Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Late Summer Dinner with Grilled Bone-In Pork Chops and Tomato and Ricotta Salata Spaghetti

 You can tell that summer is quickly coming to an end.  It is getting darker much earlier and the nights are getting cooler.  The weather reminds me of our fall trips to Napa where it is warm during the day and cool at night.  With this realization we needed to get our Foodie Friends over for dinner and enjoy some really good wine.  So Saturday morning we called them up and invited them over.  We had them bring the appetizer because dinner to dessert was covered.  Hubby made a Bobby Flay Potato Salad he has come to love this summer and made his  Blueberry pie for dessert.  I was in charge of the rest of the dinner. 

I first took our last home grown Zucchini and sliced it up, placed it in a tin foil pouch with olive oil, kosher salt and red pepper flakes.  That was already for the grill when hubby cooked the pork chops.  This is a great way to cook vegetables in the summer.    I had visited our small garden that morning and  pick a whole big bowl of grape tomatoes, green peppers and some hot peppers that were suppose to be jalapeno's but most definitely are not.  They are round, red and grow upward.  The grape tomatoes I would use in my pasta recipe, hubby would use the hot peppers in his salad and the green peppers would be for a later day.  Then I hit my herb garden and picked the chives, thyme, basil and rosemary.   There is nothing better than the fresh herbs right outside your door.  Sure beats paying  a bundle for a really small amount at the grocery store.  Pay that amount up front in the spring at the garden center and place them in a pot right outside your kitchen or in a small herb garden.

  • Tomato and Ricotta Salata with Spaghetti


5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti 
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) ricotta salata cheese, crumbled


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. 2. Place tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until tomatoes collapse.
  3. 3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta and reserved liquid to pan; stir in tomatoes, remaining 4 teaspoons oil, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, basil, pepper, and cheese. Toss well. Serve immediately.
Grilled Pork Chop with Shallot Butter


  • (7-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops 
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind


  1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.   Sprinkle both sides of pork evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, and garlic, stirring well. Rub oil mixture evenly over both sides of pork. Place pork on grill rack; grill 6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of pork registers 155°. Remove pork from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Combine butter, shallots, and lemon rind, stirring well. Spread about 1 teaspoon butter mixture over each pork chop; let the pork stand an additional 5 minutes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Melina's Fresh Pasta with Sage Butter Sauce


This is one of the last few nights before our daughter goes off to school. My husband is out of town on a business trip and we have been busy finishing up the packing process, snack shopping, visiting the grandmothers and friends. During this week of just the kids and I, we wanted to make sure we got to go out to dinner one last time before our daughter leaves on Friday. We did go out to lunch on Saturday because my hubby is not returning from his trip until late Thursday night.

My daughters restaurant request was a local pasta restaurant that is very popular. The only problem with this is that it is too popular and the wait was 35 to 40 minutes for a table. So we went to the second choice - a Greek restaurant just down the street. Dinner was good and flavorful but not the pasta she wanted.
So, I checked my freezer and found a recent gift from my favorite pasta maker in the south! Melina had visited for the kids graduation.  Her nephew is our best peeps from across the street who graduated with my daughter this year.  They have gone all through school together.  She refers to him as her brother from another mother!  So when she came up she brought me a box of fig ravioli to try with the promise I would blog about it.  (That was a given). Melina's Fresh Pasta
Melina is located in Durham, NC and sells her pasta locally at farmers markets, local stores and area restaurants.  And now we are all in luck because she ships nationwide. (She is still welcome to bring me some when she visits the family!)

So tonight was the night.  I wasn't sure what kind of sauce would work so I knew I had a recipe for sage butter sauce and fresh sage in my herb garden.
It is a simple recipe to make and is very tasty.

Sage Butter Sauce

8 oz. of unsalted butter
9 sage leaves torn into pieces
4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 lb. of pasta
Combine butter and sage leaves in a pan on low heat and cook about 7 minutes until melted.  Toss over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.  Serve immediately.

Good Luck Kids!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Office Birthday! New Coffee Cake Recipe

Boy, I hope this taste good. That is what I keep saying this morning.  It has been quite awhile since I had baked for an office birthday.  Our company celebrates everyone's birthday by having a cake or the like.  At times it might be a tray of bagels, others a cake from our local Wegmans and others get a handmade dessert.  Sandy was lucky today.  I had enough time to whip together a new recipe I found on Pinterest from Averie Cooks.  The description said it would taste like cinnamon buns and it should with the amount of ground cinnamon in the mix. 

