Sunday, January 30, 2011

Greek Style Leg of Lamb, Slow Roasted in Parchment Paper (Kudos to RR)

Before I begin my blog today, please do not forget about the popular cooking community page that I also host on Facebook called "Just for Cooking."   (Facebook account required to view).

Our community is currently looking for more posts on the discussion thread.  We are growing every day!  Come and join the fun!

My family loves roasted lamb.  One of the challenges that I face is how “well done” the lamb is cooked.  I like it medium rare.  Dan will eat his prime rib or steaks medium but he has to have lamb cooked medium well.  Mama Pirri likes her lamb cooked medium.  I have friends and family who like lamb cooked across the spectrum. 


I was watching Rachael Ray’s new show the other day where she makes a week’s worth of meals.  On that episode, she made lamb in parchment paper.  I thought, “What a great idea!”  So I decided to do my own take on RR's cooking method. I have my own seasoning method when I cook lamb.  I even added a bit more somethin'-somethin' to this dish as I'm not grilling.  I love grilling marinated leg of lamb, but roasting, honestly, I've only tried the rack of lamb before!  Rach, you are my hero! 

This is a lamb dish that you can actually cook to medium WELL temp and everyone will enjoy it!  

The results were a hit with the family, and I hear that a few neighbors tried out the leftovers.

Note:  RR cooked hers medium rare from the shot I saw on TV.  That’s the way culinary people like it.   This is a great, juicy way to cook the lamb medium well. 

And the leftovers are fantastic on Greek salad or in a Pita!  Oh, and the sides are secondary here.  I opted for a simple Greek salad, with my Easy Greek Dressing and a store-bought barley, lentil and raisin mix, which I drizzled with a little - shall I say -  "EVOO" since we are paying tribute to Rachael Ray?


Greek Style Leg of Lamb, Slow Roasted in Parchment Paper
2 large Springs of Rosemary
1 5 ½ lb. bone in Leg of Lamb
3 large cloves of fresh Garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Grill Seasoning for Steak
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1 large Lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon dried Oregano

The night before--

Tear off piece of parchment paper twice the length of your leg of lamb, plus two inches for folding.

Place one spring of rosemary on the bottom half of the parchment paper.  Cut ½ inch slits, about 10 – 15, into the top of the lamb.  Insert chopped garlic into the slits until it’s all used up.

Rub lamb with olive oil and steak seasoning on both sides and sprinkle with onion powder. 
Place lamb on top of rosemary spring on parchment paper.  Leave about an inch at the end for folding.

Place lemon slices on top of fatty part of the lamb.  Sprinkle with dried Oregano. 

Place remaining rosemary spring on top of the lamb. 


Seal up parchment paper by securing second half over the lamb and then crimping the paper all around the lamb until sealed.

Opa! Opa! 

Cooking the Lamb

Preheat oven to 300°. 

Place lamb in parchment in roasting pan.  Rest the bottom part of the leg on the top of the roasting pan.  (This will help to collect the juices in the parchment paper)  Roast for 2 ½  hours for medium rare; 2 hours and 50 minutes for medium; 3 hours and 10 minutes for medium well. 

Let lamb rest in parchment paper for twenty minutes before slicing. 

Yield 8 servings.

Serve with pan juices and my "Special" Sauce.

Garlicky Greek Yogurt Mint Sauce
½ cup plus two heaping tablespoons Plain Greek Yogurt
3 tablespoons Cream Cheese (plain, sun dried tomato or artichoke and spinach flavored)
1 Tablespoon bottled Minced Garlic plus one tablespoon of the juices from the bottled minced garlic
Pinch of Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Chopped Fresh Mint.

Combine all ingredients and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

My Easy Greek Salad Dressing
Easy Greek Salad Dressing*

5 tablespoons Basil and Oregano Rice Vinegar (Suggest Nakano®)
2 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice2 tablespoon dried Oregano
2 1/2 teaspoon Emeril’s® Original Essence**
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mix first four ingredients together.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing is emulsified. 

