Monday, March 20, 2017

Maple Mustard Balsamic Dressing

Maple Balsamic Dressing blog 1

I always feel like a bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen when I'm making dressings. There are bottles and ingredients all over the counter and I'm mixing a little of this and a little of that until I get the perfect potion. I hit a home run with this one.

I love balsamic in everything and anything so the addition of it to this dressing was a no brainer for me.

I tend to like my dressing a little more on the tangy side, so I have to stop myself from making a dressing so tangy that no one else will want to eat it but me.

I always have Simply Asian seasoning my pantry, if you don't have it, no worries. This dressing is just as scrumptious without it. You can always throw a few sesame seeds in for good measure if you have them on hand, or add any kind of spice that you like.

Feel free to make this dressing your own. You can also use any kind of light oil that you like and you can substitute the maple syrup for raw honey or even agave nectar. Make it your own! Add a little of this and a little of that, taste it along the way, make notes, and in no time you'll have a dressing perfect for your taste!

This should keep in the fridge for well over a week, but probably won't last that long!

Maple Balsamic Dressing blog 2

Maple Mustard Balsamic Dressing
recipe Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
PRINTABLE RECIPE
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup please!)
3 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup flavorless oil (vegetable, canola, sunflower, etc)
1 tablespoon Simply Asian Sweet Ginger Garlic seasoning (optional but delicious)

Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake! Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Italian Orzo Soup with Sausage and Spinach

Italian Sausage Orzo Soup BLOG 2

I'm at it again.

I'm making soup.

Most Sundays during the winter I make a big pot and we eat it throughout the day and then eat the leftovers, if there are any, for supper Monday night. It's become a little tradition for us. Since we have a blizzard headed our way, I made soup on Sunday for tomorrow. Just prepped everything but the pasta. I'll cook that up separately and we'll be good to go. Thankfully I have a gas stove, so if we lose power, I can still use the stove top.

A few weeks ago I made this Italian Wedding Soup -----> click. Last week I made a little u-turn and turned it into Italian Orzo Soup with little sausage bites in it. So yummy!

The hardest part about making this soup was rolling the sausage into little balls. I cooked up the sausage in the morning so that part of it was out of the way. The rest was a breeze.

Italian Sausage Orzo Soup BLOG

I cooked a whole pound of orzo because we really like our soup with lots of pasta in it, you can cut back on that amount if you'd like it more brothy.

Italian Orzo Soup with Sausage and Spinach
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
PRINTABLE RECIPE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. ground Italian sausage rolled into bite­ sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 lb orzo pasta
6 cups reduced ­sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
4 cups lightly packed baby spinach (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Add some olive oil to a large pan and lightly brown the sausage. Don't worry if they are a little pink inside. When you add them to the hot soup it will cook the meat. Move to a paper towel lined plate or bowl and set aside. Add a bit more oil to the same pan and cook the onion, celery and carrots until just tender.

Meanwhile in a large dutch oven heat up the chicken broth. See my notes on how to make quick, delicious chicken "stock" below.  Season with salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning. At this point I add in about 4 cups of baby spinach leaves. This is optional, but highly suggested! Slowly bring to boil.

While that is cooking, I boiled some salted water and cooked the orzo until it is al dente. Once the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat, add in the sausage and the orzo, give it a good stir, heat for another 5 - 10 minutes then serve!

Note* You can certainly buy chicken stock but I like to make a quick chicken "stock" by boiling a small 3 - 4 pound chicken carcass. You can even do this with a rotisserie chicken. Just pick the meat off the bones and then throw all the bones and skin into a soup pot, bring to a boil and simmer an hour. Remove the chicken bones and you have a fast chicken stock! I save the chicken meat for another meal or freeze it for my next batch of chicken soup.

Friday, March 10, 2017

My meatballs and sauce

Meatballs and sauce BLOG

Some recipes are oldies but goodies. The ones you've been making over and over again, year after year.
I've been making these meatballs and this sauce recipe for over 30 years. I did post both of these recipes before but it was many moons ago when my blog was in it's infancy stage and I've tweaked the recipes slightly over the year.

