Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers over rice
       What Italian household has never had Sausage and Peppers? A standard meal on any Italian's menu. A quick and delicious way to use a few simple ingredients. Either over pasta, rice, or even on hoagie buns as a sandwich. I am sure everyone who has gone to any Italian restaurant or festival has found a traditional Sausage and Pepper meal. In my household growing up we ate them 3 different ways. As mentioned we had ours either over pasta, in hoagie buns, or over rice. I prefer if not having it as a sandwich over rice. The great combination of spicy sausage and the peppers with a great tomato base just fill your mouth with goodness. Sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese and you're good to go. You can use any color of bell peppers you want. I prefer red and green. Below I describe a very quick way to make this delicious meal. Serves 2-3.

Sausage and Peppers


  • 3 Italian sausage links
  • 1/2 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbs ricotta
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Rice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper

        Cut the sausage links into bite size chunks. (If making hoagies leave them whole). Sauté in a skillet over medium high heat in a little bit of olive oil until nice and brown. Chop up the green pepper, red pepper, onion, and garlic. Toss into the pan and sauté. Pour in the tomato sauce. Lower heat, cover and simmer. Meanwhile make a side of rice according to cooking instructions. About five minutes before serving I like to add 1 tabs of ricotta to the sausage mixture for some extra creaminess. Serve over rice and top with some shredded mozzarella. Quick and easy Sausage and Peppers.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Cannoli Cupcakes

Cannoli Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

          I am not a baker!! (I express emphatically). It really is true that some people can cook about anything but when it comes to baking it is a separate art form that only a few enjoy and can master. I am not one of those. I do not enjoy baking most of the time. It requires too much precise science what with measuring and being exact in timing and portions. Now, don't get me wrong I truly enjoy eating baked goods. In fact, I have such a sweet tooth that if I do not have at least the smallest bit of chocolate once a day I go insane. What made me venture off the path into baking this time you may ask? Well, I saw someone post something about Cannolis and then another post about cupcakes and decided, what the hell, I'm going to make Cannoli Cupcakes. I'm not going to pretend to say that this task was simple or easy. (Again, not a fan of this). But with patience and determination I completed what surprisingly turned out to be a nice dessert.

 Cannoli Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 box store bought yellow cake mix
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1 bag small semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs of cinnamon

          Make cake recipe following directions on box using the cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil. Add 1 tbs of vanilla extract. Cook according to directions on box for cupcakes. Meanwhile take ricotta cheese, powdered sugar and mix until smooth. (This is where I had difficulty getting the right consistency). I don't know if it was the moisture in the cheese or from the sugar but I had to add some cornstarch to get a thicker cannoli filling. Add chopped maraschino and a small handful of the chocolate morsels. Mix and put in fridge to chill. Once your cupcakes are out of the oven and cooled enough take a knife and carefully dig out a hole in the center of each cupcake. Take your cannoli filling out of the fridge and carefully scoop into the center of each cake. Place back into the fridge to cool.

       Next take the heavy cream in a saucepan and cook slightly on the stove over medium high heat until it just starts to boil. Take the rest of the chocolate morsels and place in a bowl. Carefully pour the heated cream over the chocolate, add the cinnamon, and whisk together lightly until a nice shiny chocolate ganache forms. The longer it sits the thicker it gets. Finally take each cupcake and invert into the ganache coating all the tops. Repeat if necessary. Place on plate and cool in the fridge until ready to serve. Viola! My version of Cannoli Cupcakes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles with a peach brandy syrup

        Chicken and Waffles.  A dish I had never had before attempting this recipe. I have always wanted to try them, but have never had the chance.  A southern dish categorized as a soul food favorite beloved by many.  I racked my brain trying to find an interesting way to create this dish and make it my own.  I did not want to do just a plan fried chicken with waffles and plan syrup.  When thinking of a "southern" style dish I came up with the idea of making the chicken more spicy with some heat and adding a fruity twist to the syrup and what better southern fruit to use than a peach.  So here it is, my version of Chicken and Waffles with peach brandy syrup compote.

Chicken and Waffles with a Peach Brandy Syrup Compote


  • Buttermilk waffles
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Cornflake crumbs
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 15oz can peaches
  • 3 tbs of maple syrup
  • 2 tbs of apple brandy
  • salt/pepper

          Now I made the waffles ahead of time and kept in the oven warming so that they crisped up a bit but you can make them at the same time if you are able to multitask enough.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Take the 3 chicken breasts and cut them into halves so that you have 6 separate pieces.  Take to 2 eggs and mix them in a bowl.  Lay a plate of flour and a plate of the cornflake crumbs and cayenne pepper next to the bowl of eggs so that you have an assembly line of 3 different platforms for dredging the chicken in.

