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


Galena’s Tomato Vodka Sauce

“Love is in the Air”….and so is a good vodka sauce for Valentine’s Day.  My cousin sent me a request this week for a sauce that would go great with her heart shaped pink ravioli’s…here you go Marifrances, enjoy and “Happy Valentines Day!!!

What you will need

What you will need

I use home grown tomatoes, but if I had to buy some I recommend Pomi Strained Tomatoes.  The most important part of this recipe is patience in cooking your onions and garlic.  You need to let them cook over low heat until soft and transparent

Soft and Transparent

Soft and Transparent

This really is a very quick and easy sauce to make, total time is about 30 minutes….

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tomato Vodka Sauce

I served this over my homemade spinach ravioli...awesome combination, and added Jenny’s favorite garlic bread.

Marley's Garlic Bread

Marley’s Garlic Bread

This sauce works great with any type of pasta!  Happy Valentines Day!!!!

Spinach Ravioli with Tomato Vodka Sauce

Spinach Ravioli with Tomato Vodka Sauce

Galena’s Vodka Sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good quality vodka
1 28 ounce size Pomi Strained Tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Melt butter and oil together in a medium size saucepan over low heat.  Add onion and garlic, cook until transparent, about 10 minutes.  Add red and black pepper, increase heat to medium and deglaze pan with vodka.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, paste, basil and oregano.  Simmer sauce 30 minutes, or until thick.

Add heavy cream and grated cheese, cook until heated thorough.  Serve over pasta of your choice!  Boun Appetito!!!


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!


“This is all you can eat in one day cake” or Cheesecake Layered Caramel Chocolate Cake

Lol…you know its going to be great with a title like that…..I really am not a baker, but this one is a gem.  A little time consuming, but definitely worth it…taking the best cheesecake, the best cake, the best candy bar and mixing it all together with the best frosting….YUM!!!!  If you are in need of a new recipe for a summertime outing…make this, sure you be a winner!

Cheesecake Layers:

2 bars (2.05 oz. each) Snickers
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla pudding & pie filling (not instant)
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs

Cake Layers

1 box Super Moist dark chocolate cake mix
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Filling

1 jar (12 oz.) caramel topping (you can also use chocolate or butterscotch)

Frosting

1 package (4-serving size) chocolate pudding, instant
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Heat oven to 325°F.  Grease 2 9 inch round cake pans with Mazola pan spray.  Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; lightly spray paper with Mazola pan spray.  Chop 2 candy bards into small pieces and store in refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Beat in cream cheese until smooth.  Scrape down bowl and beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined.  Add pudding mix, baking powder and 4 eggs; beat well until smooth.  Fold in chilled candy pieces.  Evenly divide batter between 2 pans.
  3. Bake 50-60 minutes.  Cake will puff up during baking and then deflate when removed from the oven.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cheesecake from pans and place on a cookie sheet or individual plates.  Wrap cheesecake with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 3 hours, or overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans with Mazola pan spray.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, mix chocolate cake mix, sour cream, water, vegetable oil and eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer until well combined.  Divide cake evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool pans on cooling rack 10-15 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and cool completely.
  6. To assemble, place 1 cake layer on serving plate or cake stand.  Spread 1/4 cup caramel topping over top of cake layer.  Place 1 frozen cheesecake layer on top of cake layer; top with 1/4 cup of caramel topping.  Repeat with remaining layers, finally top with remaining cake layer.
  7. In a small mixing bowl add instant pudding mix, milk and heavy cream.  Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Top cake and sides with frosting.  Top with additional candy pieces, if desired.

Cheesecake layered Chocolate CakeYou can change a lot with this one…use other flavored cake mixes, candies, instant pudding for frosting…  “You are only limited by your imagination!”

ENJOY!


Jenny’s Favorite Birthday Cake

I know at this time of the year I should really be posting a good old Irish recipe, but since Jen’s birthday was the week before St. Patty’s day, thought I would post her favorite “Triple Chocolate Cake” recipe….this is definitely a chocolate lovers decant cake, especially good with ice cream….yum…

Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix

1 package chocolate instant pudding mix

1 ¾ cups milk

2 eggs

1 package chocolate chunks

 

Filling

¼ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

¼ cup cream peanut butter

1 ½ tbsp. Milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting

1 package instant chocolate mix

½ pint heavy cream

1-cup milk

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, milk, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until well blended.  Beat with an electric beater for about 2 minutes.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.  Pour batter into a well-greased Bundt pan or two layer cake pans.  Bake at 350 for 50 – 55 minutes for Bundt pan or 25 – 30 minutes for 9” round pans.  Do not over bake.  Cool 15 minutes in pan; remove from pan and continue cooling on rack.

When cooled, beat filling ingredients together until creamy.  Cut cake in half.  Layer filling on top of cake and place the other half on top.  Beat frosting until creamy.  Frost cake and refrigerate or serve immediately.Chocolate Lover's Cake

 

 

 

 

 


Lobster Bisque

Before moving to Germantown, TN in 1994, we lived on Long Island Sound in West Haven, Connecticut. Many wonderful memories from living there, the view of the ocean was just amazing. We built this house and had several balconies overlooking the water.

I can remember sitting at the dinner table telling my kids to look out over the water as the moon was coming up, the reflection was just breathtaking!!! Bob’s favorite hobby was tending to our 40 lobster pots. Funny as this sounds now, but I can remember Rob and Jenny asking me what was for dinner, when I would say lobster, their response was “lobster again”…

Yes, we had many lobster meals, it was always fun seeing just what I could come up with. On special occasions I would take the time to make “Lobster Bisque”. It’s not difficult but I have to admit it is time-consuming, but well worth the time and effort.

While doing my weekly shopping at Costco yesterday I noticed a package of cooked lobster claws…hummm…good price… So I purchased those little claws, took them home, had Bob remove the meat for me (he loves that) and so the process began….Here it is…

In a large saute pan add 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil.


When hot, add 1 large onion, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots and 3-4 cloves of garlic (all roughly chopped), and lobster shells (reserve the meat for later). Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

When veggies are soft (here comes the really fun part) add 1 cup brandy and ignite (have a camera nearby..great photo op here)

Meanwhile…in a large saucepan add 2 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil and add 2-3 tablespoons of “Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base”. (however if you are using live lobsters, bring large pot of water to boil and add lobsters, cook 10-15 minutes. Reserve the broth for the bisque)

Add the sautéed veggies and shells, l sprig fresh parsley, 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup white wine (drinking quality) and 3 ounces tomato paste to the lobster stock. Simmer stock for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan make a “blonde roux”, equal parts of butter to flour, 4 tablespoons each and a few sprinkles of white pepper…cook until simmering, remove from heat and reserve until needed.

Remove the stock from the heat, strain through a fine sieve or chinoise.

Place the stock back into clean saucepan, bring to boil and add reserved roux. Whisk until thickened and cook 5-10 minutes. Add 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Simmer 2-3 minutes.

Add reserved lobster meat, heat, serve and eat!

Shopping List:

2-3 1 lb. lobsters or 2 lbs. cooked lobster claws
extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
3-4 cloves garlic
l cup brandy
1 sprig fresh parsley
2-3 sprigs fresh theme
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/2 can (3 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup chardonnay
2 quarts lobster stock
1/4 cup blonde roux
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream