Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lemon Ricotta and Spinach Fettuccine

1 package of spinach fettuccine (I prefer to use fresh instead of the dried pasta. It is usually found in the refrigerated section of the store, by the packaged tortellini and ricotta cheese.)
1 zucchini, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Pesto sauce, jarred
Herbed lemon ricotta (follow this recipe)
A couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach
2 green onion sprigs, diced

Boil fettuccine in salted water according to directions on package. In the meanwhile, sauté zucchini.

In a small sauce pan over med-high heat, sauté zucchini in EVOO with garlic for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.

Drain pasta. Toss with pesto sauce and then mix in fresh spinach and green onions. Top with zucchini and ricotta mixture.

For more lemon flavor, sprinkle pasta with fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

Spicy Blue Cheese Chicken Dip

This is my husband’s aunt’s recipe that I made two years ago for a Christmas party… and my friends are still talking about it! It’s delicious hot or cold the next day.
2 cup shredded chicken
1 oz. cream cheese, soften
1 cup chunky blue cheese dressing (or you can use 1 cup ranch dressing with ½ blue cheese crumbles)
½ cup Frank's RedHot Sauce

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Pour into a shallow casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes on 350 degrees, until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions for a garnish. Serve with crackers and/or carrot and celery sticks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Coleslaw

I received my Food & Wine issue last month, which featured the movie The Help and included recipes from the movie. Then I saw the movie this weekend and had to make some classic southern fried chicken! I’ve never made fried chicken this way before. I usually make a thin chicken schnitzel in bread crumbs, but this was easy and a hit with the hubby.

Fried Chicken
2 chicken breasts
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp freshly cracked pepper
Vegetable oil

In a small bowl, whisk milk and egg; coat chicken. In another bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper; dredge chicken.

In a medium frying pan, heat oil until med-high. The oil should only be about half way up the chicken. Cook chicken for about 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned. Remove from pan and set on a paper towels to soak up excess oil.

Coleslaw in Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp mustard
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper
A few dashed of red pepper flakes
2-3 cups of shredded green cabbage
1-2 cups of shredded purple cabbage
1 large carrot, peel off ribbons
2-3 green onions, sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients. In a large bowl combine the vegetables and then toss with vinaigrette dressing. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Mashed Potatoes
2 large red skinned potatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a pot of boiling water, cook potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes; Drain. Add butter and milk to pot with the potatoes; mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caprese Salad Bites

Everyone’s favorite Caprese Salad on a stick. This appetizer uses fresh summer ingredients and is perfect to serve for a large group of people.

Grape tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella pearls
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing for dipping
Freshly cracked pepper
Sea salt

On a large platter, place mozzarella balls in a single layer and season with pepper and salt. Create skewers by placing basil between tomatoes and mozzarella.

Serve with balsamic vinaigrette dressing for dipping.

Melon Spritzer

I love using fresh fruit in the summer, so this refreshing drink was perfect for our weekend pool party and grill out.

Seedless watermelon, balled and the rest juiced
Cantaloupe, balled and the rest juiced
Fresh mint
Club soda
Citron flavored vodka
Strawberries, diced

Using a melon baller, scoops balls from each melon and juice the rest. In a large pitcher, muddle the fresh mint to release the herb’s oils. Make drink by adding 3 parts melon juice with 4 parts club soda and 1 part vodka.

Garnish with melon balls and diced strawberries.

Tim, my brother in law, juicing the melon, with Kali supervising. :-)

Ricotta Lemon Potatoes with Grilled Swordfish

This dinner came together after I discovered an easy ‘make your own ricotta’ recipe in another blog. Whenever I think of a side dish with lemon, I think grilled fish. A heavenly pairing.

4-6 small red skinned potatoes
¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese (I made my own following this simple recipe)
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced fresh Rosemary
1 tsp minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp minced fresh chives
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
3- 1” thick fresh swordfish filets
Lemon Pepper seasoning
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce potatoes with a few holes, toss in EVOO and bake in an aluminum covered casserole dish for about 50 minutes, or until fork tender.

In a small bowl, combine cheese, herbs, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.

Heat a grill to med-high heat. Drizzle fish with EVOO, season both sides with Lemon Pepper and salt and grill each side for about 4 minutes, depending on filet thickness, or until fish is done.

When potatoes are done, pierce tops with a fork and squeeze both ends together to open. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then top with ricotta mixture. (If the potato is a little dry, add a slice of butter.)

Plate fish with a couple lemon ricotta potatoes. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Short Ribs Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce

Whenever we have company in town, the hubby takes advantage of requesting his favor dishes for dinner. So this one was back by popular demand…with a tomato twist.
2-3 lbs boneless short ribs
Few Tbsp of flour
Garlic Parsley seasoning
Red wine
Beef broth
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season ribs with salt, pepper and garlic parsley seasoning. Coat in flour.

In a large pan, which you are able to transfer to the oven, heat oil over high heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides. Add half wine and half beef broth to cover about half way up the ribs. Bring to a boil then turn off heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and roast for about 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer meat to a bowl and shred using 2 forks; set aside. Add sauce and vegetables from pan into a blender. Add tomato paste and puree until smooth to your liking. (I even added 2 more raw garlic cloves to the blender to add a stronger flavor.) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in sauce to shredded meat.