* I had posted the recipe for the dressing for one salad.   People liked it so much, I was asked to post the recipe for the entire bowl (as pictured). 

Not a paid endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.

Note:  Offer freshly ground black pepper at the table.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Asian Panko Shrimp - No Frying Required!

Dan was hungry for shrimp.  He usually fries his shrimp but lately.  Lately, he's been loving Panko Breadcrumbs over beer batter.  (Don't get me wrong -- NOBODY makes beer battered fish like my hubby!) 

A note about Dan's Shrimp:
Dan's Panko Popcorn Shrimp
When Dan cooked his version of Panko shrimp a few weeks ago, he fried them in Canola Oil.  Tonight we opted for something a bit lighter. 

We also used Jumbo shrimp tonight!  I like to keep several types of frozen shrimp in the freezer for nights like this.  So quick and easy to defrost.

Panko Crusted Shrimp, ready for my oven!
What’s not to love about Panko? 

These crispy Japanese Bread Crumbs are perfect for those of us who are watching our weight --- always --  We can oven fry without the breading getting mushy.

Tonight I made a delicious Panko Crusted – Oven Fried -  Shrimp recipe, along with two great and very easy sides I know you are going to love;  Honey, Sesame Asparagus and Shallot and Garlic Lo Mein!

Asian Panko Crusted (Oven Baked) Shrimp

1 lb. Jumbo Wild Caught Shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
½ cup All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Old Bay® Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 large Eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon Chinese Hot Mustard
4 oz. plain Panko Breadcrumbs
Butter Flavored Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 425°.  

Dredge shrimp in flour mix with the Old Bay and garlic powder.  Dip in the egg mixed with the hot mustard.   The final dip will be into the Panko bread crumbs.

Spray cookie sheet with butter flavored cooking spray.  Place shrimp on cooking spray.  Bake at 425° for ten minutes, turning once.

Teriyaki Wasabi Dipping Sauce

¼ cup Teriyaki Sauce (with or without Sesame Seeds)
¼ cup Canola Oil Mayonnaise
½ tablespoon Wasabi Powder
1 tablespoon Chili Sauce

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.

Honey Sesame Asparagus

1 lb. fresh Asparagus, washed and trimmed
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar with Red Pepper
1 tablespoon Honey
½ tablespoon minced garlic or shallots (or both).
Toasted Sesame Seeds - for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 425°.  

Toast Sesame Seeds and set aside.  Arrange asparagus in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with Olive Oil.  Mix all remaining ingredients together.  Pour over asparagus.  Mix with hands until coated.

Roast for 15 minutes.

 The Low Down on Lo Mein

Lo Mein Action Shot ;.)

Saki and Low Sodium Soy Sauce Add Flavor
Garlic and Shallot Lo Mein

4 oz Lo Mein noodles, cooked
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tablespoon minced Shallot
½ tablespoon minced Garlic
½ tablespoon Butter
2 tablespoons Saki
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Pepper, to taste
One ladle starchy pasta cooking water
Dried Cilantro (optional – for garnish)

Cook Lo Mein noodles per package directions (but I suggest under cooking them for about a minute, as they will finish cooking in the pan).  Strain and set aside.

Heat large non stick skillet over high heat.  Add oil, shallot and garlic.  Reduce heat to low and sauté for two minutes.

Add cooked Lo Mein noodles and butter.  Cook one minute. 

Add Saki, soy sauce and pepper.  Cook two minutes. 

Add one small ladle of starchy cooking water leftover from the pasta boil.   Cook 1 minute.

Turn over onto serving plate.  Top with Cilantro.

All recipes yield 4 servings.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rosemary and Gorgonzola Meatloaf

Quick post tonight. 

I had intended to do something more elaborate but it will have to wait.  Long story short --- Thought we were having a break in here at the house, but the police determined  it was most likely just punk kids doing some serious vandalism. 

