Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dirty Graveyard Pudding Cups

Happy Halloween! This is one of my all-time favorite Halloween party treats from when I was a kid. It is super simple to make, and probably doesn't even count as an actual recipe, but I will take it. If anything on this blog deserves it's own post, this is definitely one of them. You can change and decorate these however you like. Get creative and make them extra spooky!

Recipe yields 10 cups

2 boxes Jell-O Instant chocolate pudding
4 cups milk
24 Oreo cookies
1 bag gummy worms
10 Nilla Wafers
Chocolate icing or gel (for decorating)

Prepare the chocolate pudding as directed on the package using milk. Using a food processor, crush the Oreo cookies into crumbs. You can also arrange the cookies in a bag and go over them with a rolling pin. Line up your cups. In the bottom of each cup add a spoonful of pudding. Top with a layer of cookie crumbs and a worm. Repeat with another layer of pudding, some 'dirt' for the top and another worm peaking through. Decorate your Nilla wafers as tombstones and arrange in the top of each cup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kale & White Bean Soup

Another hearty and warming soup to add to your fall/winter arsenal. This soup is packed with nutrients from the kale and has plenty of protein to fill you up from the beans. The soup comes together in less than 30 minutes, so it is a perfect pick-me-up for a cold Sunday afternoon.

Recipe yields 8 servings


2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots
8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to make this vegetarian)
2 cans Cannellini beans
1 large bunch kale
4 medium tomatoes (I used a mix of red and orange for an array of colors)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chop the onion and carrots and mince the garlic. Add to the pan with a drop of olive oil and cook until softened. Toss in the bay leaf.

Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Roughly chop the kale and rinse the beans. Dice the tomatoes. Lower heat to a simmer and add kale, beans and tomatoes.

Simmer for 20 minutes to allow the kale to soften. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Cut the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

Ladle into serving bowls and serve with extra cheese for topping. Enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crispy Crunchy Fluke

This is a recipe I was making all summer and I am only now getting around to putting it up on the blog. It was time to use up the last of the fluke in the freezer that was left over from our summer catch and it was my last chance at a taste of summer. This recipe can easily be used with any white fish, and I am quite curious how it would turn out on a stronger fish such as striped bass or halibut.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 1/2 lbs fluke filet
1 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parsley
2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. In a bowl, mix together the Panko crumbs and the parsley. 

Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray and arrange the fish filets. Coat the top of each piece with Dijon mustard. 

Sprinkle a handful of the Panko mixture over each piece of fish and gently press into the mustard layer. 

Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until fish is cooked through. 

Remove from the oven and serve. I served the fish alongside Spaghetti Squash with Sauteed Vegetables. Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Venison Loin Medallions

With deer hunting in full swing in most parts of the country, it is a great time for fresh game. Venison is extremely lean meat, and if you cook it properly, will have very little gamey flavor. This recipe is very simple and versatile, so you can make it with what is on hand in your pantry. Create a dry seasoning rub, cover the loin, and its time to cook. Yes, it is really that easy.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 1/4 lb venison loin
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lightly coat the venison with olive oil. You should need about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper so it is evenly coated. Mix together the parsley, garlic powder and paprika and rub the mixture onto the meat, gently patting it in. You can put more or less dry rub on as you would prefer.

Slice the loin into 1/2" - 3/4" medallions. Heat a large skillet and put a drop of olive oil in the bottom. On medium-high heat, cook the medallions for 3-4 minutes per side. You want a nice char on the bottom before you flip it over. Since venison is such a lean meat, it is very easy to overcook it, so you want to keep an eye on it. When it is cooked perfectly, it is delicious and tender. If you cook it too much, it can quickly become dry and rubbery.

Once both sides of meat have gotten a nice char, remove from the heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve along with hearty side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce traditionally used on grilled meats. However, it is also delicious in your tacos, smothered on your bread or sprinkled over grilled veggies. It is so simple to pull together and can really make an impact to your meal. Use as a sauce for a topping or even as a marinade prior to cooking.

1 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp fresh oregano
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Finely mince the parsley and oregano. Finely chop the garlic. Add to a bowl and whisk in olive oil and vinegar. Mix together with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Now dip in a piece of bread and see if you need to adjust any of your seasonings based on your taste. If it tastes good, cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate until it is time to use.

Monday, October 21, 2013

S'mores Pretzel Bites

Coming to you from the archives of summer. During the construction and the move, it seems this post has gotten itself a little lost. And even though many of you may consider s'mores a delicious summer time treat, this recipe here shows you that you can enjoy them all winter long from the warmth of your kitchen. On a chilly, fall night, invite your friends over to reminisce about the great summer you just had and serve these little bites as a snack to remember all the great times you shared.

