Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sage Sour Cream Pork Chops

Sage Sour Cream Pork Chops
     It was a busy workweek and I needed to whip up something quick as I had gotten home late from work.  Living alone at times makes it a bit confusing to determine what to eat as well as the ability to make just the right amount for one person versus a couple.  I had laid out some pork chops because they are usually easy to fix.  I decided to do an old standby of breading them in Italian breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  I had a little left over mushrooms in the fridge and decided to create a unique sauce to accompany them. I had some sour cream in the fridge, as well as some fresh herbs still growing in little pots.  Why not combine and make a simple sauce to go over these already delicious chops?  So here goes, my Sage Sour Cream Pork Chops.
  • 1/4-cup chicken stock
  • 1/4-cup sour cream
  • 2 tbs cooking sherry
  • Handful mushrooms
  • 1/4-diced onion
  • 2 small sage leaves diced
  • Salt/pepper

     After quick browning the chops in a large sauté pan in butter I removed them and placed them in an oven to bake.  In the same sauté pan I tossed in the diced onion and mushrooms and sautéed them over medium heat.  Next pour in the cooking sherry and scrape up the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken stock and mix in the sour cream until incorporated.  Next, mix in the diced sage and salt/pepper.   Stir and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  Viola!  Once the sauce has thickened a bit pour nicely over your cooked pork chops when serving.  This sauce was so smooth, silky, and a bit tangy that it accompanied the pork chops very nicely.  Enjoy.  Serves 2-4.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hurly Burly Stew


     I came up with the idea for this soup when I had some things in my fridge that needed to be used up.  It was cold and I wanted some type of soup or stew. I remember my aunt and my father telling me that my Grandmother Binns used to make soup with stuff she had leftover in the fridge.  A lot of the usual stuff and she called it something like "icebox soup".  Now I am not claiming that this is anywhere close to it, but the idea reminded me of that story. 
     The name Hurly Burly is also of some significance to my Grandma Binns. She used to tap and drum on our backs as a kid and sing this song.  The song actually comes from an old Irish camping game that people played.

"Hurly Burly trump the trace,
The cow ran through the market place.
Simon alley hunt the buck,
How many horns stand up?"

     The idea was to drum this song on someone’s back as they were blindfolded and then ask him or her to guess the number of fingers the drummer is holding up, (how many horns?) This game continued around the campfire until the person got it right. This soup is given the name because, "can you guess how many horns stand up?" (What is in it?)  That's it.  You can put in this soup anything you want.  That is the beauty of it, whatever is in your refrigerator. Soup is just that, whatever you decide to put in. So, can you guess how many "horns" is in this soup?  Below you will find a simple description of what I placed in this soup.  It was what I had leftover in my fridge.

  • 1/2 lb beef stew
  • 1 large potato diced
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1-cup baby carrots
  • 1 10oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 orange Hungarian pepper diced
  • 1 red mini red pepper diced
  • 1 handful of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 sage leaf diced
  • Little white wine
  • Salt/pepper

     I started out in a large sauté pan or pot by cooking the onion and carrots over a little olive oil until the onion is tender.  I then took the beef stew cubes placed them in a brown paper bag, spooned some flour, salt and pepper in, closed bag and shook until all the beef was covered lightly with the flour.  I then dumped the beef into the pan to brown it. Add in the stock and white wine and bring to a simmer.  Toss in the crushed tomatoes, diced peppers, diced sage leaf, diced potato, and bring to a simmer.  Cover and let cook for about 30 minutes adding a bit of water here and there when it thickens up to add a bit of liquid.  Toss in the baby spinach, simmer for another 15 minutes, salt and pepper to taste, and serve with some delicious crusty bread. This "fridge" soup or "leftover" soup is perfect when you don't know what to cook.  Just take whatever you have in your fridge and throw it in the pot for soup. So, can you guess how many horns stand up? Perfect! Serves 2-4 people. 

Grandma Binns and I on her porch

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Paulie's Cannelloni

Paulie's Cannelloni
     My grandmother made ravioli and gnocchi. My mother, the former and stuffed shells.  Myself, I decided to add Cannelloni to the family practice.  The art of making homemade pasta into something besides a long noodle is a skill that takes practice.  I remember the first time I attempted to make ravioli from scratch.  My sizes differed completely.  No one ravioli was the same size, shape, or composition as the next one.  It takes practice and patience to get it perfect each time.  Hell, it took me a while to perfect the noodle practice and I can now do that in a matter of minutes.

