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California Dreamin’ :: Chicken, Wild Mushroom & Fontina Cheese Lasagna

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Chicken, Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Memoirs, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spring Recipes, Travel, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Room with a view

Room with a view

On a recent trip to San Diego with a group of friends, we made an awesome dinner one night, and definitely one to remember. We rented an amazing house right on the ocean at Mission Beach that had gorgeous views of the sunset  – –

Sunset

Sunset

a huge round disk of bright orange, yellow and red hues sinking into the horizon – absolutely breathtaking..

Chicken, Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Chicken, Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna

My friend (Paula) showed up with a delicious recipe for Chicken, Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna (by Daniel Boulud) which was an amazingly creamy, savory dish to die for! The lasagna is made with a creamy base of sauteed celery and onions, white wine, nutmeg, flour and cream mixed with fresh spinach, wild mushrooms (we used Chanterelles but you can use any mix of wild mushrooms you prefer) and chicken breast. We topped off the lasagna noodles and chicken and mushroom mixture with several gooey layers of Fontina and Parmesan cheese, and baked it into a bubbly pot of goodness in the oven.

We served it with some Parmesan-Garlic Crostini and a green salad, and of course a few bottles of white wine to accompany. Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants suggests choosing a wine from the Campania region of Italy, such as the 2009 Fiano di Avellino from Feudi di San Gregorio ($19). An alternative is Occhipinti SP68 IGT Sicilia Bianco 2009 ($26). Both of these choices are medium bodied with bold flavor and a soft texture.

Noodle Slap

Noodle Slap

**Note*** Men should definitely stay out of a female-dominated kitchen to avoid a big noodle slap when making a dish as good as this! Enjoy :)

Parsley and Fontina Cheese

Parsley and Fontina Cheese

Chicken-Mushroom-Spinach

Chicken-Mushroom-Spinach

Lasagna Ready For Oven

Lasagna Ready For Oven

Parmesan Garlic Crostini

Parmesan Garlic Crostini

Rooftop Sunset

Rooftop Sunset

Oh, and don’t forget the rooftop with great friends and an amazing view to top it all off. We had such an awesome time I’m already planning my next visit back to this gorgeous beach..

Dusk, Mission Beach San Diego

Dusk, Mission Beach San Diego

Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming about that fiery red glowing sunset… :)

California Dreamin’ :: Chicken, Wild Mushroom & Fontina Cheese Lasagna

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10-12

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 medium onions, diced fine
  • 2 celery stalks, diced fine
  • 1 pound wild mushrooms (chanterelles, black trumpet, hen of woods), trimmed and washed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound spinach leaves, torn and washed, no stems
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra grease to pan
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 16 dried lasagna noodles
  • 1 pound of Fontina cheese, diced or cut into medium-thin slices
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Prep all vegetables (chop onions, celery, spinach, mushrooms, parsley), cut up chicken and pat dry.
  2. Measure out all wet and dry ingredients (wine, cream, milk, flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper, grated Parmesan).
  3. Cut Fontina cheese into small dice, or medium-thin slices for layering.
  4. Sauté celery and onions with salt and pepper over medium-low for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add spinach, salt and pepper, cook until wilted and mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and reserve.
  5. Add butter to same pot, adjust heat to medium. Season chicken on all sides with salt and pepper, add to butter. Cook stirring 6 minutes until chicken is browned. Add wine, simmer until almost reduced. Sprinkle flour over the chicken and cook, stirring for 5 mins, allowing flour to coat the chicken and absorb the liquid.
  6. Gradually stir in cream and milk, scraping pot, stirring with a whisk to break up cooked flour. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, allow liquid to thicken. Reserve 1 cup of liquid and remove pot from heat, add cooked mushroom and spinach mixture. Add parsley, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook lasagna noodles 8 mins in salted water. Drain and rinse in cold water. Toss with 2 tablespoons EVOO.
  8. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Layer 4 noodles on bottom. Top with 1/3 chicken mixture and 1/3 Fontina cheese. Repeat layers twice, finish with layer of noodles. Spread reserved sauce over noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (can put in fridge or freezer at this point, tightly covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap).
  9. Cover with foil or lid and bake for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 400 degrees and remove foil and cook until golden brown and bubbly, another 10-15 mins.
  10. To make the Parmesan Garlic Crostini:
  11. Slice a loaf of Italian bread into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and drizzle with olive oil, shredded Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crunchy.
  12. Sprinkle the lasagna with chopped parsley, some extra grated cheese if desired, and serve with the parmesan garlic crostini.

