CHICKEN PERLO

This is a classic dish that has been around for years. My husband has fond memories of his mother making it for the family when he was young. It’s a Southern dish with Cajun overtones. It’s absolutely delicious and a one dish meal!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in (or 4 chicken thighs 2 breast with bone), sprinkled with Rub* recipe below
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 kielbasa or andouille sausage, cut into rounds about 3/4 inches apart
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups diced ripe tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom) (about 2 large tomatoes or 3 small)
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice, (use Mahatma Extra-long Enriched Rice)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (Optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for Rub:

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

Mix onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder together in a bowl and set aside.

Set the chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle then pat the rub on both sides of the chicken until coated. Set a fry pan on the stove and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Sauté the chicken on both sides until lightly brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Place large pot with a lid on stove and turn on to medium-high heat. Place cut bacon into the pot and cook at medium-high temperature for approx. 5 minutes. Add kielbasa and cook another 5 minutes, until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to the bacon grease in the pot. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper to the bacon grease & butter in the pot and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minutes more. Add the diced tomatoes and cook approximately 3 minutes.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil, add back in the bacon and kielbasa. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt & pepper (or more to taste). Add in the chicken. Add the rice into the pot and stir. Cover the pot and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until stock is absorbed. Let sit approximately 10 minutes for any remaining liquid to be absorbed. Serves 6 (Optional, top with chopped parsley when serving).

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1890 SALAD (AKA. FILET MIGNON SALAD)

I had this salad years ago in San Francisco and never forgot how good it was. I’ve recreated this recipe from memory and it was just as good as I remembered.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (6 or 8 oz.) filet mignon
  • 1 bottle 1890 salad dressing
  • 2 sourdough English muffins
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 4 hardboil eggs, cut in quarters
  • 1 can of asparagus
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1 package green beans

Cook the filet mignon on the stove or grill, your preference, until medium-well done. Cut the filets in bite-size chunks, set aside.

Cook the green beans on the stove or microwave and set aside. Boil the eggs until hardboiled, cool and peel, then cut in quarters, set aside.

Assemble the salad:

Place salad greens on a large plate. Split and toast the sourdough English muffins. Place 1/2 of the sourdough English muffin in the center of each plate on top of the salad greens. Place 4 hardboiled egg wedges around the plate. Place asparagus on one side of the plate. Place green beans on the opposite side. Add the black olives down one side.

Top the English muffin with a large spoonfuls of filet mignon. Drizzle 1890 salad dressing on top of the filet and more dressing around the plate. Serve immediately. Serves 4

1890 Salad Dressing

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LENTIL SOUP-ITALIAN STYLE

I have always loved a warm, nurishing bowl of lentil soup. With fall in the air, it was time to fix this delicious dish and share it with my family. Rich in flavor and so healthy for you. I hope you’ll try it for your family!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup carrots, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups brown, green, or red lentils, (rinsed & drained)
  • 2- 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 vadalia onion, diced
  • 56 oz. vegetable broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach, raw
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus more for serving
  • salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil in a large pot until onions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.

Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and lentils. Cook on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes. Add spinach and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Cook on low heat for an additonal 30 minutes. If it seems too thick, add water. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top. Serves at least 10-12 depending on servings. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: can sit on the stove at very low temperature throughout the day for frequent servings!

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PUMPKIN BREAD with CHEESECAKE STUFFING

Time to at least start thinking about fall baking. I love anything pumpkin and here’s a twist on pumpkin bread. It’s moist and delicious and makes a great appearance!

Before and after cream cheese stuffing is added in the middle

INGREDIENTS:

Pumpkin bread ingredients:

  • 1 stick melted butter (plus more for pan)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (more for dusting pan)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cheese cake center ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, very soft

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9” by 5” loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk pumpkin purée, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Set aside.

Make cream cheese filling: In a small bowl, stir very soft cream cheese, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons flour, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Mix with a fork until it’s well blended.

Transfer half the pumpkin batter to prepared loaf pan. Dollop cream cheese filling on top and smooth in an even layer with the back of a spoon. Top evenly with remaining pumpkin purée and spread around.

Bake until deeply golden and a toothpick comes out clean; 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes.

When completely cooled, sprinkle powder sugar on top. Serves 10-12

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CRISPY BAKED SHRIMP SCAMPI

If you are like me, you are always looking for a delicious yet simple way of preparing shrimp. This recipe will fit the bill. Easy to prepare and really is delicious with lots of lemon and garlic and butter! Make sure you use wild caught shrimp such as Key West Pinks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • juice from one lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour wine and 2 tablespoons of melted butter into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place in the oven for 10 minutes to let sauce reduce. While baking dish is in the oven, add 2 tablespoons melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a bowl. Add the shrimp to the bowl and toss to coat.

Remove baking dish from the oven and spread out the shrimp in a single layer, though they should fit snugly together. Pour any leftover marinade on top of the shrimp. Set aside.

Topping:

Mix the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, melted butter and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley. Spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top of the shrimp. Bake until the shrimp are cooked, about 12-13 minutes. It should be toasty brown on top. When serving, sprinkle with a small amount of chopped parsley. Serves 6

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QUICHE LORRAINE

What’s wrong with a delicious quiche for dinner? Absolutely nothing!! The rich creamy taste of this quiche will delight your family at anytime during the day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 strips chopped crisp cooked bacon
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Gruyere cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place pie crust evenly in a tart or pie pan. Place 2 cups of dried beans or pastry weights on top of the crust and par bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Turn down the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the butter to a small sauté pan and gently sauté the onions on medium heat for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, add the onions, bacon, cheese, cream, salt & pepper until combined. Pour the mixture into the par baked crust and make sure to spread out the ingredients in the pie crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and cooked through. Rest for 15 min, sliced and serve!

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CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Life is a bowl of cherries, so why not make it so! The perfect combination of elegance and taste! It has the consistency of a flan and a very unique taste that is meant to be served warm and dusted with powder sugar. Very popular in France. So if you are looking for a special dessert and love cherries, this is the dessert for you!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups pitted fresh cherries
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (separated)
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for spreading around tart dish)
  • powdered sugar for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9” or 10” glass tart dish. Rinse and pit the cherries. Add the cherries to a bowl along with 3 tablespoons of sugar and mix until coated, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, 1 cup of sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and eggs until complete combined and smooth.

Place the cherries flat into the tart pan and pour the batter over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until browned around the edges, slight browned on top and firm in the center. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes until it’s room temperature and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve warm.

Beautiful fresh cherries!
My favorite Pitter from Oxo https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008FWD4HQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_tai_tBqsFbZFTSRTA
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BEEF WELLINGTON, Twice-Baked Potatoes, Oven-Roasted Asparagus

What saids elegance more than serving Beef Wellington at a dinner party! This is a classic Beef Wellington recipe and served along side a twice-baked potatoes and roasted asparagus will make even the most discreminating guest rave!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pound beef tenderloin
  • 1 pound mushrooms, mixture of cremini, shiitake, oysters and button
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 frozen and thawed puff pastry sheet
  • 6 slices of ham DI Parma or Proscuitto
  • 2 egg yolks whisked with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic to a food processor and pulse on high until the ingredients are about the size of rice. Set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan over low heat and add in the mushroom mixture. Stir frequently and do not burn.

