Game Day and an Awesome Chili Bar

Today is Game Day or for some Super Bowl LIII.  There will be folks gathering for a day of fun, friends or family with lots of good eats and drinks while watching the big game. But there are many of us who are just not followers of football. Yes, as un-American as that may sound, there are many of us who are just not into “the game”. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a great day of fun, food and gather around the TV or game table.

In years past our Sunday would start in the afternoon where we may watch the Kitten Bowl as I start to prepare the good eats of the day. Later in the afternoon we tune in to our favorite, The Puppy Bowl. We are animal lovers at our house. Have you ever watched those adorable pups frolicking around the stadium? Too darn cute. Then at the end I would often get teary eyed as the pups are adopted and go to their Fur-Ever homes. Silly I know, but we love it.

Once Puppy Bowl was over we would sometimes get together and play World of Warcraft or some other RPG (role-playing game) on our computers. Another time we would have a movie marathon. Nothing like a binge watch of classic Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. But, no matter what we choose the “game is on” (but not the game) and so is the food. Have fun and enjoy the day no matter how you celebrate it! Any one for Rummikub and pigs in a blanket?

Beef and/or Bean Chili and a great Chili Bar

Items you need:

Your favorite chili recipe (I’ll add mine below)

Bowls of the following:

Sour Cream

Diced Onion, white or yellow

Sliced Jalapeno or your favorite hot peppers

Shredded Cheese, Cheddar, Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack are usually favorites

Chips of your choice:  Doritos’s, Frito’s or taco

Diced Avocado

Sliced Green Onion

Corn bread or corn muffins (I’ll add my recipe below)

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Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili

Made for a 6 qt. Instant Pot.

(Easily made in any electric pressure cooker or converts to the Slow Cooker as well)

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

5 stalks celery, chopped

1 package Chili Seasoning or homemade (See homemade chili seasoning)

1 cup Beef Broth (I use Better than Bullion Beef)

1 15 oz can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Ro-Tel Original Tomatoes

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Set your Instant Pot to Sauté and vegetable oil and minced garlic to the pot.

Once the pot is hot and oil is simmering, add ground beef.

Once browned, add chopped onion, bell pepper and celery to the beef.

Cook until onion is starting to become translucent, then add McCormick’s Chili Seasoning.

Turn the Instant Pot “off” of Sauté.

Mix well and add beef broth.

Scrape up any browned bits that have adhered to the bottom of the pot.

Add both beans to the pot and stir.

Then add Ro-Tel tomatoes, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce on topdo not stir in.

Put on your Instant Pot lid, make sure vent is set to seal and set your IP to 10 minutes at high pressure.

Once time is up, let your Instant Pot naturally release.

Once released, open your Instant Pot, stir and enjoy your chili!

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp approximately freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Store in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture for up to six months.

Recipe Notes: Makes enough for one pot of chili (about 6 servings).

 

creamed corn-muffins

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CREAMED CORN MUFFINS

1 1/4 cups Flour
1 cup Yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
2 Eggs — lightly beaten
1 can Creamed corn — (16 oz can)

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly coat 16 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray or use paper muffin cups.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar in large mixing bowl.

Stir in milk, oil, and eggs, mixing just until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in creamed corn.

Pour the batter into muffin tins, filling to the brim. Bake for 25 minutes.

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My Maestro

 

A Chicken in my Sunday Pot and several ways to enjoy it!

With the rising cost of groceries these day chicken still seems to be a good bargain and when preparing a whole chicken you can get the most for your money.

So on a Sunday I sometimes will put up a pot of chicken soup to start. If the chicken is plump enough I can get two or three nice size meals depending what I make.

basic chicken stock

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1 Large chicken (about 4 lbs)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium stalks of celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 sprigs parsley
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse chicken under cold water and add the chicken to a large heavy stockpot. Add cold water to cover chicken. Bring the water slowly to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. There should be very few gentle bubbles bursting on the surface of the water. Skim the surface of the stock to get rid of the impurities (foam).

Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns to the pot. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours, skimming occasionally.

Carefully remove the whole chicken. Strain the stock through a paper towel or cheesecloth lined colander into a large bowl. Carefully discard the hot solids. Let cool. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to allow fat to rise to the top. Skim fat off and discard. Divide between freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months if it lasts that long!

