Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken, Broccoli, and Homemade Orecchiette

A few year back Phil, I think for Christmas, bought me a Kitchen Aid Electric Mixer. Along with that I treated myself to some attachments for the mixer (these things are amazing!) I bought the sausage maker, pasta machine, and an ice cream machine. Over the years I have made ice cream probably only 2 times, successfully made many Italian Sausages, and have actually not attempted to make my own pasta. I’m not really sure what was holding me back, maybe the fact that pasta is so inexpensive and convenient to purchase or the fact that I hate cleaning up after myself and pasta is a kinda messy job…

Well today in my travels, I came across Semolina Flour at a random store (Ocean State Job Lot). I though hmm, how hard could it be, lets give pasta a try once and for all. I did not use the actual pasta machine (is it so graciously living at my parents house with loooottttsss of other kitchen stuff we have yet to move to our tiny fort) but after recently seeing a dish on a friend’s blog using homemade orecchiette I decided that’s what I would use. Orecchiette, translated from Italian meaning tiny ears, are small oval shaped pastas that are so delicious.

Homemade Pasta Dough Recipe (serving 2)

¾ cup semolina flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl mix semolina and salt. In a small bowl beat egg, water and oil and add to semolina flour mixture. Mix with fork until well combine.  On a floured surface knead dough for about 5 minutes or until dough is very smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.

Homemade Wonton Soup..

Homemade Wonton Soup

For wontons:
1 cooked chicken breast (ground up or chopped very fine)
1 clove of garlic (crushed in garlic press or chopped very fine)
1 inch of fresh ginger (chopped very fine)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 scallion (chopped)
½ tsp salt
½ package of wontons

In the food processor, grind the chicken breast until in very small pieces. In a bowl add all other ingredients together with the chicken and mix well. Lay wonton wrapper onto a cutting board or a flat surface and fill each with 1 tsp of filling. To seal, wet all edges of the wonton and fold it over itself pushing the sides together to seal well. Set aside for later.

For broth:
6 cups prepared chicken broth
1 inch of fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp ground peppercorns
1 cup baby fresh spinach

In a soup pot bring broth to a boil. Using a tea filter or spice infuser bag, fill with garlic, ginger and whole peppercorns and let float in the soup. Allow it to infuse the broth for about 15 minutes, and then remove the bag.
Add ground pepper fresh spinach and wontons. Cook spinach and wontons for about 5 minutes. Serve with a garnish of cilantro and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes its snowing...Yes I grilled...

We bought a grill...

Those of you who know me well, know that when I have something on my mind, or want to do something, I am not satisfied until it’s done. As you can imagine I have been going out of my mind, driving Phil crazy since last Friday (when we bought the Grill) about wanting to cook on it, but we had no propane tank…who knew it didn’t come with that?

This weeks “Spring” weather hasn’t really been on my side, raining, snowing, freezing cold temperatures, hasn’t been ideal for the cooking I have been craving. Today was the day I decided to wait no longer for the sunny weather, as the snow hit, and then sizzled on the hood of the grill, I knew I was crazy…BUT it was totally worth it.

Grilled Cajun Chicken with Mango Salsa...Brought a taste of summer vacation to our heated home J.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Philly's Fradiavolo Sauce

Normally, I would never recommend, purchase, or cook with jarred products but at the supermarket a few weeks back a sale caught my eye, “Victoria All Natural Tomato Sauces”.  I checked the ingredients and with a simple list of “imported Italian tomatoes, olive oil, fresh onions, red pepper flakes, fresh basil, fresh garlic, and sea salt”, I thought hmmmm lets give it a try. 

Since today, being the first day of spring failed us and was freezing and snowy, Phil and I both decided a hearty dinner of pasta would be a great comfort. “You make the meatballs, I’ll make the sauce,” said Phil; good deal for me…help in the kitchen is always a plus.

After meticulously chopping up his onions and garlic he started to sauté them in what I estimated to be about 2 tablespoon of oil (and I think he snuck in a tablespoon of butter when I wasn’t looking). He then opened the jar of “Victoria Fradiavolo Sauce” and poured it in. Fradiavolo, meaning Brother of the Devil, is an Italian-American creation. A tomato based sauce with spicy chilies, which is typically served over pasta or seafood. So simple, and it was great; perfect amount of spice, salt, and flavor...and I still am in awe that it came from a Jar...

