Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arugula and white bean salad

One Saturday morning we found this recipe while looking to see what was going to be on the Barefoot Contessa show the next morning.  The dish name caught Hubby's eye and he decided to give it a try, even before she demonstrated it on her show.  So the results might be a little different than hers, especially since we used canned beans and she started out with dried beans.
It was a welcome change to dinner salads this winter.  I can't wait to try it out this summer, on a nice warm summer day when we can have dinners on the patio.    This salad was the side dish to our veal casserole, served with roasted butternut squash and my homemade chocolate pudding. 


Arugula and White Bean Salad

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup good olive oil
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and small-diced
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, small-diced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces baby arugula


Drain the beans, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the red onion and sauté over medium-low heat for 7 to 9 minutes, until wilted. Add the beans and enough water to cover them by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain the beans and onions and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and prosciutto and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until fragrant. Pour the hot oil mixture over the warm drained beans, tossing well. Allow to cool for 10 minutes only. While still warm, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Place in a large, shallow serving bowl, surround with arugula, taste for seasonings, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Veal and Pepper Casserole

It is very hard these days to find a good Italian restaurant that is not a chain.  One where they have home cooked meals from scratch and specials that vary from day to day.  We have one that is not too far from our house that we frequent quite often.  Our daughter works there as a hostess and bus girl when she is home from college.  This restaurant is originally from the college town where Hubby and I went to school and a family favorite for years. They have since opened a smaller store front spot near our house and it continues to please diners on a regular basis.
But long before our local spot showed up there was another family restaurant in the city, Enrico's,  that was a popular spot to dine. I remember vaguely going there a couple of times when I was much younger with my parents.  My husband has stronger memories since Enrico's was close to where he grew up.   It has since closed and the building is gone but the memories of the dishes that come out of that kitchen live on.  Hubby found their Veal Casserole Recipe on a nostalgia page while surfing my Facebook page and we decided to give it a try.


Veal and Pepper Casserole


1 pound veal stew meat (or veal scallops) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or chopper
1 green pepper, cut up
8 oz. of mushrooms
2 tablespoons Sherry Wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 table spoon grated Parmesan cheese 
Mozzarella Cheese and fresh parsley


Heat oil in a skillet or pan.  Add garlic and cook to a golden color (no more than golden).  Add meat and brown over medium heat.  When meat is browned, add Sherry, mushrooms and peppers, mixing well.  Add Chicken Stock and grated Parmesan cheese; mix and stir 2 minutes more. 
When meat is cooked, place in a casserole dish.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and broil until cheese melts, no more.  Top with parsley and serve.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

This is not the best picture but the flavor from this casserole is wonderful.  Hubby found this recipe about 5 years ago in one of the Betty Crocker recipe booklets you would find at the checkout aisle. He has adapted it over the years with different dressings and sauces. 
Casseroles and crockpot recipes intrigue him.  I think it is the appeal of having either a dish already for you when you get home from work or having a dish that combines the protein and starches together, like a casserole does. We made this once for "Giada from across the street" and it has become a family favorite theirs too.  
You can customize or spice this recipe up with the kind of wing sauce you are using and the quality of the blue cheese dressing.  Even cranking up the cheese to a Spicer flavor would change the outcome of this classic comfort casserole.  

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole



1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot sauce)
6 cups frozen southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (10 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
Salt and pepper, to taste
2/3 cup crushed corn flakes
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped green onions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir together cubed chicken and hot sauce.
In large bowl, stir together potatoes, blue cheese dressing, cheese and soup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon into the prepared baking dish. Distribute chicken evenly over potato mixture.
In small bowl, stir together the crushed corn flake crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over chicken.
Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes; uncover and bake 20-25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through.Sprinkle with green onions just before serving.

Ultimate Chocolate Pudding - From Scratch!

Who doesn't love chocolate pudding?
Especially when you use Special Dark Cocoa powder

I love chocolate and lately it's dark chocolate that I crave.  When I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine I knew I had to try it.   I knew my daughter loves pudding and my husband loves cooked pudding when you make the boxed kind so I had two out of three in favor of this for dessert.  My son was my only hold out.  He always says he doesn't like pudding and that is without even trying it.  So after much persuasion we got him to try just a spoonful.  Well the spoonful turned into two bowls full.  He said he just didn't like the snack packs and thought that all pudding tasted that way.

For this recipe I used the Hershey ' s Dutch processed special dark cocoa.  I think this made the pudding taste even richer.  And don't they say dark chocolate is good for you?

Silky Chocolate Pudding

1-1/2 oz. (6 Tbs.) cocoa powder (Dutch process or natural)
1 oz. (3 Tbs.) cornstarch
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl. With a silicone spatula or whisk, slowly mix in the cream, eliminating any visible lumps as you go; the mixture will be quite thick. Mix in the egg yolks until combined. Set aside.

Heat the milk and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the sugar dissolves. When bubbles form around the edge of the milk, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk about half of the hot milk into the cocoa mixture. When smooth, whisk it into the milk remaining in the saucepan.

