Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Braised Green Beans with Shallot Butter and Thyme

If you are like me in the summer, you always buy too many fresh greens beans.  We have to find ways to use them up before they turn.   This week, I am going to bring you two great green bean recipes; one side and one main dish that I know you are going to love.

Tonight I prepared Braised Green Beans with Shallot Butter and Thyme.   This is a great side dish for grilled meat, fish, or meatloaf.   It's so simple to make.

Here is what you need and what you need to do:

Serves 4.


1 pound fresh green beans, washed and snapped at the ends
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup vegetable stock or broth
1 medium-large shallot, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 springs of fresh thyme, removed from the stems


Place washed green beans into a braising pan along with one tablespoon of the butter.  Pour one cup of boiling vegetable stock (I heat it in the microwave) over the top of the beans.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer about five minutes until the beans are tender - longer if you want the beans to be well cooked. 

Drain and plate the beans and keep them warm. 

In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the shallot.  Sauté for two or three minutes.  Add the thyme and cook for one more minute.  Pour butter and shallot with thyme over cooked green beans and serve immediately. 

With my next post (including green beans), I am beginning a 13 part summer series in tribute to the 4th of July.  I will be writing regional recipes from the original 13 colonies in celebration.  

And don't forget to check out tonight's money-saving post on Cafe' Cheapo. 

I am still editing my first video to go up on Living El Cheapo.  I'll let you know what that is posted.

Enjoy tonight's green bean recipe.  I'll see you soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A "Maze" ing Tacos with Terrific Taco Seasoning

Summer is all about fresh sweet corn (maze).  In moderation, it's okay even if you are watching your weight. 

Hubby Dan loves tacos.  When he eats tacos, he wants to eat tacos.  He doesn't want to eat rice or refried beans.  I incorporated corn and canned black beans into this recipe.  In addition to adding the extra nutritional goodness to this dish, it looks pretty and it stretches a pound of ground chicken to make eight servings (8 tacos). 

It's my terrific taco seasoning which really makes this dish.  My seasoning recipe yields enough to season  1 1/2 pounds of meat.  Store any unused seasoning in an airtight container in your pantry and it should last for up to a month.  

Terrific Taco Seasoning:

2 tbs. ground cumin
1 tbs. garlic powder
1/2 tbs. onion powder
1 1/2 tbs. coarse sea salt
2 tbs. chili powder
1/2 tbs. ground oregano
1 tbs. Annato
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

For the Tacos:

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh, frozen or canned corn (if canned, drain and rinse)
1/4 cup Terrific Taco Seasoning
beer - 12 ounces or 12 ounces of cold water

Other:  Taco shells, hard or soft; cheese; chopped onions; fresh cilantro; sour cream; diced tomatoes; hot sauce or salsa


Add vegetable oil to skillet.  Add ground chicken.  Brown approximately 5 minutes.

Add black beans and corn to pan.  Cook for another two or three minutes.

Stir in the seasoning and the beer.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for five minutes until sauce thickens. 

Serve meat on taco shells for soft tortillas.  Top with your favorite fixings. 

Note:  Beginning next week, I am doing a tribute to America and the 13 original colonies in honor of the upcoming 4th of July weekend.  For the next three weeks, look for a variety of fun summertime recipes based regional ingredients!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Smothered Spanish Steak

Spanish cut steaks are very affordable.  They are thin sliced sirloin tip steaks.  The problem is that these must be browned and braised properly or they can get tough.  

I like this recipe because it's full of flavor.  You might look at the picture and say, "Mary Kay, where's the beef?"  There are tons of vegetables served with this steak, and that is why it is called "smothered steak." There is a little cheese under there, too, which is a nice surprise when you dig in.  I added the peas and corn for color, but you can serve this with any side dish you like.  You might serve this over rice or mashed potatoes.

I wrote this recipe for two.  You can double or triple it with no problem.  Each serving is two slices of steak and half of the veggies.

There is alcohol used this recipe.  You can substitute non-alcoholic wine.  If you are going to use broth to make this "family-friendly," use low sodium broth and add one tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the broth.  You do need a little more acidity than what the tomatoes provide to tenderize the meat.  You can also use extra tenderizing Worcestershire sauce.  If you don't have white wine vinegar on hand, regular white vinegar works too.  I don't want you to go out and buy ingredients if you don't have them on hand.  You can play around with this dish and find what works for you.

I know this recipe calls for a lot of ingredients but it's worth it!   The elephant garlic is sweeter and milder.  If you cannot find it, you can substitute regular garlic.