Cook for 20 minutes or until the moisture in the mushrooms has evaporated or reduced. Deglaze with wine and cook for 5-7 minutes to also evaporate and reduce the wine liquid.

Fold in parsley, thyme, salt and pepper until combined and then set aside on a plate to cool slightly.

In the meantime, generously season the beef tenderloin on all sides with salt and pepper and brown it on all sides in the pan with olive oil, about 90 seconds per side.

Remove from the pan and generously brush it with the mustard on all sides and let it rest on a plate.

Next, on a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, add the puff pastry sheet and roll it out until it’s about 16 “-18” long by 12” wide.

Overlap 6 slices of ham DI Parma right in the center of the puff pastry and then spread the mushroom mixture over top of the ham and spread around to completely cover it.

Put the tenderloin towards the bottom part of the ham and mushroom mixture and roll it forward completely encrusting the tenderloin

Pick up the beef tenderloin and place it back toward the bottom part of the puff pastry and then roll it forward to wrap it up.

Pinch the seams together and cut off the excess puff pastry from the sides and pinch the seams together or twist it together to make sure it is airtight.

Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Next, brush the puff pastry outside on all sides with the egg yolk and milk egg wash.

Score with the back side of a knife to make a design and bake at 425 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a thermometer reads at 125 to 130 degrees internally of the beef (for medium rare). (Make sure you use a meat thermometer and check for 125 to 130 degrees, if the crust is getting too brown and you need to cook a bit more, put a loose tent of foil over the top)

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving*.

Serves 6

*You can make this recipe up to 1 day in advance of serving it. After you roll up the tenderloin in the puff pastry, simply place it in the refrigerator overnight until ready to bake the next day, let sit outside the refrigerator for an hour before baking. To reheat, place in a pan with a lid and bake at 325 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunches asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.

Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

Twice Baked Potato

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6  russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon sliced chives (or green onions)
  • 6 pieces of bacon cooked crisp and chopped or 3 tablespoons bacon bits
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese , divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash potatoes and dry them. Rub olive oil all over the potatoes, add a little salt. Poke with a fork. Bake potatoes in oven 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly.

Slice each potato in 1/2 lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp of the potato leaving 1/8” shell.

In a bowl, mash potatoes, sour cream, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper until smooth. Add butter milk as needed to create a creamy texture. Stir in chives, bacon and 3/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Fill each skin with the mashed potato filling and top with remaining cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serves 6

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TRADITIONAL KEY LIME PIE WITH WHIPPED CREAM AND RASPBERRY SAUCE

Nothing taste as good as a good Key Lime Pie, and I have to tell you, this is the best my friends! Smooth and silky with a tart, yet sweet taste will bring you back to the Florida Keys! A must try!

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • pinch of salt

Pie:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cans of condensed sweetened milk (14 oz, each)
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (about 14 key limes)
  • 1 tablespoon of key lime zest

Whipping cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have a 10” pie pan ready.

Add graham crackers (or graham cracker crumbs), butter, sugar and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined.

Transfer the mixture to the pie pan and press it into the bottom and sides of a pan using your hand or the back of a spoon. Par bake the crust at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned and firm. Set aside and cool to room temperature. Raise the temperature of the oven to preheat to 350 degrees.

Add the egg yolks to a bowl for your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed for 2 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Next, on medium speed, mix in the condensed milk, key lime juice, and zest just until combined. Transfer the mixture to the cooled pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes just until it sets.

Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes then place the pie in the refrigerator for at lease 3 hours or until firm.

While the pie is cooling add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed until stiff peaks are formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add to a piping bag or keep in a bowl and chill. (You can decorate the cake as seen in the picture, or just add when serving)

Raspberry sauce: Add all ingredients to a small pot over medium heat and cook until thick and jammy, about 15 minutes. Strain through a strainer and chill in the refrigerator.

When serving, garnish the pie with whipped cream and place a spoon full of raspberry sauce on the plate and smear, and drizzle some around the plate and place the pie piece in the center of the plate. Serves 8

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BEEF STEW WITH GUINNESS STOUT BEER

Homemade beef stew is jam-packed with flavor. The Guinness Stout Beer gives it a complexity of flavor and the broth is delicious! Good anytime of the year and is truly comfort food!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons & 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 bottle Guinness Extra Stout Beer (11.2 oz.)
  • 40 oz. beef stock
  • 4-5 red potatoes, large diced (peel on)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon flour

DIRECTIONS:

Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook the onions until well browned, about 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Remove the vegetables from the pot and set aside.

Cut the stew meat in half, or thirds if large. Place in a bowl, salt and pepper, and then add 2 tablespoons flour. Stir around to coat the meat in flour.

Wipe the pot with paper towels. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the pot, heat to medium-low. Add the stew meat and cook for 4-6 minutes or until browned on all sides.

Stir in the tomato paste and coat the meat, sauté for 2 minutes. Add in the beer and cook over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and slightly reduced.

Add in the stock and cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes or until the beef is tender.

Add back in the sweated vegetables and the potatoes. Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste, and add salt & pepper if needed.

Finish with parsley and serve over white rice or noodles. Serves 6.

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EASY PEACH CAKE (OR APPLE)

This is a delicious cake that can be made with fresh peaches or fresh apples, whatever is in season. Easy to put together and bakes up to the most delicious cake! It resembles a peach cobbler! Serve with ice cream or whipped cream!

Watch the complete Video

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 ripe peaches, diced into bite size pieces (do not peel)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Pam on 1 lb. loaf pan and set aside.

Dice 3 peaches (leave peeling) and add to a medium bowl. Add cinnamon and brown sugar to the peaches and mix together to coat the peaches. Set aside.

Place flour in a larger bowl. Add butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and orange juice. Stir to combine, then whisk to make a smoother consistency.

Get the loaf pan and spread 1/2 of the batter into the pan. Place 1/2 of the peach mixture on top of the batter. Spread the rest of the batter on top of the peaches then place the rest of the peaches on top and spread around.

Bake for approximately 1 hr. & 20 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes, invert onto a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

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CHICKEN MARBELLA

This is a classic dish and has a complexity of flavor.  The marinade is the key to the flavorful taste of the chicken.  The sweetness of the prunes mixed with the saltiness of the olives and capers combine to send your tastebuds and senses into pure delight.  Great for your next Sunday dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole chicken (cut-up, bone-in, skin on)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • sprinkle of season salt on chicken
  • salt and freshly ground pepper on chicken to taste
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes cut in half
  • 8 -10 large pitted Spanish green olives, cut in half
  • 5-6 pitted kalamata black olives
  • 1/4 C capers with a bit of juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Marinate the chicken:  In a large bowl, combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves.  Sprinkle the chicken with the season salt, then add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix to coat.  Cover and let marinate, refrigerated at lease 3 hours up until overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking pan, make sure all the marinade is added to the pan on top of the chicken.   Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour the white wine around the pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices.  Chicken is done when a sharp knife inserted into the thigh pieces, at their thickest post, run with clear yellow juices (not pink).

