Monday, March 29, 2010

We call them Pizzettas...

I found these whole grain tortillas made by Ezekiel breads, which are a great base for a light and healthful pizza. Just top with a little tomato sauce and whatever veggies you can find in the fridge.  I like to bake them on my cast iron skillet in a 450 degree oven. Delicious!

Ezekiel tortillas
Red sauce ( you can use homemade or a good one from a jar)
Sliced shitake mushrooms
Slice white onions
Roasted red peppers (sliced thinly)
Pecorino Romano cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Place the tortilla on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet.  Spread a layer of sauce, then the onions, mushrooms, roasted peppers and sprinkle with a little Pecorino and mozzarella. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven, slice into quarters, and enjoy! Be creative and use whatever veggies you have on hand. Tonight I used Pecorino and pieces of cheddar cheese as I didn't have mozzarella on hand.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick Whole Grain Stir-fry

It's really easy to make a quick and delicious stir-fry.  Since I cook whole grains on a regular basis, I usually have leftovers in the fridge.Tonight I had some whole grain brown rice with wheat berries and chick peas that, with the addition of a few veggies and some chicken, made a nice healthful meal. You can also use any leftover rice that you have on hand. As a side I prepared sauteed (organic) collard greens. 
Whole Grain Stir-Fry
2 cups of cooked whole grains, or any cooked rice that you have on hand
1/4 small white onion, sliced into thin crescents
3 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
Handful of baby carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
Handful of frozen organic corn
Handful of frozen organic peas
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
2 tsp of mirin
2 tsp of tamari
1 tbsp of olive oil
Add the olive oil to a saute pan or wok.  Heat the oil then add the onion, mushrooms, chicken and carrots.  Cooking quickly on high heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes:
Add the peas, corn, and 1 tsp of the mirin and saute for another 3-4 minutes (stirring frequently):
Add the cooked grains and sprinkle with the remaining mirin and the tamari. Add a tbsp of water and cover to let it steam for a few minutes:
Remove the cover and mix well to combine:
Slice the collard greens into 2 inch pieces:

Place a 1/2 inch of water in a pan and bring to a simmer.  Add the greens and steam for 1 minute (covered):
Remove greens from the pan and allow to drain.  Add a little olive oil and one clove of chopped garlic to a saute pan. When the garlic starts to brown add the greens. Saute for a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste:
Place the stir-fry and greens in a bowl, sprinkle with gomasio and enjoy! Comments or questions?  Please post in the comments box, or using the link below.

Homemade Chicken Soup...the recycled version

During these fiscally challenging times it's a bonus to get two meals out of one. Occasionally I purchase the roasted chicken at my local grocer and it makes for an easy meal when served with a baked sweet potato and a green vegetable. Roche Brothers cooks up Bell & Evans free range chickens, which I prefer. We typically eat the chicken for one meal and that leaves enough meat on the carcass for soup. Here's an easy recipe that makes a delicious soup:

Homemade Chicken Soup:
Carcass of one roasted chicken (with some meat left on it)
3 carrots, peeled and ends trimmed
3 stalks of celery, peeled to remove the strings off the back and ends trimmed
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
1/2 small white onion
1 carton organic low sodium chick broth
Pasta (small shape or the homemade pieces you may have in your freezer if you made ravioli with me back at Christmas time)
Grated cheese (and you probably all know by now that I like Pecorino Romano)
Salt and pepper
Place chicken carcass, broth, carrots, celery, onion, and parsley into a stockpot.  Add water to cover the chicken by about 2 inches:

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours.

Remove parsley, celery, and carrots from the pot and allow to cool:

Cut the carrots and celery to about 1/4 thick, and roughly chop the parsley (set aside):

Allow the soup (minus the vegetables) to continue simmering on the stove for another hour. Adding salt and pepper to taste. Strain the soup into another pot and then place the chicken and bones into a bowl. Allow to cool, then pick through adding all the good pieces of chicken back into the strained broth. Add the chopped vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. Cook your pasta, al dente, and toss with little bit of olive oil so it doesn't stick together. Add a serving of pasta to each bowl, and then add the soup. Always keep the pasta separate from the soup. Adding it to the soup pot will just overcook it. The soup tastes so much better when the pasta is added just before serving, and if you have some homemade pasta on hand you'll be in for a real treat.