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (one tablespoon extra if needed)
1/3 pound Spanish cut Sirloin Tip steaks, cut into four slices and pounded to 1/4 inch thick
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 anchovy fillet
1 tablespoon slivered elephant garlic
1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced Italian frying pepper, cut into rings
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
8 - 10 sliced sweet onion rings (all sizes)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine or low sodium vegetable broth (with one tablespoon white wine vinegar added)
1 cup canned petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons grated Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh oregano or cilantro for garnish, optional  (I like to use both)


Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a braising pan.  It is important to use a large enough pan for this dish so that you do not crowd the meat.

Season the steaks with fresh pepper.  Do not salt at this time.  Salt will draw extra moisture from the steaks and you don't want to do that when working with a tougher cut of meat.

Brown the steaks slowly (over a low heat) on both sides.  Remove to a plate and keep warm. 

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  Add the anchovy fillet.  Once the anchovy dissolves, add the green pepper, the Italian pepper and the mushrooms.  You might need to add a little extra oil to the pan as the mushrooms will soak it up.   Cook for about three minutes until the peppers soften and the mushrooms begin to brown. 

Add the onion rings and cook for about two more minutes until the onion rings soften.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, the wine, the tomatoes and the lemon juice. Salt to taste

Stir to mix and add the meat back into the pan.  Cover the meat with the sauce to tenderize.   Bring to a low boil and reduce to simmer (low heat).  Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes until the meat is fork tender.  

Top the steaks with equal amounts of the cheese.  Cover pan for one minute until the cheese melts.

To plate:  Place two steaks on each plate and top with the vegetables and sauce from the pan.  Garnish with oregano or cilantro is using.

You can get creative as I did with the plating of any side dishes that you make.  If using potatoes or rice, you might wish to plate that first and then mound the meat, veggies and sauce on top. 

Enjoy and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seaside Broiled Scallops in Vermouth

I love to travel.  I would much rather travel someplace than to buy a car or a shiny something, because travel makes the brain, the heart, and the soul richer, while the other only makes us-- well, you can decide. 

Summer is a great time to travel.  Because the economy is still bad and times are tight, if you are like my hubby and me, we are choosing to stay close home this year.

I often say, "Food can take you anywhere you want to go, even if you don't have a lot of money."  If you cannot afford to travel, you can create your own "vacation" memories at home.  So in honor of all of those who cannot afford a summer vacation this year, I bring to you a virtual vacation through food.   Over the remainder of the summer, I'll be taking you on more of these trips as I create new, healthy recipes to share with you.

If you are going to prepare this as a virtual "get-away" dish for two, take the time to create a little ambiance. Set the table sea-side style. 

This dish (not counting alcoholic beverages you might wish to consume with it) will cost you less than $15.00 to make.

Seaside Broiled Sea Scallops in Vermouth

Do not expect a rich, buttery, unhealthy cream sauce with this dish.  You can really taste the scallops, and this sauce is light    You are going to want to serve this with rice pilaf (as I did) and perhaps even some crusty French bread to sop up that light sauce.  Yeah, it's that good. 

The scallop dish cooks up in minutes, so be sure to have your side dishes prepared first.  Putting together a great meal is often about the timing.  Plan which dish to prepare first based on the time it takes to make it. 

Cook's Notes:  I recommend using extra dry or dry vermouth with this dish, however, a nice dry white wine (one you can drink) also gives this great flavor.  You can substitute non-alcoholic wine.  If using broth instead of the wine, use garlic powder instead of garlic salt. 

A serving is five large sea scallops per person or 1/4 pound each.


1/2 pound sea scallops, fresh or frozen (if frozen, defrost and pat dry)
2 tablespoons extra dry or dry vermouth wine, divided
2 teaspoons of softened butter, divided
A few pinches of seafood seasoning, to taste
A few pinches of dried dill weed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons plain dried breadcrumbs, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, divided
Pinch or two of white pepper, optional and to taste
Fresh lemon slices for garnish, optional
Fresh parsley for garnish, optional


Spray ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray.  Layer five scallops in each container.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of vermouth over scallops.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter into each (as pictured). Do not place the butter directly on top of any of the scallops but to the side as you are creating a sauce.

Sprinkle each ramekin with a few pinches of the seafood seasoning.  Top each ramekin with a pinch of dried dill.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to both containers.

Top the scallops with 1/2 teaspoon dried bread crumbs.  Sprinkle each ramekin evenly with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt and just a 1/2 pinch of white pepper, scattered. 

