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.

IMG_4659

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


Live at 9 – Rob’s Favorite Char-Grilled Oysters

I just LOVE taking pictures of my food and then upload them to Facebook.  Some people call this “food porn”….I call it “sweet temptations”.  One of my favorite photos is my char-grilled oysters.  I just wish I enjoyed eating oysters….but we won’t go there.  People always find it funny that I can make something taste so good when I won’t even eat it.  You just need to know which flavors go with what.  I suppose I have been blessed with this ability.

This is a very easy take on the famous “Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters” from New Orleans.  In this recipe, I steam open the oysters.  If you choose this method, be careful not to over steam them.  If possible, open them raw.

Char-Grilled Oysters

Char-Grilled Oysters

1 dozen oysters, steamed open*

Compound Butter

1 ½ sticks butter
⅓ to ½ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Lemon Pepper

Prepare compound butter:

Place butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Divide butter into 12 pieces, 1 tablespoon each, for topping on oysters.  Remaining butter can be kept frozen for up to 6 months.
Heat the grill to medium high.

Place oysters on the grill, shell side down.  Cover grill and cook oysters for 2-3 minutes.  Place on tablespoon butter on top of each oyster.  Cover grill and continue cooking an additional 2-3 minutes.

*To clean, place oysters in a colander in and rinse under cold running water.  If necessary, scrub off any mud and debris with a scrub brush.

 

For Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Recipe, Fruit Kabob Flag, Cucumber Boat and Yellow Squash Goose, click on the link below:

More Recipes

Char-Grilled Oysters

Char-Grilled Oysters

Buon Appetito!


A New England Lobster Favorite

Rob & Jen with a day's catch

Rob and Jen with lots of a day’s catch

Having lived on the coast of Long Island for many years, lobstering was my husbands hobby, and what a great hobby that was!  I learned how to open a lobster in no time flat and how to cook lobster many ways.  My daughter, Jenny, had a favorite.  We called it “lazy man lobster roll”.  Pretty simple to make once you have removed the meat from the lobster.  Simply heat a skillet, add some butter (more is better), melt butter and add your cooked lobster meat, heat over medium high heat until lobster is heated thoroughly.

This July, for Bob’s birthday, I decided to fly in some lobsters from Maine for a special birthday treat.  Days of going out and pulling pots have long been over.  Since I was also appearing on CBS affiliate WREG “Live at 9” the morning of his birthday, I decided to prepare Jen’s favorite for the segment, “lazy man lobster roll”, along with a very yummy Asian Slaw.  Hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we enjoyed eating our lobster dinner birthday night.

Bob's BD Dinner

Bob’s BD Dinner

 

Asian Slaw Ingredients:

1 (12 ounce) package coleslaw mix (preferably an Asian blend)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Ground Ginger
½-1 teaspoon wasabi powder
¼ teaspoon Spice Islands® Garlic Powder
¼ cup Mazola® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Spice Islands® Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted*

Instructions:

Empty slaw mixture into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl combine honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, wasabi powder and garlic power. Whisk until well blended. Slowly pour in oil, whisking continuously to emulsify dressing. Add sesame seeds and pour over greens. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible.

*To toast sesame seeds, place in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat and toss until lightly golden.IMG_3236Buon Appetito!

 


“Live at 9” – 3 Delicious Vegetable Dishes

Spinach, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, grape tomatoes, leeks, butternut squash…oh my…vegetables can be the center of your meal. Check out my latest “WREG Live at 9” demonstration to see how easy these vegetables are to make and just how yummy they are to eat!

Italian Spinach

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Over medium high heat, melt butter and oil until melted. Add red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook 30 seconds (do not let garlic burn). Add chopped spinach and sauté until wilted. Add beaten eggs and toss until egg is cooked. Stir in parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Italian Spinach

Italian Spinach

Oven Roasted Vegetables with Weber® Just Add Juice Herb & Garlic Marinade

1 package Weber® Just Add Juice Herb & Garlic Marinade Mix
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced into ½-inch pieces
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with pan spray. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss until completely combined. Place vegetables on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Oven Roasted Veggies

Oven Roasted Veggies

Crispy Cauliflower Galette

1 head cauliflower
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup Pankos (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon chives
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less to taste)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons corn oil, divided
Sour cream, if desired

Cut cauliflower into florets and cook in salted boiling water, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash cauliflower with vegetable masher. Stir in cheese, pankos, chives, egg, white and cayenne pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When butter and oil have heated, press cauliflower mixture into skillet and cover. Cook over medium heat until crisp on the bottom, pressing occasionally with a spatula, about 5-10 minutes.