If so...   Here is my message to those kids --   GET OFF THE STREETS AND GO READ A FRICKIN' BOOK! 

My kitchen was in a bit of a disarray when the officers came.  I had to use it as an opportunity to lighten the mood.  I said, "Why is my house always a mess when the police show up?"  The officers not only had a sense of humor, but they were extremely efficicient.  Thank you, Clermont PD.  I digress.  It's nice to have a blog sometimes.  ;.) 

I made the possibly the best meatloaf last night that I've ever made.  Enjoy!

Rosemary and Gorgonzola Meatloaf

1.25 lbs Meatloaf Mix (Beef, Veal and Pork)
1 Egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Beef Bouillon cube, crumbled
1 tablespoon Grill Seasoning for Steak (Suggest Montreal)
¼ cup dry Italian Bread Crumbs
¼ cup Tomato Paste, divided
¼ cup Light Sour Cream
1 tablespoon dried Rosemary
2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
2 tablespoons Ketchup (suggest Heinz – what other kind is there?)
1 teaspoon dried Oregano

Preheat oven to 375°. 

In a large mixing bowl, add first eight ingredients plus on tablespoon of the tomato paste.  Reserve remaining tomato paste and set aside.

Add sour cream, rosemary and Gorgonzola cheese to the meatloaf mixture.  Mix well until all ingredients incorporated.

Form into loaf and add mixture into an 8 X 4 loaf pan.  Mix remaining tomato paste with ketchup.  Spread evenly over top of loaf and sprinkle with dried oregano.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Skim fat off the top using a turkey baster. 

Yield 8 servings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Game Day Food

Game day food is DELICIOUS, but it's not always  figure friendly. 

My Steelers were in the playoffs this weekend – and unless you’ve been living on some deserted Island since Sunday, you probably know that we are Superbowl bound. 

Besides having my Terrible Towel on hand, which is thoughtfully modeled here by our dog, Eddie, I wanted the snacks for tonight’s game to be both tasty and healthier options.

Now keep in mind, those man football shirts make me look like a linebacker, so don’t let that fool you. I don’t think any woman looks great in a football shirt.  I also did a bit too much "Aqua Net" on the "do," but who cares what you look like when you’re watching the big game, right?   Please judge the content, not the style, as I might not be ready for prime time just yet.  LOL.   Let me tell you, these recipes work.  You will lose weight if you just learn to sub out butter and salt for other flavors. 

Parmesan Pierogie Popper

I started with a Parmesan Pierogie Popper.  These are simply frozen mini Cheddar Cheese and Potato Pierogie drizzled with Olive Oil, light Parmesan Cheese mixed with Garlic Powder (equal parts).  I bake them at 400° for 18 – 20 minutes until golden brown.

Garlic Buffalo Wings

These wings are lighter because they are marinated first to give them a little kick.  You can drastically cut down on the amount of butter and salty hot sauce that you put on them.  Of course, you can adjust this to taste.  I like to bring the hot sauce with me to the table.

I cut fresh chicken wings by separating the wing part from the drumette.  I marinated the wings for about an hour and a half in –

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Bottled Minced Garlic
¼ cup Olive Oil

Once ready, I grilled the wings up on an indoor grill.  Hey no comments about the grill pan on my flat top stove.  It’s my stove and I’ll do what I want to.  Seriously, indoor grilling is fantastic when it’s cold or rainy outside.

Note:  Before I receive emails, yes, I know I said “Dan and I” instead of “Dan and me!”  

Grill the wings for a few minutes on each side until they get those nice grill marks.  Transfer wings to a cooking sheet topped with a rack and sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake wings in 400° for 18-20 minutes (longer depending on your oven and how meaty are the wings).  You want to make sure that the juices run clear.   Some ovens might require that the wings be baked for 30 minutes.  I suggest also putting them under the broiler for five minutes at the end to crisp them up.

Once the wings are cooked to your liking, toss them in two tablespoons of melted butter and two tablespoons of good quality Hot Sauce.  I prefer a Mexican hot sauce; more of less to taste, of course.
Serve the wings with Celery sticks and baby Carrots!  I like to make my -

Lite Green Onion and Gorgonzola Dressing

One Package of Green Onion Dip Mix (suggest Hidden Valley®)
16 oz Light Sour Cream
4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
¾ cup 2% Milk
Teaspoon Dry Dill Weed
Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Chives

Whisk together all ingredients.  Chill for at least an hour.

Yes, I did forget to mention the Gorg cheese on the video...  Sorry....  Honest truth... game was on and my camera man (Dan) had better things to do...

Try these dishes on Superbowl Sunday and let me know what you think. 

Go Steelers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I know this post is about Fried Rice.  Please allow me to digress for a moment. 

When you write and test recipes, sometimes you have great days and other days… eghh…  (that’s the technical term).  My Chimichurri Sauce left a little to be desired.  It was okay, but not post-worthy. I will post no recipe before it's time.  Oh, I think that lingo was taken years ago. 

Seriously -- Not that I think that there is anyone sitting around waiting for me to post a recipe.  People who know me know that I am way more humble than that.   I just like to deliver what I promise.  That is the type of person that I am.

Steak Tacos

Don’t get me wrong;  Dan and I had a great meal of Steak Tacos and his Magnificent  FROZEN Margaritas on Friday night. 

Long story short...  I am posting his cocktail recipe under a new thread on the Facebook community page -- “Just for Cooking” -- called "Libations."  The great thing about his cocktail, is you can use the leftovers to marinate meat, chicken or fish. 

More about that this week!  

I promise that I will continue to work on the Chimichurri until it’s perfected.

Now, for the real topic of tonight's post --

The great thing about food is that it that you can journey to places that you never imagined with the single flip of a spatula or the lift of a fork.

Tonight, we took a trip away from our Friday night venture to Mexico (although I guess Chimichurri is technically Central-South American) -- to Japan.  No, we didn’t win the Lotto.  Darn! 

My friend, Charles, is my favorite political debating partner.  He is also a vegetarian.  He asked me for a few simple veggie dishes that he could whip up – he does not cook. 

Dan Uses a Pancake Griddle!
 My husband, Dan, my favorite partner in life, makes THE best veggie fried rice, hands down. He cooks it on a pancake griddle.

Now, the recipe does contain scrambled egg, so if you really want to make this vegetarian, you can leave that ingredient out or add Tofu (just don’t tell Dan about it).  

Dan thinks Tofu is best used for patching tires, but Charles can debate him on that on another day.

Asian Portabella and Peppers
Keeping in that spirit, I made a great Spicy Portabella Pepper “Steak” to go along side of the rice – This is an Asian recipe that breaks all the rules, I sauté it and then bake it in the oven. 

I promise I will post this simple recipe on the Facebook community page this week! 

I wish I could post everything here but it would make these blogs waaay too long!

You can add on any appetizer you like.  We opted for store bought Lobster Rangoon.  You can do veggie spring rolls, too. 

I make a great, simple dipping sauce that I know you will want to try.  It's so difficult... NOT! 

It's 1/2 cup of Sesame Teryaki sauce mixed with One tablespoon plus one teaspoon of Chili sauce

Lobster Rangoon with my "Special Sauce"
 Oh, and tomorrow – Go Steelers!

Yeah, I grew up in Pittsburgh.  Tomorrow, I will be posting my first video on Just for Cooking -  Game Day Treats. 

You’ll want to check those videos out!  With Superbowl Sunday right around the corner, I've got a great lower calorie grilled wing recipe with a ranch, Gorgonzola dipping sauce and baked, yes BAKED Pierogies!