Yields 2 quarts

Once you have make the chicken stock there are lots of meal options that can be made: Once the chicken has cooled remove the chicken from the bones and divide. Separate and shred the breast and wing meat into two portions. Then remove the leg thigh meat making a third portion of chicken. Each portion should yield about 2 cups of meat enough for three meals. After a long day at work it’s nice to have one of these meals easy to prepare.

What to make now? Here are a few ideas.

Chicken Soup – your choice, you have two quarts of broth you can add vegetables, rice or noodles and one portion of the chicken or follow your favorite recipe.

chicken & biscuit dumplings

Chicken Pot Pie with 2 Crusts or Biscuits

This is old-fashioned, from scratch, comfort food. This has been a family favorite for years.

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 prepared pie crusts (1 top crust and 1 bottom crust)

Heat butter over low heat until melted.

Blend in flour, onion, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk.

Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute.

Stir in chicken and veggies. (Add in 1 – 2 diced cooked potatoes if you like!).

Reserve.

Line pie plate with prepared bottom crust.

Pour in filling.

Top with top crust. Cut slits in center to vent. Flute edges.

Cook uncovered in 425°F oven until crust is brown; approximately 30-35 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have any pie crust available add the filling to a greased 9″ x 13″ casserole and top with your favorite biscuits and bake for 20 minutes.

 

chicken ala king

Chicken ala King

This old fashion meal is total comfort food on a cold winter evening and when you have two cups of chicken available it’s so easy to prepare. Have you ever read about the history of Chicken ala King? Seems there are at least 5 different possibilities of where the recipe originated going as far back as the late 1800’s and it was served in some very prestigious restaurants and hotels. Who would have thought, right?

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

2 tablespoons diced pimientos or small diced red cherry pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onion and celery in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add chicken and pimientos; heat through. Serve over toast points, or biscuits or in puff pastry patty shells if you want something fancier.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Named after a famous Italian singer, Tetrazzini is an American dish made with diced poultry or seafood and mushroom in a butter/cream and Parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry. It is served hot over linguine, spaghetti, or some similarly thin pasta, garnished with parsley, and sometimes topped with  Parmesan cheese. Tetrazzini can be prepared as a baked noodle casserole, sometimes with steps taken to give it a browned crust.

chicken tetrazzini1

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked thin spaghetti (not Angel Hair) or pasta of choice

1/2 cup butter & 2 Tb

2 TB Olive Oil

Add any of these items to taste – I have no exact measurements

Onions

Garlic

Mushrooms

1 10 oz. box of Frozen Peas or Peas & Carrots (optional)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth & 2 cups milk

1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Handful of chopped parsley

Season to taste, herbs etc.

Butter bread crumbs to top the casserole if you like.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

At this point I sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms. Remove from pan and set on the side.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in same pan over medium heat.

Stir in flour, pan cook so flour cooks but is not brown

Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.

Add onion, garlic mushroom mix to the sauce and fold in. Add chopped chicken, parsley or any frozen vegetable you are using

Mix chicken sauce mixture with cooked spaghetti and put into a greased 9 x 13 casserole.

chicken croquettes my

Chicken Croquettes

Easy-to-make chicken croquettes. These croquettes freeze well. This one needs a bit of pre-planning as the croquette mixture needs time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cone shape is traditional for croquettes, but I have made patty shaped ones that are just as wonderful. Try adding some chopped mushrooms too

Ingredients

2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup or cream of celery

1/4 cup milk

1 (6 ounce) box chicken stuffing mix

1 large egg, slightly beaten

½ of a small onion, chopped fine

1 stalk of celery, chopped fine

breadcrumbs, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying (may need more or less)

Sauce

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

Directions

Mix well the chicken, soup, stuffing mix, egg, onion, and celery. Refrigerate for 3 hours minimum.

Create a ‘log’ shape from about 3/4 cup of mixture. Gently drop onto the counter to flatten the bottom to form a traditional ‘cone’ shape. (about 3″ high, 2″ in diameter), or form patties for a simpler method.

Roll croquettes in bread crumbs. (At this point, you can freeze them for up to two months or cover them and place them in the fridge overnight to serve the following day. Just bring them to room temperature when ready to use if frying them).