Serve the chicken with pan juices and using a slotted spoon, top chicken with prunes, olives and capers.  Make sure you save any of the juices and put in a gravy boat for the table.

This dish goes great with white rice or polenta!

Serves 4-6

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SPICED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH APRICOTS AND RAISINS

A one-pan dinner that hits all the right notes. Fruity and peppery, this dish will lighten up your tastebuds. Dried apricots and golden raisins enrich the flavor n the sauce and this dish comes together great with the chicken! Serve over white rice or couscous.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots, quartered
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish
  • white rice or couscous as side for serving

Directions:

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Saute chicken until browned on both sides, approximately 4 minutes each side. Set chicken aside. Pour out all the oil in the pan except for 1 tablespoon.

Reduce heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chicken back into the pan. Add the apricots and raisins. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat. Simmer the dish, partially covered for 20-25 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6

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EASY BEEF STROGANOFF

Such a delicious dinner and everyone will rave! It will come together fast and the family will love it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of thinly sliced top sirloin
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups each sliced cremini and button mushrooms
  • 2 finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup brandy or white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse ground mustard or dijon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and more for garnish
  • 1 pound wide egg noodles, boiled and cooked according to package directions
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Add the oil to a large pan or pot over medium-high heat and cook the beef until lightly browned, approximately 2 minutes. Set aside on a plate.

Add butter to the pan and cook the onions and mushrooms, approximately 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute before putting the beef back in the pan. Deglaze the pan with wine or brandy and cook until it’s almost gone.

Pour in the beef stock and add in the bay leaves and mustard. Cook on medium-high heat for approx. 8 minutes.

Finish with sour cream, salt, pepper, and parsley (remove the bay leaf).

To serve, place noodles on plate and add a serving of beef, mushrooms, and juice. Garnish with a little parsley. Serves 4

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CHICKEN MILANESE with Honey Vinaigrette

This is such a classic dish, but so delicious. It comes together quickly and is really light and fresh for a great healthy dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 chicken cutlets (Pounded to 1/4 in. thickness)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • olive oil for frying
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup micro greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Set up a breading station with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Season each ingredient with salt and pepper. Season both sides of the pounded chicken with salt and pepper. One by one, coat the chicken in the flour, shake off. Then dredge it in the egg, drain off, then dredge it in the bread crumbs. Repeat with each piece of chicken. Set aside.

Add about 1/3 cup of olive oil to a large frying pan over medium-low head and add the breaded chicken cutlets. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a paper towel until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, micro greens, tomatoes, and red onions, add some salt & pepper Set aside. In a medium size bowl, add the lemon and honey and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Right before serving, pour the salad dressing into the arugula mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Serve the cooked chicken Milanese with a nice helping of the salad mixture directly on top of the chicken. Finish with some shaved parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

Serves 4

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TAMALE CHICKEN CASSEROLE

Another great option for your leftover rotisserie chicken! This is the perfect dish for during the week and something your kids will love, who doesn’t love Tamales! Easy to throw together and enough for a crowd. The sweetness of the cornbread contrast nicely with the coolness of the lettuce and tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream is a must!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8.5 oz.) Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 can (14.75 oz.) cream corn
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 3 cups shredded left over rotisserie chicken

Optional for toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • diced tomato
  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped avocado
  • more cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 3 inch casserole dish with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the corn muffin mix, cream corn, eggs, milk, Chile powder, cumin and 1 cup of cheese. Stir until well mixed and then pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and use a knife to pierce the cornbread mixture several times all over. Pour the enchilada sauce all over the top of the casserole. Top with the shredded chicken and remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your choice of toppings and a side of shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes & add a little more enchilada sauce on top! Enjoy! (Serves 6-8)

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GRAFFITI EGGPLANT PARMESAN CASSEROLE

This is a simple delicious eggplant parmesan casserole made with the small Graffiti eggplant. The Graffiti eggplant has a thinner skin so you do not need to peel it and it also has smaller seeds and cooks quicker. With this no-baked method, it’s healthier too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Graffiti eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beatened
  • olive oil for spraying
  • 1 cup flour for dredging
  • 1 jar (32 oz.) Marinara sauce (I prefer Rao’s)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta (I prefer Galbani)
  • 1 package (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish

Optional: Another jar of Marinara sauce and spaghetti to serve along side!

Directions:

Arrange the eggplant slices on baking sheets and sprinkle generously all over with salt. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant, at lease 1 hour.

After an hour, transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink and rinse well with cold running water, making sure you get the salt off. Transfer to paper towels on a work surface and blot very well with more paper towels, get as dry as you can.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a large cookie sheet with wire grates on top. Spray a little olive oil on the wire. Set up a station with the flour, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs. Add a little salt and pepper to the flour and eggs and mix. Dip the eggplant slices in the flour, shake off, then dip in the eggs, and then the panko. Press crumbs down with fingers to pack and cover evenly. Place in a single layer on the oiled baking grate and sheet. Lightly spray or drizzle olive oil on the eggplant. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. (No need to flip since it’s on the grate).

When you take the eggplant is taken out of the oven, lower the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish, place 3/4 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Place dollops of Ricotta cheese around the bottom and spread around a little with the back of a spoon. Place a layer of the eggplant. Top with another 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, then spread it around with the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle 1/2 the package of mozzarella around the dish.

Repeat with another layer of eggplant and pour the remaining marinara sauce on top, again spreading it around with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serve with a side of spaghetti and top with a little more marinara sauce.

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , | 7 Comments

WILD RICE SALAD

This is a cold (or room temperature) salad. It has a complex taste that actually taste better as you eat it. So many fresh ingredients and fresh citrus makes this perfect for any occasion.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain wild rice
  • sea salt
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon raspberry or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cups pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4K cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Place the wild rice in a medium pot with 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, until the rice is very tender. Drain well and place the rice back in the pot. Cover and allow to seam for 10 minutes.

While the rice is still warm, place it in a mixing bowl. Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing all the white pith. Cut between the membranes, cut the segments in half, then add the orange sections to the bowl. Add the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, grapes, pecans, cranberries, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Allow the rice salad to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve room temperature or refrigerate.

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RICOTTA ORANGE ZEST CHEESECAKE

Now this is a showstopper! Definitely a dessert for your special company! Not only is it delicious, it’s beautiful with just a little creativity and some strawberries and blackberries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 32 ounce ricotta cheese
  • zest from one orange (2 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 18 graham crackers
  • 1 stick butter plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons powder sugar for dusting
  • Optional for decoration: 6-8 strawberries, sliced thin lengthwise and 10 blackberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10 inch springform pan with butter.

For graham cracker crust: Crush graham crackers in food processor until consistency of bread crumbs. Place crumbs in large bowl. Melt 1 stick of butter plus 2 tablespoons in the microwave. Pour butter into the graham cracker crumbs and stir well to combine.