Notes

Serve with a leafy green salad with a vinaigrette dressing, some crusty garlic bread and a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

The lasagna can be made a day ahead to save time, just keep it tightly covered with plastic wrap of foil and pop it in the oven when ready to bake.

Freezes well too - wrap in plastic and foil in individual portions and reheat in the microwave or oven.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/05/04/california-dreamin-chicken-wild-mushroom-fontina-lasagna/

 

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Moussaka + Memories of Greece

Posted by on Mar 18, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Classic Greek Moussaka

Classic Greek Moussaka, (pronounced moos-sah-KAH) is one of the most well known of all Greek dishes and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as is Lasagna in Italy). This tasty Greek delight is a culinary experience to those who sample it for the first time. I first tried it when I worked at a Greek diner in Buffalo, New York during college, and then once again on a trip to the Greek Islands a couple of years ago. Needless to say, the real Greek Moussaka blew the Buffalo diner version to pieces, so I decided to take a stab at making it myself for my Big Fat Greek Birthday dinner party.

One of the most delicious versions of Moussaka I tasted was in Santorini, Greece. It was served in a glazed clay pot, and had a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it.

Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and ootatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.

I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.

You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you 
make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.

Ingredients:

3 large zucchini (or eggplants)

3 large potatoes

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 lg onions, chopped fine

1 lb ground lamb

1 lb ground beef

3 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup red Greek wine

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1/4 lb butter

6 tbsp all purpose flour

1 quart of milk

4 eggs; beaten until frothy

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese

1 cup fine bread crumbs

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Cut the zucchini and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
 If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the zucchini slices quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil. Set aside.

Heat the 
remaining oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are
 golden brown. Add the ground meat and cook 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat.

Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt and 
pepper. Stir this mixture into the meat and simmer over low heat,
stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the
 mixture from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter
 and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Meanwhile,
 bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,
 stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove 
it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg and 
ricotta.

Grease an 11×16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with
 crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini and potatoes and meat sauce 
in the pan, sprinkling each layer with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Pour 
the ricotta cheese bechamel sauce over the top and bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
 Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Cut 
into squares and serve.

Serves 6-8.

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Amazing Macaroni + Cheese > There’s No Place Like Home

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Savory Dishes, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 1 comment

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Amazing Macaroni and Cheese Challenge Dairy

Amazing Macaroni and Cheese

YAY! I just was awarded Grand Prize Winner in the Challenge Dairy Real Heritage Recipe Contest for my Amazing Macaroni and Cheese! Not only did they send me a generous cash prize, but also a huge shipment of all the kitchen tools and cooking equipment a happy cook could ever ask for! I am grateful for this opportunity to submit my winning recipe and to be a part of this amazing recipe contest.

Check out my story and winning recipe below, and check out my recipe and more contest winners on Challenge Dairy’s website.

—–

There’s No Place Like Home

Growing up I always associated food with a sense of comfort, warmth, fulfillment and stability. This is something I attribute to my Mom’s home-cooked meals and nights around the dinner table with my family as we discussed the events of our day, bonded through sharing the heartwarming, delicious meals together and after the meal was done, cleaned the kitchen with our Mom and bonded by watching a television show together before going to bed and getting ready for school the next day. Mom would make Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans, homemade Lasagna with a salad and garlic bread, Grandma’s Beet Soup with homemade Polish potato noodles, or a yummy, savory Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy – these were all of our favorites and also heirloom recipes that were handed down from my grandparents and generations past.

