Sunday Family Dinner

Last Sunday the weather was perfect for cooking out on the patio. To combine my favorite Sunday meal – roasted chicken – I mentioned to my husband lets do a beer can chicken out on the grill for dinner. We both had different things on our “to do” list for the day but will end it out on the patio, one of our favorite places to be.
spatchock chicken on grillWe went our separate ways to get some of our “to do” lists things done and my phone went off he said our son was coming for dinner, then a couple of hours later it goes off again, his parents were coming for dinner. Some people might get annoyed their initial dinner plans change but I actually take it as a compliment that he wants to share our favorite food and our favorite place with people we love.
Potatoes on grillWe all sat around the table sharing good food and wine along with some great stories. My  mother-in-law mentioned she was cleaning out a cupboard and didn’t know what to do with her Ebelskiver pan. Firstly all but my daughter had no idea what she was talking about, secondly why in 34+ years I have known her had she never mentioned this special pan or made me any of the Danish pancakes her pan makes? The next day the pan found its way into my kitchen. I had planned on making them and sharing the recipe today but I need to make a batch or two before I share it with you. Stay tuned!
broccoli on grillSunday dinner was one of the only meals I made this week so I don’t have a “new” recipe for you today except it’s another beautiful Sunday and you should try to spend some of it in your happy place with some of your favorite people.

I can’t leave you with nothing so last Sunday’s dinner is worth sharing – I cut the backbone out of two chickens aka spatchcock. Seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon and rosemary.
In my cast iron pan I sliced up some baby potatoes along with an onion and again olive oil, salt and pepper.
I had some broccoli from the garden and wasn’t sure how I should deal with it on the grill so I did the same olive oil, salt and pepper and put the whole head on the grill, turning it a couple of times till it was cooked through and threw a loaf of bread on the top rack to heat up. Pretty perfect way to end the day if I do say so myself.

Grilled Skirt or Flank Steak

It has been a crazy week and I haven’t made anything new to share so I thought I would bring back an oldie but a goody.  I have made this several times and it is always a crowd pleaser.  I hope if you haven’t made this recipe yet, it’s time – maybe for the fourth of July bbq?

If you haven’t ever purchase or tried a skirt or flank steak I really think you ought to check them out. I know they look pretty funky and not very appealing to the eye being all rolled up. And they are not as wildly available in stores as all the other yummy looking steaks; but if you do come across one or both of them give them a chance. They are fairly inexpensive, burn up fast and seasoning them is pretty endless.

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Sometimes you can find them in a cryovac bag which is even better. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had taken something out of the freezer for dinner. When I see any of them I tend to throw one or more in my cart they are great to have on hand and I like that I can get to it when I want versus having to cook up whatever I wasn’t able to get to and is going to spoil. Life happens and plans change all the time in my crazy world.

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There are a few tricks to these types of meat though. They are pretty fibrous and they really need to be seasoned well and they are best served medium rare and thin sliced. You also need to let them rest, but every meat is better if you give them time to rest to let the juice stay inside the meat instead of all over your cutting board. Once they have rested; slice them thin at an angle and against the grain for a tender bite. If you slice with the grain you will definitely know it as your jaw will be getting an incredible work out; and I fear you will never buy another one.

Dry Rub – enough for 2 or more Steaks

½ cup sweet Paprika
4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp chili powder
¼ – ½ cup peanut oil
2 lb Skirt Steak
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 limes

Preheat grill to 450-500’ – cook meat about 2-3 minutes per side

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together; rub steak with peanut oil, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and 4+/- tsp of rub on both sides; place on hot grill turning once. Remove from heat; squeeze fresh lime over meat, let rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

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Marinade – enough for 1 Steak

1½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped scallions
½ cup peeled chopped pear
1½ tbs sesame oil
1½ tbs grated orange zest
2 ½ tbs chopped fresh ginger
8-10 cloves garlic
2 lb Flank Steak

Place first 10 ingredients in a blender. Blend into a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a heavy duty Ziploc bag; add steak and marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Preheat grill 450-500’ brush grill with oil; place steak on hot grill 2-3 minutes per side turning once. Remove steak to a platter, cover with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

Pesto Turkey Pasta

I need to start by saying I try to keep my online media presence pretty low key, well actually I do the same in my day to day “real” life as well. I think I share just enough information about me and also about my family. I try to not “offend” or “overshare” too much and I don’t normally talk about the 3 hot topics; money, religion and politics. At least that was the top three while I was growing up.  Today it seems there is nothing off limits; more and more things are coming out of the shadows everyday.

I was very saddened to hear about the tragedy of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. I initially wrote the word suicides but I took it out and replaced it with tragedy because it sounded too harsh to me. I was brought up to not talk about anything too personal and I really don’t. Thankfully my daughter does not follow the same rules as I do. She needs help she asks, maybe someday I’ll be more like her.
IMG_2852.JPGI am a firm believer and have said it many many times that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My heart breaks for their families and I hope that something positive can come out of these tragic losses. I felt I needed to say this as I have been thinking about it constantly. Depression is real if you need help please ask
US National suicide prevention line: 1-800-273-8255.