    So I decided to give a shot at making another type of stuffed pasta; Cannelloni.  I was literally just sitting on my couch and came up with this great idea of an Italian sausage, ricotta, and spinach stuffed cannelloni with some sort of creamy but briny sauce. Since my mom's ravioli are famous enough to be called Betty's ravioli, and yes people request them, and since this cannelloni cannot be called something traditional with my family, I have named them Paulie's Cannelloni. I have cousins who call me that. So here they are: Paulie's Cannelloni


Homemade Pasta found here (http://www.recipesiliveby.blogspot.com/2013/04/Fresh-Pasta.html)
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 bunch fresh baby spinach
16 oz ricotta
1 tsp oregano
1/4 cup red wine
1 clove garlic
1 quart homemade marinara
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup diced green olive
Parmesan cheese

     First make your homemade pasta. I used the exact same recipe from this blog for making homemade noodles.  Instead of cutting them I rolled them into sheets using the same pasta machine.  I then cut each sheet into about a 4-5 inch width square of pasta.  Cook pasta just for about 5 minutes, drain, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, and lay flat on a baking sheet.  I placed them in the freezer for about 15 minutes just so they cooled off and didn't curl up.

     Meanwhile in a large skillet brown the Italian sausage.  Add in diced garlic, oregano, and red wine.  Cook until the wine has reduced.  Toss in the spinach, a bunch at a time, and cook until it has wilted down.  Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  Once cooled mix in the ricotta until you have a nice cheesy mixture for the cannelloni. 

     In a separate sauce pan or sauté pan pour in your choice of marinara.  Dice up some green olives and toss in and stir in the cup of heavy cream. Simmer over low to medium heat. 

     Now for the fun part, take one individual square of pasta and lay it down on your counter.  Next take a spoon and scoop some of the sausage/ricotta mixture into the center. Fold over one side and then the other on top until you have a little tube of stuffed pasta.


    Next take a ladle and spread some of the tomato olive sauce in a baking dish.  Take the stuffed pasta and gently lay it in the baking dish seam side down.  Continue until you have filled up the dish.  The recipe made 15 individual pasta squares for me.

     Top with a little more sauce and some fresh parmesan cheese.  Cover with tinfoil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. These were sooooo good I was shocked at how well they turned out.  The spicy sausage/ricotta/spinach center. The tangy but creamy sauce and of course the bite from the fresh pasta.  These were delicious. You can do them anyway you like.  Stuff them with something else.  The possibilities are infinite.  Please enjoy Paulie's Cannelloni.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NYC: A Four Course Meal

     What better recipe for a birthday gift than a wonderful trip to one of your favorite cities in the country: NYC! I love New York.  I have been many many times.  Each time I go I find another reason why I truly should be living there.  I've been for business and for pleasure.  I have gone with friends as well as solo.  Every time I'm in the city I attempt to try something different each time.  Whether it is a cuisine, a new drink, or even a site that I happened to stumble upon. 

     This one special trip was to celebrate my 35 birthday.  Yes I know what you are thinking he can't be 35.  Well unfortunately I am. I gathered a couple friends and we headed to the city to celebrate not only my birthday but also one of the greatest holidays of the year: Halloween.  My birthday is so close to this holiday that I have always been a fan of it.  I go all out every year in order to celebrate this festive day.  So besides the holiday festivities and debauchery what else can make a trip to this city a fantastic adventure?  Well here goes, one of the many "menu" options for a fantastic vacation in the city that never sleeps.

Antipasti: Amazing New York Attractions

     Of course when you come to the city why not check out some of the amazing sites and attractions.  New York was for many immigrants the first look into the new world for them. There are so many different things to see from the multiple bright lights of Times Square and Broadway to Central Park.  From The West Village to the 9/11 memorial.  From Little Italy threw China Town to the Lower East Side.  I have seen them all.  Each time something spectacular happens.  The buildings seem bigger, the lights brighter, and the park greener.  No matter what you come here to see each one is special in its own right.  See them all or just see a few special ones to your own desire. Sit and relax in the park, ride the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and just saunter around her.  Walk threw Times Square, stop and buy a quick souvenir, and a bite to eat.  Grab a cannoli in Little Italy and stop and buy some Chinese herbs in China Town. Do these as along as you take them in.  Take in all you can with just a deep breath, eyes closed, and a memory that will last you forever.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Our view from Gaonnuri Restaurant
Best in the city