You could smell the cinnamon just walking by the cake and such a good smell too.  I brought this cake into the office this morning and for 2 1/2 hours the wonderful aroma stayed in my office, calling to me.  Then it was time to celebrate Sandy's birthday and to see if this new recipe was a keeper.  The verdict came in.... Delicious!  Can't wait to make it for the family.

Coffee Cake for coffee break










Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake
For the Cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of one stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream (Greek yogurt may be substituted)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

For the Filling-Topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter, extremely soft and almost melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the Glaze
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (whipped or light are okay)
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup+ confectioners' sugar, sifted is ideal


For the Cake - Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-inch spring form pan (at least 3 inches high; a 9-inch square baking pan may be substituted if it's at least 3 inches in height; don't use a 9-inch round cake pan because it's too shallow) by spraying well with floured cooking spray  or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and granulated sugar until pale, light, and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the sour cream, eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and beat until smooth and incorporated, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat until just incorporated and batter is smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed. Spread batter into prepared pan; set aside.
For the Filling-Topping - In a medium-microwave safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power until it just begins to melt, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and beat with a spoon or whisk until combined. Spread filling over the top of the cake batter in an even, smooth, flat layer, as if you're frosting a cake. Then, using a table knife, swirl back and forth to marble the filling into the cake batter, going over the cake and going up and back a few times.  Place pan on a baking sheet (as insurance in case your spring form pan doesn't have a perfect seal) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until topping has set and a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.
Note that in the final minutes of baking, topping may have a tendency to burn near the edges as the butter browns and the brown sugar caramelizes; watch cake closely. Allow cake to cool in pan and rest on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before glazing it, or before removing it from the pan and serving.
For the Glaze - In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, milk or cream, vanilla and whisk until combined and smooth. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, whisking to incorporate and until smooth. Based on desired glaze consistency, playing with the sugar and cream ratios may be necessary. Evenly drizzle the glaze over cake and serve.  Cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blueberry Pie Time!

Hubby and I sat around one Sunday afternoon and starting watching shows we had taped on our dvr.   During this time we uncovered a Barefoot Contessa episode where she was making pies with a friend of hers.  One of the pies was a Blueberry Pie made with a simple crust that glistened with sugar coating.   Hubby was intrigued. ...He had never made a pie crust from scratch and he was itching to find a new outlet for the fresh blueberries that are abundant now.
We'll two days later I came home to a fresh made Blueberry Pie for our evening dessert.  Now I have to admit that I have never made or had Blueberry Pie because I have been more of an apple pie fan when it comes to fruit pies. This was delicious and worth a try before berries run out. Recipe come from Ina Garten,  my personal favorite on the Food Network. 

Ingredients for Pie Crust

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
1/2 cup ice water
Cut the butter in 1/2-inch dice and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn't stick to the board. (You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. With a small sharp paring knife, cut the dough 1 inch larger around than the pan. Fold the edge under and crimp the edge with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.

    Ingredients for filling

            4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried
            1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
            1/2 cup all-purpose flour
            1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
            1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
            1 tablespoon cassis liqueur
            2 Perfect Pie Crusts (Below)
            1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream, for egg wash
            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

             Mix the blueberries, the 1/2 cup of sugar, the flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cassis in a large bowl. Carefully ease one pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, making sure not to stretch the dough at all, or it will shrink as the pie bakes. With a sharp knife, cut the excess dough off at the edge of the pie plate. Spoon the blueberry mixture into the pie shell, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula to be sure you have all the juices.

             Brush the edge of the crust with the egg wash. Carefully lay the second crust on top, again easing -- not stretching -- it onto the pie. Cut the excess dough off at the edge of the pie plate. Press the two edges together with a dinner fork. Brush the top crust with the eggs wash, cut three slits for steam to escape, and sprinkle with sugar.

             Place the pie on the prepared sheet pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is very bubbly and the crust is nicely browned. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

          Friday, August 8, 2014

          Prepping for a party

          Just a teaser....Bridal shower for my niece tomorrow at our house.  Prepping my Meatball Shop meat balls.  Tomorrow I will finish them up and make the sauce.  If you want the recipe before then look back to last November for our dinner club recipes!