IMG_2848I don’t really know how to lead into the recipe I want to share with you so here it goes. My daughter made some delicious Basil Pistachio Pesto last weekend and what we didn’t eat with crackers I thought about using the rest for dinner. I also had some turkey cutlets that I needed to cook up and so it screamed pasta night. This would also be great if you had any leftover turkey though most people I know only eat turkey around Thanksgiving which is kind of a shame.  Who knows maybe you’ll want to try this and make a turkey leg or breast.
IMG_2849Pesto Turkey Pasta

2 large eggs
½ cup pesto – make fresh or buy your favorite brand (my “norm” recipe below) 
Box of pasta – farfalle, egg noodles, gemelli or similar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (cutlets or leftovers)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to the package, drain reserving some of the liquid.
IMG_2851.JPGIn a medium bowl add the pesto along with the eggs and the lemon zest.

Saute the onions along with the garlic, add the chopped turkey cook through, or add the already cooked turkey.  
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Add the pasta to the onions and turkey. Pour the egg pesto mixture over the pasta turkey. The heat will cook the egg – similar to carbonara.  


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed add some of the reserved pasta water to lighten up if needed.

Basil Pesto
6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.

 

Zucchini Ravioli

I am not sure if it is the weather or my schedule of late but I havent really spent my usual amount of time planning the garden for this year. I was letting the dog out the side door just yesterday (Monday – i’m writing this one early as I am away this weekend) and noticed my asparagus was already 3 feet tall UGH! I hadn’t even cleaned out the debris from last year. I immediately went out and dealt with the situation and had some of the “normal” sized stalks for dinner – they were delicious as I knew they would be .
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Last year my zucchini was such a disappointment i am hoping for better this season. I realize people tend to use the oops I didn’t get to the garden in time sized squash that went from perfect to damn how did I miss that one; it’s the size of a Softball bat. For when they want to make zucchini lasagna; even though most times they are very seedy. But if you are looking for something to make with the cute little ones, this will fit the bill. Plus they are super cute and really easy to make.
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I actually have been trying for a month or so to make these. It started when I saw the crop of squash at the store, they were so cute so I grabbed a bag full. I forgot to go back to the other end of the store for the ricotta – fail. Then the next trip I grabbed some ricotta and thought I had some squash at home – fail. Finally I was going to make it happen – nope another fail timing is everything and it got away from me. Now I was determined and finally pulled it off. They don’t take long at all but I definitely could have used a few more to fill the pan I chose to make it in. I know just use a smaller dish – I know I know I have issues! Regardless I was very happy I finally made it happen, they are tasty, easy to assemble, quick and worth the wait.
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4-6 small Zucchini – for a 9×13 pan
1 large container Ricotta
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoon dried Parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesean Reggiano
1 cup mozzarella
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
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Either make your marinara or use your favorite jarred sauce and doctor it up as you normally would, or not.
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In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Mix till combined.
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Using your vegetable peeler, slice lengthwise till you can’t anymore. I didn’t do this but think it would be easier to leave the stem on to use as a handle.
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Depending how large you want your ravioli layer 2 slices side by side then top with two more slices going the opposite direction.
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Put a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center and fold into a little package.
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Layer as you would a lasagna. Sauce, ravioli, cheese and repeat.
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Bake for about 30 minutes until the top cheese layer is brown and bubbly
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Rice Pilaf plus plus

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!!!!

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Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with using some pre-packaged items from pantry. I have a few staples that I use, albeit probably not very often but not because I don’t want to, I really kind of forget to open the cupboard. We are meat and potato kind of people so I sometimes space that I have rice in many forms on hand.
IMG_2729 - CopyThe other night I was going to cook up a pasta and veggie kind of side but opted for using a packaged rice pilaf but knew I wanted to use up a few small peppers and tomatoes that were about to go south fairly soon.
IMG_2727 - CopyIf you have never doctored up a plain ole box; again nothing wrong with it; but a few other ingredients you already have on hand and you will not be disappointed. My daughter was funny and asked if I made this up, I cannot take full credit as I was served something a little similar years ago it just had different ingredients.
IMG_2728 - CopyThere is no set rule of what you can add; again I wanted to use up some fridge items and then added a handful of spaghetti that I broke up and chopped up some marcona almonds along with my peppers and tomatoes. My fam loved it!
IMG_2734Package of rice pilaf
1 small onion diced
Small hand full of spaghetti broken into small pieces
Hand full of cherry tomatoes halved
1 medium pepper sliced, seeded and chopped
2 cups Chicken stock or water
Slivered or chopped almonds
Scallions or chives sliced
IMG_2732 - CopySaute the onion, pepper till soft. 4-5 minutes, add the spaghetti and brown a bit, add the rice and it’s packet. Add the stock, stir and cover. On low for about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the rice is done.  Add the sliced tomatoes, cover and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Just before serving add the almonds and top with scallions.