2 cups cooked Long Grain White Rice*
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/8 cup diced Carrot (small dice)
1/8 cup diced sweet Onion (small dice)
¼ cup frozen Peas
1 Large Egg (Optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons Butter, divided
¼ Low Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ cup Saki
Sprinkle of Sesame Seeds (Optional)
Chopped Scallions (Optional)

Cook rice per directions on box. 

*Hint:  Add about a half of a cup of extra water than what the box says, and once you cover it, reduce the heat and don’t open it until the rice is done.  Once rice is cooked, add two tablespoons of the butter and set rice aside.

While rice is cooking, heat a stove top or electric pancake griddle or the largest non-stick skillet you have on hand.  Heat to 375° – 400°.   If you don’t have an electric griddle, toss a few drops of water on your pan and if it sizzles, it’s ready to go.

Dice carrots and onion.  Mix with peas and set aside.   Set aside. 

Spread canola oil on griddle. 

Crack egg to the side of the rice pile and scramble.  While egg is cooking, add salt and pepper to rice.

Add rice.  Spread rice evenly on griddle, forming a rice pile.  Add vegetables in the center of the rice pile.  Using two spatulas mix it all together, turning rice frequently; flattening it out as you go, so the vegetables cook evenly.  Add remaining butter. 

Once the egg is scrambled, add to rice mixture.  Mix again, flattening rice out as you go.

Dan Adds the Saki -  One for the Pot, Two for the Cook!
Note:  The entire cooking process once rice is on the griddle should take you about five minutes to this point.

Add soy sauce.  Cook rice for about five minutes more, turning rice frequently so it does not burn.Add Saki, and cook approximately five minutes, until the rice is a nice golden brown color.

This should be on your list as a "must try!" 

Dan's Saki Fried Rice

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mama Pirri’s Sausage and Peppers

Mama Pirri's "Famous" Sausage and Peppers

SIDE NOTE (01/20/2011):  Okay, I admit it.  I took a few shortcuts with my blog last night.  Food writers cannot live by blog alone.  I got lazy and I am sorry about that. I was asked by a few people to clarify the actual "recipe" that Mama Pirri uses when she makes her sausage and peppers.  It's very easy.  Below is the modified blog from last night with more details. 

Tomorrow night I am making Chimichurri Steak Tacos (with my homemade Chimichurri Sauce).  Since it is Friday night, we're going to have one (or two) of Dan's Killer Margaritas. 

Then on Saturday, I am going to be posting a couple of Asian vegetarian recipes you do not want to miss!

Here is last night's blog, DO-OVER:

Hands down, my mother-in-law makes the best Italian Sausage and Peppers in the world.  The entire contents of a pan will disappear in ten minutes flat when she makes this for a party.  My husband's co-workers beg him to share when he takes the leftovers for lunch.  While the recipe might seem simple on the surface, Mama Pirri will tell you that the secret is slow cooking.  She has a foolproof method, and if you follow this, she guarantees that yours will come out just as delicious.

Only the Freshest of Veggies

The dish is so simple, I don't need to write out a full recipe but to give you an idea of what to gather up at the grocery store, the dish includes the following ingredients:

10 hot or sweet Italian Sausages (or a mixture)
4 large Bell Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow), julienned
8 Red Potatoes, diced (medium dice)
2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese, to taste
1 Large Sweet Onion, julienned
Olive Oil for drizzling
Butter flavored Cooking Spray

That's it!

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Sauté  the onions and julienned peppers are  in olive oil and then removed from the pan to a bowl.  Keep warm with tin foil. 

Coat potatoes with butter flavored cooking spray, a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and grated Parmesan cheese.  Note: you can substitute any seasonings you like on the potatoes. 

Mama Pirri bakes the potatoes in a 350° oven until golden brown.

The Sausage is the Star

The real star of the show is the sausage.  Mama Pirri uses very good quality hot and sweet Italian sausages.  She drizzles a little olive oil over the sausages and she bakes them, whole, in the oven for about two hours. 

