Friday, May 31, 2013

Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pasta

Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pasta
       So I decided to start my "bachelor" weekend with another great homemade pasta dish.  It is mushroom season where I live and many people are out digging for mushrooms.  Many different kinds are available during the springtime in WV.  I decided to cheat and go to the market and purchase some fresh wild mushrooms.  I know, take the easy way and just purchase them.  But hey, this blog is about "recipes to live by", and if that means taking the easy way out than so be it.  I was craving something earthy with the mushrooms.  I was also craving fresh pasta, which let's be honest, is typically at least once a week.  I didn't use any family recipes or one found on the Internet.  I created this recipe based on what I thought would taste great with fresh mushrooms.  
     I found a great combination of mushrooms in my local market.  I used the combination of cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms.  That, combined with fresh sage, cream, white wine, garlic, some fresh grated cheese, and fresh pasta, what couldn't be better on a spring weekend. This dish was amazing and they flavors just melted together in my mouth.  Please enjoy my Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pasta. Serves 2-4.

 Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pasta

  • 2-3 large chicken breasts
  • 2 cups mixed mushrooms, (crimini, shiitake, oyster)
  • 1/2 white onion diced
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3 small fresh sage leaves diced
  • Pasta of choice

     In a sauté pan with the butter brown the chicken on all sides and remove.  Add the olive oil and toss in the onion and sauté, then the garlic and the mushrooms until tender.  Pour in the white wine and simmer until reduced a bit.  Next add the chicken broth, the cream, sage leaves and the Romano cheese.  Stir, place back in the chicken diced, cover and simmer for at least 15-20 minutes.  Serve over your favorite pasta.  This dish was absolutely amazing.  The flavors were so complementary to each other that it was hard to not go back for thirds and fourths.  Creaminess from the cheese and sauce, earthiness from the mushrooms, and fragrant aroma from the sage and garlic made this meal a new classic in my house.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thai Drunken Noodles or (Pad Kee Mao)

Thai Drunken Noodles
      I have actually had this dish before in a Thai restaurant and loved it.  This is another traditional street food dish that I've been told is easily found in Thailand.  This dish has become one of my favorites.  I don't know why it is called Drunken Noodles.  I researched and the actual translation of Pad Kee Mao is "Shit Drunk Noodle".  There are many stories as to why it is called this.  Some say it's because the combination of ingredients awaken your pores and allows you to sweat out your toxins from a long nights of drinking.  (Trust me, I can see this as a reason).  Another source states that the dish is called this because the ingredients are "sauced" themselves.  Finally, I've heard that it is called Drunken Noodles because it was a favorite of drunks during the night as a great source of protein after drinking before heading to bed.  Whatever it is, it is a spectacular dish.  As a bachelor I can truthfully say that after a night of drinking and debauchery, this dish is a great body fueller. The combination of spicy from the chilies to sweetness from the mixture of the sauces and sugar are tasty.  The freshness of the vegetables and hint of basil and ginger are wonderful.  I love this dish.  I mean, I truly love this dish.  It awakens all your senses.  I could smell this dish throughout my house before tasting it.  Once tasting it, all my tastes buds came alive within my mouth.  The sweet, the sour, the hot, and the cold, all together.  Serves 2 with some leftovers.

Thai Drunken Noodles

  • Sirloin steak, (cut into thin strips)
  • Thai rice noodles
  • 1/2 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 chili diced
  • Fresh basil diced
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger diced
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice wine
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • handful diced green onion

     Take the rice noodles and place them in a bowl.  Pour boiling water over them and let them soak until they become tender.  They require no cooking.  Drain and sat aside.  In a large wok over medium heat drizzle in a little vegetable oil.  Once hot enough, sauté the cut steak until nice and brown.  Remove from wok and sat aside.  toss in bell pepper, broccoli, chili, and tomatoes and sauté until nice and tender.  Next add in the garlic, basil, and ginger and sauté until fragrant.  Next combine all the sauces and pour into the wok.  Add the sugar and mix in.  Simmer and toss in the drained noodles.  Stir fry for a couple minutes and toss in the green onion.  Serve immediately. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pot Roast

