Cod, sausage and fennel cioppino

I am on another trek to try to empty out the fridge and freezer since I can’t fit another thing in any of them (I have another one in the garage) yet I still seem to go to the store and buy more food to make some recipe I just saw. I think I have a problem.
IMG_5744.JPGThis recipe I happen to have had everything on hand. Well mostly everything; I had made clam chowder last weekend so I picked up a few extra clam broth bottles so I had it on hand but I did have to buy the fennel bulb. I tend to always have some flash frozen fish in the freezer, it makes for a very quick meal during the week. I truly wish we had a fresh fish market close by but I have never had a bad flash frozen fish so I can’t complain.
IMG_5734.JPGIf you were wondering what Cioppino means you were not alone, I had to google it so I’ll save you the trouble.  Define cioppino: a stew of fish and shellfish cooked usually with tomatoes, wine, spices, and herbs. They are saying it came from San Francisco and is an Italian-American dish. It doesn’t matter to me who or where I just would like to thank them. The broth is so deep with flavor that I will most definitely be making this again soon!
IMG_5740Cod, sausage and fennel cioppino

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed – your choice sweet or hot, chicken, turkey or pork I used sweet pork
1 medium onion diced
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and cored, sliced thinly – I chopped mine
½ cup dry red wine
3 cups bottled clam juice
1 cup marinara sauce – jarred or homemade
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb skinless cod cut into 1 inch chunks

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the sausage breaking it up, add the onion and fennel, cook until the veggies start to brown and the sausage is cooked through.
IMG_5735.JPGAdd the wine and simmer while scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce the wine by half. Add the clam juice, marinara and pepper flakes, bring to a simmer reduce the heat to low and cover, simmer until the veggies are tender about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the fish into the stew, cover and simmer gently without stirring until the fish is flaky and is just opaque. Takes about 5 minutes.
IMG_5736.JPGI made my broth the day before and reheated it and then added my fish.  


Another wonderful recipe from Fine Cooking

Arancini

First day of Spring my ass – it is currently 18’F in my neck of the woods this morning and there is a possibility of snow showers tonight into tomorrow morning. Albeit it is sunny out but who wants to go and do anything out there wearing your winter coat, hat and mittens. Don’t get me wrong I see SO many things I want to get out there and do. My yard needs it’s normal debris pick up and I am already thinking about what and where I will be planting my garden. I do see a few of my garlic fronds peaking up from the straw but even they look frightened to come out from under their covers. Yesterday morning I did order a couple of over the railing planters where I intend to plant my herbs so they are closer to my kitchen; so that has excited me a bit.

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My morning rant is over, my cup of tea has been replenished the fam is home and my husband made biscuits for breakfast life is good!

We are leftover people; there I said it. I know there a many people out there that hate; I know that is a strong word so maybe despise might work better here. But I think sometimes you might not know what you are missing. There are so many possibilities here, you can eat them as is or reinvent them into something else.

This past week I had plenty of opportunities. Sometimes I think I make too many different meals during the week just saying. I had some leftover roasted chicken, my son must have made burritos at some point because there was leftover refried beans. So Monday night I turned into a quesadilla for me and my husband along side some sour cream, salsa and we even had some leftover guacamole 10 minute dinner voila’.

 

Last night I turned some leftover cheese sauce into Mac and Cheese and reheated some leftover chili and served them alongside some baby back ribs. My most favorite leftover reinvent was that I was finally able to make Arancini; which is an Italian rice ball. I have been wanting to try making them for well over a year now. Every time I think there is enough for leftovers by the time I go to make them, someone has eaten all my leftover risotto.

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I also made my first souffle it was spinach cheddar and also delicious

 

They were well worth the wait!!!

 

Arancini

When you make risotto and if you haven’t yet what are you waiting for? Double the batch and once everyone has enough for dinner; take the rest of it and place it on a greased sheet pan to cool; place it in the fridge to dry out overnight.

Leftover dried risotto
Sweet Italian sausage
Mozzarella
Breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup Parmigiani-Reggiano cheese grated
Pinch Kosher salt
Marinara sauce

I took my favorite sweet Italian sausage with the casing removed crumbled, browned and placed on a paper towel to soak up some of the grease. Once cooled I added it in a large bowl to the risotto along with the eggs and Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and mixed well.

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Using wet hands, it makes the rice easier to work with. Making the balls about the size of a golf ball roughly 2 tablespoons; with your thumb create an indent and place a small piece of mozzarella in the middle and rework the rice around it.

