Dinner

Penne Arrabiata

OMG! Absolutely delicious! One of the best benefits of working from home is that Eric finds great recipes to try and this one was absolutely delicious!

This was a wonderful and very special dinner. The kiddos were out so we made it a special date night, with great bottle of Stags Leap Chardonnay (I know we should of had a red, but we just got our case yesterday of Chardonnay) and a delicious appetizer of arancini from a local Italian market.

As you might be aware Ina Garten is our absolute favorite chefs. We always wished we lived next door to her. Her Penne Arrabiata is easy, elegant and delicious. You can not go wrong making this.

My personal chef at work

Ingredients

2/3 cup good olive oil

1 cup whole peeled garlic cloves (24 cloves) 

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes 

2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1/3 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving 

1 pound dry penne rigate, such as DeCecco 

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving 

Directions

In a medium (10-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the garlic has softened and is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes, place them in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse until they’re roughly chopped. With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the food processor and pulse again to chop the garlic. Pour the tomato mixture into the pot with the olive oil, add the fennel, red pepper flakes, red wine, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the basil, taste for seasonings (it will be very spicy!), and keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and the penne and cook according to the directions of the package.

Two minutes before the pasta is al dente, using a wire or spider strainer, lift the pasta out of the boiling water and add it to the sauce, along with 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Spoon the pasta into low shallow bowls, sprinkle with extra basil and Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

appetizer

Parmigiana Salsa

OMG…This is so easy and addicting. The reviews I read said it would be.  This makes a ton and can be stored in refrigerator. Hey, you got no place to go….give this a try.

1/2 pound Parmesan, not too dry

1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Place the cheese in a food processor with the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and pulse until reduced to the size of fine pea gravel. Stir in the green onion, olive oil and black pepper and pulse again. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

Appetizers

Easy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This recipe was so easy! I can’t believe how fast this came together Saturday night. And it got rave reviews from my son. “Mom, this is better than Applebee’s!” I laughed at that because in the past when we would go to Applebee’s for the 2 for $20, Ian always wanted to get the Spinach Dip.

This past Saturday night we made late dinner reservations at Francesca’s in Downtown Syracuse. Reservations were for 8:30. Not because we planned it that way, but it was either 5:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. We had no other plans and that was where Ian wanted to go to dinner, so hey, we took the late reservations. But with that time frame I knew we needed a snack late afternoon. So I found a recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Dips from Alton Brown.

Ingredients
1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach

1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts

6 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir in rest of ingredients and serve hot. Note: I did bake this for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees to insure that it was hot

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A Family Tradition

For the past 25+ years my sister and I have made Chex mix from scratch every Christmas season.  Yes, you can but it at the grocery store in a variety of flavors, but none of these compares to our home made version.
What makes ours special is besides the rice, wheat and corn Chex we add at least a cup of Cheerios.  And the pretzels must be sticks…to skewer the Cheerios!
And never forget the bagel chips.  Now they are hard to come by these days. I had to go to three stores to find them and then I almost forgot to put them in.
Now what makes this even more special is the “tin”.  You see the person in possession of the “tin” makes the mix that year and then we share the batch between us.  This year I mafe it and filled the “tin” to give to my sister.  We try and tell the other that it is not our year.  Hubby even tries to get  me to sneak the “tin” back to my sister’s earlier in the year just to see if she would notice.
So, it is time to enjoy this years batch.

Ingredients
3 cups Corn Chex™ cereal
3 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex™ cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup pretzel sticks
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Cheerios
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Pre-heat oven to 250°. Melt butter in a large roaster pan in oven. Add seasoning and mix well. Gradually add cereals, nuts, bagel chips and pretzels. Stir well to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes.
Appetizers

Super simple Bacon Bow Tie Crackers

Oh so simple and tasty, you won’t be able to eat just one.  Found
these in my fall Southern Living magazine and had to try them.  Very easy to make with just two ingredients.  I think that these will be our Thanksgiving appetizers.  Give them a try.

8 thin bacon slices
24 club crackers

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Cut each bacon slice into 3 pieces. Wrap each piece around the narrow end of each cracker overlapping ends.  Arrange in a single layer, seam side down on wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until bacon is crisp and look like bow ties, about 1 1/2 hours.  Let cool 5 minutes.

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Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip for Dinner Club

(I forgot to get the picture of it completed before it was devoured!)
We had dinner club last night at our neighbors across the street.  The theme was pot luck, with just the main course recipe provided.  Each couple was assigned a course and told to bring their favorite recipe.  Ours was the appetizer and we made our Blue Cheese and Artichoke Dip and served it was Kettle Chips.   This is inspired from a appetizer we got a few years back at a place called Tin Pan Galley in Sacketts Harbor.  Homemade Kettle Chips with a warm Blue Cheese dip.  
Several other restaurants now make this and when we see it on the menu we have to order it.  A few years ago I had to make an appetizer for our family Christmas dinner and I made this.  Topped it off with kettle chips and sat it down in front of my mom who just loved it.  If she liked it I knew it was a hit! As you can see from my picture, it was well received at our dinner. 

Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip with Kettle Chips

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup Light Mayonnaise
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Light Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup crumbled  Blue Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
4 green onions, sliced

Kettle Chips

Preheat oven 350°F. Place all ingredients in food processor container; cover. Process just until blended, but not completely smooth.

Spoon into 9-inch pie plate.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Kettle Chips

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Tex Mex Black Bean Dip

 
We needed a little pregame treat and something to enjoy while watching the Puppy Bowl yesterday.  I dug out a recipe from about 15+ years ago for a low fat Tex Mex Black Bean dip that is quick to make and packs in the flavor and a bit of protein.  This is made on the stove and ready in about 15 minutes. 

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup bottled picante medium sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish   
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
 
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients (tomato through beans); cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; partially mash with a potato masher. Add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirring until cheese melts. Serve warm or at room temperature
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Jalapeño Poppers

I saw the Food Network recipe of the week and knew we had to make it.  Basically it was to use up the ton of Jalapeños we had in our little garden. We had 6 plants that went crazy this year. My son and I probably picked over 30 peppers this afternoon leaving a bunch on the bush for another time.  So I used 17 of them tonight and prepared Rachel Ray’s roasted jalapeños and they were delicious.  Having them de-seeded helped with heat factor, but boy do my hands burn now from working with the seeds and membranes.

If you love Jalapenos’, we have plenty.  Stop by!

Jalapeno Poppers



12 large jalapeno peppers
2 ounces feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces shredded smoked pepper Jack cheese, or other hot pepper cheese, or extra-sharp Cheddar
A small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated onion


Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    Cut 1/3 of each pepper off lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. If peppers do not sit flat on the baking sheet, slice a thin piece off the bottom of the pepper so it will not roll around.
    Mash the feta, cream cheese, shredded cheese, cilantro, and onion together and stuff the peppers with the mixture. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown at the edges and bubbly.

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Out of the archives-Parmesan Crisp and Skillet Lemon Chicken

I have a couple of binders in my cook book cupboard that I use on occasion.  One is the big binder of recipes hubby and I have accumulated and I have written about, and the other is a binder I received as a shower gift 25 years ago that I could sort and save recipes in.  This was the go to recipe place back before hubby joined me in the kitchen.

The first recipe I found was for a light appetizer.  I remember making these for a Christmas party years ago.  These tasted great with a glass of really cold Chardonnay.

Parmesan Crisp 

20 Wonton Skins, cut in half diagonally
Vegetable cooking spray
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash ground red pepper
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 
Arrange wonton skins in a single layer on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Combine water  and next 5 ingredients; brush evenly on skins and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.  Yields 40 crisp @ 15 calories per crisp. 
Note – I did not cut this batch in triangles.  
The main course recipe I found was for Skillet Lemon Chicken.  I don’t remember when I made this before, but this time it was delicious.

Skillet Lemon Chicken 

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (thin cut)
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves crushed with side of chefs knife 
1/2 lemon thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth 
1/4 cup dry white wine 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 tablespoons drained capers
On waxed paper, mix 2 tablespoons flour with salt. In pie plate, with fork, beat egg.  Coat chicken in flour and then dig in egg.
In non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.  Stir in1 tablespoon butter until melted. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, turn chicken and cook 8 to 10 minutes longer until juices run clear.  Transfer chicken to warm platter.
Add garlic and lemon slices to dripping in skillet; cook until golden.  In cup, mix chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of flour until smooth; stir into skillet.  Heat sauce to boiling; boil 1 minute. Stir in capers and remaining tablespoon of butter until butter melts.  Discard garlic. Arrange lemon slices over chicken and pour sauce over chicken.  
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Artichoke and Feta Baked Dip – just in time for the Sweet Sixteen Basketball Games!

 
Just in time for the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Tournaments and the many basketball parties that will be happening.  And let’s not forget  the Easter dinner you have planned.  Don’t you need a quick appetizer to start off your holiday festivities.  This baked dip recipe is delicious. 
 
I had a craving for a baked dip the other day.  Now baked dips are not one of my hubby’s favorites, but he had no problem giving this one a try.  I really made it because it seems that all of the dips and snacks that come into our house lately are Jalapeno this and Spicy Buffalo Wing that and I wanted something that I liked.  This dip has flavor, but does not have you choking because it is either too spicy or too hot. Sorry hubby, but there 3 of us at home now and from time to time, buy something I like!  LOL!

Artichoke and Feta Dip

 
½ cup plain greek yogurt
⅔ cup  mayonaise
2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces feta cheese crumbles ( you can add flavor by using a flavored crumble)
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (whole or quartered), roughly chopped
1 4-ounce can diced pimentos
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Pita or tortilla chips, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a medium casserole dish (about 2 quarts) or deep pie dish.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except for parmesan cheese, mix well. Spread mixture in the prepared dish. Sprinkle cheese on top of mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips.