Friday, May 22, 2009

They're so cute!

If I could change anything about my husband I wish he would take up hunting. I love wild game. You really can't find anything good in the supermarket. Luckily for me a gourmet (aka super expensive and overpriced) market just opened up in my town.

Walking through the isles my eyes would roll back into the depths of my skill. $8.00 for a jar of Nutella!!! what kind of crack are these people smoking? But I deal with it. The quality is great and there are things here that I never imagined of finding.

At the back of the store there is an amazing meat section. My mouth watered as I saw the beautiful fat marbling through the Dry Aged almost $20 I laughed thinking to myself that I have the very same cut of beef sitting in my freezer at home from Bessie. Then I saw them. It was love at first sight. Beautiful small little free range and gamey Cornish Hens. "two please!" $30 later I walked out of the store trying to digest the money I've just spent for tiny chickens; it will be worth it, it will be worth it-lather, rinse, repeat. For the rest of the ingredients I went to my local supermarket.
Side note: You can also make this with regular chickens. Just make more stuffing to fill the cavity.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Cornish Hens

2 Cornish Hens
5 oz Wild Rice
1 Cup of Water
1 tablespoon of Butter
1 Cup of White Wine
4 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms (rough chopped)
1 small sprig of Rosemary (needles pulled)
2 Large Cloves of Garlic
Olive oil
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1.5 hrs

In a sauce pan bring the water the a boil. Add in butter and Rice. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl

In the same pan as the rice was cooking in add the Mushrooms, Garlic, Rosemary and Wine. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook on Medium until the mushrooms are half way cooked. Add in the rice and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.

(if you want the taste of the Rosemary to be lighter leave the sprig whole and take it out after the Mushrooms are cooked and the liquid is absorbed.)

Salt, Pepper and Paprika the Outside of the hens as well as the body cavity. Stuff the hen with most of the rice mixture setting about a half a cup of stuffing aside.

Bake the birds at 350 for 1.5 hours.

When the Stuffed Hens are done transfer them on to a plate. Mix the Juices from the bottom of the pan with the 1/2 cup of rice we set aside earlier. Use this as a gravy/dipping sauce.
Serving suggestion: Pinot Noir


Sundays growing up were my favorite day of the week. Once a month on a Sunday after Church we would get 'junk food' for dinner. In my mothers house anything she didn't cook is junk food. I loved when we got Chinese food as our junk. I love noodles. Any which way you can make them I'll eat them. Unfortunately I don't know how to cook them and I have never bought them from anywhere other than a restaurant.

Last week I was strolling through the isles of the supermarket looking for anything on sale when I came across the Asian section. "This could be fun" I thought. I grabbed some rice noodles and anything else that had that beautiful Red Tag on it. Hey if I'm going to experiment with something I might as well save money this way if it is inedible I wont feel bad about paying retail.

Lucky for me this turned out pretty damn good and I didn't have to run to the local Chinese restaurant to get my noodle fix.

Teriyaki Vegetable Noodles

1 package of rice noodles
1 cup Teriyaki sauce (recipe to follow)
5 tbs Hoisen Sauce
A few dashes of Soy Sauce
1/2 cup of mixed veggies (I used peas and carrots)
1 can of Baby Corn
1 can of Button Mushrooms
1 onion diced

2 Eggs (prepare them scrambled)
Sesame oil
Handful of toasted walnuts

Teriyaki Sauce:
1/4 cup of Water
1/2 cup of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of rice wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground garlic.

Combine all into a sauce pan and cook on low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Boil the rice noodles until almost done. You want the to be a little firm because they will finish cooking in the Wok.

Coat the bottle of a wok with sesame oil. Add in the veggies. Toss the veggies, corn, onion, mushrooms and cook them through. Add in the teriyaki, soy, hoisen and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.

Mix in the Scrambled eggs, toasted walnuts and noodles. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring.

