Monday, January 31, 2011


This is a great side dish for grilled meat and also goes well on a sandwich or mixed with a little pasta, olive oil and cheese. I brought this to Pam and Darby's a few years ago along with lamb chops and potatoes. It will keep in the fridge for a few days, but serve at room temperature for maximum flavor.

3 Tbl olive oil
4 bell peppers, 2 red, 2 yellow or orange
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbl capers
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Slice the peppers thinly and saute them with the red onion in the olive oil on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the peppers become soft.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and continue to saute about 10 minutes more. Stir in the red wine vinegar, capers, and parsley and turn off the heat. After cooling season with the salt and black pepper.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finally Back!

My computer's been sick this week.....I think it's back on track post tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Foods

No recipe today...just a little reminder to  to eat foods that are high in antioxidants and do your body well. Foods like broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans (all kinds) kale or spinach, whole grains, oats, apples, berries, and red peppers are readily available and relatively inexpensive. Other foods, eaten in moderation, including  fish, eggs, and nuts are great too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brandied Apricot Jam

I had quite a nice size bag of dried apricots sitting in my fridge for the last month and so I decided to turn them into a jam that I could freeze in small containers. I didn't want this too sweet because I think I'll be able to incorporate the jam into a savory main dish or two in the near future. Here's what I did:

5 cups dried apricots soaked in water for a few hours
1/2 cup sugar( or more if you want a sweeter jam)
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup brandy
water for cooking

Drain the soaked apricots and cut them up in pieces. In a medium sauce pan  simmer the apricots and sugar covered with water until the mixture starts to break down and become "jammy". (This can take 30 to 45 minutes..add more water if needed) Once the apricots break down, add the lemon juice, salt and brandy and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes more. Cool and pack in containers for freezing if you like.
Makes about 3 pints

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lentil Sausage Soup

Pam's made this soup before but this time she substituted Aidell's Artichoke and Garlic  Chicken Sausage for the kielbasa. This comes from Ina Garten at the Food Network. I love lentil soup so I know I'll be trying it soon! You can find the recipe here:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Healthy Mock Pate

My Uncle Sam LOVED liver pate so much that if you put some in front of him you might not get any for yourself. My mom used to make it and I'd buy it whenever we had company.  Actually it's the only way that I like liver.'s full of bad fat and cholesterol. I came across this recipe a few days ago and since I had lentils in the house I thought I'd give it a try. The recipe I found used walnuts, but I substituted pecans. This is pretty reminiscent of the real thing.

1 cup dried lentils
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
1 tsp olive or vegetable oil
1 cup pecans
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the lentils in the broth for about 30 minutes over medium heat.( I found that I had to add a little water as they cooked to prevent them from drying out). Drain thoroughly, but save some of the broth.  Saute the onion in the oil until softened. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.( You may need to add some of the reserved broth or water to accomplish this.) Season to taste with salt and pepper...I like a lot of pepper!
This makes 3 cups so feel free to halve the recipe.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cabbage and Beef Soup

Here's my soup of the week...a little beef..a lot of cabbage. Double up the meat if you want "Beef and Cabbage Soup".

1 lb beef chuck or stew meat, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
2 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots. sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbl Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1 Tbl paprika
1  14-16 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
3 cups peeled potatoes, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 head large cabbage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot brown the meat in the olive oil . Add the onions,carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often until the onions soften a bit. Stir in the Greek Seasoning, paprika, tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour or until the meat becomes tender. Add the potatoes and cabbage and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes more. Salt and pepper to your liking.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chunk Salad

Tom likes to frequently have what he calls "chunk salad" as a side, which usually consists of cucumber, tomato, and onion cut in chunks and dressed with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar.  I dressed this one up a bit by adding kalamata olives and cubes of kasseri cheese .  Kasseri is a sheep's milk cheese with Greek origins.  I think it's most famously used for "flaming cheese" in Greek restaurants (an appetizer we like to make in the summer). It's pretty available at Mediterranean food stores and large cheese counters. Instead of vinegar, I dressed this salad with olive oil and lemon juice...really refreshing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Zucchini Butter

I'm a Facebook fan of  "The Kitchn" website and this summer when the zucchini was coming faster than we could eat it, this recipe popped up. It looked interesting and pretty healthy so I decided to try it.  We loved it, so even now I'll buy zucchini to make it. It does require standing over the stove for 15 or 20 minutes. I rarely have shallots in the house, so I substitute red onion and also add the garlic.  It's great on bread, crackers and even other veggies and keeps for a long time in the fridge.
You can find the recipe here and take a look at the site if you feel inclined:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Italian Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

Here's a nice twist on meatloaf...a little Italian sausage gives it a nice flavor.