Fry in about 1/4″ of oil in skillet over medium heat turning occasionally till golden brown on all sides and bottom, about 10-15 minutes. For a healthier version, they can be baked at 350F for about 25-30 min (from the freezer, bake 45-50 minutes).

MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan, stir the remaining can of soup with milk, stirring until warmed and creamy.

Stretching a Dollar – Porcupine Meatballs

Fast food seems to be the way of life with young families these days. I grew up with parents who lived through the Great Depression where food and supplies were scarce in those day so you had to make every penny count, and if you had many mouths to feed it was a challenge for many families.

I would watch the many ways my mother could alter meals to feed us when money was tight while growing up. One of the ways she would stretch a meal was by adding rice to ground beef and Porcupine Meatballs was born in our home.

This budget friendly dish still gets passed down through families and is enjoyed today. Now there are many ways to prepare Porcupine Meatballs, every family had their own version they preferred to make. I grew up with the version that used Campbell’s Tomato Soup, the web has several different versions of it.

Here are two of my favorite versions that I like to make, neither uses canned tomato soup. One recipe is for the stove top the other made in the oven. So whether you are a growing family trying to make ends meet or a retired couple on a fixed income this maybe a dish you would occasionally like to make.

porcupine meatballs

 

   Skillet Porcupine Meatballs

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound ground beef*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce or your own homemade works fine

1 cup water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Add beef and mix well.Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain. Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Oven Porcupine Meatballs

1 pound ground beef*

1 cup uncooked white rice (regular rice)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon pepper

15 ounces tomato sauce, 1 large can

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix meat, rice, 1/2 cup water, the onion, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonful’s into balls. Place meatballs into 8 x 8″ baking dish. Stir together remaining ingredients; pour over meatballs. Cover. Bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

*Note: Either of these recipes can be easily doubled.  You can substitute ground turkey for the beef.

Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

Memories of a home town bakery & Apple Fritters

Have you noticed that many of the long standing old school family bakeries are slowly vanishing? Several that have been open for well over 40 years are now gone here. Where I grew up there was a bakery in almost every shopping center close to our home. That memorable aroma when you first walked in of baked cake and bread is slowly disappearing here in suburbia. The bakery sections in the local grocery stores and super centers may have replaced them, but they will never really duplicate them.

I used to love when we stopped for fresh rolls and buns after Sunday Mass. The glass cases would be filled with butter cookies, pastry and the most beautifully decorated special occasion cakes with colorful flowers and leaves. They had assorted pies, chocolate cakes, crumb cakes and one of our favorites, apple fritters. Those large doughy pastries filled with chopped apple bits topped with a sugary glaze. They were amazing with a cold glass of milk.

Over the years I tried different recipes for apple fritters. The recipes were good but didn’t come anywhere near the ones from the bakery until I found this recipe several years ago. I think this is the best recipe for apple fritters anyone can make at home. Many times I was asked if they came from a bakery, that they hadn’t had apple fritter like these in years. What a great compliment!

This recipe is adapted from the Cook’s Country recipe book. They are easy to make and and I know you will love them.

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Apple Fritters

Ingredients
For the Fritters – Recipe make 10-12 fritters depending on size.
2 granny apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I have also used Gala and Honey Crisp apples when I had them from an orchard we stop at)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon works so well in this recipe)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup apple cider (Please use apple cider not apple juice)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Glaze
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup apple cider (Please use apple cider not apple juice)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon works so well in this recipe)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions
Add all dry ingredients (flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in apples.
Next add wet ingredients (cider, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract) to a separate bowl and whisk together then pour mixture into dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat to about 350 degrees. Use 1/3-cup measure to transfer 5 heaping portions of batter into the hot oil. Press batter lightly with the back of spoon to flatten somewhat. Fry until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes each side). Once all fritters are fried, remove fritters and transfer fritters to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or to a paper towel to dry. Bring oil back to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining batter. Let fritters cool 5 minutes.
Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl until smooth. Spoon over fritters and let set for 10 minutes then serve.

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Homemade Pizza

my crispino pizza

A few weekends ago a dear long time friend we hadn’t seen for a very long time was stopping by for coffee and some of my homemade cheesecake. As it turned out, our guest arrived several hours late because of an issue at there job. We chatted for several hours and I put out cheese and crackers to start. We had lots to catch up on and before you knew it, it was well past dinner time.