Primo: Cocktails, Bars, and Halloween Festivities

     I have been to the big apple on so many occasions, for the Christmas holiday and even right smack on Times Square for the New Year ball drop, not once but twice.  This time we decided to experience it for the Halloween season.  I discovered that New York has the largest Halloween parade in the country.  A parade that anyone can be in as long as you show up at the beginning of the parade in full costume you can march right along with bands, floats, large puppets, etc.  I have always been a huge fan of this holiday.  Maybe it is because my birthday falls two days before. Maybe it's genetic as most of my family has a sense of macabre in their hearts. Whatever it is, it is the greatest day of the year in my opinion.  Celebrating this in New York was an amazing trip.  The crowds of people and revelers in costume, the crisp Village air, and the bars packed with ghouls, witches, and goblins.  The spooky drinks, music, and cheers from everyone around who are all there for one reason and one reason only; the Halloween spirit. 

Me as the Band Leader from Hocus Pocus
The Parade

What does the Fox say?

Jay Gatbsy, Daisy, and Skeleton Band

Secondo: Wonderful Opportunity of Meeting The Staff at The Daily Meal
      A special addition or second course to this amazing menu of a trip was the ability to be able to drop by The Daily Meal to meet and greet with the staff.  The Daily Meal is an online media site that celebrates, showcases, advises, and shares the world of food and drink.  When I started blogging the director of The Daily Meal to join their Culinary Content Network team approached me via email.  The CCN is a team of online bloggers whose blogs and posts caught the eyes of The Daily Meal team.  I was honored to be chosen as a member.  Since joining the team my blog visits have doubled, my posts have improved, and my culinary skills have been showcased and presented to such a wider audience that I could ever conceive.  From the website I have been given many ideas for other blog posts, restaurant reviews, travel ideas, etc. When I planned this trip I decided what better opportunity than to stop by and visit the magazines headquarter offices.  I sent a quick email to the director, Sharon Gitelle, and we planned my first visit.
     As soon as I got off the elevator to their fourth floor office space the staff greeted me warmly.  Sharon came from her office with a big hug and smile.  She walked me around, introduced me to a bunch of the editors and staff as one of the magazines bloggers, and showed me the ins and outs of the office.  The staff had created a taste-testing event for the magazine showcasing stuffings for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  I was asked to participate and was extremely glad to do it.  I was shown the test kitchen where the test was happening.  Ten different stuffings were laid out on the center table.  I was given a score sheet and pen and asked to taste test them all and rate each one. I felt special being able to participate in the office skill that the employees were doing.  After the rating was complete we headed back to Sharon's office, sat, discussed blogging ideas, article suggestions, restaurant reviews, etc.  Along with editor Arthur Bovino we were give ideas for the best place to sit and have a cocktail as well as Thai food options in the Lower East Side.  After a while we decided to say our goodbyes and head out for a cocktail.  With a great big hug and smile we were back at the elevator doors.  What a great experience visiting and meeting with The Daily Meal staff.  I truly appreciate their guidance and support.  What a wonderful business atmosphere and people to have gotten to meet.  Check out their website: http://www.thedailymeal.com/

Dolce, The Sweet Spot: The Endless Options For Great Food
     Who doesn't love to eat? Seriously, one of the only reasons I live each day of my life.  One of the only reasons to get up in the morning.  Ok, enough of my obsession with food. What better city to find food in than in NYC?  I mean think about it, every culture has their own neighborhood practically.  Or at least you will be able to find any kind of cuisine known to man here.  From Polish, Jewish, Korean, Thai, Italian, Russian, etc. , you name it there is a place here to tickle your fancy. As usual I typically always have to have a slice, (or granted a whole), stone based wood fired oven pizza.  There is nothing like it.  True to its Italian style with taste and texture, a wood fired pizza is the best.  Forget the Hutt, Inn, Papa, etc., there is nothing like this pizza with exception of in Italy.  Trust me on this I know.  I have been to Italy and tasted the pizza there.  If I can't have it like this I prefer homemade over anything.  As the week ended for our wonderful birthday adventure we had so many different types of food throughout our days.  From a Korean appetizer, cannolis, to another favorite of mine, Thai food, whatever your fancy you will not be disappointed in finding it here.

