Thursday, December 29, 2011

Antipasto Salad

As we head to the in-laws this weekend armed with loaves of Stromboli we decided to add this little gem of ours to the mix.  I love this little mix of whatever I can find to add to some cooked pasta. It's a bit expensive but I found the meats on sale this week and most of the pickeled stuff was a bargin.

1 pound of salami cubed or matchsticks
1 pound of pepperoni cubed or matchsticks
1 box cooked Penne Rigate
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 jar of pepperoncini  marinated peppers
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 cup of marinated artichokes
1 can black olives
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound cubed mozzarella
1/2 pound cubed provolone or jack
1/4 c or more olive oil
3T  red wine vinegar
2 T Italian seasoning blend
salt and pepper to taste

All measurments are arbitrary. I simply open drain and dump, season and dress then mix it all up and allow to sit overnight in the fridge. You might have to freshen the dressing if the pasta sucks it all up.

The nice thing about these sorts of salads is that you can Greek it up with Feta, kalamatas, lemon and oregano if you like that sort of thing (we do). I also sometimes use cooked cheese Tortellini and spinach leaves. I will leave it up to your imagination.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pan Gratin Potatoes

My friend, Cathy wrote to me today requesting the "recipe" for the potatoes I serverd her when last she was in town.  I really don't have much of a recipe but the technique is easy enough but I have no photos of these spuds.

3-4 Medium Potatoes sliced paper thin
1/2 c grated cheese like Fontina, White Cheddar, Parmesan
1-2 T olive oil
up to 1/2 c heavy cream
salt and pepper

I generally have a few extra spuds laying about. It does not take many, maybe 3 medium sized ones. I use my small hand held  mandolin on the thinest setting and slice the potatoes. I usually have Yukon Golds but small reds are nice to and the occasional Idaho. Anyway, slice a nice pile of potatoes and get a large non stick skillet ready with a bit of olive oil. The nice thing about this is, if I don't have a lot of spuds or it's just me and the Mrs., I can just center the spuds in the pan.

Starting in the center, I layer the potatoes in a spiral, as many layers as potatoes I have (I add a bit of salt now and then also). I let these brown nicely, undisturbed, checking after 5 or 10 minutes. I use the large pancake spatula nad turn the whole thing over to brown the second side. If it breaks up its ok. Just put brown side up and let them cook again. When getting close to done, (check 'em with a fork) I flood the pan and top with a bit of heavy cream, enough to cover the bottom and then add grated cheese. In this case I had White Cheddar on hand but I have used Fontina and /or Parmesan before with great reults.  I cover the whole thing with a lid, turn the flame very low and allow the cream to thicken and cheese to melt. about another 5 minutes.  I cut the servings like a pie. A bit of cracked pepper on top does not hurt. Delish.

Next time I make them, I will post a picture since there is nothing close on line I can find.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things I just gotta try......

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle Frank's Wings Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip Mix
  • 2 TBSP butter
  1. Put frozen chicken, wing sauce, and ranch dip mix into crock pot.
  2. Cook on low at least 6 to 7 hours
  3. Using two forks, shred chicken & return to crock pot.
  4. Add butter.
  5. Cook on low for an additional hour.
  6. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve is the time for close personal friends. Every year we celebrate with Jeff and Michale and each year I make Sausage and Tortellini soup. No one has said they are tired of it yet so I continue to make it without change but only for Christmas Eve.  I picked up the recipe years ago from Cooks website and it has always been a big hit.

The soup is redolent blend of flavors seasoned with traditional Italian herbs, basil and oregano. The sausage is browned well then the addition of red wine simply pushes the whole thing over the edge.


Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

1 lb of sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 c shopped onion
5 c beef broth
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 c dry red wine
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 c chopped or sliced carrots
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c zucchini sliced
8 oz package frozen tortellini
3 T chopped parsley
1 medium green pepper diced
Parmesan Cheese for grating

I used cased sausage and cut it into 1/2 inch slices and brown casing and all but you can remove the casing. Brown well then remove and keep 1 T drippings. Saute onions and garlic until onions are tender. Add wine, tomatoes, broth, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce and add sausage back to the pot. Bring to a simmer and skim excess fat after 30 minutes.
Stir in zucchini, tortellini, parsley and peppers. Simmer till tortellini are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today is a blustery day in the Big O so soup is the order of the day. I am exhausted from shopping, the tile guy here installing a new shower and just in general. Although I have been off the last 2 days for a four day weekend, I haven't gotten a proper amount of rest and fall asleep each night around 9-ish. I painted a canvas for Nick while Brenda was showering yesterday and he seems to be pleased with it but has only seen it in photos. He and Brooke will come over tonight to take a look.

So the soup is your basic Chicken Noodle. No meatballs or tortellini in this one. So to start:

1 Quart of water
1 med onion, unpeeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
1 tbs Thyme leaves
1 tub of Knorr's chicken stock concentrate
a palm full of peppercorns
3-4 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on ( I used the saved wing tips also)
1 carton of chicken stock
1 package Reame's Frozen Egg Noodles
2 carrots diced
1 med onion diced
3 stalks celery diced

Bring the first 9 ingredients to a simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through. About 30-40 minutes. This was good time to use up some of the wings tips I have been saving from the glut of chicken wings I had been making.