Transfer ramekins to a baking pan.   Midst scallops and bread crumbs with more cooking spray to ensure browning.

Broil for  until scallops and bread crumbs turn golden brown and all of the butter is melted.  Carefully rotate pan containing ramekins if necessary. 

Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley (optional).

For a week night inexpensive take on seafood, check out my new weekly online cookbook called Cafe' Cheapo for new easy and inexpensive to prepare recipe. 

And if you liked "Amazing Artichoke week,"  look forward to my first cooking video on Living El Cheapo.  I know you are going to like it!  (COMING SOON!).

If you enjoy scallops, you might also like this post:  BBQ Shrimp and Sea Scallops.

Wine tip:  Check with your local liquor store.  There are likely certain days of the week or month when they put the discontinued wines on clearance.  You can enjoy a better bottle of wine for up to 50% off in many cases.  Call your local store to find out what days they discount these wines and stock up for special occasions.

Enjoy and see you soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Amazing Artichoke Week: Lemon Chicken Vesuvio for Two

There are hundreds of recipes for Chicken Vesuvio on the Internet.  I believe it was legendary sportscaster Harry Caray who made this dish a household favorite.  

This recipe tastes like summer with the addition of the lemon juice and the artichoke hearts.  It's also great because in the summer I don't like heating up the house by using the oven.  This bakes up in 30 minutes so you don't really notice the "heat."

This is a two skillet dinner.  I actually cook and bake each serving in its own skillet just as a chef would if you ordered this in a restaurant.  I do this to ensure even browning and flavor.    So you will need dueling skillets if you want to follow this recipe exactly.  

Note:   I like to use a sauté pan. 

If you are doubling this recipe, the cooking method is probably not practical.  You can certainly brown everything and then combine it into a baking dish.

Note:  I don't brown the mushrooms.  I let the oven do the work. 

I was going to use frozen artichoke hearts in this dish but the grocery store didn't have them in stock.  I still had the canned hearts marinated in the wine and dill in my refrigerator which I used for my amazing shrimp cocktail recipe , so I decided to use those.     I do like frozen as they taste "fresher" to me, but the canned worked nicely too.  Hey, use what you have on hand and save yourself a little money!

Store the unused 1/2 of potato in a sealed container.  Sprinkle with lemon juice to avoid browning in the refrigerator.  I suggest you use it the next day.  Think breakfast potatoes!

If you do not want the skin on the chicken, remove it after cooking.

Be sure that your pan is oven-safe.

You can substitute non-alcoholic wine. 

Serves 2.


2 bone in skin on chicken thighs
1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Russet potato, peeled and halved
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice plus rind  
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup canned or frozen artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms


Add chicken thighs to a plastic container for bowl.  Pour 1/4 cup of the white wine and a 1/4 cup of the apple cider vinegar over the chicken.  Toss in two springs of fresh oregano.  Marinate for 2-4 hours for best flavor.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to each sauté pan.  Add one potato wedge to each pan and brown evenly on all sides.  Remove from pan once browned.

Add garlic to each pan along with one piece of chicken, skin side down.  Brown chicken but make sure that you reduce the heat slightly as the pan is hot and the garlic might burn.  You want the garlic to just start to brown. 

Once chicken is browned, add the remainder of the wine to both pans. Deglaze pans, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. 

Add lemon juice and the rind to the pans.  Sprinkle garlic powder and thyme over both pieces of the chicken and the potatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Note:  Don't overdo the salt and pepper.  You can add more at the table.

Add 1/2 of the frozen peas to each pan, along with the artichoke hearts and the sliced mushrooms.

Bake for 30 minutes. 

Chop remaining fresh oregano and top the chicken dish.

Fresh parsley for the garnish is optional.

Enjoy and I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Amazing Artichoke Week: Chardonnay, Lemon and Artichoke Shrimp Cocktails

I was going to share a simple artichoke pasta with you but I think you will agree this recipe is a little more "sexy."  It's perfect for "date night," or you can make a whole bunch of these and serve them at a bridal shower.  The all-too-cuteness of the champagne toast glasses (which I highly recommend to plate these) puts this starter in the "party time" category.

I don't post many appetizers here because, frankly, I don't often make them. I do not like to make any starter or side that takes more time to prepare than the entrée. Unless, of course, I am preparing baked potatoes or long-simmered collard greens, I just don't have the extra time.

This appetizer whips up in a super snap and a snap back at ya! 

