Archive for October, 2010

Boston Marathon Chili

October 21, 2010

It’s starting to feel chilly in the air which makes me very happy because that means I can dig out my cold weather tummy warmer recipes. Something just seems wrong with making chili in the summer when it is 109 in Lemore. So today it feels crisp and it is perfect chili weather. I had tried many recipes before settling on this one, from a ground chicken chili that was supposed to be healthy, to a potent bean combo version that had serious side effects. I can’t remember when I found my Boston Marathon Chili recipe on (if you have not checked out this site, it is a gourmet but accessible recipe site with recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet, among others) but it was instant love. You know I like anything Italian or anything with Boston in the title. I have been making this for about 4 years now and I always get great reviews and little leftovers.

What makes this unique is the combination of pork ribs and beef just gives the chili such a nice flavor. I often use Navy beans (in honor of my hubby) instead of the ones called for. It seems like a lot of chili powder but it is not super spicy. I am not a big fan of “burn the crap out of your mouth” hot chili. But you could always adjust the spice if need be. The best part for me is topping it with tortilla chips, monterey jack, sour cream, onion and cilantro. If you want more spice add some jalapeno as a topping to heat it up.  I often make it on the stove in a Le Cruset cast iron pan (if you don’t have a dutch oven) and I have also made it in the crock pot too, sticking everything in there and then leaving it about 6 hours on low. So if you are feeling chilly and you need some hearty chili to warm you up without having to run a marathon, check this out.

caprese on a stick = love

October 18, 2010

I am easy to please. Give me a ball of fresh mozzarella and some tasty tomatoes (not those “vine ripened” ones at the commissary that are probably from a lab, but the real deal fresh from someone’s garden ones) and some fresh basil from my awesome herb garden (love you Campy) and I can create so many feasts. There is the standard caprese salad, slices of cheese and tomato and topped with basil leaves. Then I use some yummy olive oil (not some fake “authentic Italian olive oil” that when you read the label only contains 1% italian oil) and some sea salt sprinkled on top. If you make this you have instant fancy app and it is effortless. You can also add some balsamic vinegar if you like, sometimes I do, and it adds a nice bite.

Take the same 3 ingredients and I toss it with fresh pasta and shrimp or chicken and you have a simple but really tasty dish. Additionally with the basil, tomato and mozzarella you can make a magherita pizza, which is a work of art. So I got tired of making the same old caprese salad to bring to functions so I invented a new version, caprese on a stick! I used the same ingredients and layered them on a kabob stick, and it was a big hit. In one bit you get a bit of each ingredient and it is fast to make and it makes a pretty display. After the party was over my plate was empty, which happens to me quite a bit 🙂 So if you want to try caprese for the first time or you want to re-invent it, listen to my advice… manga!

Yummo Pork Tenderloin

October 14, 2010

Usually I am not a big fan of Rachael Ray. I used to be her number one fan and watched her and talked about her so much that Gianna even wanted to be her one halloween. Then she started getting on my nerves. That scratchy voice and lack of sincerity started to make my feelings change. I went to resell some of her cookbooks and they were worth $1 on Amazon, which irked me more. Again I digress… I do still have a few go-to recipes of hers I use. One is her easy and super yummy balsamic pork tenderloin. I pick up a pack of pork tenderloin at my store and it always comes with 2, which is like a bonus, I can freeze one and have one right away. I have another great recipe I use on the other one, ginger martinated pork tenderloin,which is also quite tasty, but takes a bit longer and is more work.

Lately when I have been making her recipe I have been using fresh rosemary and lemon thyme (thanks to my hubby who planted my awesome herb garden, if you like sage please help yourself, as my sage plant is taking over my yard). I think using the fresh herbs really adds a nice kick. I also love how she uses Montreal Steak Seasoning, this is a great “rub” that you can really put on anything and it tastes great. I especially love putting it on a prime rib roast and throwing it in my Ronco Showtime Rotisserie for holiday meals. You can cut back the garlic to your taste, I usually only put it in half of the loin as my hubby (who is from the Garlic Capital, mind you) cannot tolerate garlic as much now that he is older (think 8-tracks). Also don’t be scared by the high temp, it will make the vinegar smoke a bit and blacken, because of the sugar content, but if you try to not have a big puddle of it, most of the pan’s char will soak off. So if you need a quick easy dinner that is tasty and meat that is great for leftover quesadillas, try Rachael Ray’s yummo recipe with lots of EVOO!


October 6, 2010

If I had to pick one recipe that is an all time favorite and that I make often, it would be my Sicilian Meatball Stew. Everytime I make this it is a big crowd pleaser. It is a hearty dish that warms your belly and is perfect for chilly fall days. It is simple to make and the pasta and the meatballs cook easily right in the soup. I leave out the raisins, as I don’t know if I am a fan of fruit in my meatballs, but other than that I follow the recipe to a T. I do sometimes add mushrooms since they are my favorite. I find that chopping the vegetables up into small cubes helps them cook faster. I also eyeball the tomatoes, sometimes using a whole small can rather than just a cup. The best part is that the vegetables soften so much in the soup I can mash them with a fork when I serve it and my girls never know they are eating zucchini, carrots, celery and mushrooms – getting tons of vitamins. If you want an easy dish that looks complex and has your family asking for seconds, this is a must try. Manga Manga!

I want to turn the whole thing upside down

October 5, 2010

I aim to please and as I have written before, to me food is love. It is the easiest and greatest way I can express my love to those I love. I randomly try recipes and I almost always find success. One favorite I have made is the Upsidedown Berry Crostada. I love anything that is or sounds Italian, you know this! I saw Giada (who looks like a human bobble head doll to me, don’t get me wrong, she is pretty, but her head is a tad large) make this and of course, being a big fan (how can you be a big fan you say, after you just called her giganto head?) I had to try it. I think most people watching her show are just watching her cleavage, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I have made it a few times with different combinations of fruit and it can be whatever is in season or whatever you like. I think it would even work with apples too, maybe if you added something else, like blueberries. I made it with peaches and blueberries and also with mixed berry medley (strawberry, blueberry, rasberry, blackberry). I have used fresh and frozen and even mixed the two.

My favorite part is the crust. You might be intimidated by the idea of homemade pie crust but don’t be. It is so easy, especially with a food processor. When you dump it out to form it in a ball you might say how will this pile of crumbs ever form into dough? But have faith, once it first comes together, stop, if you overwork it, it will be tough. Refrigerating it is key and I roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap, for ease and cleanup, and then you can easily pick it up with the wrap and flip it onto the dish. So if you have cobbler fans in your family and you get tired of the crunch or oat version then try this out. You can pitch it by saying it is Italian cobbler and then it sounds ten times more fancy. I don’t make the whipped cream in the recipe all the time, cool whip or vanilla ice cream works just fine. When you eat this you will want to turn your bowl upsidedown to get all the yummy bits out.