Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Italian Egg

This is a fun and unusual breakfast.  I call it the Italian breakfast because it has all the colors of the Italian flag.  It's simple and totally delicious! The best part?  It's on the table in less than 10 minutes!

This recipe will serve one.
1 egg
1 piece of whole wheat sourdough bread
1 c. baby spinach
1/2 roma tomato, diced
1 basil leaf, shredded
1/2 piece thick cut pancetta, diced
parmesan cheese
garlic salt &pepper

Place slice of toast in the toaster.

In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat the pan and spray with non stick cooking so that the egg will not stick.  Add 1tbs. of butter and let melt.

Add the pancetta and let the fat begin to render and the meat to begin to get crispy.  Move the meat over to the side and add the egg to the center of the pan and season with salt & pepper.

The trick here is not to disturb the egg once you've placed it in the pan.  You want the egg to remain in tact.

The bacon pile, add the spinach and tomato and season with a little pepper. 

Cover the pan and let cook for about 2 minutes until the whites are fully cooked and the egg yolk has just a little jiggle.  Remove the egg from the pan and top with shredded basil.  set aside.

Saute the bacon and veggies until the spinach is fully wilted. 

Remove bread from toaster and top with a little butter.  Top the bread with egg and then the veggies.  Complete with just a touch of parmesan cheese. 

Simple ingredients, healthy breakfast and a completely happy way to start the day! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Basics: Marinara Sauce

My husband loves my Sunday Gravy.  Unfortunately, sometimes I don't have the time to sit over a stove all day and cook the sauce with all the meats.  This is a simple, basic marinara that can be used over pasta, as a basis to lasagne or chicken or eggplant parmesan.  This basic recipe will make about 2 cups, so double or triple the recipe to keep on hand in your freezer for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  The best part, this sauce is done in about 30-45 minutes!  Brava!

1 32 oz can of crushed san marzano tomatoes
1 large carrot, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. dry wine ( you can use red or white)
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. italian seasoning
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 fresh basil leaves, left whole
salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup or dutch oven, heat about 4 tbs of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the carrot and onion and saute for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flake, bay leaf and the tomato paste and stir to combine.

Next, add the wine and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the wine has reduced by 1/3.  Next add the chicken stock, crushed tomatos and rest of the herbs and stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let the sauce come to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Serve over your favorite pasta or meats!

Mangia, Mangia! 

The Basics: Simple Vinegarette

Many of you have been emailing me, asking me for a more basic series of recipes that can be adapted to everyday fare.  This is my basic salad vingarette that can be used to add a homemade and sweet spin to your everyday salads.  It's simple, it's fresh and you know what's in it, because you made it.

2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 large shallot, chopped fine
juice of 2 large lemons
3 tbs. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
salt & pepper

in a bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients until the honey is mixed together with the lemon juice.  Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until thick and smooth.  Add salt & pepper to taste. 

The dressing will last about one week in the fridge. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Classic: Italian Style Turkey Meatloaf

There are many variations  of meatloaf.  I like this version for my everyday, go to recipe because it's light, healthy and delicious with the spicy ketchup topping.  You can use ground beef or chicken if you don't like turkey.  Serve this with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted veggies for a complete meal.

1 lb. ground turkey
2 eggs
1 tbs. tomato paste
1/4 c. worcestorshire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 tbs. fresh
1 tbs. italian seasoning
3/4 c. dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. ketchup
1.5 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375

In a saute pan, drizzle about 1 tbs olive oil in the pan and heat.  Add diced onion and saute for about 3-4 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Add thyme, worcestorshire sauce, stock and tomato paste and stir together until thick.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, turkey, breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and combine.  Add the cooled down onion mixture and mix well.  The mixture should be firm.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and hot sauce and mix together.

Place mixture on top of the meatloaf.

Place freeform in a cookie sheet or in a bread pan and cook for about 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Buttermilk Waffles

Sunday mornings are perfect for a leisurely breakfast with the family.  While waffles may seem like their really difficult to make, they are extremely easy.  I use buttermilk which makes it light and fluffy.

Like my cornbread mix, I buy the regular old pancake mix and doctor it up.  Again, no one will know the difference!

Preheat waffle iron

In a bowl combine  3 1/2 c. pancake mix, 2 c buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1/2 c vegetable oil and combine until smooth.  Serve with warm maple syrup and fresh fruit.