Pour crumb mixture into the pregreased springform pan. Firmly press graham crackers into the bottom and along the sides of the spring form pan. Press down hard with the palm of your hands and fingers. Set aside.

Sift together flour and sugar in small mixing bowl. In another medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and orange zest. Slowly fold in flour mixture with spatula untill well blended and smooth.

Add eggs, one at a time, continuing to blend with spatula. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour batter into spring form pan and gently smooth top with spatula. Bake for 60 minutes until cake is firm all the way to top center. Cool completely and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set. Dust top of cake with powder sugar.

Optional: After cheesecake is cool, place 10 blackberries in the center of the cheesecake. Place sliced strawberries around the blackberries to form a “flower”. Refrigerate cheesecake.

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PINA COLADA NO-BAKE CAKE

Ready for summer? Well here’s the dessert for you! Make it the day ahead and refrigerate, the next day you’ll enjoy a silky delicious cake!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 cups Pina Colada Drink mix (liquid-divided)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 box (14.4 oz.) Honey Graham Crackers (will have some leftover)
  • 1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained well
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS:

(Use a 13 x 9 baking dish). In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and rum extract until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 cup Pina Colada Drink mix; beat on low speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Pour 1 cup Pina Colada Drink mix in a shallow dish. Quickly dip Graham Crackers in the liquid, allowing excess to drip off. Arrange the crackers in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Break crackers as needed to fit. Top with about a third of the cream cheese mixture, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a third of the pineapple, then a third of the coconut on top. Repeat layer exactly the same 2 more times. The third layer is done with the final amount of cream cheese mixture, scattered pineapple and coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or minimum of 4 hours. Keep refrigerated!

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SALMON PICCATA WITH SAVORY ANGEL HAIR PASTA

A delicious way to serve salmon! You’re use to chicken piccata and veal piccata, why not try something a little different. Still the same piccata flavor you crave! Go ahead, enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
  • 4 – 5 oz. skinless salmon fillets (wild salmon is best!)
  • 6 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • all purpose flour for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup capers in brine, drained

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add small handful of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box until al dente (cooks fast, approx. 2 min.). Drain the pasta. Keep the pot on the stove for later use. Set the pasta aside in a bowl.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then dust with lightly seasoned flour (salt & pepper for the season, mix well).

Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Heat on medium-high heat. Add the salmon to the skillet and fry, flip over in about 4 minutes, then fry for another 4 minutes, until golden on both sides and just cook inside. Transfer the salmon to a plate, tent with foil to keep warm. Keep the skillet for future use.

In the empty pasta pot, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter and the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil over low heat. Return the pasta to the pot, add 2 tablespoons of the parsley and toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In the empty skillet, add the chicken broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, and capers to the skillet. Simmer over high heat, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, until the liquid is slightly thickened. 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until emulsified. Stir in the reserved 2 tablespoons parsley (keep about 1 teaspoon for garnish) and season with salt and pepper.

Add the salmon to the skillet containing the sauce and turn the salmon to coat or spoon sauce over the salmon.

Divide the pasta among plates, top with the salmon and sauce (sprinkle some parsley for appearance) and serve right away. Serves 4.

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ZITI and GROUND PORK IN VODKA SAUCE

This makes a delicious spaghetti sauce and can be used with any type of spaghetti. The pork adds the perfect amount of pazazz to this hearty dish. It’s flavorful and filling. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Volka Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt (depending on taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Ziti:

  • 1 lb. Ziti Rigati
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Directions:

In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté approximate 3 minutes. Add the ground pork and break up and sauté until cooked, approx. 5 minutes. Drain excess water and oil (you can blot with paper towels, move around with a spoon, then discard the paper towels). Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute.

Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, stir well, place water in the empty small tomato paste can and swirl around to capture all the paste in the can, then put the can of water in the pot. Simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes. Pour in the vodka, stir, and let it come to a simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Make sure to keep the lid on because the sauce will splatter a lot).

Stir in the half & half and add shaved parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir everything together and simmer until the cheese is all melted and smooth. Stir in minced fresh basil and let it cook for a minute. Set aside.

Cook the Ziti according to the directions on the box. After you drain the pasta, add 1/2 of the vodka sauce into the Ziti and stir gently to combine. Save the other half of the sauce.

Serve a good helping of the Ziti mixed with the Vodka sauce on a plate. Top with some of the reserved vodka sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot. Serves 4

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WHITE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

If you always have leftover rotisserie chicken, here’s the perfect “re-purposing” chicken dish for you! I make it in two aluminum square cake pans and freeze one! Makes a delicious lunch or dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 10 soft taco shells
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can diced green chilies (4 oz.) (Not hot)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use one 9 x 13 pan, or 2 square cake pans, lightly spray Pam on the pan.

Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up the chicken mixture in the tortillas and place, bottom side down in the pan. (I put 5 rolls in 2 separate pans).

In a sauté pan, melt butter and stir in flour, cook for 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 6 min.). Stir in sour cream and chilies. Take off the burner, you don’t want to curdled sour cream.

Pour sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. Bake 22 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for approx. 2-3 minutes. Keep a good eye on the dish, you just want to lightly brown the top. Serve immediately. Serves 5 (2 each)

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RICOTTA MARBLE CAKE (ITALIAN LAYERED CHEESECAKE)

This is an old Italian recipe and I have to say, it’s scrumptious. I would say it’s “semi-homemade” and comes together to form a complex and absolutely delicious dessert. Serve it cold, out of the refrigerator, you can make it a day ahead and store in the refrigerator for any dinner party. Trust me on this one, it’s a winner!

Top layer, pudding & coolwhip

Ingredients:

For bottom layer:

  • 1 Duncan Hines Marble Cake Mix.
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

For middle layer:

  • 2 lbs. ricotta cheese (32 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs

For top layer:

  • 1 small instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 oz. cool whip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with Pam spray or a little butter and flour.

Make the Marble cake according to directions on the box. Pour cake mix into the prepare pan.

Mix ricotta cheese, vanilla, sugar and eggs in a bowl with a large spoon. Pour ricotta mixture on top of the Marble cake in the pan and spread around.

Bake in the preheated pan for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool completely.

Mix the instant chocolate pudding, milk, and cool whip in another bowl with a whisk or large spoon. Once the cake is completely cool, spread on the top of the cake. Refrigerate for at lease an hour and serve from the pan. (Keep refrigerated, serves 12)

If you can’t find this at the grocery store, Amazon has it!
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CRISPY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MARY’S SECRET SPICE RUB (Oven Roasted)

This is a delicious way to prepare chicken! If you want white meat chicken, cook it a little longer, by about 10 minutes. This spice rub works with anything, the smoked paprika blends with the other spices to give a sweetness along with the savory. I make extra spice rub to always have on hand!

Since most of the grease drips to the bottom while cooking this is a healthier version of chicken thighs!

Mary’s Secret Spice Rub

  • 1 Tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground black pepper

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. Set aside

Crispy Chicken Thighs

  • 8 chicken thighs (skin and bone on)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat chicken with paper towels, (you want to make it as dry as possible). Place chicken in large bowl and pour olive oil over the chicken. Mix with your hand to evenly spread the olive oil on chicken.

