Category: Italian


20200622_205203 I used the same dough as the pierogies I made recently. The filling is beef and lactose free cottage cheese.

Dough:

2 1/2 C. bread flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. plain Kite Hill almond yogurt (the original recipe called for sour cream)

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk

Whisk dry ingredients in stand mixer.  Add in yogurt and eggs and run with dough hook about 8 minutes.  Sticky, sticky, elastic dough.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour (I refrigerated it overnight)

Filling:

1/2 c. ground meat

1/2 c. cottage cheese (or ricotta) I used Lactaid cottage cheese

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. seasoned salt

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

3 Tbsp. pesto

1 c. vegan mozzarella style shreds

Cook meat and add seasonings.  Add cheeses and pesto.  Simmer until shreds melt.

Refrigerate for use later.  Must be cold or your dough will melt.

Assembly and cooking:

Line baking sheet with parchment and dust with flour.

Roll out dough and cut into 3 inch circles.

Place 1 tsp. filling on each circle.  I tended to overfill, and still had filling left over that I will freeze and add in to my next lasagna.

Seal as  you would an empanada in half moons and set aside on the prepared baking sheet.

I refrigerated them until I prepared the rest of the meal.

I prepared a marinara sauce in a large skillet on one burner and boiled some water with salt and garlic in a large dutch oven on another.

Boil the ravioli in two batches until they float (about 4-5 minutes) and use a slotted spoon to place in the marinara, turning to coat evenly.   It stays warm nicely in the large skillet until serving.

I will admit this is more work that I’m usually in the mood for – but sooooo worth it!

 

 

Tonight’s dinner was such a hit, the boys said to write down what I did differently so I can recreate it!  One part I don’t want to recreate is having a stove that only has one working burner (a small one) and an oven (no broiler).  I didn’t really know that some of the minor changes I made would make it so much better, so I didn’t take pictures as I went along.  It was, however, pretty, so I took a picture of a serving of the finished product.

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1 lb. elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. seasoned salt

1 8 oz. container vegan or lactose free cream cheese

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

1 C. finely chopped turkey ham

4 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. seasoned salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 c. leftover roasted (charred) broccoli, finely chopped

1 pouch vegan mozzarella style shreds

Cook elbow macaroni.  I use the Alton Brown method of putting the pasta in a large pan with enough cool water to cover it by about an inch.  Stir in minced garlic and seasoned salt.  Bring to a boil and stir occasionally.  Lower the heat to medium low and the pasta basically becomes rehydrated instead of boiled.  Because I’m dealing with only one burner, once the pasta was cooked, I placed it in a 13 x 9 lasagna dish sprayed with coconut oil.  Rather than draining off all the fabulous flavored pasta water, I spooned approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup into the baking dish with the pasta.

Next, I cooked the onion and ham in butter and oil with all the seasonings over low heat for about 25 minutes.  I turned it up at the end, and added in the chopped charred broccoli.   Add in cream cheese and melt through.

Pour over noodles and mix in.  Top with shreds and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

I’m not sure what made this better than usual.  Maybe the pasta was perfectly cooked and had just enough pasta water?  Maybe the charred flavor of the broccoli added a special touch.  Whatever it was, I’m going to try to recreate this to see if it can be done!

Oh, and this was the last meal I’m preparing on my old on its last legs stove.  Tomorrow my son is installing the stove I always wanted.  It’s a combination Birthday/Mother’s Day present.  I can’t wait!

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Cauliflower was on sale!  I decided to make Cauliflower Steaks, after reading raves about them for years.  Daniel brought me some rosemary and oregano from his garden, which added such a nice, fresh element to the oil mixture I brushed the cauliflower with.   I served it with a simple chicken cutlet and salad.

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Spray baking sheet with coconut or olive oil. Cut cauliflower into slices, trying to keep them intact so they look like tree silhouettes.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Mix together olive oil, chopped rosemary and oregano.  Brush both sides of the cauliflower steaks, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, turning about half way through.  Sprinkle with Parmesian (I used vegan) and serve!  Yum yum!

 

 

I confess!  In the interest of saving money, I’ve been shopping at Lucky’s and other stores promising good quality organic boneless chicken at lower prices than Fresh Market.  This Little Big Meal offer called out to me, so I decided to splurge.  Guess what?  There really is a difference in the taste and texture.  I will start shopping the Tuesday sale again religiously in the interest of better tasting chicken!  This meal was super easy.  The website said to fry the chicken up in a skillet with a little oil.  Besides the fact that the thought of standing over a hot stove frying chicken didn’t appeal to me, it also sounded a bit greasy.  I opted for a baked method and the results were amazing.  I am on board every time they run this Little Big Meal deal.

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1 Little Big Meal – which includes:

4 large butterflied chicken breasts with light breading

1 jar sauce (the LBM deal was for a brand called Lucini, but they were out – I chose Cucina Artica fresh spinach cooking sauce – very good straight from the jar, but I always taste and doctor it up)

1 pack Fresh Market shredded Mozzarella cheese

My add ins:  sherry, butter, and jarred pesto sauce for sauce, bread, butter, oil, and pesto sauce mix for the garlic bread, and shredded 6 Italian cheese for on top.