The Best Chili & Cornbread

If you do a search on the internet for "Chili Recipe" hundreds will pop up on your screen.  I've experimented with all kinds of recipes and this is the best one I've made.  The chili is thick, hearty and spicy.  If you don't like your chili that spicy, reduce the amount of chili powder.  As for the cornbread, I buy the mix at TJs and then whip it up.  Sometimes the boxed stuff is just as good as homemade and besides, no one will ever know the difference!


1 lb ground beef
1 lb hot italian sausage, removed from casing
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, deribbed and diced
3 cloves garlic
2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tbl tomato paste
1/2 c. beef broth
1 beer ( i use mexican)
2 16 oz cans kidney beans
2 16 oz cans pinto beans
4 tbl cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tbl cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/3 c. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tbl. ancho chili powder
1/2 can chopped green chilis
salt & pepper to taste
chopped green onion, shredded cheese and sour cream for serving

In a large dutch oven,  brown meats and drain excess fat. 

Meanwhile in the bowl of a food processor, combine onion, peppers, garlic cloves and one can diced tomatoes and pulse until smooth.

Add mixture to meat and add all spices.  Add beer and reduce down, add additional can of tomatoes, broth and chilis.   Let simmer for about an hour then add the beans.

Cook for an additional hour or so.  If you notice your chili is too soupy, you can add a slurry of cornstarch  and water and it will tighten it up.


1 box pre-mixed corn bread
1 egg
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1/2 can green chilis
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together and pour in a baking dish.

Cook for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Many consider stuffed bell peppers to be a southern comfort food.  Traditionally, cooks will stuff green bell peppers with a mixture of beef, pork, tomatoes and herbs and spices.  You all know by now that that's not exactly how I roll.  I don't like green bell peppers at all.  I've found that I can at least tolerate the red, yellow and orange varieties because they are sweeter and since my husband loves peppers, I have to compromise sometimes and give him what he likes.  Plus, the colored varieties of peppers are loaded with lots of vitamins.  It's a win-win.  Just like a marriage should be!

6 medium sized bell peppers  (you can use green, but the colored variety are better)
1 lb. lean ground beef (you can use turkey, chicken or pork)
1/4 c. diced onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1.5 c. white rice, cooked half way through (if you don't have rice, you can use orzo)
1 egg
beef broth
4 tbl. worchester sauce
2 tbl. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. steak seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat Oven to 375

In a baking dish line up the bell peppers.  Make sure that you cut the bottom of the pepper a little bit so that it has a firm bottom.

Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl and make sure everything is well incorporated.  Fill the bottom of the baking dish about 1/4 inch up the bell peppers with beef broth.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins.  Remove foil and pour a teaspoon of the broth into the pepper to keep it moist.  Top the peppers with some parmesan cheese and place back in the oven (minus the foil) for about 10 more minutes or until the parmesan has browned.

Serve with a little broth on the plate!  Easy! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pork Chops With Balsamic Maple Glaze & Mashed Sweet Potatoes

It's Fall!  And that means hearty, heart warming dishes that embody the feeling of snuggling up under the fire and food that warms your senses.


4 pork chops (you can use bone in or thin cut)
1 tbl chili powder
salt & pepper

Heat non-stick skillet with 2 tbl Olive Oil and 1 tbl butter.  Wait until oil gets to just below smoking point and add seasoned  chops.

If you are using thin cut, they should only take 3-4 mins per side to cook.  You don't want to over cook them!

The idea is to sear the meat not sweat it.  If using boneless chops cook 3-5 minutes each side and remove from heat.


This makes 3-4 servings:

4-5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into same size wedges

bring large pot of water to boil and cook potatoes until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes


Add 1/4 stick of butter, 1 tbl. honey, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 2 tbl. brown sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Mash all together.

Meanwhile while the potatoes cook, start the sauce:


In a small sauce pan, bring 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar to a boil and reduce until it becomes a syrup (about 5-8 mins).  Add 4 tbs. maple syrup, 1/2 c. chicken stock,  2 tsp. dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1/4 tsp. cumin, pinch of cayenne, 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar and 2 tbs. red wine and reduce sauce until thick.  season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sauce over pork chop and mashed sweet potatoes and with roasted veggies of choice.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sausage, Bean & Tortellini Soup

I was going to make my Italian Wedding Soup but at the last minute I decided I wanted something more along the lines of a pasta e fagiol but with more veggies.  So, I improvised and came up with this creation.  If you can't find chicken sausage, use pork and you don't have to use cheese tortellini, it's just what I had on hand.  This would be just as good with elbows or any other short pasta.  This is a great, hearty and delicious soup that's even better the next day.

