Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Monday, September 12, 2011

Down For The Count, But Not For Good!

Dear Friends, Fellow Bloggers & Readers:
The Road I Live On
Looked Like This!
( Vermont)
Just to let you know that regular posting on Cucina Nanette will not be possible at this time. Our home was devastated due to Hurricane Irene. Email service and other communication has been interrupted and life as I know it has changed. At this time, my husband and I are living with family and we are safe.
I'm not sure when I will be able to resume regular posting, but I'm looking forward to the time when this is possible. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers during this stressful & difficult time. Happy Blogging and Cooking to all.  God Bless.  Nanette

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blueberry Lemon CupCakes With Lemon Frosting

Blueberries are in abundance and so very sweet! I stock up while they're in season by freezing batches in baggies. How great it is to have these berries come the cold weather months. When I saw this recipe on Jess' lovely blog, Forgiving Martha, I couldn't resist. I changed it a bit to suit my cupcake fancy. I added some extra lemon flavor to make it real lemony as well as decreasing the sugar in the frosting and adding sour cream for tang and a not-too-sweet taste.
I've baked these twice and guests were quite pleased with the refreshing summer taste and raved about the moistness. This is a keeper for sure. Thanks Jess for the original recipe. I'm glad I stopped by to visit you and found this gem! Hope my readers are just as pleased.

¾ cup of all purpose flour, Plus 2 tablespoons to reserve for berries
¾ cup cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup sugar Plus 2 tablespoons
Zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup milk, Plus 2 tablespoons at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and stems removed

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
yellow food coloring (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners. Set aside
  1. In a bowl, combine ¾ cup of AP flour, cake flour, baking powder & salt. Blend
  2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, blend together oil, sugar, lemon zest. Beat 2-3 minutes until fluffy
  3. One at a time, beat in eggs. Add lemon juice and lemon extract.
  4. Decrease speed to low, mix in half the dry ingredients & blend just until incorporated. Don't over beat!
  5. Blend in milk, then add remaining dry ingredients & blend until just incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, gently toss blueberries with 2 tablespoons of reserved flour. Fold berries into batter.
  7. Fill liners ¾ full with batter
  8. Bake 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  9. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire baking rack
  10. Cream together butter, sour cream, lemon juice & extract until fluffy
  11. Slowly add confectioner's sugar until desired consistency is reached
  12. Add a drop of yellow food coloring for a more lemon color, if desired. Blend well
  13. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting and enjoy! Yields approx. 15 cupcakes
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini Squares From Anna

Anna Santaniello was the Rectory cook for the first 10 years I was employed at St. Aedan's. Anyone who met her, loved her. She was a plump lady who, like in the poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", shook when she laughed like a bowlful of jelly. She laughed often. She is remembered for her kindness, her devout prayer life, her love of family & friends, and for her wonderful cooking skills.
Starting at 3:30 in the afternoon, the Rectory was fragrant with the scent of the delicious meal she'd serve to the priests that night. She was willing to try anything and went out of her way to prepare homeland favorites for the priests who came from India. She listened to their advice, skimmed through  cookbooks or magazines and successfully created a near perfect Indian meal. The aroma of curry, cumin, cardamom and ginger permeated the air. The rice cooker was a permanent fixture in her kitchen, the scent of the steaming grain reminding me of popcorn. The pastor, who is of Italian descent, enjoyed the meals she cooked from their shared ancestry. Her tomato sauce was superb and often covered tasty meatballs, thin slices of fried eggplant or steak pizzaiola. From her neighbor's garden bounty came Swiss chard that filled raviolis in brown butter sauce, zucchini baked into savory squares and lots of  sauteed broccoli rabe.
My co-worker and cohort in kitchen crime, Gloria, would arrive at work and immediately ask, "What did Anna cook last night?" and together we would raid the refrigerator. We'd steal a taste of her homemade turkey pot pie, vegetable stir-fry or her famous chicken with green olives and white wine sauce. Yum!
Anna didn't know how NOT to cook great.  Why? Because everything was made with fresh ingredients, creativity, enthusiasm and most of all.....Love. We at St. Aedan's rectory will miss you, Anna, and everything that made you so very special. I know God has another Top Chef in His grand kitchen. So, dear Anna, save me a place at His table.
In Loving Memory of Anna M. Santaniello, August 16, 1928-June 27, 2011