Sprinkle about 1/2 of the spice mixture over the chicken. Using your hands, make sure all the chicken is coated with the rub.

Place chicken on sheet pan with rack (keep chicken above drippings, it crisps better). When chicken is on the sheet pan, sprinkle a little more spice rub, pat it down with your fingers into the chicken so it won’t burn (You may have leftover spice rub, save it for future use).

Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes, skin side up. After 20 minutes, turn the chicken around and cook for another 20 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees, turn chicken again to skin side up and cook for another 20 minutes (if large chicken thighs and 15 minutes if small chicken thighs). Serve hot with your favorite sides!

Mary’s Secret Spice

Note: make extra spice rub and use it on chicken, steaks, hamburger, and vegetables, especially hand-cut oven fries (toss in olive oil, sprinkle rub and bake along side the chicken!)

Great for hostess gifts!!

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CHICKEN VESUVIO

If you love artichokes like I do, this is the dish for you! It comes together quickly and has a distinct flavor. The chicken and potatoes are tender and pack a delightful punch. Good for weeknight dinners or a dinner party!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs with skin and bones
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 red-skinned potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in large ovenproof fry pan over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken in the pan until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. When the chicken is browned, take it out of the pan and set aside in a dish.

Fry the potatoes in the same pot (add a little more olive oil if needed) and cook them until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the broth, oregano, and thyme. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.

Cover the pot and place in the oven until the chicken cooks throughout, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter, arrange the potatoes around the chicken. Place the frying pan back on the stove and add the artichokes to the sauce in the pan. Simmer for about 3 minutes, add the butter and stir until combined, simmer about 4 minutes more. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper only if needed.

Place the artichokes around the platter then pour the sauce over the dish and serve. Serves 4

Posted in CHICKEN, ENTREES | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

RICOTTA RASPBERRY POUND CAKE

This is a delicious, moist, and flavorful pound cake! Made without a mixer, just whisk and fold! Makes one layer of the perfect dessert. I chose to double the recipe and make small loafs for presents! This is definitely a keeper!

Ingredients:

  • nonstick oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick unsalted melted butter
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9 inch cake pan sprayed with nonstick spray and lined with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in another bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by 3/4 cup raspberries. take care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup raspberries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (50-60 minutes. Let cool at lease 20 minutes before removing from pan.

(Note: I doubled the recipe and put it into disposable loaf pans, baked 60 minutes, let cool and wrapped for gifts (made 7 – 1 lb. loaves)

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TOMATO CROSTATA

Ingredients:

  • 8-9 tomatoes if using smaller Campari tomatoes (less if vine ripe larger tomatoes)
  • 5-6 tomatoes—Heavenly Village Mariano (or cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella, fresh, cut up in small squares
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • 1 puff pastry sheet

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes in about 1/2 inch slices. Place slices on paper towels, single layer and sprinkle with salt and let sit at least 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a sheet pan with a silicone mat ready (works best). Mix the sea salt, vinegar, honey, thyme and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to mix.

Lay the puff pastry on the mat and roll a little with roller or round glass. Make a small line with a knife around the edge of the pastry. Brush the pastry with the olive oil mixture. Blot the tomatoes with paper towels well. Place tomatoes on the pastry in rolls, filling most of the pastry, but leaving about 3/4 inch around the edge. Roll the edges up a little to make a rim. Brush tomatoes with olive oil mixture.

Sprinkle the pieces of mozzarella around the tomatoes, brush again with the olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with a little more salt and ground black pepper.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, keep an eye on the crostata so it won’t burn. Take it out of the oven, plate, and serve warm! Serve it for lunch or cut smaller for appetizers.

Posted in Appetizers, ENTREES | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

RICE PUDDING WITH GOLDEN RAISINS AND ALMONDS (EASY)

You can make this decadent desert with items you probably already have! I’ve elevated it with the addition of golden raisins and sliced almonds for crunch. It’s easy and really delicious enough for company!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup Jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup slice almonds
  • cinnamon for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice and salt and return to a boil. Lower the burner to simmer, cover with lid and cook approximately 20 minutes (until water is absorbed.)

Increase heat to medium low and add milk. Cook until thick and creamy, stirring constantly, approximately 20 minutes. (Keep a good eye on it, because it can overflow). If it looks too thick after 20 minutes, add a touch more milk.

In a small bowl, whisk egg. Add 1 tablespoon of the hot rice mixture (to temper the eggs), whisking constantly. Repeat by adding another tablespoon of the hot rice mixture to the egg, constantly whisking. Repeat one more time with another tablespoon of the hot rice mixture, the egg mixture should be warmed.

On low heat, slowly add the egg mixture into the rice pudding, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and stir. Add the butter and vanilla extract, stir. Add the raisins and almonds and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring a little. Take off the burner.

Use a large spoon and divide the rice pudding into individual ramekins, place a few sliced almonds in the middle and dust with cinnamon. Refrigerate for at lease 4 hours or overnight. Serve cold. 6 servings.

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STRAWBERRY TIRAMISU (NO BAKE)

Ready for spring and summer, this delicious No-Bake dessert is both simple and elegant. No heating up the kitchen since it does not need baking. You have to make it the day before serving, so it’s great for make-ahead dinner parties too!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup strawberry jam or preserves (no seeds).
  • 3/4 cup Prosecco or white wine
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz. container)
  • 1/2 of 8 oz. cream cheese block
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 pints of sliced strawberries
  • 28 lady fingers
  • 1 tub cool whip

DIRECTIONS:

Have a pyrex glass 11 by 8 casserole dish ready to use.

In a small bowl, combine strawberry preserves, wine or prosecco, and balsamic vinegar.  Whisk until combined.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer on medium high speed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until smooth and thicken.

Dip the lady fingers in the strawberry mixture to coat them (let them absorb some of the liquid).  Line the lady fingers in a single layer in the bottom of the 11 by 8 baking dish.  I used approx. 14 ladyfingers for each layer.  You will have to break a couple up to fit.  Use a spoon and spoon some of the strawberry liquid over the lady fingers on first layer. (just about 4 teaspoons).

Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and then layer half of the sliced strawberries on the mascarpone mixture.

Repeat with the remaining lady fingers, making another layer. Next layer with the remaining mascarpone mixture.  Add a layer of cool whip on the top spreading it around equally.  Place the remaining strawberries on top.

Cover with cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight!

Serves 8-10

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ORANGE MARMALADE ROASTED CHICKEN

A perfect flavorful dinner if you love orange marmalade as I do  Easy and no frying!  Serve with white rice (with the juice left in the pan) and a nice vegetable, you’ll be definitely pleased!9D13E0A1-411F-49FB-8F8C-4CF05E3AFB40

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 large chicken breast, skin and bone-in, cut in half
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin and bone-in
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional:  white rice for serving (use juice from dish to top rice)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Make the glaze:  whisk together marmalade, vinegar, honey, chopped thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Arrange orange slices in a single layer in the bottom of a large, oven safe, lasagna pan.  Scatter garlic cloves, thyme and rosemary sprigs on top of the oranges.