Kee Mao
     So there you go, one example of a great "menu" option for a trip to New York City.  Create your own menu items for your trip.  The city doesn't have to be New York but trust me on this, this city will not disappoint.  Go, relax, and just have fun. Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cranberry Hot Toddy

Cranberry Hot Toddy

     In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday who isn't used to seeing cranberry sauce spread out on their dining room table.  From a delicate homemade sauce with fresh berries, to what is typically found in my family's home, the blob of can jelly with its ridges indented from the can sliced up and placed on a platter. (Sadly, not very many people in my house enjoy cranberry sauce).  So I thought what about a drink made with cranberries. I mean who isn't already toasting the festive holiday?  Who isn't already a little tipsy when carving their turkey?  What uncle isn't yelling at the television due to a foul called during the football game as he absentmindedly spills a bit of his drink?  So I took a traditional cold remedy drink in our family: The Hot Toddy and placed a twist on it for the special day.  I remember my grandmother or parents drinking a Hot Toddy when they got sick or congested.  I remember my great aunt and uncle secretly sneaking them at all hours of the day.  A Hot Toddy is warming, spicy; it awakens your taste buds and allows you to come alive, or at least your mucus membranes from being sick. A traditional Hot Toddy is just hot water and whiskey.  We always used hot tea. So here goes a Thanksgiving twist on a classic cold nights drink: Cranberry Hot Toddy


  • 1 cup hot tea (any choice is suitable)
  • 1/3 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 shot whiskey (I used Bushmill's Irish Whiskey)
  • 1 tbs honey
  • Juice from 1 slice of lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sugar for sweetened tea 

    This is a simple recipe that really has no measurements.  I tried to simplify it as much as possible for just one glass.  Take your cup of hot tea and heat it in the microwave.  Add in the cranberry juice, lemon juice, and whiskey.  Slowly stir in the honey.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick if preferred and serve.  Change the measurements around for as many glasses as you wish to make.  You could even have a whole pot of hot tea and start mixing separate Hot Toddy's right there at the serving table.  Just place your favorite whiskey bottle, cranberry juice, and other condiments next to and mix up as you serve. It will taste just like the holiday seasons. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chicken And Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings
     What says "Fall Comfort Food" better than a nice bowl of Chicken and Dumplings Soup? Who knows?  There are many types of comfort food to each and every one of you.  I have many of my own.  I didn't grow up eating this dish.  My mother never made it.  I first had this at a friend’s house growing up.  I don't know if it is a southern dish, or according to Wikipedia, a French Canadian dish in origin, but you will definitely find it at almost any diner, home cooked restaurant, or American eatery.  I love this dish.  Its simplicity, its smoothness, its creaminess, its feeling of home.  I found a good recipe online a couple years ago and have since tweaked it here and there and made it my own.  Please enjoy my wonderful: Chicken And Dumplings.

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots
  • 1/2 diced white onion
  • 48 oz chicken stock
  • 2 lg chicken breasts
  • 2 10oz cans of cream of chicken
  • 1 10oz can of cream of celery
  • 1 10oz can of green beans
  • 1 pinch rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2-cup heavy cream
  • Salt/pepper

  • 1-cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2-cup milk
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

     I start out making the dough for the dumplings first.  Take the butter and melt it in the microwave.  Let it cool a bit to room temperature.  Mix in the milk and egg.  In a mixing bowl combine the flour, onion powder, and parsley.  Pour in the milk/egg/butter mixture and incorporate.  The dough will be very sticky.  Sit aside. 

     In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the carrots and onion in a little olive oil. Pour in the chicken stock and the frozen chicken breasts.  Bring pot to a boil and let the chicken cook.  (About 15-20 minutes). Next mix in the cream of chicken soups, cream of celery, green beans, rosemary, thyme, and the heavy cream.  Remove the chicken and cut up or pull into bite size pieces and place back in the pot. Simmer for about 20 more minutes. Now for the fun part, with a small teaspoon, spoon the dumpling batter and drop directly into the simmering pot.  Don't worry, they will soon swell up and float to the top.  These dumplings will be the delight of your guests and family. Simmer again for about 20 more minutes until the dumplings have finally cooked and floated to top.  Stir to make sure everything is incorporated.  Salt and pepper for taste and serve.  Serves 5-8 people depending on everyone’s appetite.