Clam’s Casino

What a wonderful Christmas we had…so great to have family all together.  We have always had a Christmas Eve tradition of doing “appetizers” to snack on all night long…Bob and I started this years ago when we first got married.  Below is a photo from our “1st Christmas Eve” together as husband & wife entertaining our very good friend.

Christmas Eve 1977

Christmas Eve 1977

This year was not any different, everyone chooses an appetizer, or two, of their choice.  Rob’s choice is always Clam’s Casino.  Pretty funny that these little guys are such a big hit since I do not eat clams.  When I was a little girl, my dad made me eat (yes, they did things like that back in the day) a raw clam…haven’t been able to put one in my mouth ever since; however I do make the best Clams Casino, Chowder, Baked Stuffed, etc….or at least that’s what I am told.  🙂

I think one reason Rob loves they so much is his remembrance of our clamming days in Port Jefferson, New York, when he, Jen and Bob would sit on the back of our boat eating clams and pitching the shells back into the ocean.  This particular day, they watched as Bob was shucking…

Port Jeff, NY

Port Jeff, NY

Open clams and place on a large sheet pan.
Shucked ClamsIn a large skillet, melt butter, add vegetables and cook until soft.

Saute VegetablesPlace sauteed vegetables over clams, add parmesan cheese, top with bacon and bake..ClamsTop with freshly squeezed lemon juice and or lemon wedges.

Baked Clams Casino

Baked Clams Casino

Clams Casino

3 dozen “littleneck” clams, shucked
(see video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGRAcit6FOA)
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup white wine (drinking quality)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & black pepper, to taste
grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound bacon, uncooked

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place shucked clams in a large baking sheet sprayed with pan spray.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions, red pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook until vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).  Add white wine (or stock seafood stock if you prefer), and lemon juice, simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Remove vegetables from heat.  Place 1 teaspoon of vegetables on top of clam, add grated parmesan cheese and 1 piece of bacon shaped to fit clam.

Bake 10-15 minutes, or until bacon is crispy.  Top with freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon wedges, if desired.


Thankgiving Goodies

Thursday I had the challenge of making a home cooked Thanksgiving Luncheon for 100 people.  First thing I did was contact two of my favorite colleagues to help with this endeavor.  Good thing they were available, as business travels took me out of the country Monday and Tuesday.  This could never have been successful without them!  Our meal consisted of the traditional turkey, fried turkey, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, corn bread dressing, green bean casserole, ham, honey butter rolls, and of course pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies.  However, not so traditional, we made my “Red Skin Smashed Potatoes” recipe and my dads recipe for stuffing.

Turkey….

Turkey….

I have to say, seems like all enjoyed the meal and I have received more requests for the potato recipe…

Red Skin Smashed Potatoes

Red Skin Smashed Potatoes

This recipe is so easy and definitely one of my families favorites….here you go!

Red Skinned Smash Potatoes

3 pounds red skin potatoes, washed, cut into 1-inch size pieces
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Sea Salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Spice Islands® Chives
1/4 cup heavy cream, additional cream if needed (you can also use milk)
Spice Islands® Black Pepper, to taste
Pankos (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Place cut potatoes into a large pot, rinse with cold running water until the water is clear (this removes excess starch from the potatoes).  Place pan on stove over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon salt.  Bring to boil, cook until tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain potatoes.

In a large mixing bowl add drained potatoes and butter.  Using a potato masher, mash until butter has melted.  Add cheddar cheese, parmesan, chives, heavy cream and black pepper.  Continue to mash until all is incorporated.  Taste and adjust spices adding additional salt if needed and cream or milk.  Mixture should be creamy and slightly lumpy.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Place potatoes into a baking casserole dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Generously top potatoes with pankos (and additional butter if desired).  Bake 20-30 minutes or until top is golden.

Another favorite was my “Cheesy Honey Butter Rolls”…so easy to make and yet so tasty.  These can be made ahead of time and baked off right before serving.