That was a long time ago, or so it seems, and since those days I have lived in numerous cities and another country, and still cherish enjoying good food with good people. But nothing compares to those home cooked meals and the sense of comfort they gave me when I was young – those days gave me a solid ground to stand on for life.

One gloomy, dark day last January, I was cooped up in my tiny New York studio apartment feeling completely miserable from the freezing cold weather and had a serious case of the Winter blues. I felt an undying urge to make a home-cooked meal like Mom used to make to cheer me up and get me out of the dismal mood I couldn’t seem to shake. New York can do that to you sometimes – it is one of the greatest cities in the world, but can also take you to the depths of darkness on those dark, freezing, nasty days in the middle of Winter. That day I decided to go on a quest for comfort. Something warm. Something cozy. Something heartwarming. Something that would fill my soul and renew my spirit.

My head started spinning, and I immediately felt energized and motivated with this new task at hand. What would cheer me up and transport me back in time? After furiously searching through all of my recipes, I found the perfect remedy to ail my blues – a big whopping batch of luscious Macaroni and Cheese. Not just an ordinary one (like the kind you get in a blue box with packets of dried chemical-laden cheese dust), but one that called for some delicious gourmet ingredients to take this kid-friendly recipe and turn it into a serious pot of adult-sized comfort.

I hopped in a cab to Zabars on the Upper West Side with thrill and anticipation. The freezing rain was coming down sideways and beat against the windows. Once I arrived, I headed straight for the Cheese department and was in my glory with their selection of international cheeses that pierce your nose as soon as you walk in the door. I picked up a creamy Italian Mascarpone, some fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano, a chunk of Gruyere and a block of Fontina. Then I found some fresh garlic, heavy cream, premium real butter, smoked thick cut bacon and of course, imported Italian pasta – this was a recipe for a mean Mac and Cheese.

I prepped my ingredients and carefully crafted my dish of gourmet deliciousness. The pot was brimming with a melted creamy cheese concoction and I poured the luscious ingredients into my baking dish, watching with anticipation as the warm, savory smells filled my kitchen. After an hour of waiting anxiously to savor my creation, I scooped up the bubbly goodness into a bowl and upon tasting the first bite with its brown crispy crust and tangy creamy cheese, was transported back to a time of comfort and bliss, when I didn’t have a care in the world, a simpler time and place that seemed long gone from today in my stressful, fast-paced city life.

Who cares about the weather, I thought – I had arrived. I was home.

——

Ingredients

¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
5 ½ tablespoons Challenge European Style Butter (salted), divided
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg (⅛ teaspoon)
dash of ground cayenne pepper (⅛ teaspoon)
1 ½ cups Gruyere or Comte, grated (3 oz.)
1 cup Fontina, chopped into small pieces (5¼ oz.)
1/2 cup mascarpone
1 ½ cups dry elbow macaroni (6 oz.)
4 slices bacon or prosciutto, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the bacon or prosciutto, drain and crumble and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt 2½ tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, toss well, and set aside.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, do not let the flour burn. Pour in the milk and cream; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper, Gruyère, Fontina , mascarpone, nutmeg and cayenne. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat.

Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente (7 – 8 minutes). Drain the macaroni and combine with the cheese sauce. Add crumbled bacon/prosciutto and parsley; mix well.

Pour the macaroni mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley. Yields 4-6 servings.

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Savory Herb and Cheese Scone Calzones with Sausage, Veggies & Cheese on the KitchenAid blog!

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Baking, Cheese, Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Food and Cooking How-To's, Food Styling & Photography, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Product Reviews, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Things I Love, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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KA_Blog_SconeCalzone

 

Baked calzones are one of my favorite Italian dishes to make when I want an alternative to pizza or pasta. Calzones are savory turnovers filled with meat, veggies and cheese, baked into little pockets of tasty goodness, served with a side of fresh tomato sauce for dipping.