Zucchini Squares
I am honored to have several of Anna's recipes. Because it is summer and the harvest over-flows with zucchini, I'd like to share one of my favorites: Zucchini Squares, a tasty, moist side dish that is easy to prepare and a sure keeper.
3 cups of zucchini (squash) both green & yellow, diced
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 cup of oil (any kind)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup Jiffy or Bisquick baking mix
1 teaspoon parsley
Salt & pepper  & garlic powder to taste

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a greased 10" baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. That's it!
Tip: Always taste your zucchini to check that it's not bitter. 
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shepherd's Fish Pie

This is a refrigerator raid recipe. Last night, we had a roasted chicken and mashed potato supper. It was simple and simply delicious. There wasn't a scrap of chicken left, but a good size portion of mashed potatoes was safely stored in the fridge. I knew it wouldn't go to waste, after all, Saturday is steak night, so the creamy potatoes would be a great side dish. Not to be, my dears.
I defrosted fish. I took out a tilapia fillet, but it was awfully small. What was I thinking when I bought that iddy biddy piece? I had just shy of a pound of scallops. Okay...a good combo. I considered making it spicy, maybe Mexican, but, I had Indian food for lunch the other day and just yesterday an Indian priest shared his lunch with me....rabbit in an extremely spicy curry sauce. Enough spice, least for one week.
So the culinary pendulum swung in a totally different direction. I pulled a few items out of the refrigerator...mashed potatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, butter. Peas from the freezer. Dang, if I had defrosted ground beef, this could be a yummy shepherd's pie. I swear a light bulb went off above my head. Why not a Shepherd's Fish Pie? How delicious is fish and mashed potatoes topped with mozzarella cheese? And so a star fish dish was born.
The only thing I changed was I swapped the classic shepherd's pie vegetable, peas, for collard greens. Why? Practicality. I had a container of collard greens already cooked, and that "don't waste food" part of me won out, but....if you make this, use peas for a more traditional Shepherd's pie. I didn't add collard greens to the actual pie, but served it on the side.
I was pleased with the final result. The recipe was silky, creamy with the most wonderful mouth-feel. The taste was buttery; the fish delicate. The combination of mozzarella and Parmesan was the perfect cheese duo. I love when a unplanned recipe comes together perfectly...the unexpected is always the best!

Shepherd's Fish Pie

1 fillet of mild white fish, cut up into chunks
1 lb. scallops, rinsed
2 cups of mashed potatoes
6 slices of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
5 pats butter
garlic powder
onion powder
olive oil

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Season fish with garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  Drizzle a bit of oil in a baking dish. Place seasoned fish in dish.  Top with mashed potatoes.  Put pats of butter on the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with parsley. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until fish is white and firm and cheese is golden brown.
**if using peas, fold gently into mashed potatoes before adding to baking dish. 2-3 servings
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tilapia With Creamy Curry Sauce

This all started with a post by John Spottiswood, a talented and kind food blogger at CookEatShare . I received one of his latest posts, Fish With Thai Green Curry, and it caught my attention. I love Thai food...gee, what a suprise. His recipe sounded great, as do all his recipes, and I promised myself that this would be on my plate real soon. It took only 2 days. It was Friday. I was tired after a long work week. I was hot. New York temps. hit 101 and the humidity just as high. I knew my DH would have his usual Friday night homemade pizza, It's my evening to cook something special, different, unique....that "gotta try this recipe".  And John's recipe was just what the doctor ordered. Except, I wasn't making another trip to the supermarket for ingredients like green curry paste. I pride myself on my eclectic and fully-stocked pantry. I had red curry paste, but not green. Was I too lazy to make a supermarket run? No...I was tired, hot AND a quick stop to ShopRite wouldn't cost me $3.29 for the curry paste, but easily $40 because I have an addiction to grocery shopping.
Now, I did have a pouch of Royal Thai Green Curry Cooking Sauce, Tilapia and Rice Sticks. Yes, there's nothing better than "from scratch" with fresh ingredients, but in a pinch my response is...close enough! By all means, if you want from scratch, take a look at John's recipe. If you want semi-homemade, then read on.
This is what's printed on the Royal Thai Cooking Sauce intense, perfectly spiced sauce scented with mild ginger, aromatic lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, enriched with coconut milk. The spices include: coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric & cardamon. Other ingredients are: garlic, shallot, fresh green chilli & fish sauce. This was pretty darn close to John's recipe. The photo of the sauce in the skillet is after I added heavy cream and extra curry. It was a lovely shade of mint green before the cream went in, hence the description "green curry". It had a nice bit of heat, but not overly spicy.
My choice of fish was tilapia, two good size fillets. It's "poached" in the curry cream sauce and retains it's delicate flavor. Instead of Jasmine rice, my all time favorite, I decided on Rice Sticks. It has a wonderful, silky mouth-feel and absorbed the rich sauce quite nicely. The cooking method is simple. Open the pouch and gently simmer for a few minutes. Add whatever fish, shrimp or even chicken to the sauce and poach until cooked through.
Have you ever known me to stop at that? I wanted a bit more curry taste, so I added a teaspoon of curry powder. Sweeter, so in went honey. Creamier, heavy cream, of course. Crunch came from cashews and texture from shredded, unsweetened coconut and why not a palm-full of golden raisins. Now, these are only optional ingredients. Leave a few out....fine. Leave them all out....just as fine or add a few of your own.
This supper was done in no time. It was savory, sweet and refreshing. I loved it! I was completely satisfied and happy to have had this culinary experience. I can't thank John enough for his source of inspiration. I may never visit Thailand, but I can enjoy the taste of Thai right in my own humble kitchen.

Tilapia With Creamy Curry Sauce
2 tilapia fillets (approx. 1lb)
Royal Thai Green Curry Sauce
(7oz. pouch)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
dash of salt
1/2 bag of Rice Sticks
a few fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
golden raisins
(coconut, cashews, raisins are optional)

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil to cook rice sticks.  When water boils, add rice sticks and boil for 3 minutes. Drain well.  While water is boiling,  prepare sauce & fish.

In a deep pan, gently simmer the Thai Curry Sauce for 1 minute. Add heavy cream. Stir and simmer 3 minutes. Add curry powder, honey & salt. Blend. If using coconut, raisins and cashews add to pan. Stir. Place tilapia into sauce and poach for 5 minutes. Carefully flip tilapia over and poach for 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of fish.  Add parsley. Occasionally, spoon sauce over top of tilapia. When fish is white and firm it's done.

Place cooked rice sticks on a plate and arrange a fillet of tilapia on top spooning additional sauce over fish and rice sticks. Serves 2
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sweet & Tangy Sauteed Coleslaw

I love cabbage and anything in the cabbage family. Kielbasa goes great with it as well as chicken. A summer BBQ wouldn't be the same without homemade Coleslaw. I particularly like Coleslaw mix found in the produce aisle. It's not the white and pale green bagged slaw, but a mix of fresh green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots...all shredded on a foam tray. It makes a crunchy coleslaw, and a delicious side dish of sauteed vegetables. Italian style is fine. Of course that would simply be cabbage and garlic sauteed in olive oil. But the Coleslaw mix with an Asian flare can't be beat for something just a tad different. I find this dish especially refreshing after the mayonnaise based salads and coleslaw that are devoured throughout the summer. The sesame seeds gives this a nutty flavor. Please don't add it to the vegetables as it cooks. You want to garnish the dish with the sesame seeds just before serving to give it an added crunch!