Bring the pudding to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking slowly and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. The pudding will begin to thicken as it approaches a full boil. Watch for large, lava-like bubbles to roll up to the surface, and for small fast bubbles on the edges. When the pudding has reached this stage, turn the heat down to medium and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a shallow container (such as an 8-inch baking dish) and spread it evenly, then press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Whisk vigorously to loosen the pudding before serving.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Comfort Food to the Max! Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

This is extreme comfort food.  So creamy and so tangy with the blue cheese mixed with the sharp cheddar cheese.    My family is big aficionados of blue cheese.  They will eat it on burgers, with steak, salads and just slices of the stuff. They are also big fans of mac and cheese, so this one is a big hit.

 We made this on a night our son had a sleep over and one of his friends said he liked blue cheese, so he had a helping along with the pizza we had made for the sleepover.  I wonder if he went home and told his mom he had Mac and cheese and she thought it was just the regular old stuff? Nothing is ever the old regular stuff around here!

Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese


1 pound spiral tube-shaped pasta
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream 
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (optional)
bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly (do not allow to brown).
Gradually whisk in milk and cream. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, whisking occasionally, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add grated cheddar cheese and 1 cup crumbled blue cheese. Whisk until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Add cooked pasta to sauce; stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup blue cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake until sauce begins to bubble, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nacho Cheese Crackers... Add this to your next party spread!

I saw this recipe on Facebook this weekend and knew I had to try it out.  I usually make the ranch version of these crackers at Christmas time where you use Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and dried dill weed.  This recipe looked like to would definitely have flavor that would packed a punch.

The recipe is pretty simple.  I picked up a box office oyster crackers from the store.  They come in about a 14 oz size.  You also need a box of macaroni and cheese and a package of taco seasoning.  The only other ingredient is 1/2 cup vegetable oil. 

Nacho Cheese Snack Crackers

14oz box of oyster crackers
1box of macaroni and cheese (Kraft)  discard the macaroni
1 package of Taco seasoning
1/2 cup vegetable oil

To make the crackers, employ the content of the oyster crackers into a large bowl or large food storage bag.  In a measuring cup add the 1/2 cup vegetable oil and mix in the taco seasoning and the cheese sauce packet from the Mac  and Cheese.  Discard the macaroni.  Once blended, pour over the crackers and mix well. Once mixed, pour out the crackers on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes.  

Store crackers in a air tight container unless you eat them up too fast.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pork Roast leftover plan- a little late but still worth the post

What do you do with half of a 13 lb. center cut pork roast left over after Christmas dinner?  Search the Internet for recipes that will use this creatively and not just reheated or used in a sandwich.  My family Christmas this year was held at our house and to get our entire family together we had it on the 26th.  When you count all of my brothers and sisters,  spouses, grandchildren and their significant others or spouses,  great grandchildren and my mother you have 33 people. 
The whole family minus the twins at my niece's wedding this summer
The main course was roast pork loin at the request of my mother.   I estimated needed 10 pounds, hubby thought that was not enough.  When I spoke to the butcher he agreed with hubby so we updated the order to at least 12 pounds.   When I got to the store for pickup the total weight was 12.88 pounds. 
I cut the roast in half before baking  so that it would cook quicker.   Now my favorite way to cook a pork roast is with kosher salt and fresh rosemary rubbed over the top.  The initial baking time and temperature is 325 degrees for 20 minutes a pound.  Works every time and should register around 145 when it comes out of the oven with a 15 to 20 minutes rest time before carving.

This roast cooked beautifully and went well with the full smorgasbord of food we had.  When dinner was all said and done I had a full half of the roast left over (6+ pounds), more than half a pan of Lasagna.  Not many people were interested in leftovers with a full counter of dessert delights to finish off the night. 

The evening ended pretty early with all of the little ones getting sleepy with this being their 3rd or 4th Christmas celebration.  Very few leftovers went home with my family, except my mom and her request for stuffing and pork left overs, which left us with a large quantity to take care of.   It seemed that everyone had their own leftovers from the previous celebrations that we were left to become creative.  So I took the 6 pound roast, cut it into thirds and froze two of them.  The last piece was used in this recipe hubby found on   This was pretty easy to make and had great flavor. We even had leftovers from this that we saved for my mom.

Hot off the stove the steam can be seen rising

Nice size pieces of pork and tomatoes can be seen over a bed of noodles

Roast Pork Comfort 


1 -2 lb cooked pork, cut in cubes

2 celery ribs, diced

1/2 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons butter

1 bell pepper, diced

2 tablespoons flour

1 (16 ounce) can tomatoes, stewed

10 ounces beef consommé

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 beef bouillon cube

1 teaspoon caraway seed

fresh ground pepper

celery salt

1 cup sour cream

buttered egg noodles or white rice

Melt butter in large sauce pan, add celery onion, garlic and bell pepper sauté until just tender crisp, or until your liking stir in flour. add beef consommé, beef bouillon and stewed tomato's, Worcestershire sauce , caraway seed and cook 30 minutes adding more liquid as needed, 10 minutes before serving add pork, black pepper and celery salt as needed, stir in sour cream heat and serve over buttered egg noodles or white rice.