For a recent KitchenAid recipe challenge for the Kitchenthusiast blog, I made some delicious Savory Veggie and Cheese Scones Filled with More Cheese & Meat – stuffed, baked calzones, but made with an herb and cheese scone dough that is light and buttery and super tasty.

They are filled with tons of fresh veggies: tricolor peppers, onions, garlic and spinach with a little spicy Italian sausage and more cheese inside.

 

KitchenAid Food ProcessorI made the scone dough with my new KitchenAid 11-cup Food Processor that I absolutely love – it does everything from making the dough, to chopping the veggies to shredding the cheese and making the homemade fresh tomato marinara sauce!

 

Check out the blog post and get the recipe and more photos here!

 

Scone Calzones

 

Scone Calzones

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Rotelle with Sausage, Peppers, Spinach and Ricotta w/ Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Cheese, Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Pasta, Pork, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Sausage Pepper Spinach Pasta

So it’s finally beginning to feel like Fall around here in the Big Apple. The temperatures have dropped into the low 50s and it’s been raining like crazy for days. Enough to make you feel a little bit down, but also the crisp air, wet leaves and grey skies kind of make me feel nostalgic and excited for the holidays coming ahead. (November is also my birthday month so celebrations are in order in a couple of weeks!)

Also this dampening weather is a great excuse to make some homey comfort food, curl up under a blanket and read a good book! I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with spicy Italian Pork Sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, a few handfuls of healthy iron-rich spinach, and a homemade marinara sauce with fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)

Sausage Pepper Spinach Pasta

It’s really an easy dish to prepare and after making my own sauce I can definitely tell a difference from store-bought pasta sauce, which this one puts to shame on all fronts! I bought some Campari Italian tomatoes that are sweet and little and absolutely adorable (I got them at Fairway on 2nd Ave but I’m sure you can find them at other grocery stores). And the homemade sauce is soooo good with the spicy sausage, savory sautéed peppers, onions, spinach and garlic! (And hey, a little bit healthier than a fattening super cheesy-baked pasta dish I normally crave!)

The fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese give it a creamy, tangy contrast to the spicy, savory flavors in the dish. All you need is some crusty bread and a nice medium-bodied Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola (from Sicily and a bit fruity and herby), Barbera (from Veneto with hints of black cherry and licorice) or a Bonarda (from Northern Italy with hints of black fruits, violet and black pepper). If you prefer white wine, go for a Pinot Grigio or even a Riesling which is a little sweeter and a good balance for the hearty, spicy flavors in the pasta.

Buon Appetito!

Sausage Pepper Spinach Pasta

Rotelle with Sausage, Peppers, Spinach and Ricotta with Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with some spicy Italian sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, some healthy iron-rich spinach and to top it off, make my own fresh marinara sauce with some fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan cheese and some red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)

Ingredients

  • Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce
  • 3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
  • 1 pound Rotelle pasta (or sub Gemelli, Gigli, Fusilli or Festonati)
  • Sausage, Peppers and Spinach:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage (spicy or sweet, you choose)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • ½ orange pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • A few fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese:
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/4 cup grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A small handful of minced chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the Sauce:
  2. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, and shock in ice water. Peel the tomatoes and cut in half, and de-seed. Place the tomatoes and sea salt into the large work bowl of a food processor and pulse on medium speed until tomatoes are finely pureed. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes, then add the tomato puree and cook for about 25-30 minutes at a steady simmer (lower heat if it starts boiling), stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and cooked through. Add in the fresh torn basil and remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Note: If making the sauce ahead of time, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  5. Cook the pasta:
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for about 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add fresh marinara sauce and toss to combine; throw in a little extra grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  7. Make the sausage, peppers and spinach:
  8. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
  9. Add onion and bell peppers to the bowl of your food processor and pulse at medium speed until chopped into a small dice.
  10. Heat olive oil in the sauté pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1 minute on medium-low heat until lightly golden. Increase heat to medium high, add sausage and cook until well browned and no longer pink. Drain the cooked sausage mixture on paper towels and place in a large mixing bowl.
  11. Heat additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions and peppers until soft and onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add baby spinach and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Place the cooked veggies into the bowl along with cooked sausage mixture, add salt and pepper, fresh basil and stir together. Set aside to cool.
  12. Prepare the ricotta and Parmesan cheese:
  13. Stir together ricotta, salt, pepper and shredded cheese and stir to combine, reserving some of the grated Parmesan for garnish.
  14. Scoop some of the pasta and marinara sauce into bowls. Top with Sausage, Peppers and Spinach mixture and stir to combine. Top the pasta with a few dollops of the Ricotta-Parmesan mixture, minced chives and additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  15. Serve with some crusty Italian bread, a green salad and a medium to full bodied red Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola, Barbera or a Valpolicella blend.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/10/23/rotelle-sausage-peppers-spinach-ricotta-fresh-basil-marinara-sauce/

