Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dining Out!

Hubs and I like to have "date night" on Friday evenings. It's really fun for us since we are so busy during the week sometimes it feels like we don't really see each other. We try to pick a different restaurant each week depending on what we are in the mood for and how far we feel like traveling. There aren't a lot of choices in our little home town so we try to branch out if we aren't completely exhausted. A few weeks ago we went to an old favorite, Angellino's in Mansfield. I love this place and was surprised it wasn't busier on a Friday night considering the quality of the food and the generous portions. I guess people are happy going to Crapplebee's down the street - whatever! I had Angellino's Milanese with broccoli over angel hair. So delicious. I get this dish every time because it is so good. It took me a couple of days to eat it all but nothing went to waste. So good!
Angellino's Milanese with Broccoli

the next new place I tried was a breakfast joint in Waterford called When Pig's Fly Cafe. It was a haul from my house but I planned on doing some shopping in that area so it was a good way to start the day. What drew me to the place was that they make their own corned beef hash. I love a good corned beef hash but that stuff in a can is DOGFOOD in my opinion. So gross. I am always so disappointed when I see it on breakfast menus and find out that it is canned. I ordered the Irish Omelet which was eggs, corned beef hash and Swiss cheese and a side of homefries.  It came with toast and I ordered Rye. I have to say I really liked this little cafe. The omelet was fantastic and there were some cinnamon scones on the counter that looked REALLY good! I also like that the coffee was self serve. No waiting for the waitress or having them continuously interrupting you for a "warm up".
Irish Omelet, Homefries and Rye Toast

Monday, October 6, 2014

Leftover Takeover

So,  the last weekend of September we decided to have a cookout and invite over our friends. It was a gorgeous day and there were tons of things going on all over the state. When that happens, you can never really accurately gauge how many people will actually show up. We always plan for 100% turn out and that never happens but we feel better when we are prepared and know there will be plenty of food for everyone. In this instance, we were completely overwhelmed with leftovers. Thankfully, some we could freeze and we got people to bring a good chunk of what we couldn't home with them; but we were still left with lots of chicken and shrimp. So I said, I will use up all those leftovers by making a BIG pot of jambalaya. I knew I had a ham steak in the freezer and I could pick up killer andouille sausage and all of the veggies I needed at the farm. BAM! Problem solved, leftovers consumed. Well, let me tell you, once it was all made, I had MORE leftovers than I started with! LOL! I probably had 8 pounds of the stuff! I had my parents come and help me eat some, I ate it for a few days (Hubs thought it was too spicy - the big sissy), thankfully I was hitting the Flea Markets with my bestie and her son eats like a horse so I probably sent a good 5 pounds of it home with her. I am now, thankfully, down to 1 container full! YAY! So, despite the short takeover, nearly all of the BBQ leftovers have been used and have not gone to waste!

Jamming Jambalaya (adapted from Emeril's recipe)

1 bag medium sized cocktail shrimp, thawed
4 chicken breast halves, diced
1 large ham steak, diced
1-2 tablespoon Creole seasoning, I use Tony Charchere's
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped onion
2 chopped green bell pepper
4 -5 stalks chopped celery
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped tomato
1/2 C white wine
1 can diced tomato with juice
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
4 cup rice
8 cups chicken stock
8 Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a VERY large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes.  Add garlic, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire, sausage, chicken, ham and hot sauces. Saute until meats are mostly cooked. Deglaze bottom of pot with wine, let simmer. Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock and rice. Stir. Lower heat to a simmer and place lid. Let cook low until rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in shrimp just before serving and let heat through.

Way Too Much Leftover Jambalaya!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Picnic With Willie

This weekend the hubs and I were privileged to see Willie Nelson in concert. WILLIE NELSON WILLIE NELSON! I never get tired of yelling it! LOL! Not only is he just an all around cool guy, but, at 81 years old, the man can still rock the house. I never considered myself to be a huge fan of his but I sure as hell am now. This was hands down one of the BEST concerts I have been to. Everything about it was spectacular, the crowds, the venue and the food. Well, there was one douchebag security guard/cop with a shitty attitude but there ALWAYS seems to be one no matter where you go. The concert was held at a campground in Webster, Mass called Indian Ranch. I don't know why I have never been here before as it is close to home and just a really cool place. The concert area actually has a picnic area with grills and you can bring in coolers and cook up food right there! How cool is that! Many people bring up campers and RVs and catch the show and stay the night - great idea especially if you plan to drink a few cocktails. For a small place they book some really big name acts too. I really can't wait to go back! This was the last weekend for this years concert season so I will have to wait until next year but I can't wait to see what they have lined up. Anyway on to the food! For this concert I packed us a nice picnic lunch that consisted of Pressed sandwiches and tortellini salad and chocolate chip cookies. YUM! I Even remembered to take a picture before I finished my sandwich! LOL!

Pressed Picnic Sandwiches
1 Loaf Ciabatta bread
1/2 Cup pesto sauce
2-3 oz goat cheese
Fresh spinach leaves
3-4 grilled, thin chicken cutlets
2-3 roasted red peppers
1/2 cup sun dried tomato spread (Click Here for recipe)

Cut Ciabatta in half and spread 1 side with pesto and the other side with the sun dried tomato spread, Layer remaining ingredients on one half of the bread and top with remaining half of the bread. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Place a heavy book or other object on the sandwich while refrigerating. The next morning cut into individual sandwiched and enjoy!

Here I am before the show hanging with my new friend, Not Willie Nelson. LOL! I told you the crowd was great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monster Chicken

This is not only what I call this recipe but also describes the bird the breasts must have come off of when I made it last night! Seriously! One HALF of the breast was enough to feed Hubs and I WITH LEFTOVERS! Crazy what they are doing to these poor birds! Frankenfood at it's finest if you ask me. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about it but we ate it and enjoyed it nonetheless. This recipe came from my Ex-MIL and everybody that tries it loves it. It is super simple to make and comes out juicy and delicious every time so give it a go and feed it to some friends.