Rub the front and back of chicken with olive oil.  Season both sides well with salt and pepper.  Arrange in dish, skin side up, on top of the oranges.

Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning to brown.  Place about 1/2 of the marmalade mixture into another bowl (in order not to contaminate half).    Generously brush tops with about half of the marmalade mixture using a pastry brush.

Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until skin is browned and internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 165 degrees.  Remove from oven and brush with the remaining marmalade glaze that hasn’t been used before.  Serves 4-6

(Great served with white rice, pour some of the juice over the chicken and rice when serving)

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MARRY ME CHICKEN

This is so delicious and although there are different versions, after testing, I found this recipe to have the perfect blend of spices, heat, and all out deliciousness!  Go ahead, give it a try, what do you have to loose!F61B8D93-44FB-4D7A-AA7C-1BFA9D03A035

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 large chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish

optional:  noodles or spaghetti of choice for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large oven safe skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper on front and back.  Sear chicken in oil about 4-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate and set aside.

Turn skillet to medium heat.  Add garlic to same skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir for 1 minute more.   Stir in thyme, red pepper flakes,  chicken broth, and heavy cream.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Stir in sun-dried tomatoes (make sure and drain the sun-dried tomatoes on paper towels to remove excess oil) and parmesan cheese.

Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce all over the chicken breasts.  Bake until chicken is cooked through about 15-18 minutes (depending on size of the chicken breast).  Serve over noodles or spaghetti of choice.  Add some of the juice over the pasta.   Garnish with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.  Serves 4

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GERMAN-CHOCOLATE RUM CAKE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package Duncan Hines German Chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white Rum
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • optional:  candied cherries and walnut halves for decoration

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 10 inch Bundt pan.  Place chopped nuts in the bottom of the Bundt pan.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and rum in an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

To make rum sauce:  melt butter, run, and sugar in small saucepan for about 2 minutes.

While cake is in the Bundt pan, make some holes with a large skewer stick and spoon some of the rum glaze around the cake.  (Don’t put too much, or it will get soggy, you might have extra)

Invert the cake onto a cake plate.  Using a pastry brush, brush the rum glaze all over the cake.  Top with alternating layers of cherries and walnuts.  Brush again with glaze.  Serves 12

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LEMON RICOTTA PASTA WITH GRILLED CHICKEN AND SPINACH

This is a rich, delicious pasta dish and will satisfy your tastebuds with the smoothness of the combined cheeses.  It’s very filling, but worth it, go ahead indulge!42102A48-E638-4F2F-9254-323B26E42BA3

Ingredients:

  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in half length wise making 4 pieces* Marinate
  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package fresh baby spinach
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • lemon zest from one lemon
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan, plus more for serving

*Marinate: 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, salt, and 9D929A22-BFC2-4A69-87BF-71051615343Epepper.  Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise.  Sprinkle with the above seasonings, then put in plastic bag with the olive oil and vinegar and let marinate at lease 2 hours.

Directions:

Grill marinated chicken on grill pan on stove (or outdoor grill).  Turning once until throughly cooked, set aside. (At least 5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees)

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package (remember to boil the water, then add salt after it boils).  Reserve 2 cups pasta water before draining pasta.  Drain the water and return the pasta to the pot.  Set pot over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, ricotta, 1/2 cup hot reserved pasta water and parmesan.  Toss to evenly coat.  Add more pasta water if desired to thin (it will be thick, so don’t hesitate to add the pasta water).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook and toss about 2 minutes, until ricotta is heated through.  Toss in spinach.  Cut grilled chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pot.  Mix well and stir over low heat about 1 minute.  Serve warm topped with more parmesan cheese.

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SHRIMP CREOLE

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon creole seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz. ) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 lb. wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Optional:  1/2 to 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add the green pepper, onion and celery.  Cook approximately 5-7 minutes.  Decrease the heat to low, add garlic and creole seasoning, cook for 1 min. More.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce, stewed tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce and brown sugar.  Cover skilled and simmer for 20 minutes.  Take off the cover and add the shrimp.  Simmer for 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.  Season with Tobasco Sauce to taste if you want it hotter!  Serve over white rice.  Serves 4

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CORNED BEEF BRISKET with Honey Mustard sauce & Instant Pot- CABBAGE, POTATOES, & BACON

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CORNED BEEF BRISKET:

  • 1 (3 TO 4 LB.) corned beef brisket, flat cut,  rinsed
  • 2 T pickling spice
  • 1 orange – cut in round slice
  • 2 large carrots, cut up
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • large oven bag

GLAZE:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar with enough honey mustard to make a glaze

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Rinse meat.  Place brisket into a large oven bag in a large roasting pan (add 1 T flour to bottom of bag).  Sprinkle with pickling spice and salt & pepper on top of brisket.   Top brisket with cut orange & onion.  Place carrots and celery around the brisket.   Add 1/4 cup water.  Tie the bag and make 6 slits on top of bag.  Bake at 300 degrees for 5 hours.

Take meat out and gently scrape off the fat.  Discard everything else.  Put meat on a foil lined baking sheet.  Put the glaze on the meat and then place under the broiler until the glaze bubbles.   Transfer brisket to carving board,  tent loosely and rest for 20 minutes.  Slice brisket against grain into 1/2 in. thick slices.  Arrange on serving dish.

 

Instant pot-CABBAGE, POTATOES, & BACON

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 1 small onion, cut in rings
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 lb. small potatoes, washed
  • 1 bottle lager beer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. Pickling spice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • *Optional, baby carrots

Place the cabbage in the bottom of the instant pot.  Top with onion, small potatoes, and bacon.  (If using baby carrots, add them now).   Add beer and water and pickling spice.  Salt & Pepper to taste, cook For 30 minutes under pressure.  Manual release.  Serve along side Corned Beef.

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CHICKEN PARMESAN with CHERRY TOMATOES

65B04B5A-DFCA-4F6E-9442-8A342292E8E2INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (plus more if needed)
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 (14-oz.) cans cherry tomatoes, divided (such as Mutti; you can purchase on AC8DC103-B946-47BC-BBE3-12EB6108AAF7Amazon)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil roughly chopped
  • 1 -4 oz. box fresh mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided (more if needed)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups Panko seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut in half lengthwise (Makes 8 pieces), pounded to about 1/4 in. Thick
  • *optional, Angel Hair pasta cooked according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. Oil.  Add chopped onion and garlic and cook about 4 minutes.  Add 2 cans of the cherry tomatoes with the liquid.  Strain the remaining 4 cans, then add to the pot.  Add 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, break up the tomatoes.  Add the mushrooms.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the basil.

Cut the 4 skinless boneless chicken breast in halves lengthwise making 8 pieces.  Place the pieces between plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until about 1/4 inches thick.  Salt and Pepper both sides.

