I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


Leave a comment

Fresh, Summery, Delicious

What’s the best thing to do with those fresh tomatoes from the garden? Pair them with fresh mozzarella cheese. When I was a kid, every summer my mom would grow her garden in the backyard with tons of tomato plants. And we’d make platters of tomato and fresh mozerella all the time. I miss those days of fresh vegetables right in your own backyard, but this is just another reason I love my weekend trips to the farmers market.  A lot of supermarkets are now even sectioning off a part of their produce departments for local farms, which is where I got this beefsteak tomato.  Today I paired it with a gorgeous buratta mozzerella. A little salt and pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Fresh, summery, delicious. Enjoy 🙂 


Leave a comment

Farmer’s Market Dish 1: Pasta Primavera

Roasted fresh vegetables have an amazing sweet yet nutty flavor. And they pair perfectly with pasta. Here’s my version of pasta primavera using the squash I purchased at the farmers market yesterday. Cut the squash and roast it along with some cherry tomatoes, sliced onion, peppers and a garlic clove that have been tossed with oil, salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes and toss with pasta. Enjoy this simple yet delicious and colorful meal – not including the purple spoon 🙂 


Leave a comment

Spicy Pork Stew

There’s nothing better than a home cooked meal made with love for your Valentine! But as we all know, during the week this could be difficult. So put that slow cooker to use! And the best part, easy clean up to enjoy the rest of the night 🙂 

Ingredients 

1 pork loin
1 medium yellow onion sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp hot sauce (or more if you like it spicer!
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Mexican chili powder
Salt and pepper 

Directions 

Cut the pork into chunks. Throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set to low for 8-10 hours. So easy! 

With about 20 minutes left, throw the frozen peas into the slow cooker as you cook your rice. Serve the pork over the rice with a nice bottle of wine on the side. Enjoy! ❤️


Leave a comment

A night of cooking with my sister and brother-in-law 

After a day of shopping at the outlets (bought way too much!) and hitting up a Long Island winery (big no no after just being in Napa Valley!), my sister, brother-in-law and I were in the mood for a hearty pasta dish. Nick started rattling off ingredients in the car ride home… “I want pancetta, onions, mushrooms, peas, a creamy sauce with bucatini pasta. You know like caramalized onions and crispy pancetta. I’m stopping at North Shore Farms to get those ingredients…. Christina what do we need for Alfredo sauce? You’re cooking.” Up for the challenge of your vision bro! 

Let me tell you, this came out delicious. So delicious that Danielle who despises peas didn’t mind picking them out of her dish, so delicious that my niece was eatting ALL of her peas and wanting more. Danielle made a nice garlic bread on the side, pair with a glass of wine and we had the comfort we were looking for. Sure, maybe you’re supposed to BBQ on Labor Day weekend, but this pasta was so worth breaking that rule! The key to this dish was one pan. Building on one flavor after another from cooking in one pan… It married all the flavors together perfectly so no matter what you got in your bite, it had the perfect taste of everything. Here’s how the dish came together. I would say it was a success!

Ingredients

1/4 pancetta sliced thick from the deli counter, cut into strips
6 0z baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1 lb bucatini pasta
Salt and pepper 

Directions 

In a nonstick large skillet brown the pancetta until crispy. Remove only the pancetta to a paper towel, leaving the oil which cooked off in the pan. Removing to a paper towel will drain the excess oil leaving the pancetta crispy. Add the onions, mushrooms and sugar to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 20 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. You want the onions and mushrooms to cook down and caramalized, not crisp up and burn. The sugar will help you do this. Do this over a medium flame. 

While the onions and mushrooms caramelize, start boiling a big pot of water for the pasta. Cook the pasta to just about al dente as you’ll finish it off in the sauce later. Save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. 

Once the onions and mushrooms have caramalized, remove them from the pan and wipe out any excess brown bits from the bottom. Add in the garlic and butter and cook on a low flame until the butter is melted. Add the cream, salt and lots of pepper. Once this is simmering, mix in the cheese and then add the peas. 

Add back in the pasta, onions, mushrooms and pancetta and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water or even chicken stock to loosen as you desire. Make some garlic bread on the side and enjoy! 


Leave a comment

Look at my peaches and pork!

About a year ago, my cousins found old video footage of our family trip to California back in the 90s. It was an amazingly fun trip with my entire family camping out at my great Aunt Toula’s (I’ve told you about her!) for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. We took a road trip to Vegas, hit up Disney and Universal, ate ton and tons and tons of home cooked Greek food, and laughed and joked all hours of the day and night. One particular part of the video cracked us up so much and now I can’t help but think of my sister joking around with peaches whenever I see them in the store. Sometimes I’d like to go back to that time – with me, my sister and my 5 cousins camped out on mattresses sprawled across the entire floor of the back Florida room of aunt Toula’s house, playing and laughing without a care in the world… 

But I digress 🙂 It’s almost the end of peach season here in New York/New Jersey so how could I not share with you a peach recipe. Which of course made me chuckle in the supermarket! It’s simple, spicy, sweet and refreshing. Perfect end to a busy day. 