Strain the broth and set aside. I put a little butter in the stock pot and added my diced veggies for a few minutes, then added the strained broth back to the pot. I added an extra carton of chicken stock since I had a few extra mouths to feed. Taste now to add some salt. I like to wait since there is so much salt in the concentrate and pre -packaged stock. Shred to chicken and add it to the pot. Simmer till veggies are tender then bring to a boil and add the noodles. Cook till they float. Now, it's soup.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Denich Family Christmas Tradition....Stromboli

This time of year it seems I have to make this traditional bread or sandwich or whatever....I am not sure what to call it. I usually make my own bread dough but when I make this much, I just use a whole package of Rhodes Frozen Bread. I bake about 5 loaves or so to take to Brenda's folks for Christmas dinner sometime after the first of the year. I am not sure why I only make this for Christmas now. Its not really all that Christmasy but here goes:

So to start, you need some dough rolled into large rectangles. To this I add a sprinkling of Italian spices, garlic salt and pepper. A sprinkle of olive oil then a layer of thin sliced pepperoni topped with provolone cheese. Roll it all up nice a tight, pinch and seal, allow it to puff up a bit then bake till golden brown. Chewy, melty, a little greasy (in a good way) and filling. Hard to let it alone though once you start.

Last year, the deli gal did not remove the casing from the pepperoni. I really did not notice till we served it and it seemed as though everyone had a good flossing with each bite. (gross) This year I made sure to remind the deli who looked at me like I was stupid. Whatever.

Rolled out and spiced

pepperoni and cheese

Awaiting their turn in the oven

A tasty center

1 pkg of Rhodes dough, thawed and risen. (5 loaves)
1 pound of sandwich pepperoni (make sure the casing is removed before they slice it)
1 pound of thin sliced provolone cheese
2 T Italian seasoning, 1 t garlic salt, 1 t pepper
A few good glugs of good olive oil

Roll out each loaf separately. Sprinkle with seasoning, layer pepperoni, cheese then sprinkle with oil. Roll up tight, pinch ends and seam. Lay seam side down. Allow to puff up a bit (20 minutes) while oven is heating to 350.  Bake on non stick or sprayed pan for 20-30 mins till golden. Allow to cool a bit before slicing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curried Squash Soup

Firstly, Happy Name Day to all you Spyridon's out there! χρόνια πολλά!
We have a few assorted squash in the basement getting ready for the next phase of their existence. For Christmas dinner this year we are having that great Prosciutto wrapped Stuffed Pork Roast I made earlier so I thought it would be  nice if we started with this soup. Quick and easy, I love the warmth of the curry and the slight sweetness of the apples. Low calorie, low carb and low fat too!

1 peeled butternut squash, chunked  (Since these are so hard to peel, I am cutting mine in half and baking it so I can just scoop the flesh out.)
2-3 Granny Smith apples chopped (not peeled)
1-2 quarts of vegetable stock (or chicken if you prefer)
1/4 cup or more of cream
1 T hot curry powder ot to taste. I use more.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

I place the squash and apples in a large sauce pan and cover with the stock. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer till the apples and squash are soft. (about 15 minutes)  Add your curry powder and use your immersion blender to make a smooth soup. Adjust the seasoning. Add the cream just before serving.

Chicken and company

We had met some great friends today at Wheatfields after church for a late brunch/ lunch. Such a great place to meet and talk. Afterwards we hit the Sur La Table and Trader Joe's to pick up a few things fro dinner and some gifts.

We all went to our house since they ad yet to see the kitchen and watched a movie "Cowboys and Aliens". Nice film, weird but OK. We laughed and talked all afternoon, snacked on stuff  and then I cooked some dinner. I had picked up 2 fennel bulbs at Joe's so we made our usual Chicken with fennel and tomatoes. I know, I just made it earlier last week but it was so tasty and they had not had fennel before. we paired it with a nice Pinot and some crusty bread from Joe's.  We just laughed and talked the evening away. They loved the kitchen and we are looking forward to our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with them and more fun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Chicken 3 way...

So I took out a giant package of boneless chicken breasts. It's way too cold to grill tonight so what to do?  I pounded most of them flat and panko breaded a third, chicken fried a few and baked the unflattened ones.

The panko ones will be delish under our usual salad and vinagrette but also I had 2 fennel bulbs hiding in the fridge and some grape tomatoes that won't last much longer so tonight that made a vegetable base for some of the chicken. So tasty and such a wierd easy combo of flavors. Its almost embarassing how easy it is to throw together. Who would have thought....fennel.

The Chicken Fried Chicken is Ben's favorite. I would love it soaked in hot sauce and sliced over salad with blue cheese but Ben would prefer it with mashed spuds and cream gravy. It is good though just snacking on a section while cleaning up...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, I love brussels sprouts.....

This comes from Smitten Kitchen today. A lower cal version to my usual cream and cheese confection. My wife will be so happy.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon smooth dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Trim sprouts and halve lengthwise. In a large, heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat. Arrange halved sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the shallots, wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low (for a gentle simmer), cover the pot with a lid (foil works too, if your skillet lacks a lid) and cook the sprouts until they are tender can be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and scoop out brussels. Add cream and simmer for two to three minutes, until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper or Dijon. Pour sauce over brussels, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve immediately.


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