Fig Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

This year, 2020, we finally have an abundance of figs from one of Gary's fig trees. He has been growing 2 fig trees for 4 years here in North Carolina. The one we transplanted from our NY home is not as big as the one we purchased here in NC so the figs I used in this recipe are from the NC fig tree. The first couple of years the figs were so sparse that we were lucky to get a few to pop in our mouths for the whole season. In contrast, today we picked so many figs that now we can be creative with different ways to prepare and enjoy them. This fig sauce is so simple to make, does not require any tedious canning, and is delicious with Feta cheese or goat cheese on a cracker, meat & cheese board, or topping chicken or pork. It's naturally sweet without the addition of any sugar, and it's naturally gluten-free. We love it and so do the hubbies! 😋 😋

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ripe figs, stems removed and cut-in-half
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (ready-made is fine)
  • 6 Tablespoons quality Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients together. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 20-30 minutes until figs are soft enough to mash & liquid is 3/4 evaporated. (It may take longer)
  3. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture. It should look like a loose jam but not watery.
  4. Remove from the heat. Spoon onto your favorite protein or use as an appetizer with goat cheese & crackers.

Note: This recipe can be served at room temperature as an appetizer or hot over your protein. It can be made ahead of time & stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several days refrigerated.

 

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

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Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken – Twiins Style

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken - Twiins Style

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

Lately all my friends and neighbors are wondering what to cook since we are all observing the Stay at Home restrictions going on across the country. They are bored and tired of cooking 3 times a day. While checking my text messages I saw one from 'Nextdoor' with the title  'What's for Dinner'. This recipe caught my eye so I decided to give it a try. Wow! I'm so happy I did.  Not only is it full of flavor but it's so easy to make. Both Gary & I loved it. I hope Teresa makes this for my niece while she's helping her recuperate. I know they will love it too! 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated) (please don’t use the fake stuff in the green container…)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet add 2-4 Tablespoons EVOO. When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side. Don’t crowd the skillet or you’ll get steam instead of browning. Cook until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
  2. Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Whisk over medium-high heat until it starts to thicken.
  3. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes. Let simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.
  4. Add the chicken back to the skillet and serve over your favorite pasta.

Notes: 

1. Use genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that you freshly grate. The pre-grated cheese has additives and makes it ball up instead of melting into the sauce. You may also substitute with Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese, also freshly grated.

2. Large chicken bone-in chicken thighs can also be used in place of chicken breasts. Just make sure you cook a little longer so they are fully cooked.

Recipe adapted from  Alyssa Rivers (The Recipe Critic).

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

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Basic Tomato Sauce – Twiins Style 🍅 🍅

As every Italian American cook knows, the basis of a great Sunday dinner in Italian homes is the tomato sauce or gravy as it is lovingly referred to. Our grandmothers from Naples & Sicily both called it gravy. When we were teenagers we questioned why was tomato sauce called gravy as we thought it should be called sauce. I guess it depended on where you grew up and what the custom was for each family. We chose to call it “sauce”. Whether you are making lasagna or spaghetti, a good sauce makes all the difference in the world. 

Ingredients

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes (break up with your hands or an immersion blender)
  • 1 lb Italian sweet or hot sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • fresh basil leaves (cook in sauce plus some for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Pour 2 tablespoons EVOO in heavy-duty 8-quart pot
  2. When the oil is hot, add sausage links and brown both sides
  3. Remove browned sausage links and set aside.
  4. Add onion and cook until lightly browned and translucent
  5. Add garlic and stir well for 1 minute
  6. Add tomatoes, butter, oregano, and a few basil leaves, and the browned sausages.
  7. Stir well and often to prevent burning on the bottom while simmering for at least 3 hours in order for the sausages to be nice & tender (the longer it cooks the better).
  8. When done, remove the sausage links that can be saved for a different meal or serve with your favorite pasta dish.

Note: Whenever we have leftover pieces of pork we add them to the pot. If you are making meatballs, add them to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cook time.

        Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

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Pasta Fasùl (Pasta Fagioli)

Pasta Fasùl (Pasta Fagioli)

  • Servings: 6-8 as a main dish
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

Growing up in our Italian American household we could always count on one of our favorite meatless meals on a Friday night...Pasta Fasùl. Depending upon the region of Italy your family is from, you may know it as pasta fagioli or pasta fasùl (fazool). Our grandparents were from Naples and Sicily, which shared the same word for beans, fasùl. Technically this dish is a soup; however, we loved it best when most of the liquid dried up & was topped with lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Our Mom always made this with small or medium-sized pasta shells; however, you can use any small pasta in your pantry as we did tonight. This is a very rustic meal but can be dressed up with the addition of any vegetable you have on hand, i.e. spinach, carrots, zucchini or escarole.  To complete this meal, serve with a side salad. Give it a try on those nights you're pressed for time and let us know how you and your family like it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. medium or small pasta shells or elbow pasta (we used ditalini as that’s what we had on hand)
  • 10 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 cans cannellini beans, do not rinse or drain the liquid
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce (preferably homemade or your favorite jar sauce)
  • 1 small can tomato paste plus same can filled with water to dilute
  • salt to taste
  • reserve at least 1 cup cooked pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano grated cheese for topping

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a Tablespoon of salt then add pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water then drain pasta & set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In a large, deep skillet on medium heat add EVOO. Add smashed garlic & sauté a minute or two but don’t burn.
  3. Add the 4 cans of cannellini beans and stir well until they begin to boil. Lower heat to medium-low and add 1 cup prepared sauce & small can of tomato paste with a small can of water. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if too thick. Combine well and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. If you prefer a soupier pasta fasùl just add more of the reserved pasta water until it’s the consistency you like.
  5. Let sit for 5-10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.
  6. Top with grated cheese & garnish with fresh basil or parsley (optional)

NOTE: To make this meal gluten-free, just substitute any small-sized gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta.

This dish thickens as it sits so if you want a thinner sauce, add more liquid in step 3-4 while cooking.

 

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

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Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free

Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Very Easy

After our holiday baking was over, we had pignoli left over so we came up with this delicious, healthy recipe to kickstart 2020. Our first recipe for the new year is a meatless Mediterranean dish. In spite of our husbands' carnivore appetites, this meatless dish satisfied them both...we were in heaven! This recipe delivers an exciting depth of flavor with a wonderful blending of ingredients. We think you and your family will love it.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds zucchini and yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound gluten-free pasta (we used Le Veneziane gluten-Free Farfalle)
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

  1. After cutting the zucchini and summer squash, sprinkle with approximately 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels & wipe away residual salt. Set aside.
  2. While squash is draining, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, lower flame to simmer until ready to cook pasta.
  3. In a 12-inch non=stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO over high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add half the squash and cook until slightly charred, turning occasionally, approximately 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat if the skillet starts to overheat. Transfer to a large plate then repeat step 3 with the remaining half of squash and another tablespoon of EVOO. Transfer 2nd batch to plate and set aside.
  4. Bring water to full boil and add salt then the pasta. Cook according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooked pasta water.
  5. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of EVOO. Add pignoli and toast lightly, then add red onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook approximately 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup of pasta water) then return pasta to the pot. Add the squash, tomatoes, pignoli mixture, vinegar, basil, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of EVOO. Mix well to combine.
  7. Add enough reserved pasta water to keep moist consistency but not soupy. You may not need the whole cup. Lightly drizzle with EVOO and top with grated cheese.

 

Note:  If gluten is not an issue, use your favorite brand of pasta. If your family must have meat, feel free to add whatever they like. 

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

 

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Mussels Fra Diavolo

Mussels Fra Diavolo

  • Servings: Serves 6-12
  • Difficulty: Easy

About ten years ago Gary requested Mussels Fra Diavolo to be included in our Christmas Eve dinner. Our father & husbands love the hot & spicy sauce the mussels are cooked in. We serve it over linguine or angel hair pasta. It's an easy & quick recipe that you can make as hot as you like (read Note below before step 2) . The lovers of HEAT in your family will definitely enjoy this sauce. 😋 😋

Ingredients

  • 1½ heads of garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 3 (28 oz) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted & chopped (optional)
  • 3-4 lbs mussels, cleaned & debearded
  • 1 can sliced Scungilli (optional)
  • 2 shakes of black pepper

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the EVOO on medium-low.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir well.
  3. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, capers, olives & wine.
  4. Break up the tomatoes and simmer about 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  5. In the meantime, cook your linguine or angel hair pasta.
  6. Raise sauce heat to medium and add the mussels. Cover & continue cooking another 3-6 minutes more or until mussels are open.
  7. Add the can of sliced scungilli if using. (These are already cooked so they don’t need more than 1 minute in the sauce)
  8. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  9. Serve over pasta & enjoy.