Place a rimless flat dish on top, large enough to cover pan, and invert the galette onto the dish. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and oil to the same pan, then slide the galette, browned-side up, back into the pan.

Cook until crisp and golden on the second side, about 5 minutes longer. Slide galette into serving dish, cut into wedges, and top with sour cream, if desired.

Crispy Cauliflower Gallete

Crispy Cauliflower Gallete

Buon Appetito!!!


Chocolate Mousse Cups

With Valentines Day just around the corner, time to start thinking about some chocolate delicacies.  One of my all time favorites is Chocolate Mousse….I guarantee this recipe is very easy and very quick…did I mention also very very yummy?????

Start out with a few basic ingredients….you can find the “flavorless gelatin” in the “jello” isle of your favorite grocery store.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.  Add chocolate, butter, expresso (or coffee), and rum (or extract) to a double boiler pan (or a small metal bowl).

Double Boiler

Double boiler

Stir until almost melted, its fine if you have a few chunks of chocolate.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Add 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin to ¼ cup of heavy cream.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Heat by swirling the cup over a low gas flame or a candle.

If you don't have a gas stove

If you don’t have a gas stove

You just want to heat this, do not boil it.  Stir mixture into melted chocolate and set aside.  Remove your chilled bowl and beaters from the freezer and add remaining heavy cream.  Whip cream until soft peaks form when beaters are removed from cream.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream

Fold large dollop of cream into chocolate mixture.  Continue adding cream until incorporated into the chocolate mixture.

A dollop of cream

A dollop of cream

Spoon mouse into chocolate tulip cups or mini fillo shells.  Chill mousse for 1 hour.   Garnish with additional cream, cinnamon sticks and or fresh mint.

Chocolate Tulip Cups

Chocolate Tulip Cups

Fillo Shells

Fillo Shells

Ingredients:

2 cups whipping cream, divided
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup expresso (or strong coffee)
2 tablespoons dark rum, or 1 tablespoon rum extract
4 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon flavorless granulated gelatin
1 package Athens Mini Fillo Shells or 12 Chocolate Tulip Cups

Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.

In top of a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, expresso, rum and butter over medium heat.  Stir until almost melted, remove from heat.  Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.

Pour 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup or small pan.  Sprinkle in the gelatin.  Let gelatin “bloom” in pan for about 10 minutes.  Heat by swirling the measuring cup or pan over a low gas flame (or candle).  Do not boil or gelatin will be broken.  Stir gelatin mixture into cooled chocolate and set aside.

Remove chilled mixing bowl and beaters from freezer.  Add remaining whipping cream (1 3/4 cups) and beat to medium peaks.  Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.  Fold in remaining cream.  Do not over mix the mousse, its fine if the chocolate is streaked with the cream.

Spoon mousse into chocolate tulip cups or mini fillo cup shells (cooked according to package directions).  Chill for one hour, garnish with additional whipped cream, cinnamon sticks and or fresh mint, if desired.

Yield:  15 Fillo Shells or 12 Tulip Cups


More Thanksgiving Goodies

"Sweet" Potato Casserole

“Sweet” Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole 

 4 large (about 4 lbs.) baked sweet potatoes (clean, bake 400°F 45-60 minutes)
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Vanilla
1/3 cup evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon Spice Islands® Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray an 8×8-inch casserole pan with cooking spray.
Mix all ingredients until blended.  Pour into casserole pan, top with topping (see recipe below), bake 45-60 minutes or until firm.

Topping:

¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® Cinnamon

Mix together, sprinkle over casserole.
Yields:  10 servings

Fresh Cranberry Sauce 

Yield:  2 Cups

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Orange Peel
½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Vanilla Extract

Mix sugar and water in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Add cranberries, cinnamon and orange peel; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries burst and sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.   Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature.   Cover.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

What good southern Thanksgiving meal would be complete without cornbread dressing…

Cornbread Dressing

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 stalks celery
¼ cup fresh parsley
1 ½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Sage
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cups cornbread, cubed
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and celery.  Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.   In a large casserole dish combine cornbread cubes, onion mixture and chicken broth.  Bake 30-35 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!