Being this dinner with a guest was unexpected we decided to order Pizza. I don’t know about how you all feel about pizza but being from New York pizza needs to meet certain criteria. My husband an I have been seeing changes in several of the local pizzerias in our area. Tough crust, minimal toppings and too little sauce to the point where the pizza was dry.  As a girl born and raised in Brooklyn, NY I can tell you Brooklyn has some of the best pizza in NY. Growing up I watched my mom make pizza at home from the usual cheese pizza with red sauce to the White pizza topped with spinach and cheese. I remembered those days and learned to make pizza myself not so much on the fly but when I would work it into one of my weekly menus.

Needless to say the pizza we ordered for our guest was marginal and disappointing. Tough crust, very little sauce on one of the pies. So our hunt goes on for a better local pizzeria, but until then I think I will go back to making my own pizza once again like when the kids were growing up.

As a home cook I am the first to admit my pizza’s aren’t the most beautiful pies you have ever seen but they are pretty tasty. Here are a few of my favorite recipes I like to use.

My favorite recipe for making homemade pizza crust is adapted from the cookbook Laura in the Kitchen by Laura Vitale.

This recipe will make two 10 inch pizza pies or one large size Sicilian Pie. 

For the Dough:
3 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour or Italian 00 flour if you can find it.
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/3 cups of Warm Water, 110 degrees (check with a thermometer if you have one , if your water is too hot it will kill the yeast)
1 Envelope of Yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons if you buy your yeast in a bulk package like I do)

Preparation
To make the dough:
1) Add the yeast to warm water and set it aside for about 3 minutes.
2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a dough attachment, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. Stir the yeast in the water to make sure it’s all dissolved and add it to the flour mixture.
3) With the speed on medium, mix until everything is combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix for 10 minutes.
4) Oil 2 bowls with olive oil and set aside. Divide the dough in two pieces and roll into a ball. Place each ball of dough into the oiled bowls, seam side down and brush the tops of the dough with a little oil to stop them from drying out.
Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until it doubles about 1 1/2 hours.
6) To make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it for 20 minutes. (if you don’t have a pizza stone you can use a large baking sheet just place it in the oven upside down so there are no edges)
7) Sprinkle some flour onto your counter, take 1 ball of dough and dredge it in the flour on all sides. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10 inch circle.
8) Using a pizza peel (or a baking sheet upside down so that there are no edges) place the rolled out pizza dough on it and start topping it.

To make a red sauce pizza: Use a ladle and add your favorite pizza sauce then using the back of the ladle swirl it all over the top of the dough spreading out the sauce, not too much but not too little.
Top it with the shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese and any preferred toppings you like mushrooms, cooked sausage, veggies etc. using the pizza peel slide it onto the pizza stone.
Cook for 20 minutes, rotating half way through to insure even cooking.

A cooking Tip – If you think the dough will not slide easily off the peel because the toppings are too heavy you can do one of two things. 1) lightly dust the peel with cornmeal. or 2) what I usually do is put a piece of parchment paper between the peel and the dough when I first set the dough on the peel this way it will easily slide onto the pizza stone. Cook it right on the parchment paper and it will still be a crispy crust.

For a quick No cook Pizza Sauce:

1 1/2 cups of Tomato Puree or use and immersion blender and crush a can of San Marzano tomatoes and use 1 1/2 cups of that.

Dried Oregano, to taste

Dried Basil, to taste

Granulated Garlic, to taste

Granulated Onion, to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pinch of Sugar

To make the sauce simply mix together all of the sauce ingredients and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Set aside. No need to cook the sauce a head of time as the tomatoes are already cooked and the sauce will heat through while baking.

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A Good Luck Meal for the New Year – Kahlua Piggie & Macaroni Salad

New-Year-2012-HeaderThere are many foods people like to eat to ensure good luck for the coming new year. My family always serves herring as the first food after the midnight toast. Some other traditional foods often served are Ham with Black-eyed Peas or Hoppin’ John, Pork, Cabbage, New Year’s cake that has a coin inside and who ever get the coin is ensured good luck, Lentils, grapes and the salted brine fish or herring to name just a few.