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Place the balls on the sheet pan and place in the fridge for about an hour, or if you are impatient like me I just rolled them in the breadcrumbs and fried them in 350’ oil till browned roughly 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately with your favorite marinara sauce.
They were a huge hit and I cannot wait to make them again!

Thanksgiving – Sausage Ciabatta dressing

Sitting at the island this morning perusing some recipe magazines and tearing out things I must try or at least would like to try some day. I am pretty sure I have a 3” binder full of these recipes that I want to try some day. Maybe today is the day!

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Thanksgiving is coming up pretty quickly and the staples will always be on my table, turkey of course, though personally I like chicken better.Mashed potatoes because if we didn’t I am fairly certain my daughter would revolt; pitch a fit and make everyone wait while she runs into the kitchen to make them. I can say with some certainty she could and has eaten mashed potatoes for several days in a row. When she was getting her wisdom teeth out, I asked her what she would like on hand to eat.The only thing I remember her asking me for was mashed potatoes. Sorry getting off track here.

I have always loved turnip as does my father-in-law; so many opinions on that one! We had a bumper crop of butternut squash this year so that is a definite.Then you have to throw in something green. I personally like frozen baby sweet peas; yes Mom I said it out for the world to hear; no taking it back now.

I usually make my own rolls (last year we had no power so no oven) and dressing aka stuffing. I don’t care to stuff my birds so it is dressing at my house.

I can’t recall ever having sweet potatoes with marsh mellows or the staple green bean casserole at my childhood dinner table so I have never made them and I really don’t have an interest – sorry everybody! I did just find a carrot sweet potato casserole recipe that looks promising. I have no problem trying something new; it will either work or it won’t but there is so many other things on the table that I feel confident that no one will leave the table hungry and what a better place to get a lot of peoples opinion on the subject.

In one of the magazines I was looking at the editors letter title made me chuckle! Secrets and Pies; basically people trying to take short cuts and cast them off as their own homemade. I don’t feel the need to hide my shortcuts. Hey I think we all could use a little extra help; especially trying to pull off a big dinner party for many family and friends.

My big help is pumpkin pie, I use frozen pie crust and canned pumpkin pie filling and I don’t hide it! My husband is a pretty funny guy; he likes his cookies fresh made only and his pumpkin pie thin and cheap hahaha!

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Potato masher does the trick really well

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I was hesitant using fennel – totally not a black licorice fan but worth a try – trust me!

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It has taken me a several tries to find a dressing recipe that everyone agrees on; this one is a keeper. I did blog about last year but I felt it bears repeating plus I gave it to you too late for Thanksgiving last year but maybe if you are looking for something new to try you might want to check it out this year.

Sausage Ciabatta Dressing

Your favorite Olive Oil for the pan
1 lb of your favorite Italian sausage – casing removed crumbled and browned
1 medium onion – diced
1 bulb fennel also called anise – sliced thin, fronds reserved
1 cup of chestnuts – I found them already cooked and peeled – brilliant
2 apples – I used granny smiths – peeled and diced
5 cups ciabatta bread cubed and toasted – I toasted them in a pan on the stove top
¼ cup fresh parsley – chopped
2 ½ cups chicken stock
½ melted butter

Add oil to the pan, crumble the sausage and cook till the sausage starts to brown, add the onion, fennel, chestnuts, apples and cook. Stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through

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In a large bowl, place the cubed bread and pour the cooked sausage mixture over the top. Sprinkle with parsley, and pour the stock and melted butter; toss to combine.

In a 9×13 baking dish place all ingredients in and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the top is golden browned and crisp. Serve garnished with some of the fennel fronds.

recipe adapted from Mario Batali’s Sausage Ciabatta Stuffing

Roasted Autumn Vegetable & Sausage

Where did summer go? It has got to be an age thing; I swear when we were kids summer was forever, we crammed so much stuff and a lot of nothing into those 2 school free months.  We had an awesome pool in the backyard for several years of my childhood and I spent most of my time in the pool with my family and friends playing for hours on end. We had some amazing pool parties, I recall in 5th grade I was in an open concept classroom that housed two 5th grade classes we took a school field trip to my house for a BBQ and a pool party. Fun times but where am I going with this? Oh yeah time flies by as you age and Fall has arrived here in New Hampshire with its beautiful color, cold mornings and brisk evenings.

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My kitchen has been turning out some heartier meals of late; another Fall thing. And also using up some of the last vegetables and herbs from my garden. Though I still have a few things out there; garden time is coming to an end. This weekend I have GOT to get my garlic in, every weekend has been jammed packed with so many things happening but I am determined to get the garlic in the ground, it would be a shame for us to not have fresh garlic come early summer.