          First dredge the chicken in the flour lightly.  Then dredge it in the egg mixture followed by the cornflake and pepper mixture.  Fry the chicken in a skillet with vegetable oil till brown on both sides. 

        Remove and place in a baking dish.  Once all pieces have been browned.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile dice up the can of peaches.  In a small sauce pan cook on low heat the peaches and add in the 4 tbs of maple syrup and the 2 tbs of apple brandy.  Add a pinch of salt and simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes.  Once the chicken is done.  Place 2 halves of the waffle on a plate.  Top with a piece of chicken and pour over a bit of the peach compote.  Serve immediately.  Serves 2-3 people.  This dish is so delicious.  The combination of both spicy from the chicken and sweet from the peach compote are perfect.  The soft and crispiness of the waffle add texture and fullness to the dish.  Enjoy!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken and Corn Chowder

      Again I am obsessed with soups.  I make at least 15 different kinds and love to invent new ones.  Since the time of year when soups just seem to be an every weekend kind of meal are coming to a close, I decided to make a hearty but fresh type of soup this weekend.  I have never had any kind of corn chowder before but decided to give it an attempt and add a few different things to make it more interesting.  I thought, why not add chicken and even beans.  So here it is, my version of Chicken Corn Chowder.  A very hearty but surprisingly light and fresh soup.  Each bite contains a kick from the peppers, a creaminess from the cream and cheeses, and some great texture from the chicken, beans, and the corn.  Please give this a try and enjoy my version of Chicken Corn Chowder.  Serves 5-6.

Chicken Corn Chowder


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 32 ounces Chicken Broth
  • 12 ounces Frozen Corn
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 pint cream or half and half
  • 1 cup Colby Jack shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup Swiss shredded cheese
  • 1 15oz can Cannellini beans
  • salt/pepper

       In a small pot boil the chicken breasts in the chicken broth for roughly 15-20 minutes.  In a dutch oven sauté the onion and red bell pepper in a bit of olive oil until softened.  Mix in the corn and stir. Mix in the flour to add some thickener.  Meanwhile remove the chicken from the pot and sit aside to dice up.  Pour the chicken broth into the dutch oven along with the water and simmer.  Dice up the chicken and mix back in the pot.  Add in the beans.  Simmer for about 15 minutes on low.   Pour in the cream and the shredded cheeses and mix thoroughly.  Add some salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Quick and simple and delicious.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Orange Beef and Lo Mein

Orange Beef with Broccoli Lo Mein

       Again I am on another Chinese food kick.  I decided to make my version of Orange Beef with a Lo Mein.  This dish is so simple and bursts with citrus flavor that before your friends get to have any you have already finished off the whole amount.  The dish is quick and requires very little ingredients and time.  A quick lo mein sauce with sautéd broccoli is a great light accompaniment to this beef.  This Orange Beef recipe is enough for 2-3 people.


  • 1lb beef sirloin cut into thin strips
  • Fresh broccoli spears
  • Lo Mein noodles
  • 5 slices fresh ginger minced
  • 1/2 tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 1 lg orange
  • 4 tbs soy
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • vegetable oil

        In a pot of water cook lo mein noodles according to package.  Drain and set aside. In a small bowl mix together 3 tbs of soy, 2 tbs of oyster sauce, and the 1 tbs of sesame oil to make the sauce for the lo mein. Pour into the noodles to coat. Slice sirloin into thin strips and coat with the cornstarch. In a small bowl mix together the hoisin and juice of the large orange and sit aside as this will be the sauce for the beef. Meanwhile in a hot wok over medium heat sauté broccoli in a bit of vegetable oil. Drizzle in the last tbs of soy.  Cook just until they are a bit soft.  Mix into the noodles. In same wok cook beef in a little bit of vegetable oil until brown and cooked through.  Remove and sat aside.  Again in same wok sauté the minced ginger in a little bit of oil.  Mix in hoisin orange sauce and cook just for a second as it will thicken quickly.  Toss back in the beef and coat.  Serve over the broccoli low mein mixture.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli

      As I have mentioned earlier, I love soups.  This one is one of my top favorites. A traditional soup that has been made in my family forever.  My grandmother used to put beef chunks in it and my mom would also at times add spaghetti noodles instead of the ditalini.  I add a little hamhock for flavor.  Either way, this soup is so delicious it will become one of your favorites.  It is also a great way to utilize leftover marinara sauce.  Pasta Fagioli, (or Pasta Fazul as it sounds here in America) means pasta and beans.  A quick and hearty soup that fills you up and makes you feel warm inside.  I'm telling you, this is an excellent soup and you will fall in love with it.  It is simple, requires very little work, and can be easily frozen for a busy weekday meal once thawed out.  I am sure you have seen different versions of this soup in many different restaurants.  I am told that this style is one of the traditional ways of preparing it in Italy.  Please enjoy my families Pasta Fagioli.


