Archive for December, 2014


Chicken Bruschetta

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Ingredients:

4 thick chicken cutlets (1/2 inch thick)

4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

2 vine tomatoes (diced)

1 small red onion (chopped)

1 clove of garlic (chopped)

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Put 2 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet. When oil heats, put in garlic. When garlic browns, add 1 tbs. of balsamic vinegar. Stir with a spoon. Add chicken cutlets to the pan. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes. (depending on thickness of cutlets) You can cut the chicken to see that it is white in the middle. Remove chicken and keep covered.

2. In a bowl, add tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 tsp. of olive oil and 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar. Mix well.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get a baking pan. Coat the bottom of the pan with 1 tbs. of olive oil. Place chicken cutlets in pan. Put a slice of mozzarella on each cutlet. Spoon tomato mixture evenly on top of all cutlets. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until mozzarella melts.

Serve warm. Serves 2-4 people. (Depends how hungry you are.)

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Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. olive oil
1  onion, finely (chopped)
2 garlic cloves  (crushed)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
4 eggs
2 cups dried breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh mozzarella (chopped into tiny pieces)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Directions:
1. Place the stock in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.
2.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. (about 5 minutes)
3. Add rice to the onion mixture with a ladle of soup. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the liquid is completely absorbed.
4. Continue to add stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladle. (About  20 minutes or until the rice is tender yet firm)
5.  Once all stock is absorbed, stir in the parmesan and mozzarella. Set aside for 2-3 hours to cool completely.
6. Add 2 eggs and stir until well combined.
7. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate and flour in a bowl. Crack remaining eggs in a separate bowl and lightly whisk.
8. Using wet hands, shape 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into a ball. (makes about 2 dozen)
9. Roll the rice balls in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat.
10. Place on a large pan and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
11. Add enough oil in a large saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat . When hot, add 6 rice balls to the oil and cook, turning occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until golden.
12. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rice balls. Add more oil while you go along.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

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Penne With Mushrooms and Sundried Tomatoes

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Ingredients:
1 lb. penne (your choice)
1 lb. mushrooms (sliced)
1 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (chopped)
1/2 cup pignoli nuts (optional)
1 tbsp. basil (washed and chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
3 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese
Directions:
1. Boil mushrooms for 5 minutes and drain well. Leave to the side.
2. In a big pot of boiling water, boil pasta to desired taste. (Between 10-12 minutes)
3. In a large skillet, add olive oil. Brown garlic for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, pignoli nuts (optional) and basil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir together.
4. Drain pasta well. Pour tomato mushroom mixture on top. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
Serve hot. Serves 4 people.

Italian Rice Balls

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Ingredients:

1 large sweet onion (chopped)

2 lbs. ground beef (lean)

1 cup green peas

1 cup tomato sauce for the recipe ( extra sauce for guests to put on top) *See note on bottom.

sea salt & black pepper

olive oil

5 cups rice

10 cups of water

8 eggs

bread crumbs

2 cups mozzarella (grated)

1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

Directions:

1. Boil a large pot of water and cook rice. Set rice to the side when done. (once water evaporates and rice is tender)

2. Heat sauté pan with 2 tbs. olive oil. Add onion and let brown lightly.

3. Add meat and brown over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Then add tomato sauce (add a little more sauce if you like) and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

4. Add peas and let tomato sauce reduce with pan uncovered.

5. Once mixture has thickened, put to the side and let cool.

6. In a large bowl, mix rice with 4 eggs, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

7. Add meat mixture to the rice bowl. Mix well by hand. With hands, shape rice into a medium ball.

8. Once rice balls are molded tightly, put them on a sheet pan.

9. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

10. Beat remaining 4 eggs in a bowl.

11. Take rice balls from refrigerator, dip them into the eggs, and then roll in bread crumbs.
12. Return to refrigerator and allow to set for another 20 minutes.

