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Friday, January 18, 2013

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup

Here we are, right in the middle of what some people call the doldrums of January.  I read that this week is the most depressing week of the year.  With all the craziness going on here in our house and with our family, I'd almost have to agree!  But things could always be worse, right?  Yes.  Yes they could.

Nothing a hot bowl of soup can't cure.

Love the "kick" the chorizo gives it.  Just enough...

And wait until you see how easy it is to make!

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup
from Gourmet

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 pound chorizo, cut into pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups water
1 pound kale, cleaned and chopped

Heat one tablespoon oil in a large pot.  Add chorizo and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.  Add 2 more tablespoons oil to pot and cook onion and garlic over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook 7-8 minutes, until browned.

Add potatoes, water and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, 15-20 minutes.  Mash some potatoes into soup to thicken.  Add kale and simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes.   Stir in sausage and cook until heated through.  Drizzle with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 (main course servings).

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Easy Oven-Barbecued Pork Chops

Before we talk pork chops, I have some exciting news!  My blog is getting a major facelift!  Lots of awesome changes coming soon...stay tuned!

Life has been pretty hectic for the past week for many reasons, so it's the perfect time to post this recipe.  Super easy to throw together, leave in the oven for an hour, and bam - dinner is served.  Hoping to get back into a groove very soon but for now, it's easy meal time!  Enjoy.

Easy Oven-Barbecued Pork Chops
adapted from about .com

6 thick cut boneless pork chops (or 12 thin cut)
2 large onions, cut into rings
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
dash cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pork chops in a 9x13 pan.  Spread onions over the pork.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour on top.  

Bake uncovered for one hour, or until chops are tender.  

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Monday, January 14, 2013

White Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna

How's January been treating you?  We've been having a pretty mild month here in NJ.  Temps today are supposed to reach 56 degrees!  I'll take it...

Even when it's not freezing, comfort food hits the spot.  I don't remember my mom ever making white lasagna - we were always straight up traditional style.  And of course my Nana's lasagna is always a huge hit.  But sometimes, you need to change it up a bit.

Yeah...change is good.

White Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna
very heavily adapted from Epicurious

1 box lasagna noodles
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
3/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2 cups cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
1 large bag fresh spinach
1 onion, choppped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bag frozen artichokes, thawed
for the bechamel sauce:
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup AP flour
4 cups whole milk
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine ricotta, egg and grated cheese.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a pan, heat a little extra virgin olive oil and saute onion, spinach, garlic and artichokes.  Season with salt and pepper while cooking.  Cook until soft.

to make the bechamel:
In a saucepan, melt butter, then add flour and stir until lumps are gone.  Add milk, followed by nutmeg and a little salt and pepper.  Whisk constantly until thick.

Spread a little bechamel on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Cover with a layer of noodles, then add half of the veggie mixture.  Follow with a layer of noodles, and top with the ricotta mixture.

Add more noodles, then the rest of the veggies.  Top with noodles, followed by mozzarella, then pour bechamel all over the top and sides.

Bake for around 35 minutes, or until top is bubbly and lasagna is cooked through the middle and center of pan.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

I think there's an unspoken understanding about any food that's stuffed with anything.  Most people would agree that the end result is always awesome.

These are no exception.

I served this with the lobster tails I made recently, which is funny because I recently told someone I always have and always will only serve stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer.  Hmmm.  Never say never I guess!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

3 Italian sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
extra virgin olive oil
24 large button mushrooms, stems removed
1/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Saute sausage with oregano in a skillet until sausage browns.  Break meat up with a fork while cooking.  Remove from skillet and transfer to a large bowl.   Let cool.

Mix grated cheese, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder into sausage.  Add cream cheese and combine.  Season with salt and pepper and add egg yolk. 

Brush large baking pan with oil, then brush each mushroom cavity with wine.  Fill each with meat mixture then sprinkle with a little more grated cheese.  Arrange mushrooms in pan.  (at this point you can cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours)

Bake for around 25 minutes, until tops are brown and mushrooms are tender.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Garlic Feta Dip

WARNING: this dip is dangerous.  Not only does it take minutes to make, but it is super addictive.

It makes your breath stinky too.

Bring it on!

Garlic Feta Dip
slightly adapted from food. com

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and mix.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Walnut Roca Bars (Secret Recipe Club)

SRC is back!  We took the month of December off because of all the holiday craziness (and we certainly had enough of it!)...so here we are, the first club post of the year.  And let me tell you - this is a really good one!

My assignment this month was Lisa's blog, Cook Lisa Cook.  Lisa had some great recipes to choose from (many of which were made with help from her adorable daughter!) and it was hard narrowing it down.  I'm glad I picked these bars.  They were a huge hit with the family.

In reality, they weren't actually bars (or squares, as Lisa called them)...at least not for me.  When they first cooled, I couldn't get them off the foil.  They kept breaking into pieces.  Fortunately, 5 days later, that wasn't the case.  I guess they needed some time in the fridge before they would part from it.  So, it ended up looking like pieces you'd get when you make bark.  Totally fine by me - they still tasted delicious!

Thanks for a wonderful recipe, Lisa!

Walnut Roca Bars
from Cook Lisa Cook

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil.

Cream butter and sugars together in a large bowl.  Add egg and beat until smooth, then add flour and salt.  Beat for about a minute.  Spread mixture into pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chips on top.  Return pan to oven and leave in for about 2-3 minutes.  Take pan out and gently spread chocolate with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle walnuts on top.

***Let cool completely and remove from pan by lifting foil.  Peel off foil and place on cutting board to cut into bars.

***see above for how I needed to remove them

Linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Baked Lobster Tails

Happy New Year, everyone!  Getting back into your old routine?  TGIThursday...that's all I have to say :)

This was the first year since I was maybe 8 years old that I wasn't up to see the ball drop.  Oh yeah, it was a rockin' New Year's Eve in our house.  Plus I did nothing as far as cooking - we went out for a late lunch with our nieces and ate enough to keep us full for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, I made our "fancy" meal a few nights before.  I guess you could call this our faux NYE meal.  It snowed that day, so our plans to go out were foiled.  Frank picked these babies up and although they were frozen, I was able to thaw them in a cold water bath in about an hour.

I prefer to keep the shells on them while baking...it keeps the meat moist.  It may not be as pretty as putting the tail on top, but it sure is tasty.

I know some people are intimidated by making these at home, but you shouldn't be!  It's super easy and costs WAY less than ordering them in a restaurant.  Give them a try...maybe for Valentine's Day...

Baked Lobster Tails
4 lobster tails
melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using kitchen shears, cut the top of each tail down the middle.  Do not cut all the way through the meat - just a little deep.

Place tails in a baking pan.  Brush the tops with butter.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes, depending on size.

Squeeze lemon into melted butter and serve on side for dipping.

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