Sausage Pepper Spinach Pasta

 

Click here to see a great pasta and sauce pairing chart at Chow.com

Click here to see a cool chart to selecting Italian Red wines at WineFolly.com

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Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro Bake

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Baking, Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, One-Pot Dishes, Rice/Risotto/Orzo, Savory Dishes, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

 

Fall is here and all of a sudden the craving sets in – Comfort. Food. I love chicken casseroles with veggies and pasta and all that naughty creamy goodness. But I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and white carbs lately so I thought I would make a healthier version of a chicken casserole to keep it light but satisfy my craving for a baked pot of goodness.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

I used an Italian Farro that I had on hand with Porcini mushrooms, and mixed in some sautéed zucchini, garlic and minced onions with a lovely Basil olive oil I have from 7Barrels.com that gives a fresh, herby flavor to go with the nuttiness of the farro. Farro is an organic semi-pearled whole grain that cooks easily and is great in place of white rice or pasta in casseroles. The good news is it’s high in protein and fiber and also low gluten and has a low glycemic index too (plus it’s super tasty too!).

Toasted Farro

First I sautéed some garlic and dried onion in the olive oil and then added the farro to toast it slightly to bring out the nutty warm flavors before adding the water and Sazon seasoning to cook the farro until plump and slightly chewy.

Sauteed Zucchini

Then I sautéed the zucchini with more Basil olive oil and garlic until it was lightly browned.

Seasoned Chicken Breast

Next I sautéed some seasoned chicken breast in brown butter, and mixed the farro and zucchini mixture together with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Prepare the Casserole

After the chicken was lightly browned, I topped the farro and zucchini with the chicken breasts and drizzled a little bit of the brown butter on top and popped it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the casserole was baked through.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

For finishing touches, I sprinkled some dried thyme, Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt, and some red pepper flakes on top.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

The flavors are absolutely spectacular and it’s a healthy alternative to fat-laden creamy casseroles we’re use to. All it needs is a lovely dry white Italian wine (like a Pinot Grigio) to go with it and you’ve got a happy, Fall day. Enjoy.

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro Bake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Porcini Mushroom Farro:
  • 1 tablespoon Basil Olive Oil (7 Barrels)
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried onion
  • 1 9.1 oz package Tuscan Fields® Farro Ai Funghi
  • 1 small packet of Sazon seasoning
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • Sautéed Zucchini:
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons Basil Olive Oil (7Barrels)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Sautéed chicken:
  • 3 large chicken breasts (approx. 1.75-2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt or poultry seasoning (Instant Gourmet Original)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt flakes (FalkSalt), for garnish
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Mushroom Farro:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté the minced garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the minced dried onion and farro, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes to toast the farro.
  4. Add water and seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook farro for about 18-20 minutes until farro is plump and slightly chewy.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Prepare the Zucchini:
  7. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and sauté garlic for one minute (be careful not to burn). Add zucchini and sauté for another 5-7 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. Saute the Chicken:
  9. Thoroughly wash and pat dry chicken breasts, rub seasoning well on both sides of the chicken.
  10. Reheat the large sauté pan over medium high heat, add butter and let melt and get slightly brown.
  11. Add chicken breasts and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes total, turning once, until chicken is lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Prepare the casserole:
  13. Place the cooked farro and zucchini in a ceramic casserole. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese into the mixture and stir together well.
  14. Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the farro-zucchini-Parmesan mixture and drizzle some of the browned butter on top.
  15. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through.
  16. Garnish with Wild Mushroom crystal sea salt, dried thyme and red pepper flakes, and additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve hot, with a green salad and a light, dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/10/16/chicken-zucchini-wild-mushroom-farro-bake/