For the meatloaf:
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage ( either bulk or removed from casings)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
8 whole mushroom, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl olive oil
Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper in the olive oil. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes and then in a large bowl, combine everything together. At this point I refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour.

For the gravy:
Roast a full head of garlic by cutting off the top and then placing the head on a square of foil.  Drizzle a little olive oil over it, wrap the foil around and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
When cooled, squeeze out the garlic and mash. Combine the garlic with 2 instant beef or pork gravy mixes and a 12 oz can of V-8 juice. Heat and as the sauce thickens, add enough water to make a nice gravy. Swirl in a tablespoon of butter.

Shape the meat mixture into a loaf and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet or pan. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes and then spread about 3/4 cup of the gravy on top.  Continue to bake for about another hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160F. Serve the gravy over the meat and maybe some mashed potatoes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein

Whenever I think of this dish, I remember a young man who worked for us. His name was Brian, but we nicknamed him "Fubu", because at 18, he was in to wearing that clothing line all the time. Told us he hated broccoli, but one day everyone got a carry out from the local Chinese restaurant and we sort of forced Fubu to try the beef and broccoli. He went bananas and eventually learned to make it himself...that's the way to get kids to eat their veggies!

For the beef:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs tender beef (sirloin, ribeye, flank steak) sliced about 1/4 inch against the grain
2Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl dry sherry
Combine the ingredients and then stir fry in a wok or large frying pan in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, stir fry the following:
1 large onion cut in wedges
1 lb broccoli florets
3 cloves minced garlic
1Tbl. grated ginger
Add the beef to this and then stir in:
1/c cup beef broth
2 Tbl brown sugar
3 Tbl soy sauce
1/2 tsp  crushed red pepper flakes
Thicken the mixture with a cornstarch slurry

Add 8 oz spaghetti cooked in beef broth and about 2 tsp sesame oil

Note: Instead of spaghetti you can use 2 packages of cooked beef ramen noodles or even cooked rice

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rye -Beer Bread

I'm sure I've mentioned that we love tuna on rye...and a couple of weeks ago we wanted them for dinner with some leftover soup but no bread in the house. It was snowing and I didn't want to go out, so I found this recipe and decided to give it a try.  I cut it in half because I only wanted one loaf. This bread was really good, even though I didn't wait the full time for the first rise. Find the recipe here: 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spaghetti, Garlic, and Spinach

Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network made a wonderful Italian Chicken with Spaghetti Bordelaise a number of years ago..I've made it a number of times and it's really good.  This time I was a little lazy and decided to just marinate the chicken pieces in Italian salad dressing for a couple of hours, coat them with Italian bread crumbs and bake them at 350 for 45 minutes. I pared down the spaghetti recipe and added spinach to it.  Emeril's recipe can be found here: 
My spaghetti recipe:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbl butter
5 cups fresh baby spinach ( or more)
6 to 8 ounces spaghetti cooked in chicken broth ( reserve about a cup of the broth after cooking)
Parmesan cheese for garnishing

Saute the garlic and 2 of the green onions(sliced) in the olive oil until softened. Add the Italian seasoning and the wine. Stir in the cooked spaghetti and add the spinach leaves, a handful at a time until all have wilted .Stir in the butter and add some of the reserved chicken broth, if needed.  Slice the other two green onions and sprinkle on top with the parmesan.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Lancashire Hot Pot

Lancashire hot pot is really just the English version of Irish stew, the difference being that the hot pot ingredients are layered and baked in a casserole, while the stew is cooked on top of the stove. I brought home a semi-boneless leg of lamb last week with the intention of cubing most of it for kebabs. Some of the pieces were irregular and didn't lend themselves to skewering, so I decided to make this ( My mom made this often). A lot of recipes call for just lamb, potatoes and onions, but I remember having it with carrots and mushrooms. I took the lamb bone and roasted it for about 45 minutes and then simmered it in water with bay leaves and made a little lamb stock.  If you don't have lamb stock, substitute beef broth or bouillon. If you don't have a leg or shoulder roast to cube, you can use lamb shoulder chops.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs lamb, cubed
2 Tbl olive oil
3 carrots, cut on the diagonal into one inch pieces
1 large onion, sliced thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, halved
3 - 4 medium potatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 cup beef or lamb broth
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
Wondra flour ( or a slurry made with flour and water)
salt and pepper
2 Tbl butter

In a large pan, brown the lamb pieces in the olive oil and then remove
Add the carrots in the same pan and cook just until they start to brown
Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute until the onions soften a bit
Parboil the potato slices for about 5 minutes and drain
In a saucepan, heat the 2 broths together until boiling and then sprinkle in enough Wondra flour  to thicken, whisking constantly.  Off the heat stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
Layer the meat in the bottom of a 3 qt. casserole and generously salt and pepper
Layer the carrot, onion, mushroom mixture on top and season again
Cover with the potatoes, season and pour the gravy mixture over the top( you may not want to use all of the gravy) Dot with the butter
Bake covered for about 45 minutes at 350F and then for another 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zucchini and Potatoes

Here's a side that can be prepped ahead of time and baked off just before serving.