Pot Roast and Vegetables
         When someone says, what is considered a traditional American meal? Many dishes in my opinion come to mind. I think of hamburgers, hotdogs, pie, BBQ ribs, meatloaf, fried chicken, etc. But many people forget one of the most famous American meals, Pot Roast, a true comfort food that everyone enjoys. Who didn't grow up having their mother cook a Pot Roast in the oven with some fresh root vegetables? The smell lingering in the house all day was amazing. It was the perfect dish to have on a rainy or winter day. A Sunday meal with the whole family, or as I did, a warming meal during the week. Since cooking for only one is at times difficult, I took a 2 1/2 lb roast and cut it in half and froze the other part. The result was still enough to serve at least 2 people. I do not own a crock-pot so I placed it in the oven on low before I went to work that morning and came home halfway through the day to take it out. Once I arrived back home that evening I just put it back in the oven at medium temp for about 20 minutes to warm it back up. The final result was a delicious and very moist dinner. Hope you enjoy my version of Pot Roast and Vegetables.


  • 1.2 lb Chuck Roast
  • 2 cups halved small redskin potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups mini carrots
  • bunch of green onions 1in cuts
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbs soy
  • 1 tbs worcestershire
  • 1 tsp McCormicks steak seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic

       Preheat oven to 225F.  In a Dutch oven take the cut potatoes, carrots, garlic, and green onions and toss in.  Place the roast in the center on top of the vegetables.  In a mixing bowl combine the broth, soy, worcestershire, and McCormicks seasoning and mix.  Pour over the roast and vegetables.  Cover and place in the oven.  Cook for 4 hours.  Perfect for 2-4 or just yourself as leftovers.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Irish Eyes Are Smiling

     As a member of the Irish community, half Irish on my father's side, I have always wanted to travel to the homeland. A few family members and myself have started our own family traditions of traveling together every couple of years. Whether it is locally, throughout our country, or over years, we enjoy traveling together and experiencing different cultures. We started our travels as a family over 7 years ago when I planned our first trip to Italy. I had done a bunch of research searching the web and government offices over there searching for family members still living. To our surprise I found our second and third cousins still living in our maternal grandmothers hometown.

     Anyways, this post is about our Irish side. A rich and resourceful culture, I grew up knowing I was Irish. Every Sunday morning we went to my fathers parents house after church for a big breakfast. My grandmother would talk about the large Irish breakfasts. Her house had Irish memorabilia from the old country. Pictures of family members, old cottages, and the homeland sat upon her walls. We never knew a lot about our Irish ancestors. We knew that grandma and grandpa were Irish. That their parents were Irish and that their parents came from Ireland. But we were not sure to exactly where or if we still had any connections there. So began my search for that side of the family. It didn't take me long to find out that searching Irish records was going to be much harder than searching our Italian records. First, most records were not kept. If they were they were lost during the famine or destroyed. Second, being Catholic, records were especially hard to keep, as they were not recorded because of their religious connections. Finally, records there are not kept in courthouses or government offices as they were in Italy. They are kept in churches, which brought me back to the Catholic thing. After over a year of searching I had almost given up. Finally, low and behold I came across a marriage record of my great great grandparents. The certificate luckily stated a village and church. No parents though. I contacted the priest of the church who surprisingly wrote back and was willing to meet with me and give us a copy of the marriage certificate. So our planning began.