I know there are so many folks who got Instant Pots for this holiday season. I got mine several months back  and I am really loving it. I will use it to make our New Years day meal of pork and cabbage that I affectionately call Kalua Piggie. There are lots of version you can find on the web; what I am sharing here is my adaptation of several of those recipes.  I won’t be using the Hawaiian Red Salt that many traditional versions call for. I try to keep to a budget and I really don’t have any other use for a two-pound bag of red salt that you order online, but trust me it will still be a delicious meal.

So remember your favorite good luck food this New Year’s Day.

Wishing you a Happy New Year with the hope that you will have many blessings in the year to come.

 

My 6 Qt Duo

Instant Pot Kahlua Piggie

I make this in my 6 Qt Instant Pot Duo

Serves 8

3 slices of Bacon

4-5 lb Pork Shoulder roast (I cut the pork off the bone and the meat into about 4 pieces)

4-5 Garlic cloves peeled and sliced into quarters

1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 Cup Water

1 Tablespoon of Liquid Smoke

1 Small-Medium head of Cabbage, cored, and cut into 8 wedges

 

1. Put the bacon in the Instant Pot. Press Sauté.

2. While the bacon is cooking (turning it with tongs occasionally), cut the pork roast into about 4 nice size pieces so they will nicely fit into the pot. Slice the garlic cloves into quarters then cut slits in the roast and press the garlic pieces into the slits. Sprinkle half of the salt over the pork pieces and rub it in a bit. Turn the pork pieces over and sprinkle the rest of the salt on the pork rubbing it in.

3. By this time the bacon should be nicely browned. Put the pork on top of the bacon slices. Stop the Sauté function by pressing the Cancel button.

4. Add the Liquid Smoke to the 1 cup of water, stir, then pour to the pot, put the lid on and lock it in place. Make sure the pressure release knob is in the seal position.

5. Select Pressure/Cook. Press the “+” button until it shows 90 minutes. It will come up to pressure and the pressure pin will rise up. In a few minutes the time will begin to decrease. 90 minutes is the time it cooks once it’s under pressure.

6. When the 90 minutes is up, press the Cancel button to turn it off. Let the pressure release naturally, this will take about 20 minutes. The pressure pin will drop down when the pressure is completely released and you can open the pot.

7. Remove the pork from the pot and put the cabbage wedges in the cooking liquid into the pot. Put on the lid, press Pressure/Cook and press the “-“ to change the time to 3 minutes. While the cabbage is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

9. When the cabbage is done, do a Quick Release. Push the pressure knob over with tongs or oven mitt to protect your hand. The steam will release immediately.

10. When the pressure has released and the pressure pin has dropped, open the pot. Put the cabbage on a large platter and top with the shredded pork.

11. You can pour some of the cooking liquid into the pork if you want it a juicier.

Serve with your favorite rice whether plain white rice or a flavored yellow rice. I also like to serve it with some chilled diced Pineapple on the side or a chilled fruit cocktail.

One of my favorite side dishes is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Goes great with Kahlua Pork or any Pulled Pork or BBQ Ribs.

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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

 Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise ONLY! Do not use Kraft Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

1 cup whole milk or can also use 2% but not 1% milk

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and grated

1/2 cup celery. chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring approximately 4 quarts of water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook through, you don’t want al dente.
  2. Drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Add the 1/4 cup vinegar and stir until the macaroni is well coated. Let cool.
  3. While the macaroni is cooling, combine the mayo, milk and brown sugar. Mix well. Add any desired salt and pepper.
  4. Pour this mixture over the cooled macaroni and mix until well blended.
  5. After mixing, add in the green onions, carrots and celery. Remember to save a little to add as a garnish on top.
  6. This salad is best if chilled for 2-4 hours before serving.

Seafood on Christmas Eve – Muscles & Clams

xmas eve 1

We are a small family so our holiday traditions are a bit limited. Some years my menu is little more traditional and other years we tend to mix it up with a theme of some sort.

Even though I am part Italian I was never raised with the traditional Seven Fishes tradition for Christmas Eve but we would often have some sort of seafood. My mother would usually make a shrimp dish of some sort, maybe fried scallops or a breaded and fried flounder along with the other array of assorted dishes and desserts. Mom wasn’t a seafood lover so the selection was pretty limited.

My husband and I on the other hand have been enjoying seafood dishes we learned to make for over 40 years. One year we might do shrimp another year steak and lobster.