4 small red potatoes, halved
2 small zucchini, cut on the bias in 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl butter
2 cloves garlic ,minced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese ( or your choice)

Parboil the potatoes for about 5 minutes and drain.  In a large saute pan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Saute the potatoes and zucchini on one side until golden.  Add the garlic and some salt and pepper and turn the vegetables and cook that side for a few minutes.  Transfer the vegetables and garlic to a baking dish, sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


If you have access to a Costco check these out. I found this package of ten baguettes in the freezer section. Inside they're wrapped two to a package and each are about 12 inches long. Let them thaw for about 15 minutes and then bake them for about 10 minutes. No more buying a baguette that's too hard or stale.  And they were great for our subs!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup

I pulled that ham bone left from Thanksgiving out of the freezer the other day and made my twice yearly bean soup. This soup might be a little different than recipes you see because I add paprika and dried mint to mine. The mint really gives the soup a great flavor. Sometimes I use smoked ham hocks or smoked neck bones for the broth which gives it a smoky flavor.  If you don't want to use dried beans, substitute about four 15 ounce cans and skip that step. Drain three cans of the beans but include the liquid from one can in the soup.

1 lb dried northern beans
1 ham bone ( or 2 ham hocks or a few smoked neck bones)
2 bay leaves 
3 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 Tbl. paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 cups ham broth
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup bean broth
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 to 3 tsp dried mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 to 4 cups diced ham
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover.  Drain the beans, rinse and cook them covered with water 45 minutes to one hour until tender. Reserve about 1 cup of the bean broth.
For the ham broth, simmer the bone in about 3 quarts of water with the bay leaves for about an hour. Remove the bone and pick off any meat and reserve.

In a large soup pot saute the onions, celery. carrot and garlic until softened.  Add the paprika, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and continue to saute a few more minutes.  Add the ham, chicken and bean broths to the pot.  Add the cooked beans and ham. Bring up to a simmer and add the dried mint. Continue to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. ( if you want a thicker, creamier soup take an immersion blender to the pot to break up some of the beans)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Red Pepper Cheese Spread

Marge's cousin, Vesko, comes to visit from Bulgaria every few years.  He loves to cook and made this spread a few times while here.  A little like pimiento cheese but creamier because of the addition of cottage cheese, it's a nice spread for crackers and vegetables.  I added extra tabasco sauce to mine because I like the extra zip.

2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
1 cup cottage cheese (I smashed this up before adding)
1/4 cup mayo
1/8 tsp tabasco sauce ( or more if desired)

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and chill. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spinach and Orzo

Here's a nice side that goes well with the Greek style slow roasted chicken . It's a great alternative to potatoes.

1 cup dry orzo
Chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 can mushrooms ( stems and pieces)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the orzo in the broth according to package directions,  When draining, reserve about a cup of the broth.  Set aside.  In a medium saute pan, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Add the orzo and drained mushrooms and then start incorporating the spinach leaves, a few at a time, until combined.  If mixture seems dry, add a little of the cooking broth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: I make this ahead of time, and when ready to serve, add some of the broth and microwave for a few minutes to warm.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

Whenever we had bananas turning a little too ripe ( which wasn't often), my mom would make this great banana nut bread.  It's dense and not too sweet. Great with coffee or a cold glass of milk and spread with a little butter.

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 Tbl sour milk (mix 1 tsp vinegar into 1/4 cup milk)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and add the mashed bananas and sour milk.
Sift (or whisk) the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and slowly stir into the wet mixture.  Fold in the nuts and put the batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350F for about 1 hour.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Pepper Garlic Dip

Here's a good flavorful spread that's based on my Mayo post of 9/21/10. It makes a great dip for veggies and was really good on our grilled portabello mushroom burgers with grilled onion, Swiss cheese, and lettuce.

