetizers.   Less fuss.  Less to clean up!  You can prepare and serve more of these as you need them.  These only take minutes to make.  And I guarantee you, these appetizers will disappear, and your guests will often comment about what a great idea it is to serve the dip and chip this way. 

My dip recipe is similar to the one of the back of the soup box, but as with most things in life, I have to mix it up a bit. I use less sour cream and mayo to keep it lighter. I add in a few things.    

Have leftover dip?  It is GREAT as a stuffing for baked chicken breast.  Yum!   I'll have to show you that recipe soon.

Spinach and Water Chestnut Dip
1 envelope Lipton® Vegetable Soup Mix*
6 ounces of Fat Free Sour Cream
3/4 cup Light Mayonnaise
1 - 10 ounce package of Chopped frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
1 - 8 ounce can Diced Water Chestnuts, drained
1 tablespoon chopped Pimento
1 tablespoon dried Dill Weed
1 teaspoon Paprika
Dash or two of your favorite Hot Sauce, more to taste

Other:  Scoop style Corn Chips

Mix all items for the dip together (except for the chips) in a medium bowl.   Stir well and chill for at least two hours.

When you are ready to serve, top each corn chip with a teaspoon and a half of the dip mixture and plate.

If you prefer a more traditonal plating, and you are hosting couples, you can also give each couple their own plate  of chips and a small bowl of the dip to share.  

*Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Italian Bistro Sausage Bolognese

Italian Bistro Sausage Bolognese

Continuing on with the quick holiday time weeknight recipes,  this one is perfect for those December days; think girls night out gift swap, friends dropping by unexpectedly, or for the "big" night when the in-laws arrive in town.  

This dish tastes like it came straight out of an Italian sidewalk Bistro:  A chunky tomato and mild sausage sauce laced with Greek olives, chopped artichokes, onion, garlic and fresh basil and oregano, served over whole grain bow tie pasta.   The recipe was inspired by one showcased at a local supermarket.   The supermarket version was delicious, but they used a lot of expensive packaged ingredients.  In the tradition of   "Just for Cooking - For the Healthy Home Cook," I took the whole thing and slimmed  it down.   I cut out a lot of the salty ingredients and I cut out the cream completely.  

The olives and the artichoke are so subtle in here; they add flavor but folks who don't like either will not complain because they probably won't even notice them in this colorful, fresh-tasting sauce.    Adjust the crushed red pepper to taste.

Italian Bistro Sausage Bolognese

2 tablespoon First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 pound bulk Mild Italian Sausage or Turkey Sausage or sausage removed from casing and crumbled
2 cloves Garlic
1/8 cup Spanish Onion, roughly chopped
10 Basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano
1 - 15 ounce can Petite Diced Tomatoes with Juice
4 canned Artichoke Quarters (not packed in oil)
7 pitted Greek Olives
Course Sea Salt, to taste
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
Other:   Grated Parmesan Cheese

Add one tablespoon of the Olive Oil to pan.   Add crumbled sausage.   Brown over medium heat.  Continue to break up sausage with wooden spoon. 

Note: I recommend leaving the sausage a little bit chunky. 

Add all other ingredients to food processor.   Pulse on high until everything is blended to your liking. 

Note 2:  I like to leave a little chunkiness to the sauce, too.

Turn sauce into pan with sausage and stir.   Add remaining tablespoon of Olive Oil.

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, approximately ten minutes.

I served this great pasta dish with garlic bread and a simple salad prepared with Romaine, chick peas, chopped artichoke hearts, crumbled Goat Cheese and Ken's Greek Dressing® with Feta and Black Olives*. 

*Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pepper Steak with Wasabi Mashers

Pepper Steak with Wasabi Mashers

This is a "pop the meal int0 the oven and forget about it" dish... until the last fifteen minutes.  That is when you will "Kick it up a notch."  

It is round steak braised in an Asian style Pepper and Onion broth, topped with steamed peppers and wilted spinach, and served with lightened up and creamy wasabi mashed potatoes.  

I used Grapeseed oil to brown the meat and to saute up the veggies because it's light and has a high smoke point.  I also used red and yellow bell pepper; but use whatever color pepper you have on hand.

And in the spirit of the holidays, "Yes, Virginia, there is a reason to keep dried Cilantro in your pantry."  Milder in flavor, it's perfect for a dish like this.

Makes 4 servings.


1 pound Top Round Steak
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
1/2 large Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 large Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
1/2 large Sweet Onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups Sliced Mushrooms
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried Cilantro
1/4 cup Dry Red Wine
2 tablespoons bottled Teriyaki Sauce
1 tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Sherry
1 1/2 cup Beef Broth
1/8 cup Light Brown Sugar, divided

For the Mashers:

3 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into eights
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup Cold Water
1 tablespoon  Wasabi  Powder, more or less to taste
1/8 cup Half and Half, warmed in the microwave
2 tablespoons Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Season steak with salt and pepper.  Add half of the oil to the pan.   Heat and then sear the steak on both sides until browned.   Remove from pan.

Add remaining oil to pan.  Add the red pepper and 1/2 of the yellow pepper.  Add in the onions and the mushrooms.   Cook for three minutes.  Add garlic and Cilantro.  Cook for one more minute.

Add wine.   Scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Stir in Teriyaki, Soy Sauce, 1 cup of the broth (reserve the remaining) and half of the brown sugar. 

Bake for 2 1/2 hours or longer if desired, until meat if fork tender. 

Remove steak and veggies from the Dutch oven.  The mixture should be very thick right now.   Transfer to a stove top pot.  Stir in remaining broth and brown sugar.  Toss the remaining yellow peppers on top.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer until the peppers are crisp but tender.

