Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Pasta

Looking for something to serve on Christmas day?
Here's a flavorful sauce with pancetta, Italian sausage, veal, pork and beef!

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 4 servings


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1/4 pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter)
1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 pound combined ground beef, pork and veal
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality dry red wine
1 cup prepared beef stock, paper container or canned
2 (32-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
A handful chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon (a couple of pinches) allspice or cinnamon
Coarse salt and black pepper
2 pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Grated Pecorino Romano, as an accompaniment
Fresh, crusty bread, for mopping


Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Add meats and brown and crumble them for 5 minutes.

Chop carrot, celery, and onions near the stove and add to the pot as you work. Cook vegetables with meat 5 minutes and add wine. Cook for 1 minute; add stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Stir in parsley, allspice, or cinnamon and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving. Reheated sauce only improves.

Toss pasta (cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time: half a pound for every 3 people) with a couple of ladles of sauce to coat, then top bowl with extra sauce. Top pasta with lots of cheese and pass bread at the table.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Arugula Pesto

Quick, light and delicious pasta!

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds or shelled pistachios
1 cup packed fresh arugula leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 small pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (tenders removed)


Heat a grill pan to high.

Toast the nuts lightly in small skillet over low heat, then add them to a food processor.

Add the arugula, basil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste, and pulse to combine.

With the processor on, stream in the extra-virgin olive oil to form thick pesto.

Lightly pound out the chicken, then rub all sides with the pesto. Spray the grill pan with cooking spray or rub with a little oil and grill the chicken 2 to 4 minutes on each side.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound whole-wheat penne
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 pinches ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper
7 to 8 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced plus more, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat water for pasta, salt it and cook penne to al dente.
Heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic to the pan, saute 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and combine with pumpkin, stir in cream then season sauce with hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 to 6 minutes more to thicken. Stir in sage, toss with pasta with grated cheese, to taste.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Potato Gratin

Cook Time: 35 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8 servings


4 pounds mixed baby potatoes, such as Red Bliss, Peruvian Purples, and Fingerlings
2 cups heavy cream, plus some to cover
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
2 garlic cloves, cracked
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve the potatoes and toss them into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, put the cream, butter, herbs, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, to infuse the cream with flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the hot cream mixture through a strainer over the potatoes, (discard the herbs and garlic), if there is not enough cream to go 3/4 of the way up the potatoes then pour some additional cream on top to make up the difference. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and top begins to brown. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, eyeball it
5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended:Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick Grill Mates)
1 large head broccoli, cut into thin, long spears
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl and add the broccoli spears. Toss to coat broccoli evenly then transfer to a large nonstick baking sheet. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and stalks are tender, 17 to 20 minutes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indian Summer Turkey Chili

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8-10 servings


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey (85 percent lean) or ground turkey breast (99 percent lean), 2 packages
4 tablespoons dark chili powder, 2 palm fulls
2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend, any brand, 1 palm full
1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 palm full
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy
1 large onion, quartered
2 large peppers, any color combination, red, green, purple, yellow or orange, chopped
1/2 bottle beer (the alcohol cooks out), about 1 cup
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce
2 cups corn kernels, optional


Heat a pot over medium to medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, and the turkey meat. Season the meat with: chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon into small crumbles.

Chop the onion, reserving 1/4 of it for topping the chili. Brown meat 5 minutes, then add onions and chopped bell peppers and cook 10 minutes more. Add beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up the drippings and cooking off the alcohol. Add tomato sauce and barbecue sauce and bring to a bubble. It using corn kernels add them now. Let chili simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings and heat level to your taste. Remove from heat and serve.


To make a double batch, heat 2 pots and make 1 batch in each pot, rather than using 1 massive pot that is hard to control.


Choose from any or all of the following for dipping and scooping into your chili:

Pretzel Rods
Yellow, Red or Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, any flavor
Black Bean Tortilla Chips
Polenta Chips, Plain or Guacamole flavor
Pita Chips, Plain or Spicy flavors
Yukon Gold, Red Bliss or Blue Potato Chips, any flavor

All of the above can be found on either snack aisle or natural foods snack section in your market.