In a shallow bowl or paper plate, whisk eggs, lightly add salt and pepper.  In another bowl or paper plate, combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan, add small amount of salt and pepper and mix.   Place the chicken in egg mixture, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tbsp. Oil.  Working in batches, cook chicken about 2 1/2 minutes per side or until golden.  Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain.

In a 13 1/2 by 10 inch baking dish, layer sauce, chicken, and a little more sauce on top.  Top with the remaining mozzarella and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Bake 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serves 8.

*(serve over your favorite pasta cooked according to package directions.  I like Angel Hair, put a little sauce over the pasta with some cheese).

Side Note:  After you put sauce over the chicken, and  you want more sauce for the spaghetti,  you can add a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce to what’s left in the Sauce pot to stretch out the amount of sauce available for the spaghetti.

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BAKED ZITI

A perfect weekday dinner and very easy to put together!  Your entire family will be asking for more!  This is a hearty meal and will go a long way!  You must try this classic Baked Ziti dish!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ziti noodles
  • 2 jars of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 small container ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4  cup fresh parsley
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Boil noodles according to instructions on box, making sure it’s Al dente.   Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottoms of a 9 x 13 pan.

Mix mozzarella, ricotta, parsley, egg, oregano, pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  When Ziti is done, drain and add it to the bowl and mix well.  Add 2 cups of spaghetti sauce into the bowl and mix.

Pour the mixture into the 9 x 13 pan and top with the rest of the sauce.  Sprinkle the top with some Parmesan cheese.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  When serving, top with a little more sauce and cheese if desired. Serves 8BDD30183-254C-48E6-8B59-835D3FFAC655

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STRAWBERRIES & NUTELLA CREPES

Nothing saids decedents like Strawberries & Nutella Crepes!  After trying and experimenting with different recipes, this one definitely was the winner.  It’s really simple and a lot of the ingredients you probably have on hand!  This will be a hit at any dinner party and is delicious!  Enjoy!41E55A99-76D5-433F-8C23-A863953C908924C14B83-4288-459A-B017-E654F8F69ABD

408B7716-BC1D-46C9-9134-26B6A2431609Ingredients for Crepe Batter:

  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 1 Cup Nutella
  • 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • can of whipped cream

Optional:  Powder sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Crepes batter:  Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a medium bowl and set aside.  Combine the milk, egg, and oil in a blender, food processor, or immersion blender until smooth.  Add the flour mixture.  Blend just until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Strain the mixture through a large strainer into another bowl.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator at lease for 30 minutes or up to overnight.  (cover with plastic wrap)  (NOTE:  IF YOU CHOOSE, YOU CAN JUST USE A WHISK TO MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER, JUST MIX WELL AND STILL STRAIN!)

Make the crepes:  Heat a nonstick crepe pan or large nonstick fry pan over a medium heat. (Or use a crepe maker machine and follow the directions).  Spray the pan with cooking spray.  Ladle about 2 ounces of the crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl.  When the center begins to set, flip with a spatula or wooden stick and continue cooking until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Repeat with the remaining crepe batter (it will make 8 to 10 crepes).

Putting it together:  Place a single crepe on a plate.  Spread Nutella over one half of the crepe.  Arrange strawberry slices on top of the crepe over the Nutella.  Fold the crepe in half, then fold it one more time to form a triangle.  Top with more sliced strawberries.  Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with some powder sugar.   Serve immediately.  Serves 8–10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHICKEN MARSALA

Chicken Marsala is a classic dish that never goes out of style.  It’s delicious for a weeknight meal, as well as for a dinner party.  Serve it along side some homemade mash potatoes and some roasted asparagus and you have a meal that will satisfy and impress your guest!0CDCBF18-29A2-46ED-91A1-26696197E218EE127586-2828-4B4E-AB7A-B70A0F19382D

  • 2 large chicken breast (skinless and boneless), cut in half lengthwise to make 4
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging (Sprinkled with salt & pepper) Plus 1 tsp. For thickening
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Place chicken cutlets between plastic wrap and pound until 1/3 inch thick.  Season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Dredge both sides in flour and shake off excess flour, then set aside.

Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter.   Add chicken and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan, set aside and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  Add the mushrooms to the pan.  Sauté the mushrooms in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 tsp. Onion powder and 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté another 30 seconds.  Add Marsala wine, scraping the bottom.  Let the Marsala reduce about 4-5 minutes then add 3/4 cup chicken stock and while stirring add 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Lower the heat and reduce sauce for another 4 minutes until slightly thickened.  Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.  (If needed:  Add 1 tsp. Of flour to further thicken the sauce.)

Return the chicken to the pan, turning to coat well.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  Serves 4

Optional:  Serve with homemade mash potatoes and pour some gravy over the chicken and mash potatoes.

 

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CREAMY ITALIAN SAUSAGE & SAFFRON PASTA ALLA MONZESE

This is a dish from Northern Italy and is very easy to make, yet rich and delicious.  You can buy bulk Italian sausage and I suggest buying it at a Italian Market such as Mazzaro’s in St. Petersburg, FL.  If you only can find Italian sausage in casings, just remove the casings.  Grate your own Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s better than pre-grated.  This is a simple recipe, but you’ll get raves from your family or guest!  Enjoy with some Italian red wine!  Ciao!3473E4FA-0995-4A0C-806F-DDF69CA2D2C119F45795-BD27-4311-A7CC-0C87CE14E4D9

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 oz.) rigatoni pasta cooked al dente
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage casings removed (buy bulk if available)
  • 8.5 oz.  heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Saffron threads
  • 3 tbsp. Marsala (dry)
  • salt for pasta
  • pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil as required

Instructions:

Place saffron threads in 2 tablespoons of hot water to soak.   Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to boil again.*

Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a fry pan or skillet on medium-high heat and brown the Italian sausage, breaking it up into chunks until well browned.  (Pat some of the excess oil up with clean paper towels, then discard the paper towel.)  Add the Marsala.  Let the alcohol evaporate about 1 minute and then add the cream and season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking on a medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add the saffron and water to the sauce, Stir and mix well.   Let it thicken, approximately 3 minutes.

*Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the box.  When the pasta is ready, save 2 cups of the cooking water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the pan along with the grated cheese.  Mix everything together well.  If the sauce seems dry, add some of the pasta cooking water little at a time.  Serve immediately with some more grated cheese.   Serves 4

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Bulk Mild Italian Sausage

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CHRISTMAS TREE CHARCUTERIE

This is a show stopper for sure and takes a little planning, but the results are worth it!  There’s no one recipe for this appetizer, use what ever you like.  Study the picture to get an idea of how to place the treats!

CEDED326-4C38-4496-BCA3-9499426E3DFF99D4E2B8-63F6-4766-A3F4-F4484C0A9ED2CF160616-8B13-407E-8547-023E3621B62D Instructions on making a CHRISTMAS TREE CHARCUTERIE: Use a styrofoam Christmas tree and using a glue gun, glue it to a plastic plate (one you can dispose of, I got this one at Publix for $2.99).  Then using the glue gun again, glue parchment paper around the cone to hide the white.