Sweet & Tangy
Sauteed Coleslaw
16 oz. Coleslaw Mix (not bagged coleslaw)
(green & red cabbage & shredded carrots)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (garnish)

Heat canola oil in large non-stick skillet. Saute Coleslaw mix, garlic and onion. Cabbage should still be crisp, but cooked through.
In a small bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, vinegar & sesame oil. Add liquid to cabbage and blend. Cook 1 minute. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serves 4

My dear food blogger friend at Cupcakes & Crab Legs (love that name!) makes a similar recipe. It has a kick of red chilies and Szechuan peppercorn. If you want a little heat, the recipe is on her blog at:

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Turkey London Broil With Cran-blueberry Sauce

    Memorial Day weekend in the grand U.S.A. The unofficial start of summer, glorious summer. The weather in the suburbs of NY City is just as glorious. It was a long winter and an even longer spring. Warm weather as well as a clear, blue sky was slow in arriving. But like most unpleasant memories it is merely that, when it's left behind. Grills are primed and BBQ season begins. Every cooking show, magazine and News short has a "new" recipe for the grilled hamburger, how to put a unique twist on potato salad and ways to add fresh berries to a dessert. Young, sweet vegetables and fruits grace the picnic table and fill festive bowls. A love affair with the great outdoors has begun.

But what about the reason for this celebration? It is a somber one. Memorial Day honors those who have given their lives to protect America's freedoms. It was originally called, Decoration Day, when the graves of those who died in our Civil War were decorated with flowers, flags and wreaths. It became a National Holiday in 1971. Our fallen military are honored with religious and civil services, parades and fireworks. Every American should spend time in prayer and remembrance of our brave service men & women who have fought and died valiantly. Yes, Memorial weekend is a time to relax & gather with friends and family. It's a time to grill up burgers, chicken and ribs. To splash in a lake or the ocean and get our first tan of the season, but to forget the real reason for this holiday is a great disservice to our American heroes.

Red....White....& Blue were the colors, I wanted to use when planning my Memorial Day menu. I came up with desserts galore in this color scheme, but the main course....hmmmm. Poultry was white, but did I simply want to prepare chicken? No. So I set out to buy turkey tenderloin and came across a turkey London broil. Having never heard of it, naturally, I had to purchase it.  The other white meat, pork, would be put in my crock pot and transformed into wonderful sweet and tangy Pulled Pork on Sunday. Of course, it wouldn't be a BBQ without burgers, hot dogs, baked beans and the works...that was for day three.

Turkey London broil...I scoured recipes. There weren't many for this cut of meat. Technically, turkey London broil is one, thick, meaty breast...boneless and skinless. It is sliced at an angle just like a beef London broil. It can be roasted or grilled. Grilled was my first choice given it's the holiday of the American BBQ. I discarded the recipes that roasted the turkey in the oven with butter and seasonings, too much like Thanksgiving. Should I go with sweet with orange marmalade? Tangy with a zesty Italian dressing marinade? Or Teriyaki? They all sounded great, but what about the beautiful colors of Old Glory?

It all came together with the flag idea. Cranberry with cranberry/raspberry juice would be the red. This is a standard Thanksgiving side dish, so why not with Turkey London Broil? Sweet would be the honey and brown sugar. The blue...blueberries of course. White....well the white meat turkey. Oh, the tangy I left for the final sauce, a splash of balsamic vinegar.  A soy sauce marinade was the liquid to make the star of the recipe somewhat teriyaki.
The amount of time needed to grill the turkey was my main concern. The closest I found was a recipe for a 2 1/2 lb turkey London broil...mine was 2 lbs. I marinated my turkey for 3 hours, flipping it over at the half way mark and grilled it on medium heat for 10 minutes on each side. Using a meat thermometer the internal temperature should be 170 degrees. If you decide to roast this in the oven, the suggested time is 1 hour at 350 degrees. Keep an eye on it, though, being sure not to over-cook it. After all, it's a boneless, turkey breast. 

