I have been enjoying the slightly cooler evenings that we’ve had in the past couple of weeks. Not cool enough to demand a thick coat or sweater, but just enough that I crave pasta and a warm crusty baguette from the oven. I was drawn to this recipe by its simplicity; there are few items required, and it reminds me of the cooking class that I took in Bologna Italy back in 2009. Our cooking instructor didn’t use anything fancy. As a matter of fact, I think her recipe was very similar to this one below. She just emphasized the importance of simmering the meat in tomato sauce for an “extended period of time”. She recommended all day, but let’s face it, I just don’t have it these days. So any cooking time for more than an hour should work. I have added this recipe into our weekly menu rotation since it can easily be doubled, freezes well, and it is a fave at my household. Perfect!
5-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3/4 lb Italian turkey sausage, 4 inch long links
1 lb ground turkey (dark meat ideal)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1/3 cup tomato paste
3/4 lb (3/4 box) rigatoni
grated parmesan cheese for serving
Heat 2-3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning them now and then, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausages to a plate and add the ground turkey to the pan along with a healthy pinch of salt and few fresh grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring here and there for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove to a separate plate.
Add another 2 or 3 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook these until softened and just beginning to brown, another solid 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice along with about 1/2 cup of water. Add the ground turkey, stir the sauce well, and nestle the sausages in.
Bring the sauce to a boil, season to taste with salt and pepper and turn the heat to low. Cover almost completely with a lid (let the steam escape from one side) and gently simmer for 4 hours adding splashes of water every hour or so if the sauce is at all drying out. Uncover the sauce and stir in the tomato paste, barely cover, and simmer for 1 more hour.
When it’s about ready for serving, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Drop the pasta in and cook according to package directions.
Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta with a nice grating of parmesan on top. Perfect.
Adapted from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow
I love using my grill to prepare most of our meals in the summer. Not only that it seems appropriate to give the air conditioner a little break by not turning up the oven unless I absolutely have to; the meal preparation is usually simple. I usually make burgers, and rotate the variety (using either beef, or turkey, and then chicken) from time to time, and add some fresh salad, and it’s done. After a successful introduction with flank steak making this Grilled Steak with Balsamic Teriyaki, I wanted to find a new recipe using flank steak. I really love simple recipes that have a little touch of something special like this one. The shallot-mustard sauce was easy to put together, yet so delicious, and have the “restaurant” quality that can make dinners at home feel a little bit more special. The steak can be grilled or cooked on the pan; and the sauce was definitely the key that made the difference here. I think I may consider using this sauce for other type of grilled steak in the future as well.
Adapted from Fine Cooking
1 flank steak, about 1-1/2 lb.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. corn oil
6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter (4 Tbs. cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
3 Tbs. finely minced shallot
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup low-salt beef broth
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
Set a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper. Heat an ovenproof 12-inch sauté pan over high heat until very hot. Add the oil to coat the pan and sear the steak on one side until well browned, about 1-1/2 minutes. Flip with tongs and cook until the second side is well browned, about another 2 minutes. Put the pan in the oven and roast until the steak is cooked to your liking, 5 to 7 minutes for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest, lightly covered with foil, while you make the sauce.
Set the same skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. of the butter. When the butter melts, add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium high, and boil until syrupy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the broth and thyme and boil until about 1/3 cup of liquid remains, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the mustard. (Don’t let the sauce boil after the mustard is added.) Stir in the 4 Tbs. butter cubes, a few at a time. Stir in half the tarragon and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
With a sharp knife, slice the steak thinly across the grain on the diagonal, drizzle with the sauce, and sprinkle with remaining tarragon.
Yield: 4-5 servings
After I made my first homemade Sweet Cream Biscuits last year; I couldn’t get over how delicious they were. But in all reality; it is hard to find time to make them whenever I feel the craving for them. When I saw this biscuit recipe that specifically requires the dough to be frozen 6-8 hours prior to baking; I was excited to try them. I’m all about preparation ahead of time so that I can prepare them the night before; and have them ready to be baked in the morning as I get ready. This one is actually better yet; they can be prepared days in advance and you will only bake what you need. Fresh homemade biscuits are then only minutes away in the oven. These are great for mornings when you have company and want something special but quick to serve as breakfast. The only thing that I would do differently would be to use a LARGER biscuit cutter. The recipe calls for a 2-inch cutter; and I feel like I ended up with “mini” biscuits. I normally love miniature size of cakes, cookies, or what not; but somehow; I wanted a larger biscuit . I was really glad to have found this recipe; now I feel like I can spoil my overnight guests with these delicious homemade biscuits. Happy Baking!
Adapted from The Best of American Test Kitchen 2008
27 ounces (about 6 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
Lightly butter a rimmed baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cream with a nonstick spatula until a dough forms, about 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 60 seconds, dusting with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Pat or roll the dough into a flat circle, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the biscuits using a 2 inch round cutter. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch space in between.
Gather up the scraps of dough, shaking off any excess flour, and re-knead briefly to combine. Pat or roll the dough again into a 3/4 inch thick round, and cut as many biscuits as possible. Repeat the gathering, rolling, and cutting for a third time. Any remaining scraps of dough should be either discarded or gently patted into rustic hand-formed biscuits.