Chicken Cutlets with Muenster Cheese (a.k.a.Monster Chicken)

1-2 chicken breasts, thinly filleted - No Joke - fillet them as thin as you can
2-3 eggs lightly beaten
2 Cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 Cups Parmesan or Romano cheese
Frying oil (I use peanut)
1/4-1/2 lb deli sliced muenster cheese
1 can chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400F
Heat frying oil in a wide shallow pan to 350F

Place beaten eggs in a wide, shallow bowl
Soak fillets in egg mixture and toss them to coat - you can work in batches if you have a lot of fillets.
In a separate shallow dish, mix bread crumbs and Parmesan/Romano cheese
Remove a fillet from the egg mixture and dredge in breadcrumb mixture to coat evenly and place in hot oil to fry - repeat until pan is full. Turn fillets once to brown on both sides.
Once browned on both sides remove fillets and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Once all of the chicken is cooked, arrange cooked cutlets in a single layer in a baking pan/casserole dish - you need something with a little depth.
Pour chicken broth over the cutlets. You do not want to completely submerge them but want all of them to be sitting in as much broth as possible
Top cutlets with muenster cheese (you can substitute mozzarella) and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and broth is bubbling

Serve Hot! YUM!

I traditionally serve this with angel hair pasta as the broth makes a nice light sauce for the thin pasta. The leftovers make fabulous sandwiches.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Bounty

Man, am I wiped out today. Last night was a late one but it had to happen. There was no way I could, in good conscience, let all those beautiful tomatoes and tomatillos of mine rot on the counter. So, even though it was a school night, I stayed up late for a hot and sweaty canning marathon. While I am quite pleased with myself today, I have to admit for all the work it takes to can veggies, I sure thought I would end up with more! LOL! Canning really isn't all that difficult it is just a tad time consuming and HOT! Even on a cool evening that big pot of boiling water really heats up a room (or 2). But now I have lots of tomato puree, enchilada sauce and salsa verde to get me though the winter without having to use any chemical laden canned stuff. yay me! If my house were bigger I'd invest in a big-ass freezer and forgo the canning process altogether but unless I hit Lotto that won't be happening anytime soon, which means my little deep freezer is reserved for meats only!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Simple is Better

Well, the summer is officially over. BOOOO! Thankfully, the relatively cool start has resulted in a bumper crop of end of season tomatoes and man are they good! To celebrate the Labor Day weekend the Hubs and I, along with some friends, decided to hit the Big Apple. You know what that means.....FOOD! First we hit Lombardi's for some pizza - YUM! Then off to the heart of Little Italy for cheese and deli meats and sausages and cannoli! They were gearing up for the Feast of San Gennaro so between that and the holiday the scene was happening. The result of our trip was one of the best sandwiches EVER! A simple thing made with good fresh Italian Bread, fresh ricotta cheese, good pesto sauce and a ripe tomato straight from the garden. HEAVEN! Seriously, my husband and I ate nearly the entire loaf of bread because we couldn't get enough of this sandwich. Silly me forgot about the prosciutto cotto I had bought - it also would have been an excellent addition to this sandwich.  But in all honesty we didn't miss it and appreciated the lightness of this combination. I highly recommend that you try it while the fresh tomatoes are still with us!

UPDATE: I revisited this sandwich this week and added a little prosciutto cotto and prosciutto di san daniele. OMG so over the top I can't even describe it. This sandwich went from being awesome to completely off the chain!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Going Green

With Salsa Verde, that is! oh how I adore this stuff and thanks to my beloved public TV cooking show line up I now have a recipe that I simply adore! It all started with an episode of Pati's Mexican Table. There she was making her rendition of the sauce I loved but had yet to master. Fast Forward to this weeks CSA share - tomatillos, jalapenos, while onions - practically all the ingredients I needed. I had a bunch of cilantro in the freezer from the spring so I knew it was time to give this sauce a try albeit with a few tweaks cuz that's just how I am, lol. I am so happy I did. It was perfect! No more canned stuff for me. I will be canning my own from now on. My CSA farmer said we would have tomatillos and hot peppers for several more weeks so I will be making this several more times I am sure! I recommend that you make some too. This stuff is great with tamales or enchiladas or just as a dip for plain ol' corn chips! Thank you Pati!

about 10 green tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 jalapeno chiles, or more to taste
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup white onion, roughly chopped
2 packets chicken bouillon powder, or to taste
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive - it's what I had but any cooking oil would do)

Place the tomatillos along with the garlic cloves and the jalapenos in a pot and just cover with water. Place over high heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer at medium for about 10 minutes, or until tomatillos change their color from a bright to a pale green, are cooked through and are soft but are not coming apart.You may need to turn them because they float. I actually forgot to put the jalapenos in and just threw them in the blender in the next step. The end product was still delicious.

Place tomatillos, garlic and jalapenos (you may add one chile first) and the cooking liquid in the blender and puree until smooth (if you used a LOT of water only add 1/2 Cup for now - you can add more later if you need it). Add the cilantro, onion and 1 packet of bouillon to the blender and process again. Taste for salt and add more bouillon (and/or cooking liquid) if need be. Also taste for heat, you may add more jalapenos until you reach your desired heat level. 

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Once it is hot but not smoking, pour in the sauce and bring it to a boil (watch for splatters). Simmer over medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes, until it thickens a bit and deepens its flavor and color. Turn off the heat. 

Once it cools down, you may store it in a closed container in the refrigerator for weeks. However, the heat level of the sauce will diminish as the days go by.