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

This week my kitchen was pretty quiet; which is my way of saying that I didn’t make anything exciting that I felt I HAD to share with you. That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat it’s more how I would say “no brainer” meals were had this week. What I mean by that is whatever was simple, quick and not a lot of ingredients. Any shortcut you know works here!

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I am sitting here trying to think why I didn’t make something fun and exciting. I don’t think we were super busy, though we did spend a wonderful night out on the town. I mentioned in last weeks blog about gathering 9 of my foodie friends and family to a food bank fundraising event featuring Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. What an awesome night! She is a true rock star. She was funny, engaging, personable, approachable and everything I had hoped she would be and more.
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Three of us paid a little extra, it was for charity, it’s all good. For a meet and greet with Alex. I met her, shook her hand and took pictures with her, we are on first name basis now, well at least I think so and it’s my blog so that’s what I am going with.
MaryAnn Esposito
While in the VIP room; yeah that’s what they called it. I was kind of geeking out. There was a TV chef from my younger days that I recognized Mary Ann Esposito she has a show on Public Television called Ciao Italia which I just looked up is the longest-running television cooking program in America. I watched this all the time when I was younger; mostly because it was one of the 5 channels we had. But I loved her and her show so it was an honor to meet her. Plus she thought my daughter was my sister so I love her even more.
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We had a great time laughing and talking with local Chef Luca Paris who is Chef/Owner of Luca’s Mediterranean a few towns over. I’ve eaten at his place numerous times but this is the first time we chatted more than just the cordial meet and greet; here’s your table and how is everything. He was one of the competitors; this was an chef challenge event; he didn’t win – but we were routing for him all night.
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If you are looking for something simple, hands off and delicious this is going to help you out a lot. I know it’s not really a recipe but we had such a great night I wanted to share it with you but this is a food blog so I wanted to leave you with something.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs – couldn’t be simpler!

Bone in skin on Chicken thighs – however many fit in a single layer in your size crockpot
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

Salt and Pepper both sides of your chicken thighs and lay them in a single layer in your slow cooker, nothing else just put the cover on them and leave on low for the day. about 6-8 hours. They come out perfectly cooked with the skin still crispy. it’s that simple and they taste great. Add a couple of your quick sides and dinner is served.

I’m sure you could add another spice to the mix; maybe Cajun, Garlic, Italian seasoning whatever you like.

Creamy Garlic Chicken

I think I have finally found something I am passionate about. I mean truly passionate about. I love playing golf, I love gardening, I love traveling and exploring; but what gets me really excited is food. It only took me around 20 years to figure out that I get super excited about the experience of and being around food. I mean it has not always been this way trust me but I definitely can see that I have become more excited at the prospect of getting into a restaurant that is impossible to get in, finding a hidden gem by accident and staying for hours,  seeing/meeting a famous chef or even a chef that came in second on Chopped; yeah that really happened.
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My daughter wanted to go to a restaurant the runner up was cooking at in Washington DC; so we were in the city and went for lunch, I mentioned to our waiter we were here only because my daughter saw him on chopped. He said he was cooking out back and then proceeded to tell him without our knowledge. A chef was coming towards us; came to our table and chatted with us, more like me, my daughter was chef shocked and could barely speak. Same thing happened when she came face to face with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on a flight from Japan to the US.
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Last year my daughter and I went to a taping of a radio show featuring ex iron chef Mario Batali, this week I am dragging 9 of my foodie family and friends to a fundraising dinner and I paid extra for my ticket for a meet and greet with Iron Chef Alex Guarnascelli.  I am currently waiting “patiently” to see if my name is pulled to make a reservation to the Lost Kitchen in Freedom ME; which is only taking names via 3×5 index cards mailed in for reservations.  Also a couple of years ago my husband and I along with another couple made a reservation to a restaurant in Montreal Canada that had a 4 month waiting list; which by the way is a 4 hour drive from us. Not to mention I am heading into my fourth year of writing a weekly food blog. I think you get the gist now!

I love that I am sharing my passion with my husband and kids and that they are just as much a foodie as I am. Having dinner together at the table every night together IS important! What my husband said about this dish “knocked it out of the park”

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced or chopped up like I did
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

season chicken with salt and pepper, in a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through and browned on each side, remove chicken and set aside.
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Add the garlic for and cook for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. add the chicken stock and using a wooden spoon get all the browned bits up off the pan, cook for about 3-4 minutes to almost half of the stock is gone.
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Add the heavy cream, seasoning, cheese and whisk over high heat till it thickens. Add the spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken to the sauce.
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serve over pasta if you want – I served it over linguine and it re-heated beautifully the next day!

Macros – chicken and sauce only
484 Calories 57 g Protein 34 g 23 g Fat 9 g Carbs