Wrap the baking sheet tightly with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Freeze the biscuits until frozen solid, 6 to 8 hours. Transfer the frozen biscuits to a plastic zip-top freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.
To bake the biscuits, preheat the oven to 450º F, and place a rack in the upper-middle position. Lay the frozen biscuits on a lightly buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake at 450º F until puffed and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Note: If baking a large amount of biscuits, bake only as many as will fit on one baking sheet at a time; do not bake more than one pan at the same time.
Yield: ~ 5 dozens
Would you guys think that I am weird for not ever having tried homemade taquitos? As a matter of fact, as I thought more and more… I can’t even recall if I have ever tried store-bought or restaurant taquitos before. Still, I was really excited when I saw this recipe from Josie over at the Pink Parsley blog because Red loves those taquitos from our grocery freezer section; and when I mentioned this recipe to him, he made sure that we added this in our weekly menu. Why didn’t I find this recipe sooner? Because we really really loved these! They’re relatively quick to put together if you already have the cooked chicken breast ready (maybe from a leftover rotisserie chicken), and you can pick up some fresh salsa from your local grocery store’s deli. I actually used the leftover Creamy Tomatillo Sauce as a dipping sauce instead of a regular salsa, and it was delicious. I actually didn’t have any leftover to freeze; but next time, I would probably triple this recipe and freeze a half for a quick supper in the future. Thanks for sharing a great recipe Josie!
Adapted from Pink Parsley
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup salsa verde, or your favorite salsa
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs chopped scallions
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
8-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 425 degree F, and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or spray lightly with a cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the following items together: cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Add the chicken and cheeses, mix until combine.
Season with additional salt and pepper to your liking.
Next, warm up the corn tortilla for easier handling: dampen two pieces of paper towel, and place 6 pieces of corn tortillas between the two dampened towels. Put the stack inside a large plastic bag, leave the seal open. Microwave for 1 minute.
Working quickly, place 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. Line them up on a baking sheet with seam sides down. Fill the rest of the tortillas with the remaining filling.
Spray the filled taquitos with cooking spray lightly, sprinkle with salt. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with with your favorite toppings (salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole).
Yield: 3-4 as first course
I have been in a rut lately with my pasta dishes. I wanted to make something delicious but yet is still relatively easy to make and doesn’t require elaborate preparation. Since we’re now getting into the asparagus season, I wanted to try a new recipe using asparagus and I thought this was a perfect one to try. This dish is simple, quick to put together, and delicious. I didn’t have smoked mozzarella; so I used regular mozzarella–and I think it still tasted fantastic. The recipe recommends ziti over penne, which more resembles the shape of the asparagus pieces. This is a great quick and easy weeknight dinner for the spring. Happy cooking!
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Italian cookbook
8 ounces dried ziti, or other tubular pasta
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1/2 cup), or regular mozzarella cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, or 3 teaspoons of dried basil
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a couple of pinches of salt. Add the ziti and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sliced asparagus and cook until the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite, with the asparagus crisp-tender, approximately 2 minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until it’s fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add pasta, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper along with the reserved cooking liquid, and toss to coat. Remove skillet from heat. Add the mozzarella, prosciutto and basil. Toss everything together to combine. Season more with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the pasta to individual serving dishes and serve.
Yield: 4 first-course servings
In celebration of Chinese New Year’s, I wanted to post this delicious spin of a favorite Chinese take out dish. It is even perfect for me because it combines two favorite ingredients at our house. I love broccoli in just about any forms (raw, steamed, sauteed, pureed in soups, etc) and Red loves beef dishes (he’d have them every night if he can!). I haven’t had a lot of luck finding a favorite dish from local Chinese restaurants, so I thought this was an appropriate dish that I should try to be making at home; especially since the ingredients are so accessible. I was pleasently surprised at how quickly this dish was to put together and how delicious! I do love sauce on my stir fry, so I think in the future, I would double the sauce to make sure that I have plenty leftover. Wishing you a very prosperous the Year of the Rabbit!
Adapted from Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
1 lb top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch thick strips
1-1/2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tbsp high-heat cooking oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to season the beef
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 tsp Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the Beef Marinade. Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Stir-Fry sauce.
In a wok or large saute pain, add 1-inch of water, and bring to boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender, and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.
Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping then in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.
Pour in the Stir-Fry sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.
Yield: 4 servings
I know my recent posts have all been dessert; but I do eat other things in addition to dessert I was basically lured into trying this recipe because I kept on seeing it advertised on every magazine that I was reading at that time. I couldn’t remember when the last time I had pulled pork and never made it before; so I wanted to give this a try. I didn’t have a boneless pork butt, so I used a bone-in version, and let it cook for 12 hrs. It was super tender, fell apart beautifully and was ridiculously delicious. I sprinkled some smoked paprika as well to give it a bit more spiciness to it, and it was perfect. I love that it makes so much and they froze and reheated well. I served it with this Carolina Cole Slaw and used store-bought barbecue sauce (although I think they were delicious without it as well. What could be more perfect winter meal than this? Happy eating!