The other white meat

My Husband loves pork. I'm pretty sure I made it every possible way from every recipe I have ever seen. I personally get tired of eating the same thing over and over. I always try to change stuff up and never cook the same thing twice in two months. The only recipes i will ever repeat are ones I love. This one is a new addition to my experiment box and we both really enjoyed it.

Its got the right amount of tang from the ginger, the perfect amount of spice and great sweet flavors from the fruits.

As you know it is the day after Memorial day. I am beat. ***insert cute and witty post about my life here***

Apple & Pear Glazed Pork Chop

2 Pork Tenderloin Chops
1 Cup of Flour
2 Apples
2 Pears
1 Cup Pear Nectar
1/2 cup of Raisins
1/2 Cup of Toasted Pine Nuts
2 tsp ground Ginger
1 tablespoon Chile pepper flakes
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
Sunflower oil

prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min

Coat the Pork chops in Flour and set aside.

In a saute pot add the sunflower oil, apples, pears, pear nectar, raisins, pine nuts, soy sauce, ginger & Chile pepper flakes. Over low heat saute until the juices have reduced and the pears and apples are cooked through. (about 10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a separate bowl

Lightly coat the same saute pan with Olive Oil.

When it is hot add the pork chops and sear until golden brown on both sides. About 3 minutes per side.

Return the apple and pear mixture to the pan and cook on medium-low until the pork chops reach their proper temperature. Depending how thick your chops are this will take anywhere from 15 min +

Blah into Ahhhhhhh

I love going out to eat. I always try to order something new and something I could not make at home. If I got the same thing as always I might as well just save the $150 and make it myself. I love to eat I love to try new things. That being said I hate….no loath pre-fix menus. Beef? Chicken? Fish? Blah…blah…blah. I hate them so much that even for my wedding of just over 300 people I had a 12 choice menu for my guest, on top of the 4 previous courses, 2 following courses and 50+ options of food at the cocktail hours. ***now back to our regularly scheduled blog entry*** I attended a shower not to long ago and I ordered the balsamic chicken. I figured I had eaten my salad and pasta so I wasn’t that hungry and the cake looked yummy, ill only have a few bites of the dry, grilled chicken with a splash of cheap balsamic vinegar.

To my surprise this lovely, aromatic, brown gooey masterpiece came to me. One bite had such a great balance of sweetness and bite. I must try to make this at home. So I ate half ( I couldn't resist) and packed up the rest making sure to scrape the sauce that had run on to the plate back on the chicken.

A little bit of this, a dash of that, some more of this and a whole lot more of that! My first time making this recipe I wound up with about a gallon of sauce but once I got the proportions right I was golden. It was great! The same way I had it at the restaurant…perfect. The second time I though can I make it even more perfect? Sure! And I totally rocked it. I improved a perfect recipe. Oh and it is a marinade now…not just a glaze sauce!

Balsamic Chicken Marinade

¾ Cup of soy sauce
1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
¾ Cup Honey
2 Tablespoons of Rosemary
7 Garlic cloves (rough cut)
A few turns of the pepper mill
2 quarters of Chicken (or 4 chicken breast/half a chicken)

Prep Time: 15 minutes (marinade overnight)
Cook time: 1 hour

***FYI: you can use salt instead of soy sauce if this is something that you don’t normally have in the house. That was the original recipe. I changed it to soy because it incorporates better with the dish and I think the flavor is much better.

Whisk together the Soy sauce, Honey, Balsamic, Rosemary, Garlic and Pepper.

Separate the skin from the chicken by putting your fingers in between the meat and skin to form little pockets. The marinate will get "trapped" there.
Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and let it sit overnight in your fridge.

After it is done marinading overnight place the chicken in a lightly greased baking dish. Spoon out some of the Garlic and Rosemary and sprinkle it on top. Reserve the liquid.

Bake at 350 Degrees for 1 hour or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Transfer the marinade into a sauce pan and reduce on low heat for about 10 minutes. Baste the chicken that is cooking in the oven once or twice with this mixture. When the chicken comes out of the oven lightly brush this sauce over the top.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The best part of waking up...