Toss with cooked rigatoni. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with freshly minced Italian parsley.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Meatloaf

I love making meatloaf because you can add so many different vegetables in it. It’s not the traditional boring lump of dense beef that most people think of.

1 lb ground beef (80/20)
1 egg
1/3 cup of Italian breadcrumbs (add more if mixture is too wet)
3 Tbsp hot salsa
½ small onion, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Few dashes or Worchester sauce
2 Tbsp freshly minced parsley
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 365 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except tomato slices; mix well, until all ingredients are combined. In a circular pan, create a meatloaf ring with a hole in the middle. Top with tomato slices. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. For the last couple minutes, uncover and place under broiler to brown tomatoes a little.

Serve with potatoes, rice or steamed vegetables.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spicy Italian Greens & Beans

This is a super easy, cheap and tasty dish to make. It is also pretty healthy too since the only fat added to the Greens & Beans is the oil used for sautéing.

½ yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, mince (I love garlic, but if this is too much for you, just use less.)
1 bunch of kale, stemmed removed and roughly chopped
1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
Red pepper flakes
Chicken or vegetable broth
Salt, seasoned to taste

In a sauté pan over med-high heat, add a few drizzles of EVOO and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add chopped kale, beans, a few dashes of red pepper flakes and just enough broth to have liquid at the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the broth starts to evaporate, add more just to create steam in the pan, cover again and continue cooking. Add salt to taste. Stir in more red pepper if you like it spicier.

Serve with fried, thin-cut pork chops.

Note: If you want a stronger garlic flavor, add garlic at the end of cooking instead of sautéing with onion.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Spinach with Noodles

I was craving this Czech dish that my mom makes, which consists of pureed spinach and boiled eggs over dumplings, but the problem was I don’t know how to make dumplings. So I settled on potato dumplings, which I thought would be easier. The potato dumplings turned out to be a disaster in every way possible, so I will have to try those again in the future.

This is what I ended up with, since I already had the eggs and spinach ready to go.
2-3 handfuls of dry egg noodles
10 oz of fresh baby spinach
½ yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp EVOO
Water or broth
2-3 boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges
2 sausage links, score one side

Boil noodles in salted water according to directions.

In a medium pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for a few minutes. Add spinach with a little water or broth; sauté until spinach is wilted. Add garlic mixture to a blender and puree until almost smooth. Add more water or broth to get the blender going, but not too much to make it watery. Season with salt to your liking.

In a small frying pan, cook scored sausage until browned on all sides.

To serve, plate noodles, top with spinach puree, add egg wedges and cooked sausage.

NOTE: If you want a stronger garlic flavor, do not sauté, but instead add raw garlic to blender with sautéed onion and garlic.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Linda’s Creole Creation

½ lb chicken tenders, cut into thirds
Cajun seasoning
Freshly cracked black pepper
½ lb raw shrimp, deveined and peeled
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional, depends on how spicy you like it)
1 can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos

2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup rice
1 tsp EVOO

Cook rice in rice cooker or stove top until done. Fluff right before serving.

In a frying pan over medium heat, drizzle a little EVOO and brown chicken for a couple minutes on each side. Season with Cajun seasoning and pepper. Don’t cook all the way through yet and remove chicken from pan to a plate. Add veggies to pan, sauté for about 5 minutes until tender. Add canned tomato, bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer. Add chicken back to pan and then add shrimp. Cook just until shrimp turns pink and chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve chicken and shrimp mixture over rice.

Individual Peach Cobblers

A perfect summer time dessert to use those delicious peaches that are in season.

Makes 4

½ cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ stick of butter, cut into small pieces
½ rolled oats
3 oz sliced almonds
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt

6 large, ripe peaches, diced
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the topping:
In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and cinnamon together. Using your fingers, mix in the butter. Stir in the oats, almonds, sugar and salt.

Prepare the filling:
In a mixing bowl, combine diced peaches, sugar and cherries.

Fill each individual dessert dish with filling, about 1 ½ peaches per dish. Evenly cover with topping and bake for about 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Note: The peaches will cook down by almost half, so if the filling looks low, add more peaches before baking.

B.L.A.S.T. (Bacon Linguini Asparagus Spinach Tomato) Pasta

I went to the store with the idea that I was going to attempt to make carbonara for dinner, but ended up making this. I can’t help adding veggies to my pasta!

4 thick slices of bacon, diced
½ package of linguini
About 10 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
2 handfuls of raw baby spinach
1 small tomato, chopped
1 packet of dried Alfredo sauce
1-2 Tbsp pesto

In a frying pan over high heat, cook bacon until crispy. To avoid burning bacon, turn heat to medium and stir frequently. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and to a paper towel on a plate, to absorb excess grease.

In a small bowl, add asparagus and ½” water. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds to steam. Remove cover, drain and set aside.

Boil and cook pasta according to directions.

Make Alfredo sauce according to directions; whisk in pesto sauce.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Toss with Alfredo pesto sauce. Mix in raw spinach until it welts. Stir in bacon and asparagus and top with diced tomato.

Plate pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.