1 box DeCecco pasta (I chose cavatappi)  FYI DeCecco won the blind taste test on America’s Test Kitchen as best tasting pasta.

1 package chop salad (again they were out of what it was supposed to be, so I got baby lettuce to make myself lunches for salad this week)

I also made some garlic bread from wonderful sourdough rolls I picked up at their bakery.

  1.  Line baking sheet with foil and brush with oil (I use a grapeseed sunflower blend).
  2. Place chicken pieces on sheet and drizzle with oil.  By the way, the picture is 1/2 of one of the chicken pieces, so it’s a lot of chicken.
  3. Bake at 400 F, setting the timer for 10 minutes to rotate pan and check for even cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and heat sauce in pan.  I doctored the sauce with a couple splashes of sherry.
  5. Chicken will be golden around the edges after about 25-30 minutes total cooking time.  Remove from oven and spoon sauce over the pieces, reserving the remaining sauce to mix with the cooked pasta.  After adding the pasta to the sauce, I added in 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. pesto.
  6. Top chicken pieces with shredded cheese.  I had a little 6 cheese Italian on hand, so I used that and some of the Mozzarella.
  7. Return to oven and allow cheese to melt.
  8. For the garlic bread, I mixed melted butter, oil, and Knorr creamy pesto mix and dipped the pieces of bread in it, and baked them first on the lower rack, and then switching out with the chicken towards the end.

The Little Big Meal sells for $20.00 and is supposed to feed four.  We have some leftovers, so the kids are happy!  It’s a lot of food.  I also opted not to make a salad to go with, opting to use it for my lunches instead.  I did purchase the rolls to make the garlic bread for an additional $4.00 investment in the meal.

All in all a success and a great reminder of why the Fresh Market chicken is worth spending a little more!

 

 

SAM_3080

1 package RPs Pasta Company or other fresh lasagna sheets

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian 6 cheese

SAM_3070I bought some fresh gluten free lasagna noodles.  It didn’t say how many sheets are in the package, so I worried that I couldn’t make enough layers, so I decided to try something new, inspired by pastitsio. By the way, the package has 12 sheets, enough for three layers!

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I cook the sauce overnight in the crock pot.  This step isn’t necessary, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way.

Day 1:  The Sauce:

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in crock put.  Cook overnight 8-10 hours on low.  The house will smell amazing.

Day 2:  The Lasagna –

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

2 c. cooked sauce

Combine quinoa and sauce.  Add a little more sauce if it looks too dry.

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1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

Combine cheese, pesto sauce mix and egg.

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Spray DEEP lasagna dish, and spread quinoa mixture into bottom.  Top with layer of half of the ricotta.

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Place layer of noodles on top of ricotta.

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Top with sauce in a thin layer.

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Top with layer of noodles.

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Top with remaining ricotta.

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Layer the last of the noodles.

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Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

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We really loved this.  My daughter suggested stuffing peppers with a quinoa mixture like I used for the first layer and I can’t wait to try it.

I made garlic toast using Texas toast multigrain bread and premade garlic spread.

Yummy!

Naan Pizza

Stonefire Naan Bread – I used whole wheat bought on sale (can be frozen for future use)

Sauce of Choice (I had leftover from spaghetti night that I froze for future use)

Italian bread crumbs (to thicken the sauce)

Meat of Choice (I cooked Italian sausage and froze it when it was on sale)

Pesto (to stretch what turned out to be not quite enough leftover sauce!)

Peppers (chopped and frozen when on sale)

Shredded cheese (Italian six cheese – you guessed it – bought on sale – also freezes well)

Naan pizza is a great way to use up leftovers!  It’s also a great way to throw together stuff that you can easily keep in the freezer.  Quick weeknights were made for dinners like this!

  1.  Spray large sheet pan with coconut oil.
  2. Place naan bread on pan and spray tops with coconut oil. Obviously olive oil spray would also work well.  I didn’t have any on hand.
  3. Separate leftover sauce over all of the breads to make sure you have enough.  My sauce was a little watery, so I mixed in some Italian style bread crumbs to thicken it.  I’m glad I did this, because I realized I was a little short, and added a little pesto to each before spreading.  I then took some of the fat from the sausage that came out while it was defrosting and shook it in the pesto jar and spread that around the edge of each of the breads.
  4. Grind up sausage in chopper until crumbly, or cut it by hand if you like bigger pieces.
  5. Spread sausage evenly over all the breads.
  6. Top with defrosted peppers – or any other veggies you have on hand!  I can’t wait to try this with broccoli, cauliflower, beets, mushrooms, whatever!
  7. Sprinkle cheese evenly over toppings.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!  I’m running to the store while the naan is still on sale and stocking my freezer for future experiments.

 

 

 

sam_2969

Today was food preparation Sunday.  I did my shopping yesterday (following the great, inspiring sales this week), and prepared food today.  The meatballs are a combination of several meats and I made them jumbo, like mini meatloafs.