I am not a morning person. I hate mornings. I hate getting out of bed. Hubby knows that I am not accountable for anything I say or do within the 30 minutes of me waking up. My dogs even know not to bother me. The only thing that gets me going on the weekends (where there is no fear of getting fired for not rolling my lazy ass out of bed) is being able to make Breakfast.

When I was in elementary school my parents used to carry me down the stairs to the breakfast table. Every morning my Nonno, aka grandpa to you non-Italians, used to come over and bring us fresh bread from the bakery. He used to poke fun at me for never waking up. Even after breakfast my mom or Tata (no idea why we called him this) would have to check on me to make sure I was up because the second I went back upstairs I would crawl back into my nice, soft, warm, purple flower covered bed and go back to sleep.

When I got too big for Tata to carry me to the breakfast table he would just fill up a cup of water and dump it over my head to wake me up. HILARIOUS Tata...I'm still laughing. Oh man if my husband tried to pull that with me now I'd make his coffee flavored with Arsenic.

A light start breakfast (for 2)

6 Egg whites
2 Slices of Provolone or Alpine Lace
1/2 Cup of Slices Tomatoes
Sprinkle of Dill

Prep time 5 Minutes
Cook Time 7 Minutes

Lightly grease the bottom of an omelet pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg whites. Let it cook for 2 minutes each side.

Layer the cheese on the bottom the the tomato slices on top sprinkle with dill. Flip the omelet over and let it sit for about a minute so the cheese melts.

serve with coffee....lots and lots of coffee.

Meat shaped like bread?

Last year I got a brilliant idea. I’m gonna buy myself a cow! I figured that my husband loves to BBQ and we are both big meat eaters so it would work for us. I took a year to do some research on buying a cow for beef and it seemed like a good idea. Besides the health benefits we are supporting a local farmer who raises grass fed organic beef. I got a call last month that “Bessie” (yes my mother named her) was ready to go to slaughter. I called the farmer and gave her the ok. A few hours later I got a call back saying “We received the payment and job was done.” I felt like I had just put a hit on poor Bessie. The farmer was my Paulie Walnuts and I was Tony. My Sicilian husband would be so proud of me!

We ran out to Home Depot and got the biggest freezer they had in stock. Plugged it in then the prepared ourselves for a nice 3 hour drive in the country…5 hours later we got to the farm. Not only does my husband not ask for directions but he ‘knows’ where he is going. When you are in the middle of no where it is pretty hard to ask for directions…and I felt bad asking a cow. We finally got to the farm, took one look at what 800lbs of steaks looks like and my mouth started to water. So we loaded up the truck with boxes and boxes of meat…and prayed that we didn’t get pulled over. It would be fun explaining that one to a state trooper.

When we got back to Long Island we started to unload the meat and divide it into 4 portions (we split the cow with some family…I love meat but I can’t eat 800 lbs in a year). Needless to say my dog was in HEAVEN. I have about 200lbs of Organic, dry aged, low fat and low in cholesterol, prime grass fed beef in my house. Just over 80lbs of that is ground beef. Since I’m not looking into The Guinness Book of World Records I think I will just defrost one package of meat tonight.

1lb of ground beef
1 cup of Mozzarella cheese cubes (I use fat free-you can’t taste the difference here)
2 eggs
1 cup of Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of center cut bacon (or turkey bacon)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Put ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and drop in one egg. Fold in. Add ½ of the bread crumbs and Mix. .

Make a well again and add the remaining egg and bread crumbs. Add the Mozzarella Cheese cubes and mix.

Form the meat mixture into a loaf (get it?) and place in the center of you baking pan. Push any of the Cubes of cheese into the loaf so it doesn't escape durring baking. Lay two slices of bacon on top. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cheese, Pasta and there anything better?

