Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Braised Beef and Greens

Braised Beef and Greens

     No clue where I came up with this idea. I was sitting at home and was craving something delicious. I had a hankering for some cooked greens but wanted to add something different to them. Sort of make them not the spotlight of the meal but an added attraction. I had a flank steak in the freezer and wanted to try something different. Why not braise the beef with the greens and add a little kick from some shallots and some fresh mushrooms. So here goes, a wonderful braised beef and greens meal that you will fall in love with and certainly will become a regular meal for you or you and your family.  Braised Beef and Greens.

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1 large shallot
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • Bunch fresh baby spinach
  • McCormick’s steak seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper

1.       Take your flank steak and cut it against the grain into about ½ inch strips.

2.       Chop up mushrooms and dice shallots

3.       In a large skillet pour in some olive oil, salt and pepper your steak, and then sauté the steak until browned. Remove and set aside.

4.       In same skillet sauté the shallots and mushrooms in same oil.

5.       Toss in the spinach in bundles and wilt down.

6.       Pour in the white wine and bring to a simmer.

7.       Pour in the beef stock and return steak to skillet and shake in a couple dashes of steak seasoning.

8.       In 350 degree oven cover the steak mixture in skillet and braise in the oven for 45 minutes.
     This beef dish was fantastic, tender, flavorful, and fulfilling all in one. I hope you give it a try. I served mine with a bit of mac-n-cheese but I really didn’t need it. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Goat Cheese, Orange, Fried Chicken Layers

Goat Cheese, Orange, Fried Chicken
     This dish was inspired by one of those dishes we serve at the restaurant I work at. We serve a great pecan crusted chicken that is cut into slices and served with a strawberry balsamic glaze with fresh strawberries. I took the rough idea of slices and stacks and turned it into my own dish. This dish is so simple and fresh. Full of deliciousness and multiple flavors that actually complement each other. The spice from the chicken, the citrus from the orange, and the tartness and creaminess from the goat cheese blend well together. Top it off with a little maple syrup and viola, a fantastic dinner entrée that anyone can enjoy. Goat Cheese, Orange, Fried Chicken Layers.
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 orange peeled and sliced
  • Goat cheese
  • Corn flake crumbs
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Maple Syrup
  • Flour
  • 1 egg
       1.       Make a three place dredging station of flour, beaten egg, and a combination of cornflake crumbs and cayenne pepper.
2.       Dredge thawed out chicken into flour, then egg, then cornflake crumb mixture.
3.       In a large skillet filled with about a half inch of oil, fry chicken on both sides over medium high heat until golden brown on each side.
4.       Heat oven to 350 degrees and place chicken in baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
5.       Meanwhile peel the orange and slice into about 1/3 inch slices.
6.       Once chicken is cooked through, slice into equal size pieces. Layer one slice of chicken followed by an orange slice, and then spread or crumble some goat cheese and repeat with layers.
7.       Drizzle some fresh maple syrup and serve.
     This dish was so amazing that I was sad I only made one plate. You can always increase the amounts depending on how many you are serving but trust me this will be a favorite of everyone.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 1 (depending on amounts used)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

     It is summer here, (well supposed to be if it ever stops raining), in West Virginia, a special time of year in my part of the state, where the sun stays out for at least fifteen hours. The humidity is high which makes it feel more like 90 degrees versus 80. The perfect temperature to go down to the river and spend the whole day. I typically do this at least once a week every summer. Sit on the rocks and get a tan or float around in the river or even tube down it. Since quitting my job and taking on an evening job I have found myself doing this at least 3-4 days a week now that my days are empty. I have a lovely space I get to go to, a spot that was discovered by a good friend of mine. She has been a friend ever since she was my boss back in my high school days when I became a lifeguard at the local YMCA.  She has taught me a lot. From appreciating the spiritual side of nature to enjoying the smaller things in life. Whenever we meet up at the river she is always supplied with all the necessities. From snacks, lunch, radio, first aid, ashtray, to even toilet paper and a shovel, you name it she has packed it tightly and neatly into a little shoulder sack. One of her biggest carry-ons is her Bloody Mary, enough to supply at least the two of us, if not more, for the whole afternoon. This recipe is not hers but one I have come up with. Blood Marys are the perfect summertime, river drink. Not only are they full of goodness and heartiness from the tomato juice and spices but serve as a health benefit. Tomatoes are a good source of nutrients and help protect the skin from the bad sun rays. This recipe makes at least a gallon. Plenty for at least 2-3 of you while tubing down the river or just enjoying the goodness that summer has to offer in your little piece of heaven.  Bloody Mary