Chicken Zucchini Wild Mushroom Farro

 

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Luscious Lobster Pies

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Appetizers, Baking, Fall Recipes, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Sauces, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Luscious Lobster Pies

 

There’s nothing better in the Summer time than fresh seafood. Lobster is one of my favorites and an indulgence, at that. Lobster Rolls and Lobster Salad are great picnic and backyard BBQ dishes to serve a crowd. But once the end of Summer arrives, I start to crave some comfort food and one-pot dishes for the cooler days ahead.

This is a classic recipe for Maine Lobster Pie, something I made in a recent cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education – it’s a luscious pie made with fresh Lobster meat, cream, sherry and butter (um, not diet-friendly!) topped with a buttery, crispy topping made of Ritz crackers, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. We made a bunch of pies in small ramekins for appetizers, but you could also make one big luscious pie in a medium pie dish and serve it as a main one-pot course with a salad and some rice or pasta on the side.

It’s perfect for entertaining guests during the holidays, or even just for a homey comforting dinner on a crisp Autumn night. Go on – indulge a little. I won’t tell anyone.

Boil Lobster

 

Cooked Lobster

 

Lobster Meat

 

Luscious Lobster Pies

Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 whole pie.

Ingredients

  • Lobster Pie Filling
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks), divided
  • ½ cup good quality sherry
  • Meat from 2 cooked lobsters, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Topping
  • ½ cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, minced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, add sherry and boil 1 minute.
  3. Add lobster and remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles; cook at least 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain and reserve the sherry from the lobster meat, then slowly whisk sherry and half-and-half into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to desired to taste.
  5. Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl. Add beaten egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Return egg mixture to sauce and mix well. Whisk constantly over low heat about 3 minutes; do not allow to boil, or the eggs will cook and get clumpy. Remove from heat and add lobster. Turn into four individual ramekins or a small, deep pie plate.
  7. Combine topping ingredients, blend well and sprinkle over pies. Bake about 10 minutes to heat through and until the topping gets crunchy and golden brown. Garnish with some fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, if desired.
  8. Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 medium pie.
  9. Recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/09/07/lobster-pie/

 

Lobster Ingredients

 

Butter

 

Lobster and Butter

 

Bechamel

 

Lobster Pie Filling

 

Lobster Pies Ready for Oven

 

Lobster Pies

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Maine Wild Blueberry Pie

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Baking, Pies and Tarts, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Maine Wild Blueberry Pie

September is one of my favorite months – the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning color, and the breezy nights remind us that Summer is coming to an end with a bountiful harvest to come. I especially love the fruits and vegetables of late Summer/early Fall – especially Maine blueberries, which are primarily found in the Downeast areas of Bar Harbor where they grow wild. They are typically smaller than regular blueberries, giving them a high amount of antioxidants and other healthy nutrients, and have an intense sweet and tangy flavor. They also stay whole when you cook them, making them perfect for baking up a gorgeous berry pie. Although August is the peak season for picking them fresh, they can also be frozen (harvesters freeze them within 24 hours) so they are available year round – Wyman’s and Cascadian Farms are my favorite brands.

In a recent cooking class (that was centered around classic Summer foods of Maine, of course), we made a Wild Blueberry Pie with a gorgeous homemade piecrust with cut holes on top for venting the filling. We used frozen blueberries and thickened them up with a little ground tapioca and apple pectin to create a juicy sliceable filling, that wasn’t too loose and runny. The secret to a crispy piecrust is plenty of super cold butter with a small amount of vegetable shortening to crisp it up, and a touch of vodka for texture, making the crust light and flaky.