Philly’s Fradiavolo Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 jar of “Victoria” Fradiavolo Sauce
Homemade meatballs, optional

In a large skillet heat oil. Add onions and fry until starting to brown, add garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add jar of Fradiavolo Sauce and meatballs (if desired) and heat for another 5 minutes. Serve over pasta of your choice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fresh is the best...

Cucumbers, fresh mint, cilantro, cabbage, strawberries, lemons and limes, asparagus, potatoes, onions, mangos, just to name a few...This is just a short list of things that they had at the Haymarket yesterday. For about 15 bucks I came home with a fortune of fresh produce. As you can imagine I was more than excited to start creating with everything that I had purchased.

Last night, before heading out for dinner, a few friends came over for drinks. As usual, I tried out a new recipe on Megan...poor thing. This one turned out great; it was my "Mojito Flakita" (skinny in Spanish in case you didn’t get it). I simply squeezed a whole bunch of limes (maybe 4 or 5) in my Magic Bullet with a handful of fresh mint (stems and all) and about 1/8 cup sugar. I then pureed it all together with the end result being a mint-y, lime-y puree. We then simply mixed a shot of rum, a shot of the mint puree and topped the rest of the glass off with unflavored seltzer. Yummm!

Tonight’s dinner featured a Grilled Flank Steak and a Mediterranean Rice Salad. I am so happy that it is getting warmer outside and we can start grilling because nothing is better than that charred flavor of the grill.

Mediterranean Rice Salad 
1 cup rice
2 ½  cups water
½ cup cucumber, diced
1 scallion, diced
1/2 of feta cheese crumbled or cubed
¼ cup Kalamata olive, diced
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

In a saucepan, add rice and water and simmer until fully cooked. Let rice cool and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and serve cold.

Girl's day at the Chocolate Bar - Langham Hotel in Boston

Yesterday was the day I have been waiting for since Valentine's Day. As I mentioned before, I invited my Mom, Mother in Law and Sister to join me at the Langham Hotels infamous Chocolate Bar. We went early this morning with empty stomachs and splurged on every level possible. J

After our chocolate experience we decided to take a short walk to Haymarket (the fruit and vegetable market right between the North End and Gov’t Center. If you don’t mind the crowd, and aren’t afraid of a little attitude from the vendors, Haymarket is a great place to get produce at a fraction of the price!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No I'm not Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Today is the one day of the year where people of every nationality unite and claim themselves as Irish. Tonight Phil and I invited our Family (who are Italian, Portuguese and Syrian) for a tradition Irish Meal.  We served Corned Beef and Cabbage, traditional with our own twists.

When I went to the supermarket in the beginning of the week, I was slightly intimidated by the packaged piece of beef I knew would become my Thursday night dinner. I purchased all the veggies and said, what’s the worst that could happen. The experiment started last night. My dad (who is a great cook) told me that all I needed to do was boil the meat for 3 hours…. So when I got home from work, I put the meat in my favorite ‘Martha Stewart’ cast iron skillet, filled it with water, added pepper, fresh garlic cloves, and a bay leave and let it simmer for 3 hours. After a while the kitchen smelled amazing. I turned it off and hoped for the best. (I refrigerated it over night)

Today, when I got home, I removed the meat from the pan and added all the veggies. I chose to use white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnip, and cabbage. For a Portuguese twist I also added Linguica (a spicy sausage…you can find right at the regular supermarket). I boiled the meat, and veggies in the broth for about 1 hour more, served it with vinegar and mustard and it turned out to be amazzzinggg.

No I'm not Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

I am proud of myself…maybe I could be Irish after all. J

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oooooie Goooie, 'Healthier' Au Gratin

4 all purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
½ cup non-fat milk
½  cup part skim mozzarella cheese
¼ tsp salt and pepper
½  tsp garlic powder
1 stem of fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375oF. Arrange a layer of the potatoes in a baking dish and sprinkle with some cheese. Continue layering the potatoes and the cheese until all are used. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, garlic powder, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Pour milk mixture over potatoes. Bake for 1 hour, until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.

It looks guilty...doesn't it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homemade Take out Sunday...

Making take out foods at home is so easy. You are able to still eat the foods that you love without feeling so guilty about it. What’s great about making take out at home is you are able to control all of the ingredients.  In my Made at Home…Steak and Cheese Sub and Truffle French Fries, I was able to control the amount of fat (oil and cheese), salt, and of course the portion size. I was also able to add flavor with fresh garlic, onions and herbs (you don’t get that at the deli).

Portions when we eat out and sometimes even when we eat in are a big problem. People (including myself sometimes) have a distorted view about how much food we need to make us feel full. 

Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach...basically this saying means that when you put food on your plate, your mind is telling you that you want a lot, when in reality you probably only need half of the portion you chose to take. Now, because it is on your plate, of course you’re going to eat it...isn’t that what mama always taught us?

Here are some easy ways to think about portion sizing:
  • meat, fish and chicken: measure the palm of your hand (about 4 oz)
  • rice, pasta and other grains: measure your fist (about 1 cup cooked)
  • nuts and dried fruits: 1 handful (about 1/8 cup)
  • hard cheese, peanut butter and cream cheese: thumb (about 1 oz)
  • snack food (chips, crackers, popcorn, pretzels): 2 handfuls (about 1/2 cup or less)
  • oils, mayo, butter, sweets (sugar or candy): tip on thumb (about 1 tsp)
***Tip - Serve food on a smaller plate, you still have the "look" of a large portion because the plate is full, but really you are automatically cutting your portion size AND I guarantee you, you’ll be full and satisfied when you finish.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oops Kinda Morning...

Don’t you just hate when you get home and "Uh-oh, I didn’t take anything out of the freezer for dinner tonight!"
….Well that’s what happened to me last night. Although the hubby would be totally fine with Chinese food or a cheese pizza, to stay in tune with our "healthy lifestyle" I relied on my pantry's secret stash. In previous posts I have talked about keeping a well stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry. (Although in this case the freezer didn’t do me any good..) In less than an hour I put together a from scratch Lentil Soup and from scratch Biscuits. So simple and so satisfying!

Lentil Soup with Homemade Biscuits

Lentil Soup
1 bag of dried lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
2 slices of bacon, diced into small pieces
1 tbsp dried or fresh rosemary
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 chicken bouillon cubes
8 cups water

In a small pot add dried lentils and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil for 15 minutes until lentils are softer but not fully cooked. The lentils will absorb most of the water but drain off the extra water, rinse and set aside.

In a large soup pot add oil and bacon and cook until crisp. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute for 2 minutes then add garlic, saute for another minute. Add bouillon cubes, rosemary and prepared lentils and saute for another minute. Add water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate Extraviganza

A few years ago for Valentines Day my dad bought my sister, mom and I tickets to a Chocolate Tour of Boston, as you can imagine it was amazing. We went in a big bus with a tour guide who talked about the history of chocolate and the history of restaurants in Boston. Our tour ended at the Langham Hotel at their famous Chocolate Bar. The bar/buffet had desserts of all types, some with fruits, some with caramels, mostly chocolates, sinfully good. This year after Valentines Day, I had this great idea; Why not have a Chocolate/Dessert Buffet/Fashion Girls-night-in party at my house! So guess what…I’m doing it!

The planning is coming along, I have hired a “fashion lady” who sells all kinds of things like sunglasses, wallets, scarves, pocket books, jewelry, etc. to join us. The invitations are on order and the guest list is prepared. I have even started to order some serving wear, such as tiny martini glasses, shot glasses to make mini parfaits, cupcakes liners, and much more.  

The menu is coming along as well. I am going to do some traditional desserts such as cookies and cupcakes, some fancy desserts like creme brulee, some healthier alternatives like yogurt parfaits and fruit salads, could I forget the cotton candy machine J.

for more information on the Chocolate Bar visit:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March into a healthier you...

Its March, National Nutrition Month®! Every March, the American Dietetic Association recognizes the work that Dietitians and Nutritionists do by giving us a whole month to celebrate how important food is when having a healthy lifestyle. National Nutrition Month® is a campaign that focuses on the importance of making good food choices and incorporating physical activity in your daily routine.

ü      Healthy food is what gives us energy and stamina for our busy lives.
ü      Certain foods have the ability to prevent or even help diseases.
ü      Make sure you have a diet rich in nutrient dense foods from all of the food groups.
o       Whole grains
o       Low-fat dairy
o       Fruits and vegetables
o       Proteins
o       Healthy fats
ü      Incorporate exercise in your routine every day.

For more information vistit - or click the logo on the right side of the blog page.

*The beautiful blooming tulips I treated myself too!