It's cooked shrimp and artichoke hearts (canned) in an amazingly simple lemon dill sauce laced with -- you guessed it -- chardonnay wine. 

You can certainly substitute non-alcoholic wine in this dish to get the same flavor.  If you really don't even want that, just use the juice from the canned artichokes.


I drained the juice from a canned of quartered artichoke hearts and I replaced it with a cup of dry Chardonnay (light on the oak).  Use a wine that you can drink, but not one which will break the bank.

I added frozen dill the mix.  Yes, I said frozen.  I took fresh dill, and I froze it, and then I broke up about a 1/2 tablespoon into the wine and artichoke mixture.  I let that sit at least 4 hours.

I take a little help from the store in this recipe. 

To assemble EACH "cocktail" you will need:

2 quarters of canned artichoke hearts, plus four "leaves" from the canned hearts
1 tablespoon Philadelphia brand Savory Lemon and Herb Cooking Creme*
1 tablespoon of the wine and dill marinade (see note above)
3 or 4 medium cooked shrimp, tails removed and chopped
1 teaspoon diced roasted red pepper (from a jar)
Fresh parsley for garnish, optional


Dice artichoke hearts into small pieces. 

Remove four "leaves" from a quartered artichoke hearts and place them into the glass in the shape of a flower.  I like to do this to "support" the sauce so that it doesn't look flat when plated in the glass.  Plus, you can eat it.

Mix chopped artichoke hearts, the cooking creme, and the wine and dill marinade together.  Spoon on top of the artichoke heart leaves.

Chop cooked shrimp and add on top of the sauce. 

Chop the pepper and sprinkle around the glass. 

Top with fresh parsley. 

Enjoy!   I'll see you back later this week with one more artichoke recipe.

*Not a paid endorsement.  No product was supplied to blogger.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Amazing Artichoke Week: Stuffed & Grilled Artichoke

Note:  Before I begin tonight, if you have not yet, be sure to check out Cafe' Cheapo.  It's my new online cookbook featuring healthy and budget-friendly meals.  Each week for 52 weeks, I will post one brand new recipe (not seen here), and I will price out the ingredient list to help you figure out if it's a recipe that you can make at home.  See you there!

Visit http://cafecheapo.blogspot.com

This week, it's all about artichokes.  I will post recipes using both canned and frozen hearts.  Tonight it's all about fresh artichokes.

I am almost 50 and I've never eaten a fresh whole artichoke until today.  I do not know why.  I guess it's one of those foods that kind of intimidated me when I would see it at the market.  Oh, I love artichoke hearts.  I use those often but today was truly a culinary adventure.  But fresh I had never tried.

I found out after I purchased these two artichokes at the farmer's market yesterday that they probably were not the best of the best.  There was a little too much "brown" on the leaves, yet they trimmed up nicely and they tasted great. 

I decided to stuff them, but it was in the 90's here today and even with AC on, I didn't want to heat up the house with the oven.  I decided to make this dish in a tin foil roasting pan on a gas grill and it turned out great!  Since tonight was our "big salad" night - we often eat a big salad for dinner in the summer - an appetizer was just what the home cook ordered.

This recipe serves two if you are having a light dinner, our four if it's a starter for heavier meal.


2 medium fresh artichokes
2 medium lemons
1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more to drizzle
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 cup minced onion
Pinch or two of crushed red pepper (to taste)
1 cup plain bread crumbs (regular or whole wheat)
2 tablespoons Parmesan and Romano cheese, grated
1/4 tablespoon coriander seeds

Note:  To make this recipe, you will need a tin foil roasting pan and tin foil.  You will need two cups of cold water for the first steaming process, and an additional cup to continue the steam in the tin foil pan. 


Wash artichokes in cold running water.   Trim away stems so that the artichokes will set upright in a pan.  Cut the top part off the the top quarter (at least 2/3 inch).  Trim the pointed edges of the leaves.


Steamed artichoke, before I peeled it back
and removed the fuzzy choke.

Place artichokes in a steamer basket with about 2 cups water in the bottom and 1/2 lemon.  Steam, covered, for 20 minutes.  Let cool.

Carefully peel back leaves.  Remove the center "fuzzy" part called the choke with a spoon. 

When you are ready to grill the artichokes -

Preheat grill to 400 degrees F.

In a saute' pan, add one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper.  Cook for three minutes until onion is softened.

Add the bread crumbs and the cheese.  Add remaining olive oil and cook until the bread crumbs are coated.  Add the juice of 1/2 lemon into the pan. 