This was a great alternative to beef..and a healthy one at that. Memorial weekend consists of three days, and most celebrators will have meat on the menu. There's nothing wrong with hot dogs, hamburgers, or steak, but poultry is a nice change for the palate. So at your next BBQ...try this recipe for Turkey London Broil. Add corn-on-the-cob, potato salad or Cole slaw and your All-American Memorial Day feast will be complete and would make any soldier proud.

Turkey London Broil
With Cran-Blueberry Sauce

2 lb. Turkey London Broil

1/2 can jellied Cranberry sauce
1 cup Cranberry/Raspberry juice
10 oz. bottle soy sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 fresh parsley leaves, cut  up
2 stalks fresh chives, cut up

Mash  jellied cranberry sauce into cranberry/raspberry juice. Blend well. Mix this with all the remaining marinade ingredients. Pour into a plastic sealable bag or long container with a lid. Add turkey London broil and coat well with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Flip over half way through marinating cycle.

1/4 cup blueberries, washed and stems removed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup of cranberry/raspberry juice
1 Tablespoon honey
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Mash berries together with juice and remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Remove turkey from marinade. Discard marinade. Grill on medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side. Watch that you don't burn it or over-grill. Internal temperature should be 170 degrees. Slice Turkey London Broil on a diagonal angle and pour sauce over the top.  Serves 4
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Pork Tenderloin With Mustard Maple Sauce

Buy the store brand pork sauce or seasonings. It isn't expensive and it cooks within 30-40 minutes. What I love about it is that you season the pork, put it in a baking dish, pop it in the oven and get on with the rest of the meal. Pork tenderloin is lean and healthy and no leftovers.
I sang the praises of my favorite type of meat in a post, Pork Tenderloin With Maple BBQ Sauce. I must really enjoy maple flavor with pork tenderloin as this is my second maple sauce for a tenderloin. What makes this one different is the mustard. It gives the sauce a tangy zip different than the smoky BBQ flavor of my previous pork post. A hint of cinnamon added to the well-balanced flavors in this recipe. All in all, this is a simple dish created with ingredients that most of us have on hand. It cooks quickly but with enough time to rustle up great sides. I choose pierogi. 3 minutes in salted boiling water, drain, put back in the same pot with butter. Once they are golden crisp on one side, add a few slices of onion and finish until golden brown. Simple green beans tossed in salt and olive oil, a side salad, and a dollop of apple butter completes the meal.
As an aside: I was going to wrap the tenderloin in bacon...maple syrup and bacon, ta-die-for. But, I've had a lot of ham lately and kielbasa yesterday...gotta behave myself! So, if bacon will send you over the moon, go for it!

Pork Tenderloin With Mustard Maple Sauce

1.25 lbs. pork tenderloin (2-3 pieces)
3/4 to 1 cup of pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon deli mustard
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
onion powder
garlic powder
parsley flakes
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle oil in a baking dish. Season tenderloin with onion & garlic powders, salt, parsley flakes on both sides. Place in a baking dish and drizzle pork with olive oil. In a bowl, mix maple syrup, mustard, cinnamon & onion powder. Stir well. Place baking dish with pork in oven and bake for 15 minutes then baste with syrup. Turn meat over. Let cook another 10 minutes and baste again. Cook another 5 minutes until juices run clear. Pork can be just a bit pink inside. Let meat rest for the juiciest meat possible.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicken & Kielbasa Chili

