PASTA e FAGIOLI (Pronounced “Pasta Fazool”)

Nothing like a hearty soup to delight your soul! Here’s a family favorite that is full of healthy vegetables and protein rich cannellini beans. Comes together quickly and the entire family will love it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pancetta
  • 1 Kielbasa, cut up in 1 inch rounds
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can, 28 oz. San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, either hand crushed, or food processor crushed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 4 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans (with liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of Italian seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 cups Ditalini pasta (cook according to package directions)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook the pancetta and Kielbasa in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 3 minutes or until it softens. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the broth, beans (with liquid), and bay leaves. Hand crush the tomatoes in a separate bowl, or place in a food processor for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Taste and add salt & pepper as you prefer. Cook for 45 minutes on simmer. (remove bay leaves when done).

While soup is cooking, prepare according to package directions. When done, set aside and let it cool. Add pasta to the soup and stir to combine.

Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Makes 4-5 quarts.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE (Pistachio Cake)

In honor of the 10th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration of Tierra Verde, I’ve made a delicious cake in the shape of a Christmas tree. It a Pistachio Cake made with Duncan Hines white cake mix stepping it up a notch with added flavor. I have included the Christmas Tree template for you to print out and use to make your own cake! It will bring smiles and oohs and awwws to your family and friends.

Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration will be held Sat. Dec. 5th, 2020, downtown Tierra Verde.

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:

  • 1 box white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

INGREDIENTS FOR ICING:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 10 drops green food coloring (or your preference of shade of green)
  • 1 cup pistachio nuts, crushed by pulsing in food processor

DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with “Pam” for baking, or grease and flour.

Mix the cake mix, pudding, mix, orange juice, water, vegetable oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat for two minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then invert onto a large sheet pan to completely cool. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

DIRECTIONS FOR FROSTING:

Prepare a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk butter until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add powder sugar 1 cup at a time until well blended. Increase speed to med. and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and 2 tbsp. cream and continue to whip on med. for 1 minute. Add more cream as needed until desire consistency is reached (usually about 4 tbsp.). Whip until the frosting is smooth and silky. Take a little of the white frosting and separate in a bowl. Add green color to the icing and whip slightly to blend. Set aside.

DIRECTIONS TO ASSEMBLE AND DECORATE:

Use the template provided above. Place the template on cake and cut pieces with a long serrated knife according to the template. Assemble tree pieces on a large serving platter, attaching the pieces with a little green frosting and frost top part of the tree in green icing. Assemble stump, attaching pieced with a little frosting and frost stump. Cover the stump with the crushed Pistachio nuts (pat them on). NOTE: Place pieces of wax paper around the edges of the cake to catch any excess icing, then remove and discard.

Decorate the tree with assorted decorations. You can also use cherries, M & M’s, or your choice of Christmas candies.

YOU CAN BUY VARIOUS CAKE DECORATIONS ON AMAZON TO ENHANCE THE CAKE

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).

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

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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