Stuff the center of each artichoke and add a little of the bread stuffing in between the leaves.  Place upright in tin foil roasting pan.  Add one cup of water to the bottom of the pan, 1/2 lemon, sliced, and the coriander seeds.  Cover tightly with tin foil.  Place on grill and lower the lid.  Watch so that the temperature doesn't go beyond 450 degrees F.  Lift the grill lid as needed to reduce heat.  Grill in pan for 30 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy!  I'll see soon with more artichoke recipes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blackened Grouper Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

The "salad days" are back with this wonderful summer sun kissed salad! 

You know how I love my seafood.   Grouper is one of my favorite meals.  Especially when it's blackened. 

This recipe is simple and and it's light.  You'll enjoy it all summer long.  The lime vinaigrette is totally fantastic and flavorful.  And this is a perfect weekend recipe.

You can plate the fish over any kind of salad greens that you like.  Tomatoes and all other salad fixings are optional.  Build the salad you want!  But do make the dressing.  You won't be disappointed.

Serves 2.



3 tablespoons butter
2/3 pound Grouper
1/2 tablespoon blackened seasoning, less to taste
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning, less to taste

For the Vinaigrette-

1 medium sized lime (1/2 juiced and half cut into 3 wedges)
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 pinches seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon cold water

Other:  Lettuce greens, tomatoes or any other fixings you would like for your salad


For the fish:  Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet over the side burner of your grill.  Add butter.  Season the grouper with the blackened seasoning and Creole seasoning.  

Once butter has melted, drop the fish into the pan.  Cook for about five minutes.  If the fish flips easily without sticking to the pan, it is ready to turn.  If it seems to stick, continue to cook for another minute.

Flip fish and cook for another three or four minutes until the fish just begins to flake.  If the fish flakes easily, your fish is overdone.  So make sure that you pull it from the pan just as it begins to flake.  Adjust cooking time accordingly.

For the lime vinaigrette:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl or a salad dressing shaker.  Whisk well or shake vigorously to combine.

Plate grouper over any type of greens that you like, but do make the dressing.  It's light and full of summer flavor!

Halve the fish to make two servings.  Plate fish over fresh greens.  Include tomatoes or any other vegetables you would like with your salad.  Squirt one of the lime wedges over both of the pieces of fish.  Top with desired amount of dressing and serve with vinaigrette.  

Dill or other herbs for garnish are optional.  Dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

PS -  Don't forget about visiting me at  new online cookbook:  Cafe Cheapo http://cafecheapo.blogspot.com

Each week for 52 weeks,  I will be posting a brand new, healthy, and super economical recipe (with cost breakdown).  The recipes and special features are free to read and to print. 
3 new recipes are already up so check it out!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Corn, Green Bean and Sweet Onion Sizzle

This is a great summer side dish.  I love to make this and serve it with chicken, fish or pork.  It's super simple, and it's economical, too.

Of course, summer in the South always means lots of sweet Vidalia onions.  If you cannot find them where you live, you can substitute any sweet onion in this recipe. 

You can prepare this on the stove or on the side burner on your grill.   It's raining today (and we do need the rain) so I opted to cook inside tonight.

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Serves 4 if you are making two side dishes.  Serves 2 if you are making one side dish with your meal. 



1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and stemmed
1 ear fresh corn, removed from the cob
2/3 cup sliced sweet or Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon Adobo with pepper, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon Annato



Add oil to skillet.  Heat pan over high heat.  As soon as the pan is hot, add the corn, the green beans and the onions.

Sauté the vegetables until the onions just start to brown and you hear a popping noise in the pan from the corn, about four or five minutes. 

Add the butter.  Once the butter melts,  add the Adobo with pepper and the Annato.  Mix well.  Cook for about one more minute. 
Cover and keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Not a paid endorsement.  No product was supplied to blogger.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mama Pirri's Italian Peanut Butter Wings

Mama Pirri's Italian Peanut Butter Wings

Every once in a while as a food blogger, you get that picture that just really exemplifies the meal that you ate.  It's not artsy.  It's in no way technically perfect from a photographic perspective.  But just look at the steam coming off that plate!  Wouldn't you want to dig into that?

Mama Pirri

For those of you who read this blog, you are probably familiar with Mama Pirri.  If you are not, she is my mother-in-law.   Unlike most daughter-in-law and mom-in-law relationships, we are actually friends.  In fact, when I was first engaged to Dan, I took Mama Pirri by the nursing home where my mom lived.  My mom had MS.  Mom was very frail  and in the last days, she had no "filter."  From Mom's mouth to God's ear she said THIS as we departed from the visit - 

"Mary Kay, she likes you.  Don't screw it up." 