Sprinkle with a little cheese and enjoy! Variation: you can add a few handfuls of baby spinach, or any other greens that you like, to the soup pot before serving. Just let it simmer for a few minutes to cook the greens.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Marinara Sauce

I love a good marinara and my friend, Lisa, makes one of the best. As with most Italians she gave me the 'cliff notes' when I asked her for the recipe, as that's what we Italians do. We like to keep our recipes in our heads, but this time I've documented what I actually did so I can share it with you. Marinara is perfect with pasta and a salad. Today I'll be serving it with the meatballs that I posted earlier.

Marinara Sauce
Serves 6-8

3 cans of San Marzano tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
3-4 leaves of fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic. Cook until garlic just starts to turn brown. Add the tomatoes. Smash tomatoes (I use a potato masher) until they're in rough chunks. Then add the pepper flakes and sugar.

Bring tomatoes to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 1.5 hours. Remove cover and simmer for another hour. Remove from heat and tear up 3-4 leaves of basil and add that to the sauce.  Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with your favorite pasta and sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese.

Meatballs..oh so many recipes

Meatballs are kind of a personal thing as many people have their favorite recipes.  Coming from a very large Italian family I've sampled a few.  Here is mine, which seems to appeal to my family, many of my friends, and my two dogs. I used to bring mini-meatballs to dog shows and they were a favorite bait for several dog handlers. They pretty much guaranteed that your dog would stand in the perfect free stack.
3 lbs ground sirloin (grass fed or organic is best)
2 tbsp of chopped parsley
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
3 eggs (organic)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/3 cup water
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl:
Mix well.  I use my hands:
Roll into meatballs. Size depends on your personal preference. Mine are a little bit larger than a golf ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Grease the foil with a little olive oil:
Back in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes:
Today I'm making a marinara sauce to accompany the meatballs. You can also cook them in a tomato sauce and I'll post that recipe soon. We are going to enjoy them in their natural state where they'll be warmed in a little marinara before serving. Enjoy!
Note about ingredients: You can substitute 1/2 lb of ground pork to the recipe. I can't usually find natural or organic pork so I go with the beef. Both ways are delicious.
What's your favorite meatball recipe? Comments are welcome.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Palanza Stuffed Artichoke

I recently posted a recipe for steamed artichokes and now I'll share my Italian family recipe for the stuffed version. We could almost always count on stuffed artichokes being served at our family gatherings. For me it was love at first bite. Eating the leaves, the stuffing, and then the heart is the order I like to follow.
Here's what you'll need to get started.  This recipe makes five artichokes:
 Trims the tops off  the artichokes.  Also trim the tips off the next few rows of leaves:
Then rinse them well and gently pull the leaves apart:

Flip them over to drain any excess water:
For the stuffing cut one baguette of good french bread into 1/2 inch cubes:
Chop some fresh parsley.  I put the extra into a small container and freeze it.  It's very handy to have around.
Chop 2 cloves of fresh garlic:
Place bread, 2 tbsp of parsley, the garlic and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese into a mixing bowl:
Beat two eggs in a bowl (I always use organic eggs):
Add eggs to the bread mixture and 1/3 cup of water,1 tbsp olive oil, and pepper.  You won't need salt as the cheese is salty.  Mix well and let sit until all the bread cubes are soaked through:
Place the opened artichoke on a cutting board and fill with stuffing.  Be sure to push down into the artichoke:

Place the stuffed artichokes into a heavy pan with a few inches of water and a tbsp of olive oil:
When the water comes to a boil, cover them and simmer for about an hour or until the middle leaves pull out easily:
Place the artichokes in a baking dish, sprinkle with a little Pecorino Romano cheese, and place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the tops:
Enjoy! One of these makes for a great meal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brussels sprouts in Brussels are just called sprouts...

Yes, a fact I learned when visiting Brussels many years ago. While they aren't always one of the most popular vegetables, I think this preparation may change a few minds.  I happen to love them and find this simple and easy recipe to be a crowd pleaser.
Wash the sprouts, trim the bottom and slice them in half. I used a one pint package. Remove any discolored outer leaves.  Drizzle them with olive oil, add salt and pepper. Then cut one small lemon and squeeze onto the sprouts leaving the lemons in the roasting pan.  Mix well, then roast in a 400 degree oven until browned. Approximately 15-20 minutes. The finished product should look like this:
The sprouts will absorb the lemon and also acquire a bit of a nutty flavor. Delicious as a side dish, I also added some to a chicken vegetable soup (yes, the recipe is coming) and they were a great addition. Enjoy!
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