Right from the first sentence, I must thank fellow food blogger, Drick Perry. He is a true Southern gentleman whose food "makes yo' tongue fly outta yo' mouth and smack yo' brains out." Drick hails from Mobile, Alabama and his specialty is Southern Hertiage Recipes, Gulf Coast Seafood, Creole, Cajun & Mexican meals. I thoroughly enjoy everything he posts and hopes he continues to bless us with many more recipes.
This winter in NY was a particularly severe one, and I searched for stick-to-your-ribs, comfort food to cook. I came across Drick's recipe for White Bean & Roasted Chicken Chili on his blog, Drick's Rambling Cafe and knew I had to try it. It was beyond good and a keeper that now has a special place in my "favorites file". The first time I made this chili, I stuck closer to the original...with just a little less spices for my DH. It was memorable.
On Sundays, I usually serve homemade tomato sauce with meatballs, sausage, or braciole over pasta, but decided that Drick's chili would be perfect on this rainy, cool spring day. Since it's my second go at this recipe, I added my own tweaks. I hope Drick will appreciate the changes as this NY gal makes this recipe her "own" and tailors it to the tastes of her family. Thanks, Drick, for the great recipe and feeding my passion for good food through your blog.

There's nothing like Rotisserie chicken. I was able to skip the Roasted Chicken for Stews part of the recipe and save time (which Drick suggests). This isn't the only reason I love Rotisserie chicken.....the meat is always flavorful, moist, and tender. There's something about the taste that can't be described or duplicated in an ordinary oven. I love the taste so much that I treated myself to The Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook by Michelle A. Anderson.

Diced tomatoes
& Beans
"My" chicken chili isn't white chili but the more traditional red, nor is it spicy. I'd rather my guests..ahem, husband...add some cayenne pepper or more chili powder to their dish than not be able to enjoy it because it's too spicy for their liking. I added tomato paste so it would thicken to the consistency I'm most familiar with and enjoy. I originally thought that 4 cups of chicken broth was too much and would make it soupy, but as the chili set, it thickened beautifully.  Don't gasp, but I'm not a big fan of bell peppers or should I say, bell peppers aren't a big fan of me, so I used a small can of diced green chile by mild or with heat..can you guess which one I used? The kielbasa adds that smoky, down-south flavor to the dish. I used Polska Kielbasa Lite made with turkey, pork & beef by Hillshire Farm. I didn't use oregano, coriander or jalapeno pepper as Drick suggested. Please feel free to add or omit any ingredient that doesn't suit your taste or don't have on hand.

Be sure to remove the skin of the chicken and discard any fat. I pulled the skin off in large pieces and added it to the chili- no fat or small pieces-while I took the chicken off the bones. I removed the skin from the pot just before I added the chicken. The skin has great flavor....all those spices making the chicken so darn good.  The juices that dripped off the chicken forms a dark, rich gel. Don't forget to add this to the pot, too. The extra flavor is ta-die-for.

No one knows when the first Chili was cooked...perhaps well before Columbus came to America. It was traditionally made with pork shoulder and beef. Some say, horse meat, but I rather not think that. It didn't contain beans. Now it has it's own "Society".  ICS-International Chili Society with World Championship Chili Cookoffs began in 1967. You can learn about  ICS at his link. Chili Con Carne & Verde are the best known. But there's vegetarian chili, seafood chili, hot dog chili, jambalaya chili and more. It can be throat-closing, lips numbing 5 alarm hot or mild (like mine) chili. Did you know, October is National Chili month? If you're interested in any of the chili I mentioned click on So, soak those beans, brown that meat, chop the onions and peppers and make a pot of chili today.