To make the mashers, boil the potatoes in chicken broth and water until fork tender.  Drain, leaving just a little bit of the boiling juice in the pan.  Return pan to heat. 

Add wasabi powder, warm half and half and butter.   Mash and serve with round steak and sauce.

Add in suggestion (pictured):  Wilt in a cup of spinach into the sauce right before serving and top with green onion.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mama Pirri's Italian Marinated Chicken with Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Italian Marinated Chicken
with Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mama Pirri strikes again!

My hubby, Dan, and I have both been working 7 days a week.  Mama Pirri to the rescue!  Not only did she help me by decorating my tree, but she had dinner waiting.  

These next two weeks are all about simple dishes that you can make in a flash.   Sometimes we "foodies" overlook the the obvious; we fail to take ingredients that we already have around the house and make a delicious and easy weeknight - or weekend - meal.  Mama Pirri is a master of doing just that.

Here are her recipes:

Mama Pirri's Italian Marinated Chicken

4 plump Chicken Thighs, skin on
3/4 cup Wishbone ® Italian Dressing*
1 1/2 cup Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1/8 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Other:  Cooking Spray

For the Potatoes:

5 - 6 Red Potatoes, quartered
Cooking Spray
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/8 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Marinate the chicken overnight in the Italian dressing.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Important:  DO NOT pat the chicken dry. 

Roll chicken in breadcrumbs. 

Spray with cooking spray.  Cover baking pan with tin foil.  Bake for one hour.

Uncover chicken.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Continue to bake for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes until chicken is crispy.

For the potatoes:  Slice into quarters and spray with cooking spray.   Sprinkle with remaining ingredients and bake, uncovered, for about an hour until potatoes are brown and crispy on the outside but creamy on the inside.

Serve with roasted asparagus. 

*Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger or Mama Pirri.  However, Mama Pirri tested this recipe with this brand and suggests using it for best results or forgetaboutit!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tangerine Slaw Fish Tacos

Holiday season weeknights present special challenges on top of everything else you've got to do in your already crazy life; choir practice, holiday pageants, gift shopping, tree trimming, cooking, baking, family in from out of town...

Whew! I am already worn out. 

Here is a 20 minute weeknight meal that takes a little help from the store.  

Tangerines are in season here in Florida.  Nothing like that fresh Farmer's Market flavor. 

It's fresh coleslaw, with big slices of sweet tangerine, tossed in a savory Coriander seed dressing, and served over crispy fish tenders in warm corn tortillas. 

This slaw is so delicious, you will want to make it will all your grilled or breaded fish dishes.  It's even better the next day.

Tangerine Slaw Fish Tacos

Fresh Tangerine,
Ready to Toss with Slaw

Fish Tacos and Spanish Rice
Serves 4 - 6
Serving Size: Two Tacos 

2 - 10 ounce boxes Breaded Fish Tenders (Such as Gorton's)*
Corn Tortillas

For the Slaw:

3 cups Coleslaw mix from a bag
1 large or two regular sized Tangerines, sectioned and cut in half
Juice of one large Orange
Juice of one Lime
1 tablespoon chopped Coriander Seed
Pinch of course Sea Salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Canola Oil Mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon chopped Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Other:  Hot Sauce, optional

Bake fish per package directions.

Suggestion:  Use a coffee grinder to chop/grind the Coriander Seed.  I suggest a slightly rough chop.

In a large mixing bowl, combine coleslaw and tangerines.

In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients for slaw.

Place two pieces of fish onto a heated corn tortilla.  Top with slaw and hot sauce if desired.

Yes, it's that easy.  

Happy Holidays!

*No product was supplied to blogger and not a paid endorsement.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bountiful Harvest Pork Chops

Bountiful Harvest Pork Chops

I previously posted an alternative to green bean casserole.   We have to have it in our home on Thanksgiving.   I make my own mushroom sauce using Sherry wine instead of using the soup. I know that food snobs have a tendency to roll eyes at the very mention of the traditional version. I am not such a snob so eat what you like.  I grew up on the stuff and I think it's delish!

Whether you use the traditional recipe or make your own, this dish will work with the leftovers. A few added veggies and a two-to-for center cup pork loin chops, and you’ve got a great, easy meal.  

I left this recipe a little open to interpretation; it all depends on how many you are feeding and how much leftover green bean casserole you have on hand.  

Here you go - 

2 or 4 center cup Pork Chops, bone in (about ¼ inch thick)
¼ to ½ cup All Purpose Flour
1 to 2 tablespoons Grill Seasoning for Chicken
1 to 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 to 2 Carrots cut into rounds
2 to 4 stalks Celery, chopped
½ to one whole small Spanish Onion, sliced
2 to 4 cups leftover Green Bean Casserole
1 to 2 tablespoons Sherry
Splash or two of 2% Milk
Extra Crispy Onions for topping

Other: Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray.

Dredge pork chops in flour seasoned with Chicken Seasoning.

Heat oil in skillet.  Brown chops on both sides, about 5 minutes.   Remove from pan. 

Add carrots, celery and onion.  Sauté for about three minutes until softened.  

Add leftover green bean casserole, sherry and the milk.  Warm through about five minutes.

Turn mixture into baking pan treated with cooking spray.  Spread out evenly and top with pork chops.   Cover and bake for approximately ten minutes.

Uncover. Top with crispy onions and continue to bake for five more minutes.

I used leftover apple stuffing to make the stuffing cups side dish.

This time of year is very busy.   Look for upcoming posts on quick and healthy weeknight meals!

Happy Holidays!