Mama Pirri and I laughed all the way back to Dan's house and the rest is history.  Dan and I will be married 12 years this October.

Long story short, Mama Pirri traveled up north to see my husband's brother, Mike and his wife,Crista.   http://welcometojustforcooking.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-wont-we-do-for-steak.html

I watched Mama Pirri's dog, Angel.  Angel wasn't feeling so good and I nursed her back to health.  So Mama Pirri wanted to thank us for taking such good care of her.  She made us this wonderful lunch on Sunday after we went for a swim in her community pool. 

This recipe is part home cooking and semi-homemade.  Mama Pirri took her Chicken Oreganato recipe and she combined it with a store bought sauce (a little help from one of her favorite Food Network Stars).

You will love this recipe. 


2  pounds chicken wings
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2  tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 jar Paula Deen's Peanut Butter BBQ Sauce*


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse and clean chicken wings.  Place in a an oven and broiler-safe baking dish.

Pour apple cider vinegar over wings.   Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and Parmesan cheese.   

Cover with tin foil and bake for one hour.

Remove foil wrap.  Carefully remove wings from oven and top with the entire jar of the Paula Deen's BBQ sauce.

Return to oven, uncovered, and cook for one more hour.

Preheat boiler.

Broil wings for seven minutes until browned.

Serve with pan juices.

BTW - Mama Pirri is available.  She and my husband's dad are long divorced and her second husband (the love of her life)  passed 13 years ago.   She is looking for a nice older man who is secure in all areas of life but who likes to party (drink good wine and and dance), travel, and have a lot a fun.  The guy must be family-oriented and love dogs.  No stuffy old gents or young dudes looking for a "sugar mama" need apply.  ;.)))))

*No product was supplied to blogger or Mama Pirri.  Not a paid endorsement. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sausage Penne with Sweet Peas

Just for Cooking is all about taking comfort food and making it healthier.  Over the past year and a half, my readership continues to grow and I appreciate you all very much.  

This week I launched a new online cookbook called Cafe' Cheapo.  Each week I will post a new upscale healthy recipe or two suitable for entertaining, but the good part is no meal will cost more than $20 to make.  Many will cost as little as $10 or under. 

If you have a chance, please visit me at Cafe' Cheapo and follow me there too if you'd like.  The URL is  http://cafecheapo.blogspot.com/ .

In an ongoing effort to improve this blog, I've given you a slightly bigger reading area.  This now also gives me more space to post nicer pictures. 

Also, I finally added a print friendly button at the bottom of the post area.  You can now more easily print and save any recipes that you like.  There is an option (a check box) which allows you to remove the pictures if you just want to print text.

Now on to today's recipe:

This is a quick and easy weeknight dish.  I could actually be a Cafe' Cheapo recipe because it's inexpensive to make and it's somewhat impressive considering that it only takes about 1/2 hour to prepare.   You can use mild Italian pork or turkey sausage.  I added a little crushed red pepper to give it an extra kick.  That is optional.

If you do not want to use the beer to deglaze, use 1/2 cup more of the vegetable stock.  You can also substitute non alcoholic beer.

Sausage Penne with Sweet Peas


1/2 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta, cooked per package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 pound pork or turkey sausage, mild Italian variety
Pinch or two of crushed red pepper (optional)
Pinch of sea salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup beer or ale (do not use a dark beer)
1 cup organic vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
Grated Parmesan cheese for passing at the table
Fresh torn basil (optional)


Keep cooked pasta warm while preparing the sausage.

In a large skillet, add the olive oil, the onion, and the celery.  Cook for three minutes until softened. 

Add the garlic.  Cook for one more minute, making sure that the garlic doesn't burn. 

Remove sausage from casing if not using bulk sausage.  Add sausage to pan and break apart with the back of a spoon.  Brown the sausage for about four or five minutes. 

Add the crushed red pepper, if using, the salt and the pepper.   Deglaze the pan with the beer or ale, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. 

Before all the beer or ale cooks off, whisk the stock and the tomato paste together and pour into the skillet. 

Stir in the peas.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about fifteen minutes. 

Plate the sausage with the pasta and toss well to combine.  Top with grated cheese and fresh basil.

I like to serve this with wilted spinach and garlic bread.  

Now that's a pasta dish!  It's so good.  You will even love the leftovers.

Have a great day and I'll see you soon!