Recipe yields 35 treats

70 small pretzels
105 mini marshmallows
105 semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks or bar
1 tsp canola oil
Chocolate sprinkles, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and arrange 35 pretzels.

Top the pretzels with 3 marshmallows and 3 chocolate chips each.

Carefully move the tray to the oven and bake for 6 minutes until the marshmallows and chocolate chips melt.

Once you remove from the oven, top each with a second pretzel to make a sandwich. Set aside and let cool for about one hour.

Set a medium glass bowl over a simmering pot of water. Add your chocolate chunks or break up the chocolate bar and add it to the bowl along with the canola oil. Allow to sit until the chocolate melts.

For each pretzel s'more, dip half way in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of wax paper. Sprinkle with the chocolate sprinkles. Repeat until all pretzel s'mores are coated.

Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened (if you can restrain yourself that long). Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mini Italian Meatloafs

Meatloaf is one of my favorite dishes. Growing up, it was always a highlight when my mom made meatloaf for dinner. I enjoy my meatloaf with a big side of mashed potatoes and corn and lots of brown gravy. After years of monotony, I decided to shake things up a bit and try a different kind of meatloaf. In the words of my grandfather, "What are all these colorful things in here?" Packed with bell peppers, onions and Italian seasonings, this is my version of an Italian style meatloaf. I served mine with Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes and The Best Spinach.

Recipe yields 10 mini meatloaves

2.5 lbs ground beef
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp basil
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 head garlic, finely chopped
6 oz. tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Finely chop the pepper, onion and garlic. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until evenly incorporated. Form meat mixture into 10 mini loaves. Arrange on greased baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Serve alongside your favorite side dishes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rosemary Chicken and Mushroom Skillet

This hearty and filling meal comes together in one large skillet. Yes, you read that correctly, one skillet! That means lots of extra time for you not spent cleaning a sink full of dishes. I highly recommend sticking to the recipe and using bone-in chicken. Leaving the bone in keeps the chicken juicy and flavorful. Boneless chicken will work fine, but it might become dried out, so you will want to check on it more frequently.

Recipe yields 6 servings

1 lb baby red potatoes, diced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tbsp extra leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 lemons
Pinch of salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

Preheat the oven to 450F degrees. Add the potatoes to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Mince the garlic into a paste and combine with rosemary leaves, red pepper flakes and salt. Add to a mixing bowl and whisk together with the juice from 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add chicken to the bowl and flip to evenly coat chicken. Heat a skillet on high heat and cook chicken, skin-side down until browned and crisp.

Turn the chicken and add the cooked potatoes and mushrooms to the skillet. Drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon and fill in the gaps of the skillet with rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves. Place the skillet in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stracciatella Soup with Ditalini

This simple Italian egg soup is such a great staple during the colder months. You can add little pasta as I did, or even add in orzo for a different twist. In a sense, it is close to the Chinese egg drop soup, but with some Italian flare. It is very easy to make and can come together in a snap.

Recipe yields 6 servings

6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp basil
5 oz baby spinach
1/2 lb Ditalini pasta

Add the chicken broth to a large pot and bring to a boil. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil. Lower the heat on the broth to medium and slowly stir in the egg mixture. Continuously stir the broth and the eggs will be pulled in to create thin strands.

Add in the spinach and cook until lightly wilted. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle into serving bowls and top with extra Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bowties with Shrimp in Creamy Tomato Sauce

After three servings each and stuffed bellies, both my dad and Carmine exclaimed this was the best pasta they have ever had. Ok so maybe they are being a little dramatic, but from a family who eats pasta at least twice a week, that has got to hold some merit. A spin on the classic alla vodka sauce, this creamy sauce is livened up with some white wine and loaded with fresh herbs. Try the recipe below and see if Carmine and my dad were right.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 lb Bowtie pasta (or any other shape of your choice)
2 lbs large shrimp, cleaned with the tails off
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
28 oz Tuttorosso tomato sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Put a large stock pot of lightly salted water up and bring it to a boil. (We will use this to cook the pasta). Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. (Coat with about 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together).

In a large skillet, melt the butter and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until opaque. Remove shrimp to a bowl and reserve. Add the remaining olive oil to the same skillet along with the onion and garlic. Turn heat to medium high and cook until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the white wine and turn up the heat. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until the wine reduces by at least half.

Pour in the tomato sauce and give everything a good stir and bring the sauce up to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the heavy cream as the sauce is simmering. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. With about 3 minutes left on the clock, toss in the herbs and seasoning and give it a good stir. Return the shrimp to the skillet and toss to coat with the sauce.

Place the cooked pasta in a large serving bowl and cover with sauce. Stir it all together so the sauce is evenly distributed. Serve with extra sauce on the side and lots of grated cheese for topping. Enjoy!