     We determined to do at least 10-11 days traveling the entire country. No trip is complete unless you can spend at least a week seeing all you possible can fit in. We booked our plan tickets and our first and last nights hostel stay. The rest was all a mystery, as we like to leave the trip open to wherever we land.
      We spent the first two days in Dublin getting our feet wet. We walked around the big city taking in our first breaths of Irish air. We then hopped in a rental car and headed north towards Northern Ireland and the Giant's Causeway. We then headed south towards Strokestown in Roscommon where one set of our great great grandparents were from. Cross over towards Galway, Cliff's of Moher, down towards Blarney and back to Dublin again. We spent the entire 10-11 days traveling almost the entire country. A whirlwind of Irish spirit along the emerald scenery. A wonderful green and pleasant country I will never forget. Below are some of the shots I took while on our trip. I highly recommend anyone traveling to the country. The people were the friendliest anyone could encounter. The hospitality of the Irish was much more than expected. They felt like family and in fact some may have been.
My first beer in Ireland at The Brazen Head
Yes we went to the touristy Temple Bar
The Kilmainham Jail
Very interesting place

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin 

Our hostel room.
Me driving for the first time on the other side of the road
Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland
Strokestown in Roscommon. (Where one set of our great great parents were from)

Manor house in Strokestown

The church where our great great grandparents were married

Myself and cousin in Hanely's Pub in Strokestown
(We met some possible cousins while there that night) 

Cliffs of Moher

Clonalis House. (The last ancestry home of the O'Connor clan. Supposed our family)
Blarney Castle

Kiss the Blarney Stone for the gift of gab

Muskerry Arms O'Connors in Blarney (great food and great spirits)

Sitting in the park writing in my journal in Blarney
Amazing Dublin Coddle
Amazing lamb and mint pesto in Blarney
(will attempt to recreate this some day soon)

Fish and Chips

  Irish Stew
Our great great grandparents marriage certificate from Strokestown Roscommon
Edward Gormley and Nora Regan
     An amazing trip of a lifetime stepping foot on the homeland of one half of my great heritage.  Something I am so proud of and cannot wait to do it again.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Homemade Gnocchi and Meatballs


Gnocchi in marinara and pesto 

       Yes, I have posted gnocchi before, but never how I go about making them.  They are truly my favorite of the pasta world.  They are so quick and easy to make and fill you up.  I love them.  I dream about them.  I used to love when my grandma, (nonna), would make these little pillows of awesomeness.  My mother used to make them as well and they too are her favorite.  I thought earlier in the week that I should make a quick batch.  Plus I was out of marinara sauce and it is always good to have some always in the fridge.  When you make sauce, at least in my family, you always make quarts and quarts so that you can freeze it and always have some.  I will go into how to make a good marinara at some other time.  Today it is about the gnocchi and an accompaniment.  Gnocchi, (pronounced-"Nyokki", that's the best way I can think of spelling how it sounds), are potato pasta made from mashed potatoes, flour, and a little egg.  They go great with a marinara or even a good pesto sauce.  I'll explain how to make pesto some other time as well.  Serves 4-5.

Homemade Gnocchi


  • 2 lg potatoes
  • 2/3 cup-1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt/pepper

Skin the potatoes and boil in water until fork tender.  Drain and let cool.  Once cooled mash up as if you are making mashed potatoes and add some salt and pepper.  Take an egg and incorporate into the potato mash.  Next, mix in about 2/3 cup of the flour until well combined.  Turn out on a floured surface and kneed until you have a hearty, firm dough that is a bit sticky.  I then cut off sections and roll into long 1/2 inch ropes.

Now with a sharp knife carefully cut off 1/2 inch dumplings.

 I place all the dumplings onto a wax paper or foil lined baking sheet in order to place in the freezer for half an hour to help firm up.

In a large pot of boiling water drop in the gnocchi.  Stir and bring to a boil.  The gnocchi will float to the top.  Cook about 5 minutes, drain, and coat in your favorite sauce and serve.  

Meatballs are always a favorite of any Italian and every family has their own recipe as well.  Some cook them in the oven by baking them, some fry, and some cook raw in their sauce.  I cook mine two different ways depending on what I am making.  If I am making just meatballs for pasta, I cook them raw within a marinara sauce I am cooking on the stove.  It adds flavor to the sauce and allows the meatballs to remain moist and juicy.