I think back sometimes to the many recipes that I never wrote down. I just threw them together. I bit of this and that, and maybe next time a bit more of this and a little less than that. While it worked for me, it wasn't helpful to people who wanted to make my recipes, and as I get older, I'd love to have a written history (maybe dare I say a cookbook) to share with my children, family and friends. Now that life has slowed down a bit for me, I just might have time to work on one!

So this is my sauce recipe, written and re-written from an older version I had.Basically the same recipe but a small addition (grated onion) and something new (panko!). The sauce I've been making the same way for ages. It's just your traditional pasta sauce. I often will cook some kind of meat to throw into it, but it's just fine the way it is too.

The convenience of throwing it in the crock pot and letting it cook low and slow all day makes this a no-brainer!

So written down for my someday daughter-in-laws and someday grandchildren I bring you my meatballs and sauce!

As my Dad always says "Mangia, mangia!!

Meatballs and sauce BLOG 1


Lisa's Meatballs
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
PRINTABLE RECIPE
3 pounds ground chuck
1 cup bread crumbs (I use panko)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup grated Romano cheese (or grated cheese of your choice)
1 small Spanish (red) onion, grated
4 or 5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup fresh chopped basil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get out a large bowl to mix this all in. The first thing I do is put in the ground beef and then I take my grater and grate as much of the onion as I can. I usually grate te onion over a bowl to capture the juices as well. It's good stuff, put it in the bowl! Mix in the rest of the ingredients and get your hands in there.  Yes your hand.  Just  get them in there and get mixing. Try not to over-mix, stop one the mixture comes together.  If it seems a little loose add a bit more breadcrumbs, too dry add a little more milk.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking oil. Roll each meatball the size of golf ball. This recipe makes about 50 meatballs. Cook for approximately 30 - 35 minutes. I usually check them at the 20 minute make and turn them a bit. Don't worry if they are still a tad pink in the center,  thrown them in the sauce to let them cook a bit more.

If 49 meatballs is too much for you (it never is for us), you can freeze them for use later.

*Freezer tip. Place cooked meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and freeze for about an hour and a half, or until meatballs seem firm. Place in a freezer bag or container. These thaw nicely in a big pot of sauce.

Lisa’s Sauce
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
PRINTABLE RECIPE
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 - 6 cloves of minced garlic
3 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 - 6oz can tomato paste
3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 bay leaves
Heaping tablespoon of Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons parsley

In a large skillet heat enough olive oil just to cover the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons. When it’s good and hot throw in your onions and give the pan a good pinch of salt. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. When they are almost done, add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute with the onions. Turn heat off and set aside.

Now get your crock pot out and open up 3 can of the crushed tomatoes. As I empty each can, I rinse it out with a little bit of water that I throw back into the crock pot. You don’t want to add a lot of water back in, just enough to rinse the sauce away from the side of the can, maybe about a tablespoon of water for each can. Add in the tomato paste, bay leaves, some fresh basil if you have it, if not dried it fine. I use fresh herbs whenever possible, but sometimes you just can’t get fresh, especially here in the winter. Grab a good heaping tablespoon full of dried Italian seasoning and rub it between the palms of your hands and put that in the pot. This helps release some of the essential oils, and will add more flavor to your sauce. Now grab the pan of onions and garlic and add those in and give it all a good stir. I let this cook on low in the crock pot all day (about 6 hours). You could cook it on high if you are in a hurry, but I would still let it cook a minimum of 4 hrs.