Choose from any or all of the following for topping your chili:

Shredded Cheeses: smoked white sharp cheddar, such as Cabot brand, pepper jack, chipotle Cheddar, 5 peppercorn Cheddar, Monterey jack
Sliced canned jalapenos, drained
Sour cream
Chopped raw onion
Chopped green olives and pimentos
Chopped cilantro leaves
Diced tomatoes

Defrosted frozen corn or leftover corn on the cob, scraped from cob


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jalapeno-Lime Corn on The Cob

A perfect match with your BBQ!

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


1 stick butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 small jalapeno, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 ears corn on the cob, husked
1 slice bread, of any kind
Coarse salt


Combine butter, lime, jalapeno, garlic and paprika in food processor and pulse process until smooth. Place on waxed paper or plastic and roll. Place in freezer until ready to serve.

Cook corn by boiling, steaming or grilling. Cut disks of butter and rub onto corn, nesting the butter in a slice of bread to apply it to the hot corn. Season ears with salt (and fight over the hot buttered bread slice!)


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Veal Rolls with Pancetta

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 pound veal scaloppine from the butcher counter
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
Salt and pepper
1 pound smoked fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 (16 to 18-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
1/3 pound pancetta, sliced like thin cut bacon at deli counter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 clove cracked garlic
1 (10-ounce) sack baby spinach or triple washed spinach leaves
1/4 to 1/3 cup white wine or dry vermouth


Arrange scaloppine on waxed paper or plastic. Sprinkle veal with parsley, salt and pepper. Place a thin layer of cheese and a few slices of roasted pepper on each scaloppine. Roll veal and wrap each roll with a slice of pancetta. Secure with toothpicks.

Fry veal rolls in a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, until golden all over and pancetta is crisp, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from pan to warm platter. Return skillet to heat. Add a drizzle of oil and cracked garlic. Wilt spinach in pan, add a touch of wine or vermouth to lift drippings and combine them with greens. Using tongs, place a bed of spinach on each dinner plate and top with veal rolls. Serve immediately.


Vicki's Favorite Chicken with Grapes, Couscous and Roasted Asparagus

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 1/2 pound asparagus
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, stripped from 6 to 7 sprigs
Coarse salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, eyeball it
2 pounds chicken tenders
1/2 cup white wine, eyeball it
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (available on soup aisle in paper boxes), divided
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grainy, stone-ground mustard
1 1/2 cups, about 1/2 pound, seedless red grapes, halved
2 cups couscous


Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim tough ends of asparagus and save for soup. Place asparagus in a large bowl and toss with about 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of chopped thyme leaves and salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus out on a cookie sheet and roast 10 to 12 minutes until the asparagus is tender and crispy at the tips.

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat; add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, and 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. Place flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper then dredge the tenders in flour and add it to the pan. Cook chicken 7 to 8 minutes until browned. Add wine and scrape up browned bits as wine cooks down and bubbles, 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup stock to skillet. Combine cream and mustard and add to stock. Add grapes to the pan and turn chicken and grapes to coat and combine with the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes over low heat.

Bring remaining 2 cups chicken stock and remaining tablespoon of fresh thyme to a boil in a small pot. Add couscous. Put a tight fitting lid on pot and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Serve tenders and grapes on couscous alongside asparagus.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Shrimp

My favorites bacon and shrimp with pineapple twist! Yum-O!

Cook Time: 6 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


12 jumbo shrimp, deveined
1/4 fresh pineapple cut into bite sized chunks or 1 (14-ounce) can pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained
6 slices center-cut bacon, cut in 1/2 crosswise
12 wooden toothpicks


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Holding a shrimp, nest a chunk of pineapple in the natural curve of the shrimp then wrap bacon around the shrimp and pineapple and secure with a wooden toothpick. Wrap and secure all 12 shrimp then add to the hot pan and cook 3 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp and shrimp are opaque and firm.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Broiled Lamb Chops with Braised Root Vegetables and Colcannon - Creamy Kale and Potatoes,

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 4 servings


Braised Root Vegetables:

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound packaged baby carrots
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
8 loin lamb chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


4 medium to large all-purpose potatoes, such as Russet, peeled and cut into chunks
Coarse salt, for boiling water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 head dark curly kale, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup whole milk, eyeball it
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, fresh or grated
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 scallions, sliced
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Prepared, store bought Irish soda bread or brown bread, warmed, for passing at table
Sweet butter, softened, for the bread


For braised vegetables: Heat a skillet with a cover over medium to medium high heat. Add butter, carrots, rutabaga and onion. Cook veggies 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth or stock, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat and cover. Cook vegetables 15 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat broiler to high for lamb.