Cheesy Honey Butter Dinner Rolls

Cheesy Honey Butter Dinner Rolls

Coming soon, Southern Style Sweet Potato Casserole and homemade quick and easy Cranberry sauce (you’ll never buy the can stuff again).

Enjoy!


Pretzels are Easy Made at Home | WREG.com

Chef Gail Churinetz – Make Pretzels at Home WREG.com

Click on the above link to view the video

What better time of the year to make pretzels….Octoberfest!!!  

Pretzels for Breakfast

Pretzels for Breakfast

Oktoberfest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair held annually in MunichBavariaGermany. It is a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. To the locals, it is not called Oktoberfest, but “die Wies’n”, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event.

The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place during the sixteen days up to, and including, the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October, to mark the anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese(field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich’s center. Large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed, with almost 7 million litres served during the 16 day festival in 2007. Visitors may also enjoy a wide variety of traditional food such as Hendl (roastchicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).

Pretzel Wrapped Breakfast SausageBreakfast Sausage Wrapped in Pretzel Dough

Yield:  4-6 Servings

Prep Time:  20 Minutes

Bake Time:  15 Minutes

1 Box Simply Homemade® Pretzel Creations Baking Mix

1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, canola or corn)
¾ cup very warm tap water
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 packages (6.4 ounce size) Brown n’ Serve Fully Cooked Sausage Links, thawed
1 egg

In a medium size mixing bowl add combine yeast and sugar.  Stir in very warm water (105-115°F).  Let sit 3 to five minutes.  Add pretzel mix, oil and cheddar cheese, stir until thoroughly combined (dough may be stiff; use hands if desired).

Cover dough and let rise 25 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.

Remove sausage from box.  Place on paper towel and microwave one minutes.  Pat sausage dry.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Divide dough into 20 equal sized balls.  On a clean, dry surface roll each piece into an 9-inch rope.  Wrap rope around sausage and place on prepared baking sheet.  Continue with remaining pieces.

Brush each pretzel sausage with an egg wash (one egg slightly beaten with one tablespoon water).

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until slightly golden.  Serve with warm maple syrup.

Maple Syrup

½ cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon maple flavoring

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in maple flavor.


Jamaican Jerk Baked Chicken Wings

What better time of the year than football season to have one of the most popular appetizers ever.  Typically these babies are fried and then mixed with a spicy hot sauce.  Yum….so good!

I am traveling to Chicago next week to prepare lunch for some ACH executives (such a great job) and I really wanted to showcase our wonderful Spice Island Spices with some pretty healthy wings.  With a little help from Alton Brown and Spice Island, I “inventoried” the following recipe…..  Hope you like it as much as my husband Bob has over the last two days…..These wings are very very moist, juicy and flavorful!

Remove the wings from package and using a very good/sharp knife cut the wings at the joints, in threes….

cut wingsMeanwhile bring 1-inch of water to a boil in a steamer pot.  Place the wings in the basket, drop into the pot and steam 8-10 minutes.

Chicken wingsRemove wings from pot and pat dry with a paper towel.  Place wings on a rack and refrigerate 60 minutes.

DSC_0006Place all spices in a zip lock bag, add wings and toss until well coated.

DSC_0007Place wings on wire rack (spray with pan spray for easy clean up) and place in middle of a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Turn wings over and continue to bake an additional 20 minutes.

Baked WingsPlace wings on a serving plate, if desired serve with blue cheese dressing and a few additional sprinkles of jamaican jerk spice.

Jamaican Jerk Wings

12 whole chicken wings
2 teaspoons Spice Island Jamaican Jerk Spice
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon Spice Island Paprika
1 teaspoon Spice Island Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steam basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

Cut wings in 3 places, at the join, and discard tips.  Place the wings in the steam basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 8-10 minutes.  Remove the wings and pat dry with paper towels.  Place wings on a rack set on a baking sheet and refrigerate 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Combine all spices in a zip lock bag.  Remove wings from refrigerator, place in bag and toss until well coated.  Place seasoned wings back on wire rack (spray with cooking spray for easy clean up) place in middle of oven, cook 20 minutes.  Turn wings over and continue to bake an additional 20 minutes.