Things I add in from time to time:

Most times I will cook up some spare ribs, or pork chops, or a cheap cut of steak and add that in. Really any meat will do. I always cook the meat about ½ way through before. Sometimes I will grab a stick of pepperoni and chop it into big pieces and throw it in. Experiment with what you like and make it your own. This recipe makes a lot of sauce but you can freeze what you don’t use then just defrost it and re-heat.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bacon Brussel Sprouts au gratin

Brussel Sprouts Gratin blog 2

Brussel Sprouts! I love them!I know lots of you don't, and I'm sorry for that, you'll just have to wait for the next recipe. But let me tell you this about this particular recipe. My friend Mitchell, who does not like brussel sprouts ate this and loved it, so don't knock it till you try it!

I saw this recipe on one of the many little video recipes on Facebook and I immediately put brussel sprouts on my shopping list. I made this for a small dinner party and everyone went nuts over them. Even the sprout haters!

It's so good that I'm adding it to my Easter menu.

It cheesy and delicious and I can't wait to make it again!

Brussel Sprouts Gratin blog
Bacon Brussel Sprouts au gratin
slightly adapted from a recipe at 12 Tomatoes
PRINTABLE RECIPE
2 lbs pounds brussel sprouts, halved and tough end trimmed.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top
1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Oven to 400. Toss brussel sprouts in olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place them in a 8x8 baking dish and roast for 15‐20 minutes, or until semi‐softened.

In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg, and garlic powder and red pepper if using. Stir in cheese.

Remove brussel sprouts from oven and add 3/4 bacon to the baking dish. Pour cheese mixture over the top and stir everything together, then top with remaining bacon and mozzarella.Reduce oven temperature to 350ยบ, return baking dish to oven and bake for 20‐25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and just set. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before eating.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Light and Fluffy Cornbread

Light Fluffly cornbread slice blog 1


Growing up we didn't eat a lot of corn bread. It just wasn't something my Sicilian family made. I never really thought about it until I went to a restaurant once and had it as a side. Man, it was delicious.

Fast forward to a few months ago. My husband and I traveled to Massachusetts for a little adventure and we ended up in this little bar and grill. When we walked in we were greeted by a friendly hostess who immediately asked us if we wanted the corn bread starter. No charge, we give cornbread to all our customers. What??? Well who are we to say no. So a few minutes later she brings two little mini loaves of cornbread to the table. We dig in. Oh. My. Word. John and I ate every crumb of those little loaves. It was moist and fluffy and melted in your mouth and ever since that day I've had cornbread on the brain.

I have to bring up the one thing that I know I will be taunted about. I have southern friends. As most of you know, southerns don't put sugar in their cornbread. Well, I'm not southern and we do put sugar in our cornbread. It's just sugar people. I know we can get along and not argue about sugar in cornbread right? So if you are southern and you're reading this shaking your head, I apologize but this Yankee will always put sugar in her cornbread!

This is the best cornbread I've ever made and I've tested quite a few recipes that didn't end up being posted. It's so light and airy. My go-to cornbread recipe from now on.

Light Fluffy Cornbread slice BLOG

Light and Fluffy Cornbread
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
PRINTABLE RECIPE
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg; beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Oven to 400. Stir together all the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle. Pour the milk into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add the oil and eggs and mix with a fork until the egg is broken and the milk and oil start to blend. Pour into well. Mix gently with a rubber spatula. As soon as the ingredients start to come together pour the batter into greased 8x8 pan or pie pan. Bake for 22 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cheddar and Sweet Corn Pie

Sweet Corn Pie Slice blog

We had some unusually warm weather for New England in February this year. Warm weather makes me go into spring cleaning mode. Since it's still a bit chilly to get outside and do much in the yard, I started to purge my kitchen. I tried to get my cupboards and drawers down the only the essential things I need. Not an easy task, but I think I did a good job.

Next I turned my attention to our two freezers. We have two refrigerators, one in the kitchen (of course) and one in your garage to hold "extras". Gallons of milk, water, beer, wine, etc. It's pretty much the beverage fridge. Well I got the hankering to really clean out the freezers in both fridges. It wasn't too bad, but I did notice I had an over abundance of steak. Sirloin tips and rib eyes mostly. I tend to buy in bulk when the price is right and then I vacuum seal them. Well it was time to use up some of the steaks and since the weather was nice, we decided to grill them.