When everything is done, she slices up the sausage and combines it with the potatoes, onion and peppers in a pan.  She returns the mixture to the oven for about 15 minutes to warm everything through.

I know you will want to try this soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Five Easy Tips for Picture Perfect Chicken or Veal Marsala

Marsala using the Five Tips

Several people have asked me about the dish that heads up my blog.  Yes, that is Veal Marsala.   It’s my favorite Veal Marsala recipe with Parmesan and Sour Cream Smashed Cauliflower and sautéed Spinach and Cherry Tomato with Nutmeg.   

If you don’t eat veal for whatever reason, you can always substitute chicken (or even pork).

But what is the secret to not just a good, but a great chicken or veal Marsala?  Believe it or not, it’s not the Marsala wine. 

Here are five easy tips for making your Marsala over the top!

Tip #1:  Do not dredge your meat in flour.

I do not use flour.   When you fry veal dusted with flour in oil, you very often get this really dark layer on the bottom of your pan that you can’t even deglaze.  Depending on your stove, you know what I mean.  Then you end up wiping out the pan, and you sacrifice the juices from the meat in your sauce.  Not good.

Instead, try whisking a little cornstarch into your Marsala wine; just about a 1/2 teaspoon per half cup of Marsala.  Simply sauté your veal or chicken in light olive oil and remove it from the pan to a covered plate to keep it warm while you finish the dish.

Tip #2:  Add two tablespoons of Cream Sherry.

I like to add about two tablespoons of cream sherry with my Marsala wine.  It gives the sauce a fantastic, even sweeter flavor.  You can find good quality Cream Sherry in your grocery store.  Don't spend a fortune, but avoid those salted cooking wines if possible.

Tip #3:  Add a little browning sauce to the wine mixture.  

Browning sauce is old school, but it works!   Just a few drops gives this dish the most perfect color. Remember, you eat with your eyes first.

Tip #4: Use a little good quality beef stock.

I add a couple of glugs (technical term) of good quality beef stock around the pan AFTER I add my wine mixture.  The better quality and more flavorful the stock, the less you have to season with salt and pepper.

Mushrooms and Thyme, a Perfect Union!

Tip #5:  Add fresh Thyme while sautéing the mushrooms and fresh Parsley at the end. 

Thyme and mushrooms are a match made in heaven.  When you add thyme while sautéing the mushrooms, the flavor just pops.  And contrary to popular belief, that parsley is not just a garnish.  Fresh parsley adds a touch of spring to any dish, even on the coldest of winter days.

The next time you make chicken, pork or veal Marsala, try these tips.   I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Basic Math + Super Easy = Delicious

Math and cooking: yeah, maybe we think of the measurements;  a teaspoon here, a cup there....

But did you ever think that one store bought Rotisserie Chicken

+ Fresh Ingredients could =

Easy Chicken Alcaparrado
w/ Pink Beans and Super Easy Yellow Rice

I love sharing recipes.  It really makes me happy when I make a person's day because they tried something that I posted and it turned out great.  Food is truly a saving grace;  it sustains us, it brings us together but a great meal can also cheer us up after a long-hard day of dealing with an often unfriendly world.

I LOVE Latin food.  This is a Puerto Rican style recipe. I love the savory, salty flavors mingled with just the right amount of spice. 

Everyone is looking for quick and easy today, right?  If you're my husband's cousin, Betsy, you're off to the dog show with your one daughter and off to another activity with the other, while trying to fit in your exercise class.  If you work outside the home, you're probably trying to balance business meetings with meals.  Eating out too much can take a toll not only on the wallet but the waistline.

This dish is quick, healthy, inexpensive, and oh so easy to make.  I used a store-bought Rotisserie Chicken and turned it into something that will make your friends and family think you've been cooking all day! 

And it's delicioso! 

Note:  Alcaparrado are whole, small pitted and brined Manzanilla Olives, Pimientos and Capers. It is available on the International Foods aisle in your grocery store. If you cannot find this, simply purchase Pimiento stuffed Manzanilla olives and a jar of Capers. The ratio would be 2-1 (more olives than capers).