Make the Pie Dough

 

Make the Blueberry Filling

 

Cut Pie Holes in Crust

 

Blueberry Pies-2

 

We also made a slew of other Maine-inspired dishes for our feast: Lobster Pie, Lobster Rolls, Fish Chowda, Summer Corn Pudding and Seaside Slaw, served with Blueberry Beer and some lovely cocktails – Tart Cherry and Blueberry Vodka Lemonade. I’m not sure I’m ready for Summer to be over yet, but these recipes I’ll be making all year around whenever I’m missing sunny skies and blue waters. Next year a Summer vacation on the Maine coast is definitely in order!

 

Maine Wild Blueberry Pie

Yield: Makes 1 pie, serving 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • Perfect Pie Dough
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 ½ ounces), divided, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cut into ¼ inch slices
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 4 pieces
  • ¼ cup vodka, cold
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • Wild Blueberry Filling
  • 6 cups fresh wild blueberries (about 30 ounces), if using frozen, cook but do not mash the berries, as described below
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
  • 2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons of juice from 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, ground in a clean spice grinder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • Egg wash; 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

  1. Process 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 (1 second) pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  3. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhand on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 F.
  5. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times, to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduce to half (about 1 ½ cups), for 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  6. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca and salt, toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.
  7. Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Using a 1 ¼-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 ½ inches from edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least ½-inch overhang on each side.
  8. Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving ½-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
  9. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/09/07/maine-wild-blueberry-pie/

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King Crab BLT’s + a Gorgeous New Candy Red Toaster | KitchenAid Blog

Posted by on Jul 26, 2014 in BBQ, Entrees, Food and Cooking How-To's, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Product Reviews, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Special Occasion, Summer Recipes, Things I Love, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Crown the BLT for KitchenAid

Crown the BLT for KitchenAid

There’s nothing I love to eat more in the summer than some fresh seafood to enjoy with friends for a backyard BBQ, picnic or beach party. Everyone loves Lobster Rolls, but they can get a little pricey, and take a lot of work to make enough for a crowd. If you’re in the mood for seafood, Alaskan King Crab BLT sandwiches are a fresh, healthy and less expensive alternative, and a fun addition to your next outdoor BBQ party or picnic. And, they’re a breeze to make with the help of the new KitchenAid Pro Line® Series 4-Slice Automatic Toaster.

KitchenAid Toaster

KitchenAid Toaster

This gorgeous candy apple red beauty is a new product in the KitchenAid’s Pro Line® Series engineered and designed for culinary pros (and is no ordinary toaster at that!) It’s not only a beautiful addition to your kitchen appliance collection, but also smart as a whip with plenty of options to make the perfect piece of toast in a snap. And it even comes in three sleek colors to choose from: black, white or red. Isn’t it pretty?

King Crab BLT

King Crab BLT

These delicious Crab BLT’s are made with fresh lump Alaskan King crab meat (you can find it in your local grocery market in the seafood section or buy it fresh from a seafood market). They have tons of flavor from all the fresh veggies and herbs inside: minced red bell peppers, jalapenos, fresh cilantro, scallions and chives. For some extra kick, I add a dash of spicy Sriracha (hot chile pepper sauce), a little bit of mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice and capers, and a few breadcrumbs to bind them all together. Simply make the crab cakes by patting them into medium size patties, then coat them in some Japanese Panko breadcrumbs and lightly fry them to perfection in some oil and drain. Rest the crab cakes on a gorgeous bed of lettuce and juicy tomatoes, garnished with crispy bacon and a light and refreshing coleslaw for crunch. The crowning touch is a homemade Sesame-Sriracha Mayo on a beautifully toasted  (or grilled) sesame hard roll. Let the fun begin!

CLICK HERE TO GET THE RECIPE & LEARN MORE ON THE KITCHENAID BLOG

 

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