Here are several easy to prepare seafood dishes we enjoy with our family not just on a holiday but anytime throughout the year.

Homemade tagliatelle with muscles in garlic butter sauce

Muscles Over Linguine with a White Wine Garlic Sauce

Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 35 mins Yield: 4-6

2-3 pounds mussels, rinsed

1 pound linguine

¾ to 1 cup white wine (I usually use something like a Pinot Grigio , Riesling or Chardonnay whatever white wine we happen to have in the house)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse the mussels and remove beards if necessary, discard any that do not fully close when rinsing (these are dead).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to the boiling water, and cook linguine until al dente.

Meanwhile, with linguine still boiling, combine all remaining ingredients (except for the cream and Parmesan cheese) in a large covered sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Cover and simmer mussels in the white wine sauce until fully cooked and shells open up, about 5-10 minutes. Stir sauce and mussels to coat in the sauce.

When linguine is finished, strain and stir into the mussels and white wine sauce. Now add cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5-7 minutes while covered, stirring occasionally until the sauce slightly thickens.

Serve topped with a pinch of fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. (Yes, it’s perfectly safe to have cheese with seafood if you enjoy it, LOL!)

For those who would prefer a red sauce with Muscles here is a red sauce version.

Mussels Marinara

2 lbs Mussels

1 cup white wine (use what you like to drink)

1 small onion

3-4 garlic cloves

1 quart your favorite marinara sauce

4 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:

Scrape mussels clean – Toss any that are not closed

Mince onion and garlic

Cooking:

In a tall pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent (don’t burn the garlic).

Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover pot and cook until the  mussels are fully opened (toss unopened mussels).

In a separate pot bring the marinara sauce to a boil, then pour it over the mussels.

Turn heat off and serve over linguine or you favorite pasta.

Serve with garlic bread and some more of that white wine. Heaven!.

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Linguine with Clams

1 pound dried linguine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds little neck clams, scrubbed clean and sand purged

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2-1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.

Add linguine, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking together.

Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent,

about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches.

Pour linguine into large serving bowl- arrange clams over linguine and pour sauce over all

Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

christmas-cooking-chef-holidays-greetings

 

 

Holiday Fruit Cake or Fruit Bread

Fruitcake (or fruit cake or fruit bread) is a cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and optionally soaked in brandy or rum. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are typically served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Given their rich nature, fruitcakes are most often consumed on their own,  or sometimes served with butter or cream.

festive fruit cake

We enjoy simple fruit cake at our house. Some fruit cakes are loaded with so much fruit and nuts there is very little cake. Years ago I came across a super simple fruit cake on the back of a cake box that I have tweaked a bit and I have been making it every since. It is just the way we enjoy fruit cake. You may want to give it a try.

Easy Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

2 (16.6-oz.) pkgs. of a Date Nut Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

2 cups Pecans, chopped for the cake but save a few whole one for decorating the cake top

2 cups Raisins

2 cups Candied mixed fruit

1/2 cup Candied Cherries, halved

1/2 cup Candied pineapple, cut-up

Corn syrup, if desired

Preparation Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of 12-cup Bundt® pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine water, oil and eggs; beat well. Add all remaining ingredients except corn syrup; stir with spoon until combined. Pour into greased and floured pan. You way wish set aside some candied cherry halves and Pecans to decorate the top of the cake before baking.

2. Bake at 350°F. for 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in freezer for up to 3 months.

4. Just before serving, heat corn syrup until warm. Brush over fruitcake. If desired, decorate with additional candied fruits and nuts or as desired.

pannettone sliced 2017pannettone 2017

Another version of fruit cake we enjoy would be what sometimes is referred to as Fruit Bread but I call it Panettone. I make a very easy version in my bread machine. We enjoy it sliced; spread with some butter and a hot cup of tea.

Bread Machine Panettone

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package Instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Vital Wheat Gluten (optional – I find it helps bread machine breads rise beautifully. You can find it at King Arthur Flour website, store in a glass jar in your freezer it keeps much longer)
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

 Directions

Add all ingredients in bread machine pan including the yeast.  Select white bread or sweet bread setting.

(I have use the Raisin Bake bread setting for 4 hours in my Panasonic SD-YD250, light crust, large loaf).