Remove wings to serving plate.  Serve with your favorite blue cheese dressing topped with additional jerk spice.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tomato Basil Pie

Years ago, I started teaching cooking classes in my kitchen.  At that time I belonged to a welcoming group called “New Neighbors of Germantown”.  This group was a great way to  met new people in the community.   We had LOTS of different activities in this organization.

One of my “new neighbor” friends was traveling to Connecticut for a visit.  I asked her to bring me a couple bottles of faucet water, yes water (for my pizza, of course).  As a thank you I made her a pizza, brought it over to her home nice and hot.  Here reply was “you have to teach us how to make this”.  So, I became an activity for New Neighbors, “Cooking Adventures in Galena’s Cucina” (Gail’s Kitchen).  I had NO idea where that path would take me!

"Cooking Adventures in Galena's Cucina"

“Cooking Adventures in Galena’s Cucina”

Classes in my kitchen became out of control…I would have more than 25-30 ladies in attendance and not enough room for them.  Another friend from this group recommended me to the owner of a quaint gift store in Germantown (Gift Horse) that also hosted cooking classes.  I was so excited to teach there and having the opportunity to met so many wonderful people!

One recipe that really reminds me of that school is  “Tomato Basil Pie”.  I can remember teaching that class almost 10 years ago; people are still talking about it! This recipe is perfect for this time of the year.  Fresh garden tomatoes and basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my “Gift Horse” class did!

Pie Crust  (You can also use a frozen store-bought crust or mini pie crusts)
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
4-5 basil leaves
couple dashes of salt

In food processor with knife blade process butter and basil leaves until smooth.
Add flour, salt and sour cream. Process until mixture balls up. Chill for 1/2 hour
for better handling of the dough. Place on floured pastry sheet or board and roll
out to fit a 9” pie pan. Place shield or wrap edges in foil to prevent over browning
during the baking of the pie. Cook in pre-heated 425° oven until slightly golden,
about 10 minutes.

Tomato Basil Pie

Filling
1 9” pie crust
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano, or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
10 Roma tomatoes, or garden tomatoes, skins removed*, chopped and drained
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive
Salt & Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

While pie crust is warm, place 1 cup mozzarella on top of crust. Layer tomatoes
and sprinkle with, salt & pepper. In separate bowl mix basil, garlic, remaining
mozzarella, romano or parmesan cheese and mayonnaise. Place on top of tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in a preheated oven at  375° for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Let pie cool at least 15 minutes for easier cutting.

*Cut an X on the bottom (pointy end) of the tomato and place in a pot of rapidly boiling
water.  The tomato skin will begin to peel, about 1 minute. Remove from heat
and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Peel skin under running cold water.

You can always add wonderful ingredients to the filling, fresh sautéed mushrooms, some cooked bacon, black olives, red pepper flakes.  You are only limited by your imagination!

Tomato Basil Pie

Tomato Basil Pie

 

 

Mini Pie

Mini Pie

Recently I made this wonderful recipe for my “Live at 9” demonstration, here’s the link:

The only bad thing about being a member of New Neighbors is so many friends move away, but I guess that’s part of life!

New Neighbors Board Members 1998

New Neighbors Board Members 1998


Butter Poached Lobster

This week is a special one….hubby Bob has a birthday.  Being born in Connecticut and living on the ocean almost all his life has made Bob a lover of seafood.  Especially shellfish!  We use to live on the coast of Long Island Sound and Bob’s favorite hobby was tending to his “40” lobster pots.

Lobsters

Lobsters

I can remember the times when Rob and Jenny would ask me what’s for dinner, when I replied lobsters they would say “lobsters again”….those were the days!