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I found a recipe in a magazine that combined roasted vegetables and sausage.  I LOVE roasted veggies and I am a little obsessed with sweet Italian sausage, I usually buy a couple of packages; freeze them individually and then put them in a freezer bag, so easy to just grab what you need or want in my case. I use them in marinara sauce instead of hamburger, as a star in other dishes and sometimes we just grill them; cut them up serve as an appetizer with various kinds of mustard.

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This is also a sheet-pan supper which I find brilliant; less dishes are always a welcome in my house; my poor dishwasher has been used and abused over the years; but still going strong.

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Roasted Autumn Vegetable & Sausage

Butternut squash peeled and cubed
Brussel sprouts, halved and trimmed, quarter the larger ones
1 Large red onion, halved and sliced thick (mine was too small)
4 Garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
T Tbs Chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbs Chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
4 or more Sweet Italian sausage – or whatever you like hot, chicken use your go to

Preheat oven to 425’F

In a large bowl put everything except the sausage and stir to combine. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet, roast for 10-15 minutes.

Stir the veggies and place the sausages on top of the veggies. Back in the oven to roast for another 20-25 minutes, make sure to stir a couple of times so everything gets a little brown.

Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from eating well magazine

Shrimp, Sausage and Gnocchi weeknight dinner

What a beautiful weekend at the lake the weather was perfect; the water was cold but refreshing! We came back pretty late on Sunday and there was no time and actually not a lot of money; I’m sure some of you know when you come back from vacation no matter how long it was that money can be a little tight. I picked up a few basics just milk, bread and lunch meat for the guys and that was it for the week. Dinners for the week will have to be whatever I had on hand. Which in taking a quick inventory of my fridge, freezer and pantry; it didn’t look too bad.

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Tuesday night was just going to be me and the hubby; I opened the freezer and saw a half bag of shrimp, a handful of gnocchi, half package of Italian sausage and some broccoli. I opened the fridge and there was some leftover homemade chicken stock and yes even in my fridge a half a bottle of leftover white wine – it can happen! I figured a few fresh ingredients this might not be too bad. I had a couple of small shallots and a small onion from the garden and of course my all-time favorite garlic. Sounded like dinner to me.

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I know from a few cooking class students that without a recipe just by opening the fridge and freezer meals tend not to present themselves. I would like nothing else than to show people that with a few pantry/fridge staples. A homemade meal is just a few chops and a couple of stirs away.

Here is how I made a yummy meal from what I had on hand

2 small shallots diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 small onion diced

2 tbs Olive oil

1 tbs Butter

Gnocchi

Sausage – casing removed and chopped

Shrimp – cleaned and deveined

broccoli

Fresh Sage chopped

White wine

Chicken stock

Sriracha – hot sauce opt.

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

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Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add chopped shallots, onions and garlic till softened. Add sausage cook until browned. De-glaze pan with white wine. Let it reduce down; before it all evaporates add the chicken stock and the gnocchi; let it boil down till it makes a nice thick sauce in the last 10 minutes add the shrimp and broccoli; you don’t want to overcook either of them. The gnocchi actually helped thicken the sauce; which was an added bonus. Add some fresh chopped herbs of your choice and salt and pepper to taste; I also added some hot sauce to liven up the flavor a little.

Christmas Party Prep – Strata & Hashbrown Casserole

We have an annual Christmas party usually the 2nd Friday of December.  It is generally an eclectic group of friends.  Some years we have 20 people coming and going other years 50+ I think last year was well over 50 people I serioulsy stopped counting.  We have a good friend that comes dressed as Santa most years – he has a wicked side so he tends to brings nips for the adults, thankfully there are not many kids that come but if they do, Santa is always a huge hit and plays nice with the kids and takes pictures.  It is super cute.

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My house tends to be pretty crazy with people coming and going all night but it is always fun.  Last year we had 13 people stay over; there were makeshift beds and bodies everywhere I swear. Breakfast was for 18; my in-laws live next door and housed some other party goers. Thankfully for the following 2 breakfast casserole dishes that I make up the day before; my husband was able to make breakfast for everyone, I was a little under the weather – if you know what I mean.  I also make some sort of bread or muffin the day before.  Just in case….