1 room temperature egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup roasted red peppers

Place all ingredients except the oil in a mini food processor.  Process to combine, then slowly drizzle the oil in while continuing to process until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate for a while before using.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rustic Meatball Soup

This is an easy soup that doesn't necessarily look pretty but is extremely satisfying.  It's based on one my mom made when I was a kid and my favorite way of eating it was to butter and tear up a piece of bread and throw it all in the soup ( actually, I still like to do this!). You don't brown the meatballs ahead of time, but just drop them in the simmering soup.

For the meatballs:
1 to 1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs ( or panko)
1 egg
1 tsp each salt and black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and form into 1 to 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Set aside.

For the soup:
2 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 medium potatoes, cut in large cubes
5 cups beef broth
5 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley( optional)

In a large soup pot, saute the onion, carrot, celery. and garlic until softened. Add the two broths and the potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Increase the heat and start adding the meatballs, a few at a time, not letting the soup's temperature go below the simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.  Add the parsley if using and stir into the soup.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Edamame and Garbanzo Beans

Here's a great spread that's packed with protein and fiber...and tastes good too!  Edamame are green soy beans that can be used in soups, chilies, and even roasted for snacks. You can find them in the freezer section of the grocery store. Serve this spread with veggies and/or crackers.  I even like it for lunch!

2 cups shelled edamame beans cooked per package instructions and cooled
1 cup canned garbanzo (chick peas), drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 large garlic clove
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil ( or more depending on your taste)
Process all ingredients in a mini food processor until as smooth or chunky as you like
Chill for about an hour before serving

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Have you seen these?  They're a genetically engineered tomato from Europe that apparently can be eaten at different stages of ripeness.  I found them at my produce market last week and decided to try them even though they were sort of pricey. They weren't bad considering that you can't get a good tomato at this time of year. Brownish-red in color and not large, they do fill the void for winter. I used them in this spinach salad:

1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbl white wine vinegar
4 Tbl vegetable oil
3-4 Tbl sugar
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients

For the salad:
Toss together about 5 cups baby spinach leaves with 1 cup sliced red onions, 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, and a few black olives.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Steak, Prosciutto and Provolone

New Year's Eve is always a quiet night for us, but I do make something a little special for dinner.  This year I did a recipe that I hadn't made in years. We had this tenderloin steak that's topped with prosciutto and provolone, and then sauced with mushrooms and Marsala. You can find the original recipe here: 

I did make a few slight changes though:  My tenderloins were about 1 1/2 inches thick, so I increased the cooking time and I used shitake mushrooms for the sauce and probably almost a cup of  Marsala.  Served with mashed potatoes and a spinach salad, it was truly a spectacular meal...not to mention the wonderful bottle of Merlot my cousin Anne had given us for a special occasion!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meat Sauce

I like to "doctor up" cans and that's exactly what I do when I make spaghetti sauce.  I use a large can of the cheapest spaghetti sauce (usually the one that has the 4 cheeses in it), and then go from there.  This recipe will cover 12 to 16 ounces of dried pasta. For our pre - Christmas pasta dinner I tripled the recipe, used 2 lbs of mostaccioli and served Italian sausage baked in some of the sauce on the side.  Here's my recipe for a normal  pot that should make 4 to 6 generous servings:

1 large can store bought spaghetti sauce( I like the 4 cheese kind)
1 can V-8 juice
1 large onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 -4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 lb ground beef or turkey ( or a combination)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil ( or one of my frozen basil cubes)
8 ounces mushrooms(optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving

In a large saucepot, saute the onion, green pepper and garlic until softened.  Add the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt ,pepper and mushrooms, if using. Saute a few more minutes and add the meat and cook until it loses its color. Add the V-8 and canned spaghetti sauce and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add the parmesan to the pot just before serving.

Variation: To add Italian sausage, bake  2-4 sausages at 350F for about 30 minutes.(they won't be quite done but will finish in the pot) Cut them into one inch rounds and add them to the pot just before adding the V-8 and spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Prosciutto and Belgian Endive

My Dad used to make this appetizer whenever he  had a dinner party and would also bring them to our house now and then...I think he roasted the peppers...I only wanted to make a few for Tom and I so I just sauteed them.

If you'd like to roast them, see my post here: 
It's the second post after this one

2 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (you should get about 30)
1/2 tsp each, salt and pepper
4 -5 thin slices prosciutto, cut into quarters
1 head of Belgian endive
A little olive oil for drizzling

In a saute pan, cook the peppers and garlic in the olive oil until the peppers soften. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes on medium heat. Season with the salt and pepper. Cool
Peel the head of the endive to get about 10 to 12 spears
Wrap about 3 strips of the pepper in a piece of prosciutto and place on the endive spear.  Chill and drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.