1 pkg. chicken sausage with tomato, cheese and herbs
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
1/2 c. fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2  32 oz. containers of chicken stock
1 28 oz can of san marzano tomatoes, whole in juice
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 cans canellini beans
1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
1 piece parmesan cheese rind
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
5 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
salt, pepper to taste
2 medium zucchini, cut in chunks
1 medium onion, diced
1 bundle fresh baby spinach,
parmesan cheese for serving

In the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, parsley, basil, garlic, celery and tomatoes and pulse until smooth.  set aside

In a large soup pot, take two swirls around the pan with olive oil and let get to just below smoking point.  Remove chicken sausage from casing and crumble into pan.  Cook through.  Add chopped carrots and zucchini and saute about 4 minutes.  Add bay leaf, red pepper flake and thyme and rosemary sprig and saute until fragrant.  About 3 minutes.  Add wine and reduce by half.

Once the sausage mixture has reduced, add the reserved tomato mixture, beans, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Let come to a boil and add parmesan cheese rind.

Add chicken stock and let come to a boil again.  Cover and reduce heat.  Let the soup simmer for about 1 hour.  Once the soup has thickened, add tortellini and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Turn off heat and add in spinach and stir until it wilts but still has a bite.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chorizo Quiche

I've  done many variations of this quiche since I first had it in Solvang a few years ago.  Yesterday, I did some experimenting with lightening it up and used soy-rizo and egg whites and milk instead of whole eggs and cream.  I passed this on to my taster *aka husband* and he didn't notice the difference.  A heart healthy / figure friendly recipe that doesn't compromise flavor!  Woo hoo.  You can do the full fat/ meat version if you like.

1 9" pie crust
3/4 pkg of soy-rizo
1 idaho potato, peeled and diced
1.5 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
4 egg whites
2 whole eggs
1.5 c. lowfat milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425

Cook room temp. pie shell for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temp to 350

In the meantime, heat a saute pan with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and add the diced potato.  Season with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 tbl. chili powder, and a dash each of paprika and cayenne.  Saute until tender...about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, place the chorizo and saute.  Add the remaining chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne and add the cinnamon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for  about 5 minutes on the stove until the flavors come together.  Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, and milk until it is well incorporated.  Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

In the cooled pie crust add a layer of the chorizo, then the potato and a layer of cheese, add the remaining chorizo and top with cheese, pour the egg mixture on top.

Place on a sheet pan to catch any spills.  Cook for about 35-40 mins until the quiche is firm to the touch.  Serve topped with salsa and whatever other toppings you like.

Sausage & Potato Soup

This is one of those soups that warms the soul from the inside out.  My family and I have different variations of this soup, and none of them are wrong or right, so this is my version!

6 sausage links--3 sweet, 3 spicy
3 idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
2 cartons chicken stock
3 peppercorns
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 c. white wine
1 sliver of parmesan cheese rind
salt, pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for serving

Drizzle the bottom of a heavy soup pan with EVOO, remove sausage from casing and saute and break apart sausage .  Add potatoes and saute for 5minutes more.  Add pepper flake, sprigs of fresh herbs, bay leaf, and peppercorns.  Add rest of vegetables and saute for about 3 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with white wine.

Let the wine reduce by 1/4.  Add the stock and parmesan cheese rind and let soup come to a boil.  Once soup comes to a boil, cover and reduce soup to a simmer and let simmer for about 1 hour.  Remove herb stems and  taste for seasoning.  Adjust as neccessary. 

Serve with grated parmesan and cheese bread.  

*You can add heavy cream at the last minute for a creamier consistency, I've also added kale in the last few minutes as well.  This soup is great for whatever you have on hand.* 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bearnaise Chicken and Rice Pilaf

I love bearnaise sauce, but after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is make it from scratch.  So I buy the powdered stuff and doctor it up.  Pour over chicken and some rice a roni, and you have a great meal in under 45 minutes.

To make the chicken and bearnaise:

4 chicken breasts (I use boneless skinless)
1 pkg. bearnaise sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 shallot, diced
1/4 c. white wine
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375

In an oven proof dish, place chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Once butter is melted, add shallots and saute until soft.  About 3 minutes.  Add the bearnaise sauce mixture and cook for about 1 minute.  Add wine and stir constantly until well absorbed, you don't want to break the sauce.  Add milk and mustard and stir constantly, reduce to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until nice and thick.  Pour over chicken and cook in oven for about 30 minutes until chicken is done. 