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 chunk of homemade bread torn into little pieces
  • 2 tbs parsley
  • 1 egg
  • Salt/pepper

In a mixing bowl combine all the above ingredients until well combined.  Hand roll each meatball about the size of a gulf ball.  This recipe should make at least 18-20 meatballs depending on your consistency with shaping.  Drop directly into simmering marinara sauce on the stove and cook within the sauce for about 1 hour. 



Friday, May 10, 2013

Thai Red Pork and Rice or (Khao Moo Daeng)

Thai Red Pork and Rice/Khao Moo Daeng

      As I have mentioned a few times in my posts, I am quite obsessed with Asian cuisines. I don't know what it is. Whether it is the simplicity of some of the dishes, the salty, spicy, sweet but tart sauces, the fresh vegetables, or the fact that a lot of Asian dishes contain noodles. Which, let's be honest, is always a favorite of mine. Anyways, today I am adventuring into the art of Thai cuisine. This dish is my first experience in cooking Thai food. I have eaten Thai before and have found the dishes to be amazing. I decided to try this dish that is popular on the streets at food vendors in Thailand. A simple dish of a barbecue pork over rice, Thai Red Pork and Rice, or what is traditional called Khao Moo Daeng. I did some researching and googling to find the right combination to make this dish as accurate and traditional as I could. The next time I make this I may decrease the amount of tomato and experiment with more plum and honey to get a more sweater flavor. Overall it was different and I will try it again, as mentioned, with adjustments. Feel free to try it out and make your own adjustments. Comments and suggestions are very much welcomed when venturing into unknown cuisines. Enjoy this Khao Moo Daeng or Red Pork and Rice.


  • 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 7 plums, (pits removed)
  • 1/2 lb pork loin
  • 4 tbs fish sauce
  • 6 tbs honey
  • 1-cup water
  • 2 tbs soy
  • 2 tbs vinegar
  • 1 tbs molasses
  • 1 cucumber

      First, place the tomatoes, plums, fish sauce, 4 tbs honey, and water in a blender and mixed until plums and tomatoes were incorporated.  Then place the pork loin in a baking dish and thoroughly coated it with the tomato/plum sauce. Place it in the fridge over night. Next day place the pork in an oven at 325F for about 50 minutes. Remove pork and sat aside. Take the marinade it was cooked in and place in a soup pot. Add the rest of the honey, the soy, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a boil and thicken. Meanwhile take the pork loin and grill it on a grill on all sides until crisp. Remove and let cool a bit. Slice into bite size slices and serve over some cooked jasmine rice. Drizzle some of the sauce over the pork and serve with some sliced cucumbers and diced green onion. In Thailand this dish can be found at street food vendors for a very good price. They typically also include other pork parts and hard-boiled eggs. Hope you enjoy.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Greek Stewed Chicken

Greek Stewed Chicken Santorini Style

     So this recipe is for a Greek Stewed Chicken Santorini Style, which was inspired by a couple of Greek chefs named,  Stella Metsovas and Cat Cora who makes a Santorini sauce.  I have never been to Greece but plan on going within the next year and Santorini is on my list of places to see and be.  Apparently Santorini is known for its tomatoes and capers and Greece cooking utilizes the traditional flavors of oregano and even a bit of cinnamon.  Give this a quick try and enjoy.  I paired it with a simple Greek side dish of orzo, spinach, and feta cheese.  Serves 3.

Greek Stewed Chicken Santorini Style


  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbs oregano
  • 16oz chicken broth
  • 15oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole calamata olives

       In a Dutch oven with a bit of olive oil sauté the onion until softened.  Next toss in the garlic and lightly brown. Meanwhile coat the chicken in salt, pepper, and the oregano.  Place in the pot and brown on all sides.  Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  In blender mix the tomatoes, capers, and cinnamon and blend.  Pour into the pot and stir.  Toss in the olives, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes until the chicken is complete.  Serve with your favorite Geek side dish and enjoy.
This dish was quite delicious and interesting with the traditional Greek flavors.