Chicken Chili With Kielbasa

1 (48 oz) or 3 lb Rotisserie Chicken
14 oz ring of Kielbasa sausage, cut in circles then in half
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1- 4 oz can diced green chile ( Ortega hot or mild)
1- 32oz box of chicken broth (4 cups) 
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2- 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1- 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 oz tomato paste (1/2 of can)
Cheddar or Longhorn cheese or your favorite mix of cheeses
NO salt needed

In a large stockpot, brown kielbasa. Add onions and saute until almost clear then add garlic and saute until golden. Add diced green chile. Stir and cook 3 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder. Stir. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pull rotisserie chicken from bones and cut into chunks. Add beans to broth. Mix. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir. If you want to add large pieces of skin to pot do so now. Bring back to a simmer for 30 minutes.  If added, remove skin from pot and discard.  Add chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese.

**Serve over rice or corn bread with tortilla chips on the side.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grouper With Grand Marnier & Maple Sauce

Grouper in Grand Marnier Sauce
 Just because Lent is over doesn't mean Meatless Friday comes to an end. I think it's a great idea to set aside at least one day a week that's meat-free. Now, let's not get crazy...I don't mean vegetables only :) On occasion this might happen, but fish or eggs are more what I'm talking about.  I have a boat-load of fish recipes, but I'm forever looking for more. I happened upon a great seafood site based out of Florida. is the website for fishing enthusiasts. It began in 2001 when a small group of sportsmen got together after meeting in cyberspace. If you are a fisherman and live in Florida check out all of their great events. The site is a goldmine of information..both serious and fun. You can find tactics for different species, fishing stories (you know the one that got away) and videos, fishing tips & medicine (brief but interesting), and best of
I made a visit to my favorite fish store, Anchor Seafood, in Montvale, New Jersey. It sells just-caught fish, hand-picked from NY's famous Fulton Fish Market, as well as prepared foods like seafood salads, breaded fish fillets and shrimp...great for lunch. They have a glass case full of homemade chowders, bisque and soups as well as foil trays of clam casino, paella, shrimp parmigiana,  mussels in marinara sauce, a tank of live lobsters, and baskets of clams. When in season, I can find both soft shell and blue claw crabs... double yum. It is spotless and smells sweet and clean...a sign of good fish. The old adage is: If it smells like fish, leave empty-handed! I rarely leave this store without spending 50 bucks..but it's so worth it.
So my last visit yield...jumbo shrimp, grouper, tilapia, hake and scallops. Did you know grouper and the entire grouper family have become one of the most popular saltwater food fish in the United States? Grouper is a bottom fish and inhabit all of the tropical coral reefs. It can be found in and around bottom ledges, live bottom, and artificial reefs and wrecks. It has a face only a mother could love, but not many fish are as good to eat!
After viewing the grouper recipes at the Big Bend Sportsman website, I decided to try one called, Tato's Grouper. What caught my attention was the finishing sauce made with Grand Marnier & Maple Syrup. What a luscious combination. It also called for pepper jelly which I just happen to have. I treated myself to a small jar at a country store I had visited. I bet if you don't have it on hand you can....mix together a favorite jam/jelly like marmalade and add red pepper flakes to it. So every "specialty" item was either in my fridge or cabinets..cream cheese (I almost went with mascarpone), pepper jelly, Grand Marnier and maple syrup.
All the Ingredients
The recipe began with "marinate fish as per your normal routine." I don't usually marinate my fish. I also didn't think that any marinade would compliment the sweet ingredients called for in this recipe. I left out the marinate part and was happy with the result. If you can think of a marinade that would go well  with the ingredients, by all means go ahead and use it. I served the grouper with brown rice, peas & mushrooms and a salad. This is a keeper and one I'm glad I didn't let get away! Enjoy.

*There were no measurements in this recipe. My kind of recipe!