Boil potatoes for 15 minutes in salted water. Drain potatoes and return them to the hot pot and mash.

Heat stock or broth to a simmer. Chop kale tops, discarding tough stems. Add kale to broth and cover. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes.

Place chops about 6 to 8 inches from broiler and cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from broiler and season chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Let chops rest 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over moderate heat melt butter and add milk. Season with nutmeg and thyme and add scallions to the pan. Remove kale from cooking liquid to the milk and butter mixture using a slotted spoon. Stir in 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add mashed potatoes to milk and kale and stir until combined and creamy, 1 or 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the chops along with vegetable colcannon. Warm up store-bought Irish soda bread or brown bread with soft, unsweetened butter. The bread makes a nice starter, side or ending to this meal.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sausage O'Patties

Cook Time: 14 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 small Idaho potato, peeled
1 small onion, coarsely chopped, about 1/3 cup
3/4 pound ground pork
A few sprigs fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground thyme, 1/3 palm full
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan


Grate the potato onto a cutting board, salt it, then transfer to a paper towel lined bowl or plate to drain.

Place potato, onion, pork, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper in the food processor and pulse grind to form a sausage mixture. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat with extra-virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, form 8 potato-sausage patties 3 inches wide, 1/2-inch thick, and set into skillet. Cook patties 6 to 7 minutes on each side until they are deeply golden brown in color.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken Cutlets with Herbs

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1/2 loaf baguette bread - day old is fine
4 pieces chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1 large egg
Several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
A handful fresh chives, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Olive oil, for sauteing cutlets


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Tear bread into pieces and place on baking sheet. Toast bread until deep golden brown, 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and coarsely grind into bread crumbs.

While bread toasts pound out chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat chicken with flour, reserve. Beat egg with splash of water in shallow dish.

Transfer bread crumbs to a plate and season with herbs and poultry seasoning.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Coat chicken in egg then bread crumbs and add to pan. Saute until golden and firm, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sloppy Buffalo Joes

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8 servings


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken or turkey breast
1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 to 1/3 cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
8 good quality burger rolls, split and toasted
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 large dill pickles, chopped


Heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and break it up with wooden spoon, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add in carrots, celery, onions and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cook 7 to 8 minutes more. In a bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer a few minutes more. Pile sloppy Buffalo filling onto buns and top with blue cheese and chopped pickles.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grilled Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana

A sure winner for your dates (family or friends) this Valentine's day!

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


2 pounds thin cut chicken breast, cutlets
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small yellow skinned onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, such as Muir Glenn brand
1 cup, 20 leaves, fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 pound smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced


Heat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to keep it from sticking to the grill. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side and transfer to a foil covered platter to hold. If you are using a grill pan, cook the chicken in 2 batches if necessary. While chicken cooks, make sauce.

Place a medium pot on the stove over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and chopped onions. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes and heat through, 2 minutes. Wilt in the basil and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Preheat the broiler to high.

Layer the chicken with fire roasted sauce in a casserole dish. Top the casserole with Parmigiano and mozzarella. Brown the casserole under the broiler 3 minutes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mini Meatball Soup

A delicious recipe to use up left-over veggies and stock from the holidays :)

Cook Time: 27 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 big servings


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef, pork and veal combined
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, a couple of handfuls
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried pasta, rings, broken fettuccini or ditalini
1 pound triple washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
Grilled 4 Cheese Sandwiches, recipe follows


In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve. Adjust your seasonings. Serve soup with crusty bread or grilled 4 cheese sandwiches.

Grilled 4 Cheese Sandwiches
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin
8 slices crusty Italian semolina bread
1 cup shredded provolone
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
1 cup shredded Asiago
* All of these cheeses are available in specialty cheese case and dairy aisle already shredded

In a small skillet over medium low heat, combine oil, butter and garlic. Cook garlic in butter and oil gently for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove garlic butter mixture from heat.

Place a large nonstick skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Using a pastry brush, brush 1 side of 4 slices of bread with garlic oil and place buttered side down in skillet. Top each slice with equal amounts of the 4 cheeses, distributing them equally over the 4 slices. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread brushed with garlic butter, buttered side up. Flip the grill cheese sandwiches a few times until cheeses are melted and gooey and bread is toasty and golden. Cut grilled 4 cheese sandwiches from corner to corner and serve.