Cheddar and Sweet Corn Pie blog 1

I try and watch my carbs so I was trying to think of a side to go with the steaks that wasn't heavy on carbs. I saw a recipe for Cheddar and Sweet Corn Pie and I knew I had a winner.

This is such an easy pie to throw together. I used frozen sweet corn from Trader Joe's. I can only imagine how good this will taste when I make it with fresh summer corn.

It's cheesy and sweet with a crispy topping. A keeper for sure!

Cheddar and Sweet Corn Pie blog

Cheddar and Sweet Corn Pie
adapted from a recipe at Natural Comfort Kitchen
PRINTABLE RECIPE
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups fresh or thawed corn kernels (6 large ears)
⅔ cup milk ­
1-1/2 cups (about 8 oz.)shredded soft cheese -­ I use half cheddar and half fontina
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, optional
3 eggs, whisked

For the topping:
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheese
pinch salt & pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 (F) and move rack above middle position. Lightly spray standard sized pie plate with cooking spray. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 4 minutes until slightly browned at edges. Turn heat down to medium, add garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Combine onion/garlic mixture in a medium mixing bowl with corn, milk, 1½ cups cheese, ½ cup panko, good pinch of salt and pepper, and chives (if using). After stirring, whisk the add eggs in a separate bowl and then add to corn mixture. Pour into pie plate.

For the topping: Melt 1 tablespoon butter, let cool slightly, then combine with ¼ cup panko, ½ cup cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the pie filling. Bake (on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling) about 35 minutes, until slightly puffed, set, and beginning to brown. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Smothered Crispy Chicken with Baby Bok Choy and Mushrooms.

Chicken and Bok Choy Blog 1

I'm a teeny bit addicted to baby bok choy. Every time I go shopping at the Asian market, which is usually about once a month, I get a big bag of baby bok choy.

I eat it stir fried with some sesame oil, soy and garlic or I crisp it up in a pan with some oil, salt & pepper and just shovel it in my mouth. It's sooo good. Seven years ago I posted my Simple Baby Bok Choy recipe and I still use it to this day.

A few weeks ago I bought another giant bag of it and decided I needed to try something new. This crispy chicken with baby bok choy and mushrooms was amazing!

Don't skip the searing of the chicken. It makes a big difference!

If you can't find baby bok choy in your local market, venture into your neighborhood Asian market. You'll leave with a lot more than bok choy!

Chicken and Bok Choy Blog

Smothered Crispy Chicken with Baby Bok Choy and Mushrooms.
adapted from a recipe at Whisk it Real Gud
PRINTABLE RECIPE
8 chicken thighs (skin on)
Salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil
2 packages (8oz) baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
One bunch of baby bok choy (cleaned dried and cut lengthwise then quartered)

Preheat oven to 375. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Get a frying pan really hot, and cover the bottom of the pan with the oil and sear the chicken on each side for about 4­ -5 minutes. You want a nice golden sear on the skin. Reserve the juices from the pan. Place the chicken in a lightly sprayed baking dish and bake for 30­ 35 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and add in the baby bok choy. Place it in between the chicken thighs so you have bok choy in every nook and cranny. Pour the chicken juices over the baby bok choy and place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

While the chicken is finishing cook the slices mushrooms in the same frying pan. You may have to add a bit or olive oil or vegetable oil to stop them from sticking. Cook until just tender and then remove from pan and set aside.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling add in the flour and stir with a whisk to get rid of any lumps. At this point I added in some seasoning. You can use any seasoning you like, I added in 1 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash, some garlic powder and some parsley. Turn the heat down on the pan and let the sauce thicken. Once thickened add the cooked mushrooms back into the pan. Remove the chicken and bok choy from the oven, pour the sauce over the pan and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Let set 10 minutes and then enjoy!