Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vodka with a Twist

Who doesn't love vodka? So it's no wonder why everybody loves vodka sauce. I remember my Uncle Rick making this sauce at a party many years ago. I believe he added pancetta to his while sauteeing the shallots. I omitted them in this version to be vegetarian friendly, but by all means, feel free to put in some bacon or pancetta to make this sauce even richer. Also, if you are trying to make this a bit more healthy, feel free to substitute half and half for cream. This recipe makes enough sauce for at least 2 pounds of pasta, so if you don't need that much, cut it in half or freeze some. Enjoy!

Penne with Vodka Sauce

2 large cans crushed tomatoes (28oz cans)
3 Cups Water
1 Cup Vodka
2 shallots chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Cup heavy cream
1 Cup fresh basil leaves chopped
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat large saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Saute shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add vodka, reduce heat, and simmer until alcohol evaporates off and onion mixture is thick. Add tomatoes and water. Simmer for 30 minutes until mixture becomes thicker and tomatoes taste sweet to the taste. Add cream and continue to cook 10 minutes. Add fresh basil and Parmesan, stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take sauce off heat and let sit 15 minutes. Toss with Pasta and serve.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quinoa Paella

So I signed on to Yahoo! tonight and saw a feature on Paella. Of course, I immediately wanted to make it, but I thought I would give it a bit of a twist. Since Quinoa is such an awesome grain and leaves me feeling much more light and less stuffed than rice does, I figured I would try making a Paella out of it. It came out awesome! Since I used an oven safe pan and finished it off in the oven, it even got this beautiful "socccarat" which is the term for the crispy layer of rice (or in this case quinoa) that forms on the bottom of the pan. It really makes a difference baking the paella vs. just cooking it in a pot. Also remember, if you don't like seafood or want to save some money, you can always just make this dish with some chicken and chorizo or sausage (the seafood really makes it though).

Quinoa Paella

12 Sea Scallops (Cleaned w/ lemon and water and Cut in Half)
12 Large Shrimp (Cleaned w/lemon and water and Deveined)
3 Chicken Sausage Links Cut (or 6 oz of Chorizo if available)
2 Cups Quinoa
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14oz) (no flavoring or additives)
1 Medium Onion or 2 Small Shallots, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
2 Cups Chicken Broth
6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Saffron (if available)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven safe paella pan or deep fry pan, saute garlic, bell pepper, and onion over medium heat until onions are translucent and garlic begins to brown. (about 3 mins) Add chicken sausage (or chorizo) and continue to saute over medium heat. (If using chorizo, make sure chorizo cooks through.) Add scallops and shrimp and cook until shrimp and scallops are no longer raw on the outside (about 5 minutes). (Do not overcook seafood as it will continue to cook in the oven.) Add paprika, safron, and dry quinoa and saute together for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and stir. Cover and place in oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally, until quinoa absorbs all water and is light and fluffy. Let rest, fluff with fork, and serve. Serves 4.

Brine Baby Brine!

Brining is perhaps one of the best ways to keep meat moist and juicy while cooking. Everyone hears a lot about brining during Thanksgiving time and Christmas when everyone and their mother (literally) is frying a turkey in the backyard. I am happy to see my friend Sharon is keeping the brine tradition alive throughout the year with this great recipe she concocted. Sharon recommends baking the chicken with potatoes that have been boiled, but if you want to throw in some carrots, sweet potatoes, or other root vegetables, I am sure this will be delicious as well! Let us know what you think.

Brined & Roasted Garlic Chicken (Serves 2)

Brine Base:
½ cup Salt
1/8 to ¼ cup Sugar
4 Bay Leaves
3 Garlic cloves smashed
4 Peppercorns
Pinch of coriander
Pinch of nutmeg


2 Chicken Breasts
4-5 Potatoes
6 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
White Cooking Wine
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Brine 2 chicken breasts with above mixture for 24 hours
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Boil water with a pinch of salt and add 4-5 new potatoes. Boil potatoes for about 10 mins, remove and rinse in cold water and slice potatoes into quarters.

Add about ¼ to ½ cup of white cooking wine to bottom of baking dish. Add chicken and sliced potatoes (sprinkle mixture with pepper, salt and dried thyme), 6 cloves of garlic and cover with tin foil.

Bake for about 45 mins or until juices of chicken run clear and potatoes are nicely cooked. Serves 2.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blaze: Balsamic Glaze

So I always used to make my own balsamic glaze, but having it in a handy little squeeze bottle already prepared is much easier! You can try this stuff on almost anything: salads, pasta, meats, fish, cheese, cheesecake!, really anything. And they come in a variety of flavors, including truffle and fig! Pick up a bottle!

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Caramelized Onion and Ricotta Dip

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted! The holiday craze was so busy, but I am finally back in the swing of things and ready to kick off 2009 with some awesome food! This recipe comes from my roommate Brendan who has been inspired to create some delicious food and is doing an awesome job. This one is a kind of spin on the traditional french onion dip (remember, the one your mom always made with the Knorr's Onion Soup Mix and Sour Cream). It's very simple but tastes amazing! He recommends eating it with pita chips or some fresh veggies. I say try baking or broiling it to create a bit of a crust on top! Awesome!

Caramelized Onion and Ricotta Dip

1 Large Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped medium fine
1.5 Cups Fresh Ricotta
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to tastes

Heat olive oil on medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Lower heat and continue to saute onions until they are golden brown, gooey, and caramalized (around 10-15 minutes). In a bowl, combine caramelized onions, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly. You can either serve like this or bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and crusty. Serve with pita chips, fresh veggies, or anything else you feel like dipping. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fresh Broccoli Salad

So this recipe comes from my Aunt Michelle (I promised I would give her credit) and it really is a fun way to make broccoli taste good. It is almost like making coleslaw but with broccoli. It does have some mayo in it, but if you use light mayo, this recipe is healthy and delicious.


2 Bunches Fresh Broccoli
10 Slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2/3 Cup Raisins
1/2 Onion, Chopped
1 Cup Light Mayo
1/2 Cup Sugar (you can use less if you don't like it too sweet)
2 Tablespoons Vinegar


Wash and cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Combine broccoli, bacon, raisins, and onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar; mix well. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss. Refrigerate two hours before serving, tossing occasionally.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beef Stew

It's getting cold out, so this stew is sure to warm you up. My mom used to make this when we were kids. It's not a difficult recipe and cooks in a little over an hour. You can even begin the recipe in a pan and then transfer the stew to a crockpot to finish slow cooking all day, leaving the meat soft and tender. You can serve it over rice, noodles, quinoa, or just enjoy it plain. Here's to winter. Enjoy!

1.5-2 pounds beef or veal, cubed
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 bell peppers, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup sweet peas (canned, fresh, or frozen is fine)
15 oz can tomato puree
1 cup wine (red or white)
2 cups beef or vegetable stock
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Roll beef in flour and shake extra off so the beef is coated. Set aside. In a large stockpot, sauté onions in olive oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add beef and sauté until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add wine and veggies and sauté another 5 minutes. Add tomato purée, water, and stock, stir. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 mins or until the beef is tender and the stew is thick, stirring occasionally. (you can also cook in crockpot all day or slow cook in pot for a few hours over very low heat). Add peas and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over rice, noodles, bread, or plain.