3 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork  (optional)

2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 Tbsp. water

2 c. crumbled cornbread

2 eggs

1/4 c. sweet pickle relish

1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbsp. steak seasoning

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa)

4 oz. each ricotta salada and fontina cheeses, shredded

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Combine meats with baking soda water and add in relish, pesto, seasoning, ricotta cheese, and seasoning.

Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with cooking spray.

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Using large scoop, form meatballs and put into baking dishes sprayed with coconut oil.

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Bake at 375F for 40 minutes until internal temperature is 165F.

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Pour  spaghetti sauce over cooked meatballs and top with shredded cheese.  I used ricotta salada and fontina.

 

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Meanwhile as part of food prep Sunday, I browned the remaining ground meats I bought (about 3 lb. total) to freeze and use in a future meal.

I bought a variety of sauces on a clearance sale at the local market and put boneless chicken breasts and thighs into large containers and coated them with the sauces and froze the chicken for future meals.  I only used half of the meatballs I made for tonight’s dinner.  I froze the rest for another night.

 

I served the Jumbo meatballs tonight with a tortelloni that was on a BOGO sale at my local supermarket.  I also bought their spinach ricotta ravioli, and everyone loved the freshness of this delicate pasta.  I will go buy more before the sale ends!

rana-tortelloni

All in all, a successful food preparation Sunday, ending with a delicious, easy meal made of ingredients bought on sale!

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1 lb. hot Italian sausage

1 package Simply Potatoes Steakhouse Seasoned Diced Potatoes

1 c. coarsely chopped peppers (I used  mini sweet red, yellow, and orange)

1 package broccoli slaw

1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil or other flavorful oil (I used walnut oil)

Remove casing, cut into little pieces, and brown sausage.  Add in fresh veggies and oil.  Cover and cook over medium low until veggies are slightly softened (about 15 minutes).  Add canned tomatoes and simmer about 15-30 minutes more over low.

I didn’t add seasoning, because the sausage and potatoes were seasoned.

Easy add ins:  squash, mushrooms, cabbage, spinach, any veggie! A great way to use up leftovers!  This could also be cooked in the crock pot, but I would still brown the sausage first to give it a nice crust.

I served this with quinoa and green lentils cooked in the rice cooker.

This got rave reviews!!

Pasta alla Norcina

Okay, so I am totally food obsessed and spent the last couple of days binge watching America’s Test Kitchen.  I already know it will totally be worth it, even if I just try the Pasta alla Norchina!  The picture above is from the America’s Test Kitchen website.  I haven’t actually tried the complete recipe, but I have tried the trick about cooking the ground eat as a burger and then chopping it up and finishing the cooking of the meat in the sauce.  I made a lasagna that had ground pork and turkey that were cooked according to the directions for the meat in this recipe and will never again suffer through chopping ground meat as it cooks with a spatula.

Here is the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Pasta alla Norchina.  If you get a chance to watch the video, it is worth watching!

4 tsp water

1 ½  tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

Incorporate water, salt and baking soda into 1 lb. ground pork.

Let rest for 10 minutes

Add the following to the pork:

1 tsp garlic

¾ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

¾ tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Smear the meat up against side of the bowl  for approx 15 seconds to blend all the seasonings all the way through.

Form into large patty – place on greased dinner plate and set aside.

Place  oz. cremini mushrooms in food processor and chop finely about 10 pulses.

Heat 2 tsp oil in skillet

Brown both sides of the pork patty, but leave raw in middle – about 2 minutes per side

Meanwhile cook pasta.

Transfer patty to cutting board and chop into fine pieces.  Place in bowl and add ¾ c. heavy cream.

Add oil to skillet and cook mushrooms w/ 1/8 tsp salt about 8 minutes till nicely browned.

Add 2 tsp oil, 2 tsp garlic, ½ tsp. rosemary, ½ tsp. black pepper.  Cook 30 seconds.

Add ½ c. dry white wine.  Cook until wine completely evaporates.

Meanwhile drain pasta and reserve ¾ c. pasta water.

Once wine is evaporated, add sausage cream mixture and ¾ c. pasta water.  Simmer approx 3 minutes until pork is fully cooked.

Turn off heat and add in ¾ c. pecorino until melted and smooth.

Pour over pasta.

Add 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add more pasta water if it looks too thick.

Serve immediately.

 

SAM_2612

1 box La Piana cheese tortellini

1 package Trader Joe’s  Sweet Italian Pork Sausage

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 onion, sliced thinly

1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly

1/4 each red, yellow and orange peppers, sliced thinly

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. pesto

1 Tbsp. Tuscan seasoning mix

Parmesan to taste

Directions:

Put on water for tortellini.

Remove casing from sausage and cut into 1 inch pieces.

Heat olive oil in large skillet to brown sausage.

Meanwhile slice veggies and add tortellini to boiling water.

When sausage is nicely browned, add in veggies, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft and translucent.

After gently boiling tortellini for 15 minutes, drain.

Stir in butter, pesto, and Parmesan.

I bought Italian made dried tortellini at The Fresh Market.  It was much better than the frozen kind!

The pesto, olive oil and seasonings were all super quality products my friend Stephanie gave me for my birthday that she got from Marshall’s.

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