  • 1 1/2 liter bottle vodka
  • 2 large cans 100% tomato juice
  • 1 tbs horseradish
  • 2  limes
  • 1/4 cup olive juice
  • Worcestershire
  • Liquid smoke
  • Black pepper
  • Creole seasoning

     In a gallon jug pour the vodka and the tomato juice in. Stir in the horseradish. Cut the two limes and squeeze the juice in. Save the limes for garnish or to drop into your drink. Pour in the olive juice. Add a couple dashes of Worcestershire and liquid smoke. Shake in about 3 tablespoons black pepper and about 3 tablespoons of a good Creole seasoning. Cover the gallon jug and shake, shake, shake. Ta Da! Ready to serve. Also the longer it sits in the fridge the better and spicier the taste. Simple easy and delicious Bloody Mary. The perfect summer drink and even better as an early morning hangover remedy. :) Thanks Jill. Love ya.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-5 depending on how much you can drink

Relaxing on the river

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nonna's Quick Spaghetti


     Imagine a stout little white haired lady sauntering through her house. She's wearing slacks, tennis shoes, and a blouse all covered with a long apron with sleeves. Sprinkled with a dusting of flour and even some red splotches here and there from the sauce. Her hair is up in a bun or curled to its finest. She is rushing around jabbering to herself about what all else needs completed before the guests arrive. She's already done all her makeup so even though she is rushing around her red lips are visible from far away. In the background you hear a faint song playing on her kitchen radio. Whether it be mandolin or accordion music or that of Sinatra or Dean Martin she is softly singing along or humming. Her dining room is impeccably decorated with her nicest china and goblets. The table is set for a whole crowd of people, not only family but her friends. Everyone is invited for Sunday dinner at her house. Can you picture it? The home of an Italian grandmother.

     Every Italian grandmother, or “nonna”, has that secret to their marinara sauce or their pasta sauce and even how they make that fantastic house smell so wonderful. I remember going to my grandmothers every weekend. She always had that large pot on her stove bubbling with sauce in it. Typically floating in the sauce were meatballs, sausage, or some other kind of meat to help flavor it. The smell just permeated the whole house. You could even smell it as you approached the steps of the home. She made tons. Enough to fill half a dozen quart jars. She always kept some in the fridge for quick weeknight meals and even froze some for later. A trait you too carry on anytime you make homemade sauce.

     You have carried on her tradition, one that has been handed down from her parents to yours and on to you. I will admit though it still is not the same as hers. I have adjusted mine at times and so hasn’t my mother. But who doesn’t make the recipe their own. This quick and easy recipe is something that she would do if she wanted to whip something together in a pinch but make it different than that Sunday evening pasta and marinara meal. I am about to give you a simple and easy marinara recipe that anyone can make. The addition to make it different is what makes this special. Simple splashes of cream and fresh herbs and you have a completely different sauce and meal.  Nonna’s Quick Spaghetti.

Ingredients for simple marinara
  • 1 lg can tomato juice
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 12 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Fresh basil
  • Pinch oregano
  • Salt/pepper

1.       In a large pot drizzle some olive oil and sauté your diced onion until translucent.

2.       Add in diced garlic and sauté until fragrant

3.       Pour in half the tomato juice and mix in the paste and crushed tomatoes.

4.       Add in diced green pepper, chopped fresh basil, pinch of oregano and rest of tomato juice.

5.       Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer for hour or longer.

     Now comes the additions that every Italian may or may not add. I am not going to give away my exact marinara sauce here. I am just going to tell you some additions that people add.

  • Bay leaf, diced carrot, parsley, wine, cheese rind, beef, pork, veal, chicken, etc. 

     The addition of meats help flavor the sauce. Our family always added the meats raw and let the sauce cook all day on low. Even meatballs were added raw.

Nonna’s Quick Spaghetti

     She always made fresh pasta on her Chitarra. Pour in a pot some of her leftover marinara. Bring to a simmer. Stir in some heavy cream and chili flakes. Toss with pasta and sprinkle fresh chopped basil. Viola. Nonna’s quick meal with a different flare.