“That’s so unhealthy! Why would you want to eat all that fattening food?” This is my mother’s response to anything Alfredo/cheese sauce. Yet the woman has no problem inhaling a tub of ice cream, a package of Pepperidge Farm Sausalito Cookies and still manages to slink into a pair of size 4 jeans. Any given day you can open my moms freezer and there will be 3 tubs of ice cream...not little Ben & Jerry's but full sized Ice cream. In the pantry you will always find an assortment of cookies, a bag of Tostidos and a bag of Potato Chips. If something is missing that means shes working on finishing it off at the kitchen table.

Today I was driving home from work and, as always, my mother asked me what I was cooking for dinner. Again those infamous words came out of her mouth. My standard response “Ummm…because is good ma.”

Those words are engraved in the back of my mind. That is why this is one of my “treat” recipes. I don’t make it often because I feel like I am slowly killing myself and my husband with this dish. This is the only recipe I feel guilty for making-but it so damn worth it! I try to convince her that it’s not that bad because it has veggies and chicken in it but it still makes me feel like I’m doing a bad thing by eating it.

Another reason why I love this recipe is that it’s fairly inexpensive. Most of this stuff I have on hand. Frozen veggies are usually on sale 10 for $10 so I stock up on some staples. The only thing I had to buy for this dinner was the heavy cream & sun dried tomatoes. The Chicken was left over from a BBQ dinner this week. My splurge was the sun dried tomatoes at $3.49 a tub, but I will use it in salads and other recipes. All in all this dinner cost no more than $10 and it will feed 4-5 people…easy

Oh so good heart clogging Cheesy Pasta

1/2 stick of butter (I told you it was going to be good)
4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 big cloves of garlic, diced
3 cups of Grated Cheese (I use Parmesan but if you want to mix in some Gruyere Cheese its all the better, but Expensive)
3 Cups of Heavy Cream
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
Handful of Sun dried tomatoes diced (not in oil, it they are in oil wash them and try to get most oil off)
2 Grilled chicken breasts (I use leftovers)
1lb Pasta of choice (I used Bow-tie)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Boil water for pasta (don’t forget to salt your water!) & cook Pasta. When its Al Dente drain.

Heat butter and oil until the butter is melted over low heat. Add Diced garlic. DON’T TOUCH! Let it brown, but be careful not to burn. Stir.

Add the cream, whisk and loosely cover. Let it sit for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add Cheese and stir constantly until its incorporated.

(P.S. That nifty little grater in the back round is Gods gift to cheese lovers!)

Add Spinach, chopped chicken breasts & Pasta. Stir. Add Salt and pepper to taste.

Add Sun dried tomatoes and stir well. If the sauce is looking a bit dry you can add more cheese and cream. Cover and let it sit for a few minutes so the pasta can absorb the yumminess.

This dish goes GREAT with a nice chilled Pinot Grigio. I'm serving B.V. Coastal Pinot Grigio…Cheap yet oh so yummy. A bottle of it runs less than $10 but tastes like more.

If you have left overs to heat it up DO NOT MICROWAVE or I will find out and hunt you down…wooden spoon in hand. Just pop it into a nonstick pan with a small amount of butter and extra heavy cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And it begins

I pride myself with my cooking and throwing parties. I love to cook for my friends and family. Taking old school recipes and throwing a twist in it is what i love to to. Most people think I'm nuts because of the amount of food i make but its a joy for me.

I learned how to cook from my mother. My fondest memories of my childhood is spending time with her in the Kitchen, listening to Bobby Darrin..."splish splash i was takin' a bath!" then i'd toss the Mopina (aka wash towel) into the sink to splash her. I have an old photo where i must have been 3 years old rolling meatballs with my Nonna. My family and childhood revolved around the kitchen and food.

Through this blog I invite you into the kitchen of a modern day Calabrese Girl. Most of my cooking does have its Italian roots but don't be alarmed if i toss something from left feild in there. Being a successful hostess is one of my joys. In this blog you will find some of my Masterpieces and (unfortunately) Epic Fails. Lets just hope I don't burn down the kitchen in the process...