Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Dirrrty Pots

So at one point...when I bought my pots and pains they were so beautiful, shiny and new! Now...not so much! So ladies and gents I ask for your help! What do you do to get that burnt on mess off of your pots and pans? Mine look horrendous and even that gosh awful Easy Off can't get it off! I'm all ears! Please let me know what your favorite remedies are for my pots' illness :(

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs

It may be getting warmer but my soup addiction is still going strong!
In fact I may be the only person I know that can eat soup in the middle of summer while sitting outside in the heat! Since I was a kid soup was always a way for my mom to make me eat lots of veggies and calories. Now, it's actually recommended for people who are on a restricted calorie program! I know that years ago when I was on Weight Watchers, they recommended to eat a cup or bowl of veggie soup before each meal to fill up. It worked! I always ate less when I had that bowl (or 2) of veggie soup!

Yesterday, I really wanted something fulfilling and full of greens for dinner. So while watching LOST (yes I'm a lostee) I made myself this really healthy and filling soup. It's a healthy twist on an Italian classic. I used nice, lean ground turkey to make the little meatballs and homemade chicken broth I had frozen from some leftover chicken soup. It was delicious, hearty and really healthy!

White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs


1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
2 Minced Garlic Cloves (On my microplaner of coarse)
1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesano Reggiano
Salt and Pepper


6 Cups of Chicken Stock, homemade or boxed
2 Cups Chopped Escarole
1 Can Cannelini Beans
1 Diced Onion
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Rice

1. For the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and roll into little balls; reserve.
2. Add olive oil to a pot and sweat the onions. You do not want them to get brown, just nice and translucent.
3. Add chicken stock to the pot and bring to s simmer.
4. Once the soup simmers add in the meatballs and rice. Simmer for 20 minutes and add in beans, escarole and lemon juice.
5. Serve with freshly grated cheese of your choice!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smokey Pasta with Scallions and Escarole

I love pasta and like most people I like it with a delicious creamy sauce. Which of coarse translates to dreamy love handles :) I have been trying to create a healthier cream sauce. And after many failed attempts...I finally got it! The key is ricotta. When the ricotta is pureed with a touch of milk, you get an amazing, delicious, creamy and thick sauce!

This pasta dish in particular is simple with a lot of complex flavors. It uses three pork products, pancetta, prociutto and bacon! Now while the ricotta makes the sauce a bit healthier, the pork products certainly does not...however once in awhile one has to be bad :) The added sweetness from red onions balances out the dish beautifully. I still have a taste in my mouth from this incredible pasta!

Smokey Pasta with Chicken and Escarole

1 pound whole wheat rigatoni or penne pasta
2 oz Prociutto, thinly sliced
2 oz Pancetta, thinly sliced
2 oz Smoked Bacon, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups escarole, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced
1 cup of ricotta
2 tablespoons of milk
2 garlic cloves
1/2 a cup Parmesano Reggiano
1 tsp of olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water for use later.
2. Add the tsp of olive oil to a pan and add in the prociutto, pancetta and bacon.
Sautee the bacons until nice and crispy. Remove from pan.
3. Add in red onions and scallions and cook over medium heat until tender.
4. In a blender, food processor or Magic Bullet, combine the ricotta with the milk, parmesan cheese and garlic until smooth.
5. Lower the heat and add in ricotta mixture and pork products. Add pasta and escarole and toss to coat. The escarole will wilt nicely from the heat of the pasta. * If the sauce is too thick add a bit of pasta water to thin it out.
6. Serve with a few cracks of freshly cracked pepper.

White Chocolate Creme Brulee with Macerated Berries

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to teach him a few recipes. So I was on a mission to create a nice gourmet yet simple menu. Everything was going smoothly until I came down to dessert. I could not think of anything that would really be simple but completely impressive. So I asked my friend, "Name one dessert you would love to learn how to make?" He paused and then replied, "Creme Brulee!"
Of coarse I agreed and went to work on a recipe. However, the words creme brulee did not equal easy in my mind...until I looked at the recipe. OMG there was nothing to it!

Now the one ingredient that I believe makes a simple creme brulee special is s fresh vanilla bean. I was actually able to find them a lot easier than I though. Both Williams and Sonoma and The World Market had them. In fact, I also bought the Little ramekins for the creme brulee at The World Market as well for a much better price than any other store I went to that day. The best part of using the vanilla bean in a creme brulee is when you get to the bottom of the ramekins you see the little black dots from the vanilla bean...and everyone started asking what it was!

I served some really simple macerated berries alongside the creme brulee and we had an amazing simple and delicious dessert!

White Chocolate Creme Brulee

6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 oz white chocolate chips
12 teaspoons raw or cane sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
2. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds out of the bean and make sure you get every last bit!
3. Over medium heat combine the heavy whipping cream, vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean; bring to a simmer.
4. In a separate bowl combine the sugar with the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
5. Once the cream mixture comes to a heavy simmer, begin tempering the eggs: with a ladle add in some of the cream mixture into the eggs and whisk. Do this 2 more times. This will allow for the eggs to reach temperature slowly and not curdle. Once tempered, add the mixture back into the pot.
6. Add the white chocolate to the pot and over low heat, slowly whisk the mixture, making sure the chocolate melts.
7. Pour mixture into a measuring cup through a strainer to catch the vanilla bean and any pieces of egg that may have curdled.
8. Arrange ramekins in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.
9. Pour custard into each ramekin and divide equally.
10. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until set in center.
11. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until ready to serve, at least 1 hour.
12. If you have a flame torch, like myself this makes for an exciting activity for the guests to do. Just sprinkle the raw sugar on top of the creme brulee right before service flame them! If you do not have a flame torch, (you should invest in one, they are very impressive and not that expensive!)then just stick them under the broiler with the sugar sprinkled on top until nice and golden brown!

Macerated Berries

1 pint strawberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1/4 cup Amaretto Disarrono
1/4 cup sugar

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Let rest for at least an hour and serve with your favorite dessert!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sticky Gooey Smothered Pork Chops

On a cold and miserable Friday night I opened up the fridge and noticed in the very back of the fridge...concealed by a number of other dishes I made...that I had some pork chops left that I forgot to make. Completely uninspired by my empty pantry, I stood and stared at the onions, apple juice and flour. Hmmm what can I make with this? Well I can caramalize some onions and make a roux...and make a delicous thick sauce for my porkchops!!!!

To say this was easy is an understatement! The sticky gravy was delicious, more of a marmalade than a gravy actually. We actually just had the pork chop and a huge green salad for dinner...MMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Smothered Pork Chops

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 cup broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to season
4 thin bone-in chops (each about 12 ounces)

1. Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2. Sear both sides of the pork chops until they are golden brown. Because the pork chops are so thin, they will be practically done by this point.
3. Remove the chops and reserve.
4. Add onions and turn down the heat to medium low. Slowly caramalize the onions for about 10 minutes.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and toss to coat. Add all the liquids to the pan and whisk, this will ensure the flour previously added does not clump.
6. After whisking in the flour, add in the pork chops and turn the heat on high; cover with a lid. *Now this is my new trick for a quicker caramalized onion. With the heat on high and the pan covered, the onions quickly absorb all the juices and flavors. The steam trapped in there softens the onions.
7. After 3 minutes, turn off the heat, add in parsley and dig in!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blogging Along...

It has been insane the past couple of months. Job searches, home reorganization and a broken laptop has been enough to keep me away from my blog. However, I'm back!
With my morning coffee in hand and my cat on my lap I'm, ready to roll out all the recipes I have been working on!