IMG_6234One of the many fun things about working for ACH Food Companies was being able to “play” in the research & development kitchen.  I just love “inventorizing” recipes for different occasions.  I created this recipe just for my boss at the time, Fulya Eren, and used it not only as a dip but also as a pizza sauce.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender.

1 15 ounce can garbanzo or cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
½ lemon, freshly squeezed, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 7 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. lemon pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

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Place all ingredients in bowl of a food processor, blend until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with crackers, chips or with fresh vegetables.

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One of my favorite appetizers is  Caprese Salad Skewers.  These delightful little gems are so easy to make and so yummy to eat.

1 large container of Marinated Cilegine Salad, or Cilegine Mozzarella
1 large container of Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Glaze (can be purchased in grocery store)
Skewers

Skewer with one mozzarella ball and one cherry tomato. Repeat with remaining cheese and tomatoes. Place skewers on a serving platter, drizzle with balsamic glaze, chopped fresh basil, salt & pepper.

Bon Appetito!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Caprese Skewers


Baked Olives and Grilled Bread

It has been a long time since I posted anything on my blog.  Thanks to one of my blog followers that was at a “Gail’s Pizza Parties” last week who told me she really liked my blog posts and misses them, I am now dedicated to returning to blogging and adding new recipes weekly!

I thought I would share my recipes from “Cookin’ For A Livin'”, a cookbook developed by myself, my boss at the time, Pete Friedman, and an amazing photographer, Jon Hunter.

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Baked Olives & Grilled Bread is one of my favorite recipes that I developed in the lab/kitchen.  Not only is it an easy dish to prepare, it is also very colorful and healthy!

Cookin For a Living Intro30012018_2

Buon Appetito!


It’s that time of the year again, time to attack all that great basil and tomatoes from your vegetable garden (or your favorite vegetable stand).  Below are two of my favorites.  The 1st is what I call “Pesto Butter”.  This little bundle of deliciousness goes with so many great dishes, sauces, breads, etc.  You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to this butter…..the other is my oven roasted tomato sauce.  My friend Amy always provides me a nice sample of tomatoes from her very large garden.  Usually I have already “canned” my tomatoes, so I have found that the oven roasting is perfect, delicious and ohhhh so easy!

Pesto Butter:

1-2 cups fresh basil removed from stems
3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 stick of butter (no margarine ever!), softened

Place your basil in a salad spinner, run under cold water and spin to dry.IMG_5501  In the bowl of a food process add 3-4 (more or less if desired) cloves garlic.  IMG_5502

Process until garlic is chopped.    IMG_5503Add basil leaves and continue to process until basil is chopped.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, add softened butter (2 sticks) and continue to process until smooth.  IMG_5504If the color is too green, add another stick of butter and repeat.  IMG_5506Using a small scoop, scoop pesto butter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (easy clean up).  IMG_5508

Place pan of pesto butter into the freezer.  Come back an hour later (or more), remove frozen butter and place into a zip lock bag.  Return butter to your freezer and use as desired…..will freeze for 12 months.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

5-8 lbs fresh tomatoes, quartered, cored and seeded
2-3 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons black pepper
¼-½ teaspoons chipotle peppers (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh herbs, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil (or 1 teaspoon of each dried)
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced

Preheat oven to 225°F.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, toss gently to coat.  Place tomatoes in a 9×13″ baking dish.  Roast 2 hours or until tomatoes are slightly browned and soft.

Ingredients in Oven RoastedIngredients in Oven Roasted

Cool tomato sauce, place in a zip lock bag and freeze for future use.  Use for spaghetti, over fish, pizza, bruschetta…..YUM!!!!

Buon Appetito!!!!!

Pesto Butter, Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce


One of my favorite Italian dishes to make is Gnocchi, also known as “little dumplings”.    Typically these are made with potatoes, semolina or flour, eggs, and served with a sauce.  I prefer the lighter ricotta version.  I have to say, these are SO easy to make, you only need 30 minutes and you will have an amazing dinner for your family and friends.  I sometimes make these with spinach and sometimes not.  My recipe and photos are for both.  I hope you enjoy!

You will need 16 ounces of whole milk ricotta, 2 eggs, 1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon white pepper and 1 cup of cooked chopped spinach (all the water must be removed).

DSC_0003It helps to have a gnocchi board, you can purchase one on Amazon for about $5.00.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs, spinach (if desired) salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour in 3 parts, stirring after each addition.  You want the dough to be slightly sticky, add more flour if needed.
Bring the dough together in a ball and cut off one-quarter of it. Dust the work surface with all-purpose flour to prevent sticking, and roll the cut-off piece of dough into a dowel shape about 5/8 inch in diameter. Cut the dowel into 5/8-inch pieces. Dust some parchment paper with polenta or corn meal.  Roll each dumpling on the gnocchi board.

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Place the gnocchi on the prepared sheet pan.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, quarter by quarter.


Place the prepared gnocchi in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the Pancetta Cream Sauce, you will need 1 6 ounce package pancetta, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 shallot chopped, 2 gloves garlic, minced,  ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (if desired) 1 14.5 ounce can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes, ½ cup heavy whipping cream.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes.