Easy Chicken Alcaparrado

One warm 4.5 lb. store bought Rotisserie Chicken (plain)
8 oz. jarred Roasted Red Peppers
¼ cup dry White Wine
¼ cup Hot (or medium) Picante Sauce
¼ cup Roasted Garlic Seasoned Rice Vinegar
8 oz. Vegetable Stock
½ cup whole Alcaparrado*
2 tbs. Honey
Cilantro for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 325°. 

To keep store-bought chicken warm, place chicken in pan, cover with foil, and place in hot oven. Turn the oven off and don’t open it until you’re ready to serve.

In a food processor or blender, add the peppers, wine, Picante sauce and rice vinegar. Blend until slightly chunky. Transfer to sauce pan. Add the vegetable stock, Alcaparrado and honey. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven. Carve warm chicken and top with sauce and chopped Cilantro. 

The spotlight is also on the sides!
For the Pink Beans

1/8 cup cup frozen Recaito*
1 15.5 – 16 oz can Pink Beans (found in the International Foods Aisle)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon Adobo
1 - 12 oz light beer

Add the Recaito to pan and melt over medium heat. Once the Recaito is ready, add the pink beans, minced garlic and Adobo. Stir. Add one beer. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, five to ten minutes. 


*Recaito is sold in your frozen food section near the Spanish food items. It is Sofrito without the tomato. All you need to do is break off the amount you need with a spoon or a knife. It melts easily into the pan. Save the rest in the freezer for another day.   You can substitute black beans.

For the Super Easy Yellow Rice

1/8 cup frozen Recaito*
1 tablespoon Olive Oi
l2 cups long grain White Rice
1 packet Sazon Tropical seasoning (for rice stews and soups)
¼ cup frozen Peas

Add Recaito and olive oil to pan. Once the Recaito is melted, add the rice and saute for two minutes. Add the beer and the remaining amount of liquid per the instructions on the rice box (water). Stir.

Add tropical seasoning. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and follow the directions on the rice box. When the rice is almost done, lift lid and stir in the frozen peas. Let cook for 1 -2 more minutes and let rice rest per package instructions. 

Yield: serves 4

Friday, January 14, 2011

All That and a Can of Beans

I love cannellini beans.  They are inexpensive, good for you, and so delicious.  When it's cold outside, I love cooking up a big pot of beans and greens soup. 

Tonight I opted for a quick Beans, Greens, and Turkey Sausage Pasta.  

I took one nice head of Escarole along with cannellini beans, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, olive oil, chicken stock, dry white vermouth, nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. 

I used hot turkey sausage, which I crumbled.   I also used whole wheat penne pasta.  Fresh ingredients are the key to making this quick dish taste great.

Fresh is the key!

Turkey Sausage, Beens, Greens and Pasta!

All you need is some parmesan cheese and crusty bread and you are good to go!
Sometimes, it's the easy and quick dishes that are most tasty.  What a great, budget conscious meal for any day of the week!

If you’re opting for a soup recipe, you should also take a look at Mama Pirri’s Pepperoni Pasta e Fagioli
Mama Pirri

mAMA PIRRI is Dan’s Mom, Emily.  Her recipe is so simple.  She cooks Ditalini and then uses the starchy past water as a base for her soup. 
In a small pot to the side, she cooks olive oil, crushed red pepper and granulated garlic.  She adds a few tablespoons of red spaghetti sauce to the pasta and starchy water, and then adds the beans.  She combines the oil mixture with the “soup,” and then adds salt and pepper to taste. 
Sliced pepperoni is added at the end.
I have to tell you, it’s so easy but it’s one of the most delicious recipes for this soup I’ve ever tasted.  If you want both of these recipes, please visit our community page on Facebook this weekend.  Both will be listed under a new discussion thread called “Budget Healthy Meals.”
I am currently working on a new recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup.  Check in frequently, as I am hoping to have that one perfected in the coming weeks.
On Monday, I will be talking Goat Cheese!  I’ll have several full recipes posted on this page for Chicken with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Basil and Goat Cheese; Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes; Goat Cheese and Spinach Omelets. 
Mama Pirri's Pasta e Fagioli!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What We WON'T Do for Steak

All pictures for tonight's blog provided by family and friends.