13. Heat 1 quart of oil in large deep sauce pan. With a large slotted spoon, gently place rice balls in hot oil.
14. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Let drain on paper towels.

Makes approximately 15-17 large rice balls. (depends on size you prefer) About 45 -50 golf ball sizes ones can be made.

*Note: You can cut this recipe in half, for smaller amounts. With a regular recipe, I usually get 15-17 rice balls of a larger size. It is served as an appetizer on Christmas Eve. Guests also put tomato sauce and grated cheese on top. I usually make a small pot of sauce to have on hand.

 

Cranberry Anise Biscotti

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Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 lb. butter

1 cup of dried cranberries

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup of sugar

3 tbs. sour cream

2 eggs

3 tsp. anise extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and anise extract.

2. Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix well. Add cranberries and mix again.

3. Roll dough into a ball. (If dough is sticky, add a drop of flour.) Separate the dough into 6 loaves. Bake on 2 separate greased (a little butter) baking sheets. Bake for 18 minutes and remove from oven.

4. Slice loaves into 1 inch pieces. Return to oven. Toast each side for 6 minutes on each side. They should brown a little on each side.

Makes between 2 and 3 dozen cookies. Let cool before serving.

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A quick and easy horderve for any party.

Ingredients:

12 large shrimp (boiled, tails removed) *chopped

1/2 cup fresh arugula (chopped)

1/4 cup feta cheese (chopped)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes (chopped)

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 dozen mini filo shells (room temperature)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except filo shells.

2. Fill shells with mixture. (see photo)

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

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Ingredients:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ( dark chocolate is good too, if you wish)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs (large)
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2  cups chopped walnuts (coarsely chopped)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor  combine the chocolate and sugar and grind until the chocolate is very fine. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In another  mixing bowl, combine the eggs and the vanilla. Beat at medium speed to blend.
5. Add the chocolate and flour mixtures and mix until a dough forms.  Add walnuts about half way through mixing.
6.  Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log 12 inches long.
7 Carefully transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. (Give them plenty of space)
8.  Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. *Do the toothpick test at 30 minutes to see if it’s still doughy or almost cooked.

9. Let cool for only 10 minutes.

10 Leave the oven set at 300°F.

11. Transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut on the diagonal into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Return the slices cut side down to the baking sheet.
12 Bake for an additional 15 minutes. (You want them to be crispy, not burnt.)
13. Turn the slices over and bake until crispy again for about 10 minutes.  *You want them crispy not burnt.
14 Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. When cooled, put in an airtight container. Can stay for about 5-7 days.

*Note: You need to check on the cookies numerous times while baking. All ovens are different.

Calamari Salad

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup red onion (sliced)
1 green bell pepper (sliced) *seeds removed
1 cup red pepper (sliced) *seeds removed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced (no stems)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 1/2 lemons
1 1/4 tsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
1 lb. fresh squid, tube and tentacles cleaned

Directions:

1. Rinse squid and slice tubes into 1/2 inch rings. Leave the tentacles whole.

2. In a bowl combine onion, garlic, red and green peppers, lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt and fresh pepper.

3. Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil. Add calamari and cook until tender. (Do a taste test about 2 minutes into it.)

4. Quickly drain when cooked and add to a bowl of ice water, for about 5 minutes. Then drain.

5. Combine squid with the salad and toss well. Taste for sea salt and add additional seasoning if needed. Garnish with parsley.

6. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour or two.

*Occasionally I add cold shrimp to the salad.

Cheddar Beer Dip

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Ingredients:

2 (8 oz.) bars of cream cheese

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 pkg. (1 oz.) ranch salad dressing mix

1/2 cup beer

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in one bowl and mix well using a mixer.

2. Once creamy, refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.

*Serve with pretzels.

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I checked out “The Elephant Man” this weekend on Broadway and had the opportunity to visit with it’s star, Bradley Cooper, after the show.  The cast also includes my friend, Patricia Clarkson. (share that picture tomorrow)