Strata:

4 Slices of white bread

3 breakfast sausage crumbled and cooked

1 pint of egg beaters + 2 eggs – mixed

1 1/2 Cups milk – mix with above eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 Scallions or Several chives

1-2 tsp thyme

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Spray a 9/13 pan with cooking spray, rip the bread in pieces and fill the bottom of the dish. Cover with cheese and the cooked sausage.  Slowly poor the egg & milk mixture over the bread and sausage; sprinkle with thyme, scallions, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let set overnight.  Next morning; take out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats to 350’ remove plastic and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

Hashbrown Casserole:

3-4 pieces of your favorite breakfast sausage crumbled and browned

Bag of hashbrown (frozen section)

1 medium onion diced

2 Tbs butter

2-3 Tbs flour

1 cup milk

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Crumble and brown the breakfast sausage; remove from the pan (leaving the grease) and set aside.  Add hashbrowns a little at time – I like to make sure they are a little browned and crunchy.  Remove potatoes and set aside.  Add and melt the butter add the onion and cook till softened.  Add the flour to make a roux – should be consistency of wet sand. Cook for about 3-4 minutes; add the milk all at once; stir and cook till thickened approx. 8 minutes.  You are going to want to mix sausage, potatoes, onions and roux well and put in a 9×13 pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Again I like them pretty browned.

One of our very good friends comes and plays the piano, we start out with all the Christmas carols we know and love. We hand out homemade booklets with all the words to the carols. One of my favorite quotes from one of my guests was “why is there a piano over there? I am NOT singing Christmas carols!  By the end of the night, he was not only requesting songs, he was actually singing solos – LOVE IT!!!!  We always save the best song for last The 12 Days of Christmas, we assign; actually by this time people are volunteering to be a certain day. Rich and his crew are always 5 golden rings. Quite comical since this is the only song my husband sings.  But he does it with such panache let me tell you arms open wide and there is no mistaken what they are singing!!!

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After caroling we break out the old standards.  Elton John, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Abba and whatever show tunes we think we can sing.  Last year was the first year we were able to belt out Bohemian Rhapsody in its entirety.  I may have had my cocktail hearing aids on (remember above me being slighlty under the weather the next morning) but we sounded AMAZING!

I am so looking forward to this year’s party – every year we talk about finding words to songs and displaying them on the flat screen, we find reading over the “Piano Man’s” (as we have dubbed him) shoulder at those tiny little words is just damn near impossible these days.  It stinks having older eyes. Maybe I will spend some quality time between now and then to see if I could do something about it.  If anyone has any ideas, please share how to make this happen.

I do have another unconventional way of getting ready for the Holiday’s – we on occasion spend a few days after Thanksgiving in the Caribbean somewhere.  This being my husband and my 25th Wedding Anniversary we are currently in Cancun enjoying some rest, relaxation, sun and a massage or two.

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Happy Holidays!!!!

Eating Through the Freezer

What busy week it has been. We have had a golf tournament, welcome home party and a college graduation party.  Not a lot of time to grocery shop let alone do a lot of cooking. Pretty much quick meals each night. Even when we don’t have time to be adventurous we still want to eat something yummy.  So busy weeks end up with something you can throw together fairly effortlessly. Steak, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus is one of my fav’s.

With it raining every night for the last week, seems like forever I went for the quick sear in a skillet and finish them off in the oven method for the yummy Rib Eyes.  Not my favorite way to cook them, I would much rather just season them (my go to steak seasoning is Adobo) and off to the grill.  But by doing them this way I was able to use some leftover red wine that was sitting on the counter.  One of my good friends favorite saying is “just because you open it, doesn’t mean you have to finish it” hence the leftover bottle of red wine. While the steaks are resting (very important and don’t skip) heat up the skillet and add the wine to deglaze the pan scraping up all the yumminess and letting it simmer down to more than half.  I also usually add beef stock or a beef bouillon it makes a great au jus that adds even more flavor to the beef.

With no time to grocery shop this weekend, I decided this week we will be eating our way through the fridge and freezer.  I actually like to do this every few months or so.  It is a great way to clean out both and to try to come up with meals with what we have on hand. It also saves quite a bit of money when you had so many things happening over the weekend and are a little low on cash.

Taking a quick look around we will be eating chicken, Italian sausage, a pork loin and even some beef tenderloins at some point this week.  I think I am pretty OK with this!

Bye for now; have a great short week – Happy 4th of July

Roasted Asparagus

Either cut off or snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Coat with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place on a sheet tray with sides and cook on 350’ for about 15 minutes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Wash and cut up your favorite potatoes, cover with cold water, add 2 to 4 minced garlic cloves to the pot, generously salt the water and bring to a low boil for about 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain and put them back in the same pot.  Add a heaping table spoon of sour cream, 4 tablespoons of butter and a little milk.  Mash until they come out how you like them.  I don’t mind them a little lumpy on occasion.