I thought I was the queen of lobster cooking, always trying new methods and recipes.  It wasn’t until we watched an episode of Master Chef that I discovered “poaching lobster”.  WOW…..what a great way of cooking lobster…why didn’t I think of that?????

On Father’s Day  I tried poaching lobster in a  beurre monte sauce.   Probably the best lobster I have ever eaten.  Guess what I am making for Bob’s birthday?????  Here’s how you do it.

Purchase lobsters from local grocery store.  Place them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Lobsters

Lobsters

In a LARGE stock pot bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil.  Once the water is rapidly boiling, put lobsters to sleep ( you will feel better before you kill the little guys).  Just massage their head over his eyes for a few seconds, like this…

“go to sleep lobster”

Place lobsters (head first) into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes.  In a large bowl add water and ice cubes (ice-water bath) and place the lobsters into the pan.

DSC_0047Using a good pair of kitchen scissors cut the lobster shell and remove the meat, trying to keep the lobster in tact as much as possible.

In a medium size pan bring 1 tablespoon of water to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time.  This method will help it emulsify, which means mixing two liquids together that normally don’t mix well (water and oil).

Butter Poached Lobster

Butter Poached Lobster

Add the lobster and cook over medium low heat (do not let butter boil) for 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lobster meat reaches 140-145°F using a Thermapen thermometer.

Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

Happy Birthday Bob!

Happy Birthday Bob!

Ingredients:

2 one and a half pound live lobsters (or one lobster per person)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), cut into 1 tablespoon chunks

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn off heat and add the lobster. Cover with lid and let cook for 3 minutes. Place lobster into a large pan of ice water (this cools down the lobster to the touch and stops the cooking process).  Remove all lobster meat from shell trying to keep lobster in tact.

2. In a sauce pan, bring 1 tablespoon of water to simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in 1 piece of butter. When butter had melted, add another piece. Continue with remaining butter pieces, one at a time. Make sure the mixture does NOT come to a boil, otherwise the butter will separate.

3. Keeping the heat on medium-low, add the lobster pieces and cook for 5 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 140-145° is reached.  Serve immediately!


A New “Twist” On Cooking Dogs, and a Black Bean, Rice, Avocado Salad with the “Perfect Margarita”

A new “twist” on cooking hotdogs….a quick and easy black bean, rice and avocado salad, along with the “perfect” margarita!

My LOVE for food runs family wide.  I am very proud of my nephew Kris Wallenta, owner of “Kinta’s” Restaurant…

Kinta'sSeems like only yesterday he was gathering shells at the beach in front of our home…

Kristopher WallentaKris was recently filmed for the new season of “Flavors of Cozumel”.  Hope we get to see that episode in the United States.

Filming "The Flavor of Cozumel"

When I was looking for a “perfect” margarita, I thought I would ask the expert!  This is his “house” margarita. Thank you Kris!  Next time you vacation in Cozumel, make sure you visit my nephew’s restaurant…if you mention me you will get a “free” house margarita…  🙂

Black Bean Rice Avocado Salad

1 ½ cup chicken stock
½ cup water
1 cup long grain rice
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 avocados, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ of one lime, juiced
4 tablespoons “Blood Orange” olive oil, or
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

In a 2 quart sauce pan combine chicken stock, water and rice. Cook over high heat until mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Place cooked rice on a serving dish to cool.

In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Stir in cooled rice and gently toss until mixture is well combined. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or more before serving.

Salad may be served in hollowed out avocado shells, top with additional fresh cilantro.

Kinta’s Famous House Margarita

1.5 ounces Tequila (Reposado)
1.5 ounces Triple Sec
1.5 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 cup Ice
1 lime
kosher salt

Rub the outside of 1 glass with cut lime. Dip into a plate of Kosher salt.
Combine the Tequila, Triple Sec and lime juice and ice into a cocktail shaker, shake well
and pour into prepared glass…..

Recipe courtesy of Kristopher Wallenta
Kinta’s Restaurant
Cozumel, Mexico

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