6519B988-3B84-46DA-9C85-E6B67E582B4CI had so much left over, that I made a tray of charcuterie to go along with the tree.  I used sharp cheddar, white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.  Just cut them into cubes.  Lay out all your different cheeses, meats, and olives and alternate placement based on color and size.   I brushed the finished tree with a little olive oil.  It’ll be a hit at any Christmas Party!

Posted in Appetizers | 4 Comments

LEMON ITALIAN RICOTTA COOKIES

We love these cookies at Christmas time, but they are delicious anytime of the year!  This makes enough to share (6 to 6 1/2 doz.), so go ahead, indulge and treat your friends!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) ricotta cheese (whole milk, such as Galbani)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 room temp. Large eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt

For the Icing:

  • 2 cups powder sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Christmas sprinkles for decorating
  • Zest of two lemons for decorating (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended.  Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

At Medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla, lemon juice, and eggs until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.  Beat until dough forms.  It will be sticky!

Use a one inch melon scooper  to scoop dough and then drop the dough onto large cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Drop about 1 1/2  inches apart.

Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden.  Cookies will be soft.  Take out of the oven and cool on cookie sheet about 15 minutes, then move to a cooling rack until cooled.  Repeat process until all cookies are baked.

ICING:

In small bowl, stir powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  With small teaspoon, spread icing on cookies.  Use the back of the spoon to gently spread the icing.  Decorate with Christmas Sprinkles (add a few specs of lemon zest to each cookie at this time also, if you like). (Do not wait too long to add sprinkles, they will not stick, do it in batches).  Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely (about 2 hours).

(Store the cookies in an airtight container.  The cookies do not need to be refrigerated.  For best results frost them the night before serving.)

Makes 6-6 1/2 dozen.

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CHICKEN FRANCAISE

This is a classic dish, but it’s also so delicious!  It goes great with mash potatoes or dressing!  The lemony taste with the flour and egg breading makes each bite a delight.  It’s pretty simple so give it a try, you won’t regret it!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken halves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • One whole lemon thinly sliced

Place chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a large baggy and gently pound chicken with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick (salt and pepper both sides).

Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until hot (not smoking).

Work in batches:  (Preparation)- Stir the flour, salt and black pepper in a plate or shallow bowl.  In another shallow bowl, crack 3 eggs and beat (put a little salt & pepper in the eggs too).    Dredge two pieces of chicken, one at a time, in the flour, shake off excess flour, then dredge the chicken in the egg mixture.  Place the piece of chicken in the frying pan.  Do the same with the other piece.  Fry the two pieces until lightly browned, then turn and brown the other side (about 4 minutes total).   Transfer to a plate and keep warm with some foil on top.  Now go back and dredge the other pieces in flour, then egg.  Then fry the other two pieces in the same manner.

After all the chicken is fried and nicely browned, clean the frying pan with paper towels.  Heat the butter over low heat until melted.  Add wine, broth, and lemon juice.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in the parsley.  Add the chicken back into the pan and spoon the chicken with the sauce.  Top with lemon slices for appearance!  Enjoy! (Serves 4)

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FILET OF BEEF TENDERLOIN–MAKE IT AHEAD with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

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This is such a simple, yet elegant meal and it makes any occasion special.  When ordering a beef tenderloin from a butcher ask for the middle of the center cut of the tenderloin, have them trim and truss the tenderloin so that it is as even as can be.

TIPS FOR MAKE-AHEAD BEEF TENDERLOIN:  Making beef tenderloin ahead of time and reheating it puts you at risk of over cooking.  However, you can make your tenderloin ahead, up to two days before,  and serve cold or let it sit out for 1-2 hours until it’s room temperature.  A great serving suggestion is to slice your tenderloin as thin as you can and place it on a large serving platter.  Accompany it with toasted baguette slices, arugula, Parmesan cheese savings and creamy horseradish sauce for dressing.

BEEF TENDERLOIN:

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb. Prime beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh, coarsely ground pepper

*Take out the tenderloin approx. 45 minutes before roasting.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Have a roasting pan fitted with a rack ready.  Add freshly ground pepper to a small bowl, add the salt and stir to mix.  Set aside until ready to use.

Pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel.  Spread 2 tablespoons of the butter all over the beef with your hands.  Sprinkle the beef all over with the salt and pepper mixture. Place the tenderloin on the roasting rack and roast for 40 minutes.    

At this point, begin checking the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer.  Insert the thermometer into the center-most part of the tenderloin.  For perfect medium-rare, pull the tenderloin once the thermometer reads 130 degrees.  If your tenderloin has yet to reach the desired temperature, return it to the oven and check it every 6-10 minutes thereafter.

Once the tenderloin has the reached desire internal temperature, transfer to a carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 15-20 minutes.  Remove any string used for trussing.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!  UNLESS YOU MAKE IT AHEAD AND REFRIGERATE IT FOR A DAY OR TWO!   (serves 8 to 12 as entree or up to 20 cut thinly)

 (Option for presentation:  place some thyme twigs or rosemary twigs for garnish around and on top of the tenderloin)

Degree of Doneness:4BE94ECD-73E3-45C0-B3EF-9D24EEF25DA6

Rare: 125 degrees       Medium-Rare: 135 degrees       Medium: 145 degrees                  Medium Well: 150 degrees              Well Done: 160 degrees  

CREAMY HORSERADISH SAUCE: ( Recipe for Horseradish sauce serves 6–you can double if necessary)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon zest
  • squeeze of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chives, finely diced

In a small mixing bowl, stir all of the ingredients together.  Serve right away or cover and   place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Can be refrigerate for about 2 weeks.

 

CHAMPAGNE PUNCH AND MEMBERS OF HEALTHY BITES!

CHAMPAGNE PUNCH RECIPE:

  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 2 bottles white wine, chilled
  • 2 bottles Prosecco, chilled
  • 2 liter sparkling water
  • 1 lemon, sliced for garnish
  • 1 container blue berries, for garnish
  • 1 cup fresh mint, garnish
  • 1 cup raspberries or cranberries, for garnish

In large punch bowl, combine the frozen lemonades, white wine, ProSecco, and sparkling water.  Stir, then add the garnishes.   Serve cold!  Enjoy

ADDED BONUS:  MAKE AHEAD DO’S AND DONT’S and 10 MAKE-AHEAD TIPS FOR PARTIES

CLICK ON 10 Make-Ahead Tips for parties

CLICK ON THIS:  THANKSGIVING MAKE AHEAD

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APPLE POUND CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups regular sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (such as Gala or Granny Smith)
  • Optional:  walnuts for decoration and whipped topping for serving.

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use pam spray for baking on a 9 inch Bundt pan and set aside.  With a mixer on low speed, cream together the sugar and butter.  Once well blended, add the applesauce, vanilla, and eggs (one egg at a time).  Mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on slow with your mixer until well combined.

Fold in the apples by hand and then transfer the mixture to the 9 inch Bundt pan.  (The batter will be thick!).   Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set on cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan.

Time to Glaze:     Combine the powdered sugar, milk and butter in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended.  Drizzle over the cake while it is still warm.

(Optional:  make a ring of walnuts around the top of the cake for decoration and top with a dollop of whipped cream when serving)

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