Food brings people all over the world together.  I was humbled when I learned that this blog is now being read by people in South America, England, and Eastern Europe, as well as a nice following in the US.   I hope - someday – that we can all sit down and share some great food and wine together! 

To my new friends, whoever you are!  Cheers!

I was in St. Petersburg/Clearwater, FL this week on business and I was offered the chance to see a couple of long-time girlfriends who I had not seen since the summer; Julie and Judy.  I stayed at Julie’s new condo in her spare room-- overlooking the bay-way to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.   

The girlfriends decided they wanted me to cook the Beringer Great Steak Challenge steak recipe.  They had both been there to cheer me on in Orlando that scorching hot July summer day (106° in the shade), but neither of my friends EVER had a chance to taste it. 

Unfortunately, I have not yet gotten the permission from the wonderful Beringer folks to re-print the recipe (it’s theirs now).  But I can account to you the fun we had recreating it.  If I do get permission, I promise that I will post it here to share!

The girl's night in event wasn’t what gave me the idea to write this blog  - at least not at first.  

Brother-in-law, Mike, cooking steak in the snow in CT.

My brother-in-law, Mike, celebrated a birthday this week.  He posted this picture;  Mike is cooking steaks outside on the grill in snowy New England, on his birthday.  There was lobster cooking, too. 

Mike's Birthday Steak and Lobster

My husband and his brother have a history of this kind of  ROGUE Steak cooking under any condition -- 

Dan once grilled steaks on our front porch when we lived in South Florida… in the middle of Hurricane Frances!  I remember plating the steaks just as we lost power and the new oak tree that was planted in the front yard bit the dust in the wind. 

But oh, those steaks were not just good—they were fricken' GREAT! 

BTW - Happy Birthday, Mike!

Our girl’s night in started with me opening up a crisp bottle of Beringer Pinot Grigio. Judy does not drink wine so she had her tea.


White wine with steak? 

Yes!  You pair the wine to the sauce, not the meat. 

No rules. 
Drink what you like!

My steak recipe includes goat cheese (which is perfect with Pinot Grigio) and a citrus and mint sauce -also perfection!  There is wine in the sauce, too!

My friend, Julie, is recently starting over.  Her condo is lovely but she had to let go of many of her kitchen items.  I didn’t think to ask about what she had on hand before I agreed to cook there.  Here is the knife that I was supplied to use for the chopping portion of the evening event.

Now that's some knife, eh?

My steak was a grilled recipe.  She doesn’t own a grill, so I compensated by cooking it all on the stove.  Pan seared steaks are my favorite, anyway. 

Julie didn’t have a cast iron (or even an oven safe pan).  When I cook big, juicy tenderloin on the stove, I like to sear it and then transfer it to a 375° for a few minutes.  So I asked Julie if she had a cookie sheet that I could transfer the steaks to since the pan could not go into the oven.  She couldn’t recall where she put the cookie sheets…

So we improvised... 

"When in Rome..."

When the oven was heated, I opened it up, only to find this - “Ummm… Hello, Julie???”

Ah-HAA!  There they are!

Humble Pie
After a good laugh, we realized that the cook (me – DUH) forgot one of her MAJOR ingredients for the sauce. Yes, I forgot something. 

I, AGAIN, improvised, and believe it or not, the sauce came out great.  If and when I do get the permission to print the recipe, I will share more of the details.  

Filet and Goat Cheese with a Pinot Grigio Butter Mint Sauce

A good steak, it’s like butter; a great steak, it’s about the memories.