IMG_5208Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve, leaving the fat behind.
Add the oil, butter, diced shallots and garlic to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.  IMG_5209

Add the can tomatoes, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Add the reserved pancetta and heavy cream,  cook an additional 2-3 minutes (or until the cream is hot).

Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Serve tossed with a bit of the Pancetta Tomato Sauce, top with chopped basil and freshly grated Romano cheese.  Alternatively, you can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for up to 2 weeks.

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Ricotta/Spinach Gnocchi:
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 – 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cooked chopped spinach, squeezed dry (if desired)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

Pancetta Cream Sauce:
6 ounces thick-cut pancetta (about 3 1/4-inch slices), diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
One 14.5 ounce can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes
½ cup heavy whipping cream
4-5 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs, spinach (if desired) salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour in 3 parts, stirring with after each addition.  You want the dough to be slightly sticky, add more flour if needed.

Bring the dough together in a ball and cut off one-quarter of it. Dust the work surface with all-purpose flour to prevent sticking, and roll the cut-off piece of dough into a dowel shape about 5/8 inch in diameter. Cut the dowel into 5/8-inch pieces. Dust some parchment paper with polenta or corn meal.  Roll each dumpling on the gnocchi board. Place the gnocchi on the prepared sheet pan.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, quarter by quarter.Place the prepared gnocchi in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the Pancetta Cream Sauce, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve, leaving the fat behind.
Add the oil, butter, diced shallots and garlic to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the can tomatoes, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Add the reserved pancetta and heavy cream,  cook an additional 2-3 minutes (or until the cream is hot).

Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Serve tossed with a bit of the Pancetta Tomato Sauce chopped basil and freshly grated Romano Cheese.   You can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for up to 2 weeks.

Buon Appetito!

Ricotta/Spinach Gnocchi with Pancetta Tomato Cream Sauce



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This dish easily wins the award for one of the fastest, easiest and most delicious recipes out there.  Total time – 45 minutes, which includes 10 minutes to peel and devein shrimp.  I bet most people have all the ingredients in their cabinet, except the shrimp.  :o)

Prep time:  10-15 minutes
Cook time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb. raw shrimp (20-25 count), peeled and deveined
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
½ onion or 1 shallot, finely diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 14.5 ounce cans of Red Gold, Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh basil
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
1 lb. capellini, cooked al dente, drained – reserve a few tablespoons of the cooked pasta water*
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Good quality Romano or Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shaved or grated

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and oil.  Add chopped onion (or shallot), garlic and red pepper flakes.  Reduce heat to low and cook until onions are soft and transparent, about 10 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, basil, black pepper and chicken stock.  Increase heat to medium low and continue cooking 20-30 minutes.  Add raw shrimp, cook until shrimp turns pink, about 5 minutes.  Add heavy cream and reserved pasta water, simmer 2-3 minutes.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl, pour sauce over pasta and top with fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese.

*Make sure you GENEROUSLY salt the pasta water before cooking your pasta, about 2-3 tablespoons.

Buon Appetito!

 

Capellini with Tomatoes and Shrimp


Grilled BBQ Pizza

Grilled BBQ Pizza

When most people think of October, they think of football, apples, cooler temperatures, fall foliage (New England), Halloween, comfort food, shorter days and more football.  When I think of October, I immediately think of “National Pizza Month”.

“Anyone in the business of serving pizza probably does not need to be reminded that October is National Pizza Month here in the United States. While the contribution of the first pizzerias in this country cannot be ignored, it was really the returning American soldiers who fought in Italy during World War II that brought a hunger for pizza home with them and pushed its popularity over the top. America’s love of pizza continued to grow and now October is the official National Pizza Month across most of North America.

First observed in the United States during 1984 (although many people incorrectly claim it was 1987), October was designated as National Pizza Month by Gerry Durnell, the founder of Pizza Today magazine, who chose that month because the first issue of his magazine debuted in October of that year. Durnell was a pizzeria owner in the small town of Santa Claus, Indiana when he realized there were no periodicals or tradeshow publications to support his growing pizza business or the industry in general. Creation of a national pizza-oriented magazine along with the introduction of a national pizza month served his purposes perfectly and solved the problem.

Today, National Pizza Month is observed each October across the USA and in much of Canada too. The designation might be a bit redundant in this country though, as nearly every month could be considered Pizza Month in the United States these days. People don’t really need a special month for pizza in a country where there are an estimated 63,000 pizzerias and 94% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. The figures equal the consumption of about 45 slices of pizza per person in the U.S. each year and show that Americans definitely love their pizza as evidenced by devouring 100 acres of pizza per day, or 350 slices per second.”
– See more at: pizza.com

One of my favorite kind of pizza to create is Barbecue Pizza.  You can use either chicken or pork, and it is always great cooked outside on a grill, or on a preheated pizza stone in the oven, click on the link below for the recipe and grilling technique.

BBQ Pizza

I also thought I would share some of my favorite pizza photos with you.  I hope these photos encourage you to create your own pizza at home, once you do, it might be a while before you ever purchase pizza out again.

National Pizza Month

National Pizza Month

Bon Appetito!

Happy National Pizza Month – October