Ingredients
3 thin cut pork chops
1 peach, sliced
3 baby leeks or 1 large leek, chopped and cleaned well to remove grit
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil

Directions 

In a large sauté pan, add a bit of oil to brown the pork chops which have been seasons with salt and pepper. Once browned on both sides, add the leeks and and brown for 3-4 minutes. 

  

Add the peaches and deglaze with the wine. After the wine has reduced by half, add the cayenne pepper, nutmeg and season with more salt and pepper. After the wine has reduced a bit further add the chicken broth. (Note, the peaches will release some juices as well). Cook until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. 

  

I served this tonight with brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and a tomato salad (mostly for color!). Enjoy!   

 


Leave a comment

Game Day Pumpkin Chili

Chili and game day are the perfect pair. And at this time of year, a bit of pumpkin makes that pair even sweeter! With some pumpkin purée and pumpkin beer, this is a great Sunday after Halloween meal to use some of that pumpkin you have left over. And it’s early enough to get this in your stove today if you’re listening 🙂
Happy Sunday and Happy Football Day! And a very Happy Birthday to my cousin Michelle! Now pour a mimosa and get to cooking!

ingredients
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 tbs chili powder
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
Salt and pepper
1 8oz can tomato paste
3 tbs pumpkin purée
1/2 bottle pumpkin beer (save the rest for drinking!)
1 cup beef stock
1 can black beans
1/2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper

directions
In a heavy bottom pot, brown the turkey meat. Chop it really fine (I now use my new tool from Pampered Chef called the Mix n Chop – this thing is the greatest tool ever!). Flavor with salt and pepper and the first 1/2 tbs of chili powder as it’s browning. Push the meat to the side when it’s just about cooked and add in the onion and both peppers to soften and brown. Mix all together.

Add in the tomato paste, pumpkin purée and mix all together. Deglaze the pot with the beer, then mix in the remainder of the ingredients. Cooking low for about 30 minutes, until the chili has reached your desired thickness.

Enjoy with your favorite chili toppings! Mine are diced onion, scallion and cheddar cheese. Yum!

20141102-101435.jpg


2 Comments

Homemade Pasta

I don’t remember if I’ve shared my homemade pasta adventures with you all already.  Honestly, my brain is just mush lately! But yesterday I attempted to take some time for me – took the day off from work, got a bunch of things done that needed doing, and then I spent some much needed time in the kitchen. It wasn’t as long as I wanted to – sometimes you think you can get all this stuff done and the day is gone! – but it was so so enjoyable. I’ve been dying to make some type of “shaped” fresh pasta. I’ve done spaghetti and linguine, I’ve done ravioli… I wanted to try something new. And I received a cookbook on how to make artisan pastas and have yet to use it! I’ll be honest, I still didn’t and sort of made the shape making up, but the recipe I use for homemade pasta is tried and true – my favorite’s recipe, Giada de Laurentiis. I had a lot of fun making these, although they came out huge! Tip for next time – they blow up when cooked!

Fresh Pasta

recipe from Everyday Pasta by Giada de Laurentiis, copyright 2007

ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs olive oil

directions
Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the salt and olive oil to the eggs and stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the food processor with the flour and pulse to combine the ingredients, scraping down the sides once or twice. Continue, with the machine running, until the liquid is evenly distributed, about 1 minute. The dough should stick together if pinched between your fingers and be cornmeal yellow in color. Some of the dough will be clumping, but it will not form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gather the dough into a ball and knead gently until the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes before rolling and shaping as desired.
_________________________________________________

Once the dough has rested, using a pasta roller (or a rolling pin if you have the patience!) roll the dough to desired thickness. Follow the instructions of the roller, but always start at the thickest setting and work down – rolling it out starting with 1 and then getting thinner. Depending on the type of pasta depends on the thickness.  I went to about 4.

I attempted to create a campanella shape of sorts. With a scalloped cutter, cut the pasta into squares.

IMG_2433Roll the pasta around your finger on a diagonal and pinch the end so the pasta sets and doesn’t open when you boil it.

IMG_2436

Set each finished pasta on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Let the pasta set for 5-10 minutes while you boil a pot of salted water and prepare your sauce of choice.

IMG_2434

Boil the pasta for just a few minutes until cooked. These will cook MUCH faster than dried pasta! Drain the pasta, cover with your sauce and enjoy! Homemade fresh pasta! Pretty easy, right? 🙂