Dough will look wet but that is normal for this bread, don’t be tempted to add more flour.

Hit start and let it go!

Countdown to Christmas – Italian Wedding Soup

10 Days until Christmas

The final Christmas countdown is here. Hope you have all gotten a good jump on your holiday shopping. It’s a gray rainy day here in the Northeast, I have just a few more things to put together for the holidays so on days like this I want a meal that will warm me up but is fast and easy. I just love a good bowl of soup that won’t take all day to cook when I’m busy.
Here are two ways to make this soup, one is quick and easy the other requires just a bit more prep work but either are simple and delicious.

Simple Italian Wedding Soup
This is the standard version of the recipe
Meatballs
1/2 lbs lean ground beef*
1 egg, slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon EACH dried basil leaves and onion powder
Soup
2 32 oz cartons of chicken broth
2 cups thinly sliced fresh escarole or spinach*
1/2 cup (about 3 oz.) Orzo or Acini de pepe (small size soup pasta), uncooked
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
Grated Parmesan cheese (Optional)

In medium bowl, combine meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings;
shape into 3/4-inch balls. In large saucepan, heat broth to boiling;
stir in meatballs, escarole or spinach, orzo and carrot. Return to a boil;
reduce heat to medium. Cook at a slow boil 10 minutes or until orzo
is tender and meatballs are heated through, stirring frequently.
Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a nice crusty bread for dipping in the soup.
4 to 6 servings

*The quick and easy version is to use * 1 lb (about 30 meatballs in a package) of frozen Italian meatballs in place of making meatballs and substitute 1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach for fresh escarole or spinach.

A Different Twist on Christmas Cookies – Rosettes & Pizzelles

16 days until Christmas, planning goodies for family and friends.

rosettes

Rosette Cookies
So many wonderful Christmas cookie recipes out there this time of year, from sprinkled topped butter cookies to Snickerdoodles and Thumbprints. One of my old favorites at holiday time are not just the baked cookies but those lovely crispy cookies that remind me of winter and snowflakes, Pizzelle’s and Rosettes.
I can remember watching my mom make Rosettes when I was young. We would gather around the kitchen table while she would make a beautiful silky batter then attached the snowflake or star shape iron to the long handle; then stand it up in the hot oil in her electric frying pan. Once the iron was hot she would then dip it into the bowl of batter and it would make a sizzling sound then the batter seemed to magically stick to the outer edges of the iron. Mom would move the iron back to the hot oil and begin to make those beautiful crisp cookies of snowflakes and stars. Once the each cookie started to fry it would release from the iron. When the cookie became a light golden color it was done. Mom would lift the delicate cookie from the hot oil to a tray lined with brown paper bags for the oil to drain. This process went on until the silky batter was all gone. Mom would move the fried Rosette’s to a large platter and dust the beautiful cookies with powdered sugar. Our own plate of a winter wonderland of snowflakes and stars.
Owning my own set of Rosette Irons when I was a young bride was a must and I still enjoy making them to this very day and the reminders of those holidays long ago.

Rosette Cookies

Makes about 40
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted – measure and then, sift
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine eggs, sugar, and salt; beat well.
Add remaining ingredients; beat
until smooth.
Heat rosette iron in deep, hot oil (350 to 375 F) for two
minutes.
Drain excess oil from iron; dip in batter to 1/2 way, then
immediately into hot oil.
Fry rosette while counting to 10.
Jiggle iron so rosette falls off into the oil and continue to fry until golden brown.
Lift out with tongs. Drain on paper towels.
Reheat iron 1 minute; make next
rosette.
Sprinkle cooled rosettes with confectioner’s sugar.

 

pizzelles

Pizzelle’s
Mom on occasion would also make Pizzelle’s another crisp cookie that she would either sometimes dust with powdered sugar or dip the edges in chocolate.
The batter she made would go onto the hot cookie press that resembled a waffle iron. The press would make beautiful discs with a snowflake pattern. Sometimes my mom would remove the hot cookie that was still soft and pliable before it cooled and quickly wrap it around a cannoli form. The Pizzelle’s would crisp up when cooled and be ready for a filling of cannoli cream with chocolate chips, jam or pudding.
So if you are looking for a different twist on a holiday cookie why not give one of these a try.
Have a jolly holiday!