Grouper With A Grand Marnier & Maple Sauce

1 Grouper fillet (choose a fillet on the thick side)
Grand Marnier liqueur
maple syrup
red pepper jelly
cream cheese
olive oil

Season grouper with salt. Cut a couple of slits in the grouper. Insert pieces of cream cheese and some red pepper jelly. Seal with toothpick, if needed. Place in a skillet with olive oil and lots of garlic. Brown on each side 4-5 minutes. While cooking, mix maple syrup and Grand Marnier. Stir. Just at the end of the cooking time, pour the Grand Marnier sauce over grouper and finish cooking until fish is white and flaky.
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Artichokes Stuffed With Salami & Mushrooms

Nothing says spring like fresh, green vegetables. My favorites are asparagus and artichokes. Knowing that bright, red, plump tomatoes and sweet corn-on-the-cob will soon be in market bins makes my heart sing. At our Easter meal, stuffed artichokes are enjoyed. I can never understand anyone relishing steamed artichoke leaves dipped in a mayonnaise based sauce or melted butter. I guess it looks like dainty-eating, but come on, hearty is so much better. A stuffed artichoke is the way to go!

So the artichokes at the market were deep green, fragrant and heavy.  They squeaked when squeezed, so they were keepers. The price was right. I bought only two as I'm the only one who will dine on these beauties. No company's the weekend after Easter and most everyone is still coming down from the excitement of this sacred holiday. My husband, Steve, isn't a big fan of this wonderful vegetable, so two were enough. Of course, once I had made them....four would have been better!

Eating an artichoke is an experience similar to eating a crab, a hands-on affair. The tender "meat" on each leaf is removed by putting it between your front teeth and pulling the leaf through. It's a slow, methodical process that elicits sighs of contentment. Every leaf is scraped clean, the stuffing that clings to it savored, then a hearty mound of center stuffing is enjoyed...finally the prize is unearthed, the heart or flower of the artichoke.

mushrooms, salami, onion, garlic
sauteing in skillet
A stuffed artichoke isn't a side dish...nope, it's a meal in itself. It takes some preparation time, but considering it's a main course, it's not much more work than any other meal.  I stuffed these with sauteed mushrooms, diced hard salami, and breadcrumbs among a few other ingredients. The artichokes depicted are over-stuffed. The moist filling is enough for four, but since I only had two, I packed these babies to overflow. I didn't want to serve this with anything too heavy, so my choice was a cup of zucchini soup and plain, sliced tomatoes.  This meal is the epitome of an eating experience and more delicious than words can describe. And that's Italian!

Artichoke Stuffed With Salami & Mushrooms
2-4 fresh Artichokes, each leaf snipped, middle of choke cleaned out
4 slices of Hard Salami, diced (a 1/4 lb chunk will do fine)
8 oz of button mushrooms, cleaned and diced
2 tablespoon onion, diced
1 egg
2 cups flavored breadcrumbs (1 1/2 c will do for 2 artichokes)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
3 fresh basil leaves, snipped into pieces
5 cloves garlic, reserve 2 for the cooking pot
olive oil

In a skillet, saute mushrooms, onion, & 3 cloves of garlic in a bit of olive oil. When almost golden add salami.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool. While this is sauteing and cooling,  prepare the artichokes. Turn upside down and rap artichoke on the counter to open the leaves.  Cut off stem, so the artichoke can sit up on the plate. Snip tip of each leaf, then with a spoon clean out the center removing any of the prickly inside. Rinse in cold water and let dry upside-down on a paper towel.  In a bowl, add
mushroom & salami mixture
with breadcrumbs
           breadcrumbs & beaten egg and cooled mushroom/salami mixture. Mix well and add fresh basil leaves. Mix. Fill center and in between leaves with breadcrumb mixture.
Drizzle olive oil into a wide pot. Heat and add remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Combine vegetable broth and white wine in a measuring cup. When garlic is just golden, add 1/4 cup of the liquid. Stir. Place stuffed artichokes in pot.  Drizzle tops with a bit of olive oil. Lower heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes. As often as possible, check that bottom of artichokes arent' burning. Baste with remaining liquid to keep vegetables moist. Test a leaf to be sure it is soft.
Enjoy the artichokes either warm or cold.
Artichokes with tips snipped
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