  • 1/2 diced white onion
  • 1 small clove diced garlic
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 15oz can Cannellini beans
  • 1 cup left over marinara
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 bag ditalini
  • 1 hamhock or pork jowl
  • salt/pepper

       In a large soup pot or dutch oven drizzle some olive oil and saute the garlic and onion until tender.  Pour in the chicken broth and water if you want to make a little extra.  Toss in the pork and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for as long as you want until the pork is cooked and has added significant flavor to the soup.  Toss in the marinara, beans, diced tomatoes, and rosemary.  Continue to simmer.  Pour in the ditalini pasta and cook until pasta is finished.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve.  That's it!  Please enjoy this simple soup with a ton of flavor.  Pasta Fagioli---My favorite.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chicken Florentine

Chicken Florentine with homemade pasta

        There is nothing like any dish that contains homemade pasta.  I am such an addict that I could eat homemade pasta at least once a week and it is very easy and quick to make.  Today I am going to give you a great recipe for Chicken Florentine. Serves 3-4.


  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium shallot diced
  • 1 small bulb garlic diced
  • 10 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 pinch chili flakes
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice from half lemon
         In a pot of boiling water cook the pasta.  In a large sauté pan over high heat melt 2 tbs of butter.  Brown chicken in butter until brown on both sides.  Remove, cut into strips or bite size chunks, and sat aside.  In same skillet melt the other 2 tbs of butter.  Cook shallots until softened and then add the garlic.  Toss in spinach and wilt.  Pour in the white wine and simmer until it reduces a little.  Pour in the heavy cream.  Stir in the pinch of chili flakes, pinch of nutmeg, and the juice from the lemon.  Place cut chicken back in pan cover and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is fully cooked through.  Toss with pasta and serve.   Such a creamy and delicious chicken dish especially with fresh pasta.  You will love this easy Chicken Florentine.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homemade Pasta!

Fresh Pasta Drying On Pasta Tree

      Ok, so I decided to share the secret to making fresh homemade Pasta.  It is quick, simple, easy, requires very little, and as soon as you get the hang of it, it will only take you less than a half hour to complete.  Nothing tastes better than homemade pasta.  It's hard to explain what it is like to taste fresh pasta.  They have a bite to them unlike that of boxed dry noodles.  They cook in under 5 minutes and just all around make you feel better about cooking. 

       Many people use different things to produce their pasta.  My great grandmother and grandmother used a wooden box brought over from their part of Italy called a "Chitarra".  My grandmother later moved to hand cutting or using a metal pasta machine.  My mother continued using the metal pasta machine as well as hand cutting, however has since used an electric machine and feels it makes things much better on her aging hands.   I prefer to use the metal machine and hand cutting.  Give Pasta a try and you will never eat from a box again. This recipe makes enough Pasta for 2-4 people.  I can usually eat enough for 2 with some leftovers so probably go with 4.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour, (1/3 per egg)
  • Couple pinches of salt

      My grandmother used to pour all the dough onto the counter and make a mound with a hole in the top.  She would then crack all her eggs into the well and gradually mix the flour into the center.  I find using a mixing bowl much easier and less messy.  I crack all the eggs in a bowl and sprinkle in the salt and mix.  I then mix in a 1/3 cup flour at a time until well mixed.  I have found that you should use 1/3 cup flour, or 4 heaping tablespoons per egg, and you will get the perfect dough consistency.  Once you have mixed in all the flour you should have a nice well formed ball of dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface where you will kneed with the extra flour from the counter and form the perfect Pasta dough. The dough will feel nice and firm but soft at the same time.  I always make my dough the night before using so I store it in the fridge wrapped in tinfoil.  I find it easier to cut when it is chilled.  When cooking fresh pasta it only takes roughly 5 minutes to cook.  Once the water is boiling you toss in the pasta.  Once it comes back to a boil and the Pasta floats to the top it is finished.  Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

                                  (the two types of machines in our house)