1 5-pound boneless pork butt (shoulder) –I used a bone-in version that I think made it even more flavorful!
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Soft sandwich buns
Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl and rub evenly over roast. Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add water. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours or until pork is very tender.
Remove pork to a large cutting board or platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Pull, slice or chop to serve. Serve in buns with barbecue sauce.
Makes 16-20 servings
I was a big fan of Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen Blog long before she published her book. Her blog is just full of simple unpretentious Asian recipes with ingredients that can be found in regular groceries. I was so excited when I saw her book in my local library, because this way I can really check out the book before purchasing it. I had so many recipes tagged from her book that I am going to purchase my own copy.
This recipe really caught my eye right away. I was never really a big beef eater until I met Red. But now, I really enjoy cooking beef like this recipe. Obviously, I didn’t grill this outdoor (with a single digit temperature outside), but it turned out fabulous on the pan as well. I think this sauce would be delicious with chicken: it is a bit tangy, sweet, with just enough saltiness. Red and I enjoyed ours with regular *ehm* American salad with croutons and all. But I know it will pair up well with steamed rice or mashed potatoes. I am definitely glad that I tried this recipe.
This recipe is a keeper that I am sure that I will be making again before the summer arrives… **groan** That’s probably another four months for us in the Midwest. Happy cooking and eating!
Adapted from Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
1 lb of skirt steak (or other steak of your choice)
2 tablespoons high heat cooking oil (if cooking in frying pan)
1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 ts sugar
1/4 cup store bought or homemade beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of mirin (sweet rice wine)
To make the Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce, add the butter to a saucepot and set over medium-low heat. When the butter just starts to bubble, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until aromatic are soft. Watch to make sure that you don’t burn the shallots or garlic.
Pour the balsamic vinegar in and bring to a boil. When boiling, immediately turn the heat to medium low and simmer; uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by half. The balsamic should be thick, glossy, and coat the back of a spoon. Add the sugar, stock, soy sauce, and mirin. Stir well and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, immediately turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for marinating and remaining 1/4 cup for serving.
If you are marinating the steak before grilling it, place the steak and just 1/2 cup of sauce in a large sealable plastic bag. Marinate 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes prior to grilling, remove steaks from refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature. Discard the marinade and pat the steak very dry.
Grilling Outdoors. If you are grilling outdoors on your barbeque grill (preferred method), preheat the grill for direct grilling over high heat.
Grilling in Pan or Stovetop. If you are cooking the steak on the stovetop, set a large frying pan or griddle over high heat. When a bead of water sizzles and evaporates upon contact, add the oil and swirl to coat.
Add the steak to the hot grill or pan in one layer. The pieces should not be touching. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Skirt steak varies in thickness so you might want to add the thicker pieces to the grill or pan first and give them an extra minute of head start.
Let the grilled steak rest for 5 minutes then cut ACROSS the grain for ultimate tenderness. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of the Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce over the meat.
Yield: 4 servings
Slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network
During the holidays and other special occasion dinners, I like to serve two different kinds of protein. It’s just something that I just grew up with. One of them is usually either a ham or turkey; and then there will be another piece of protein for variety. As I was planning my menu recently, Red suggested that we tried this beef tenderloin when we had company over. I followed this recipe and made no substitutions; and it was a success. The beef was tender (almost fork-tender!), juicy, and was perfectly seasoned… do I also need to mention easy? Our guests really loved it; and we did too! We were just so satisfied by how tender and flavorful the beef was.
The original recipe suggested that we serve this with basil-curry mayonnaise, but I decided not to post the recipe. I made it, however none of the guests or we really cared for it. I think the flavoring was a little bit too overpowering for the beef. It may be a good pairing for something else (a crostini perhaps?) We enjoyed the beef on its own with the rest of our meal. If you are looking for a new main dish to impress your family or friends for your New Year’s celebration, make this recipe. I know you will not regret this! Wishing you a prosperous New Year’s!
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed
Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
In a spice grinder, finely grind the cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and cook for a few seconds until aromatic and toasted. Put the spices in a small bowl. Chop the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Holding a chef’s knife at a 45 degrees angle, scrape the garlic and salt together to form a paste. Add the garlic paste to the bowl with the spices. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper, and oil and stir until smooth.
Put the meat on the prepared baking sheet and rub with the spice mixture. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 125 degrees F, for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and transfer the meat to a cutting board.
Cover the meat loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.
Slice the meat into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on a platter.
Yield: 6-8 servings
I have always been a fan of sweet potato fries. Normally, I just slice them, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven. So when my CSA box included a recipe from Giada that includes basil salt with garlic mayo, I decided to give it a try. The garlic mayonaisse really turned me off at first, but actually, it turned out to be so delicious that I used them to dip my roasted carrot sticks. I really loved how the subtle lemon juice and garlic really gave the mayo a tangy flavor that cuts the sweetness of the sweet potatoes; it was a well-balanced pairing. The fresh basil also added brightness to the fries and the mayo together. I don’t think that I can go back to my simple sweet potato fries without the fresh basil and garlic mayonaisse now! I hope you give this one a try, happy eating!
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, as seen on Food Network
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.