To Make the Rice:
1 pkg rice a roni rice pilaf
1/2 package cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 c. white wine
1 tbl butter or olive oil
1 1/2 c. chicken broth

melt butter or oil and saute mushrooms with thyme.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper and toss in the rice to get in browned.  About 2 minutes.  Add the wine and season packet from box.  Bring to a boil and reduce wine by 1/2.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Stir and cover and reduce heat.  Rice takes about 20 minutes.

Remove chicken from the oven and let sit for a few minutes.  When you plate use some of the sauce to cover your chicken and rice.  

Serve along side your favorite veggies or a salad.  Viola, french done fast!

A Classic: Beef Stroganoff

This is one of those soulful dishes that I crave when the weather starts to turn colder.  Hot and delicious this dish will warm your soul!

2 rib eye or filet mignon steaks cut into a large dice
1 1/2 pkgs. of sliced cremini mushrooms
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 shallot, diced
1/2 c. half--n-half
1 c. beef stock
1/2 c. cognac
2 tbl. fresh dill
1 1/2 tbl. dijon mustard
2 tbl. flour
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 lb. egg noodles
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a saute pan over medium heat do a three count of olive oil and heat.  Salt and pepper the meat and brown on all sides being careful not to crowd the pan.  You want to sear the meat not sweat it.  Once the meat is seared, remove from pan and save.

Place pan back on the heat, add shallots, fresh thyme and mushrooms and saute.  Add salt and pepper.  Once the mushrooms have given off about 2 tbl. of water, dust with flour and cook for a minute to get out the flour taste.  Add cognac and stir until incorporated and add beef stock.  Let bubble and remove thyme stem. Add the dijon mustard, paprika, half n half and beef into the pan.  Check for seasoning.

Boil the water and add salt to boiling water.  Cook noodles until al dente and drain.  Add back to pot and add a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil to keep noodles from separating and add salt and pepper to taste. 

At the last moment add the fresh dill to the sauce.

Spoon noodles into a bowl and top with the sauce. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Classic: Italian Wedding Soup

I originally saw this recipe on food network.  Although it was called chicken noodle soup.  I switched it up a little and now call it my version of Italian Wedding soup!  It's hearty, satisfying and so easy to make.  The secret is letting the broth cook and develop its flavor before adding the tortellini.  
To make the meatballs:
1 pkg. of chicken sausage with cheese and tomato (I get it at Trader Joe's)
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 egg
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. bread crumbs (eyeball it)
1/4 c. fresh parsley
3 tbl. romano cheese
3 tbl. parmesan cheese
take sausage from casing and crumble into food processor along with all the other ingredients and pulse until combined.  
In a non stick pan, heat up olive oil and butter and using a small ice-cream scoop make mini meatballs and add to pan.  brown on all sides.  Set aside.
To Make the soup:
2 celery stalks, chopped (I like the hearts and use the celery leaves)
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
red pepper flake
2 1/2 boxes low sodium chicken stock
salt, pepper, olive oil
1 1/2 pkgs. cheese tortellini
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 slice of parmesan cheese rind
3-4 whole peppercorns
1/2 c. chardonnay
In a deep soup pan combine the celery, carrots, onion and garlic and saute until softened.  About 5 minutes.  Add pepper flakes, bay, sprigs of parsley, thyme, oregano and peppercorns and saute about 2 minutes further.
Add chardonnay and let reduce until all the liquid is absorbed.  Add the stock and cheese rind and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Once the soup base has come to a boil, add the reserved meatballs.  Reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for about 1-2 hours.  
Once the soup has fully developed its flavor check for seasoning and adjust as neccessary.  
Discard all the stems.
Add the tortellini to the soup and turn off heat.  You don't want to overcook the noodles.  It should only take about 4 minutes.  
Add the fresh, minced parsley to the soup and serve topped with freshly grated parmesan and pepper. 

Linguini With Clams

I absolutely love clams.  When I was a kid, I would order buckets of these succulent delicacies and eat them all by myself.  Now, my hunger for these have yet to subside.  This is so easy to make and everyone will think you are a gourmet chef!

2 lbs manilla clams
3 bottles clam juice
1-2c. chardonnay
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
red pepper flake to taste
fresh basil, julienned
1 lb. linguini cooked, al dente
garlic bread for dunking
salt, pepper and olive oil
butter to finish

When you bring your clams home from the fish monger, soak them in cold water with about 3 tbl. flour.  The clams will eat the flour and spit out the sand.  Make sure to drain!  Store clams in a bowl on top of ice.  Make sure you use the clams the same day you bring them home for optimum freshness.

In a saute pan over medium heat saute the onion, garlic, red pepper flake until nice and soft.  About 8 minutes.  Add the chardonnay to the pan, and reduce by half.  Add the clam juice and let simmer about 15-20 minutes.  You want a nice, flavorful broth. 

Cook linguini according to package instructions.  I like my pasta al dente.

Add the clams to the bubbling broth and cover for about 6 minutes.  After six minutes check the lid and see if they have opened,  be careful because you want them to just open so you have a succulent clam.  You WILL get rubbery clams if you overcook them.

Discard any clams that have not opened once the majority have opened.  Finish with butter and fresh herbs. 

Add sauce to pasta and toss with tons of parmesan cheese. 

Oh man, so good!!!


This is a simple rub that you can use for ribs, chicken or steak.  I make a lot so that I can use it on a few different things.  It's sweet, yet spicy.  Just like me...
1 1/2 tbl. salt
1 tbl. pepper
2 tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 tbl. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 garlic powder
1 tsp. emeril's essence
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and liberally rub all over desired meats.  Prepared mix will stay fresh for about a week or so

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli

I'm always trying to figure out new ways not to bust out the pots and pans.  And, I always like veggies when I'm preparing a meal.  I've done these as a side and I've also placed them on top of a salad for a nice crunch instead of using bread.
Preheat oven to 375.
Wash and cut brussel sprouts in half clean the broccoli.
On a large sheet pan, spread out the veggies and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
Cook for 10-12 mins until they are golden  brown.  
Serve on top of salads, or as a tasty side dish.  I've even had success serving these to people who swore up and down how much they hate brussel sprouts.  You can even drizzle with balsamic vinegar and shaved parm for a different variation.

Fresh Corn Salad

Summer lends itself to fresh ingredients, so what better way to eat sweet corn on the cob than in a cool salad that you can pair with steak, chicken or fish?
3 ears of fresh corn, boiled and kernels removed from cob
1/2 c. fresh basil, julienned
1/2 purple onion, diced
olive oil
2 tbl. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Add all ingredients together and place in fridge until you're ready to use.
Really, it's that easy. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Classic: Moist Banana Nut Bread

If you're like me, baking is a daunting task.  I love to cook, because I can add a dash of this a pinch of that.  Baking on the other hand, is a precise method of cooking.  I had some banana's that were going bad so decided to make banana nut bread.  Usually, it comes out like hockey pucks until I modified it and added a secret to make one of the moistest breads I've ever had.

3-4 Very Ripe bananas (the riper they are, the more moist the bread)
2 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 c. chopped nuts ( i like pecans)
1.5 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (use pure)
pinch of salt
1/3 c. sour cream (the secret ingredient)

Heat oven to 375 and place rack in the middle of the oven.  Spray 1-2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt and combine with a whisk.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas until it looks like baby food and then combine with the sour cream.

In another medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until it's well combined (30-45 seconds) add eggs one at a time and mix until it is all combined.  Add the vanilla.

With a rubber spatula add the wet ingredients with the dry.  Do not over mix at this point, otherwise you will begin to develop the gluten (WARNING:  Hockey puck bread can happen here).

Combine with chopped nuts and add to loaf pan(s).

Place in oven and set timer for 30 mins.  Start checking after 30 mins by placing a tooth pick in the center, if the toothpick comes out clean, its done.  My bread took about 45 mins.

Once you take the bread out of the oven, let it sit for about 10 mins and serve warm.

Chicken Orzo Salad

On a hot summer day, I hate to be a slave to my stove top.  My old boss had made a similar version of this salad and I modified it to my likes.  This is one of those "kitchen sink" recipes where you can do whatever you like with it and the best part is,  there's not a lot to clean up.

1 Grocery Store Rotisserie chicken, I use the breast meat only, but you can use it all if you like. (reserve the carcass to make stock)
1 c. orzo, cooked
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/2 c. feta (I like the kind in olive oil and herbs)
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 c. kalamata olives (pitted)
2 cloves garlic, diced fine
zest of lemon
juice of 1-2 lemons
olive oil
1/4 c. fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
splash of red wine vinegar

Heat a pot of water, add salt and cook orzo till al dente (about 10 mins)
Drain and cool.

Chop and place all ingredients in bowl.  Top with zested lemon, garlic, olive oil (use some of the oil in cheese if using) red wine vinegar and season to taste.

Toss with arugula and serve room temperature to cold.

Remember that the longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld.

Pop open a nice bottle of chardonnay and Enjoy!

Recipe will serve 3-4 medium portions.

Or in the case of my household, me once, my husband 2-3 times.