Note: If your not a lover of heat,  sprinkle half the hot red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper first then give it a good stir. Taste it & proceed from there.  You can always add heat but you can’t take it away!

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twiinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

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Pistachio Pesto Sauce


  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

We love pistachios! They are so versatile whether eating them from the shell, making an amazing gelato, encrusting fish filets or turning them into a wonderful pesto sauce for pasta! On my recent trip to Greece, I made sure to bring home an ample supply of Greek pistachios, determined to use them in cooking. So yesterday Barbara and I, while shopping for dinner, picked up 4 lbs of sea scallops, the large ones you most often find in restaurants, not the tiny bay ones. As you may remember from our recent pesto post we have an abundance of basil from our gardens so making more pesto was the best way to use it. This time instead of using traditional pignoli (pine nuts) we would use those wonderful pistachios from Greece (California pistachios are fine too). I also wanted to make the pesto using the old, traditional mortar and pestle to test if there really is a difference. Well, after 30 minutes of crushing pistachios into a paste by hand and pummeling only 1/4 of the basil our hands decided it was time to take out the food processor! I must admit, the pesto came out extremely creamy which I believe was the result of the mortar and pestle for half the process, but as far as taste goes the food processor did a fine job. Our pan-seared scallops topped with pistachio pesto were out of this world delicious! 😋😋

Ingredients

  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves that have been soaked in cold water then dried using a salad spinner to drain all the water without damage to the leaves.
  • 1 cup salted pistachios, shelled
  • 4 cloves garlic (frozen cubes work well as they are uniform in size)
  • 6-8 tablespoon EVOO (preferably Ligurian EVOO)
  • 4 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese (do not add cheese if you plan to freeze the pesto for later use. Once defrosted the cheese can be mixed in)

Directions

  1. In a food processor add pistachios and garlic. Pulse into a smooth paste.
  2. Add the basil in small amounts then pulse after each addition until all the basil has been added and the mixture is creamy & smooth. Slowly (slow is key here) add the EVOO until emulsified.
  3. Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. If you are making to freeze,  🛑 ✋ stop here and put into freezable containers & place in the freezer.
  5.  Add cheese and pulse to incorporate.
  6. If too dry add additional EVOO slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Notes:  If you plan to freeze for future use, do not add the cheese. Cheese should be added after being thawed.  Great over pasta, fish, chicken, potatoes, sandwiches, etc…

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

 

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Pesto Sauce


  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

This summer we have an abundance of basil from our hay bale gardens and have been making pesto for a variety of meals, including breakfast! Not only is pesto delicious on pasta but it's just as delicious on fish, vegetables, chicken or just about anything! Last year our friend, Jane Hall, grew tomatoes and basil in hay bales...we grew ours in traditional dirt. The difference was amazing...the hay bale crop far exceeded the traditional dirt crop and made us believers. Gary bought the bales at the local hardware store then quickly got to preparing them with fertilizer and water. After two weeks of daily watering, we planted our basil and tomatoes along with some other herbs and couldn't be happier with the results. If you never tried this method before, it's definitely worth the minimal effort.😋😋

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Pignoli Nuts (Italian pine nuts)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2  cups fresh sweet Italian basil leaves, packed tightly (approximately 2 very large bunches)
  • 8 Tablespoons EVOO, preferably Ligurian as it makes a big difference in taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano, freshly grated

Directions

  1. In a food processor add pignoli nuts, salt, and garlic cloves. Pulse into a smooth paste.
  2. Add the basil in small amounts then pulse after each addition until all the basil has been added and the mixture is creamy & smooth. Slowly (slow is key here) add the EVOO until emulsified.
  3. If you are making to freeze,  🛑 ✋ stop here and put into freezable containers & place in the freezer.
  4. Add cheese and pulse to incorporate.
  5. If too dry add additional EVOO slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

 

Notes: If you plan to freeze for future use, do not add the cheese. Cheese should be added after being thawed. Great over pasta, fish, chicken, potatoes, sandwiches, etc…

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

 

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Penne Alla Vodka – Gluten Free

Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite. As you may know, whenever possible we always make a gluten-free version of our recipes for Teresa’s husband Jack.  We don’t want him to ever feel left out. This recipe was very easy to convert since you just replace regular penne pasta with Gluten-Free penne pasta.  Thanks to great improvements in gluten-free products, having Celiac’s disease no longer means you have to miss out on delicious pasta meals.

This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick. 

Ingredients

Servings: 8-10

  • Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
  • 2 lbs. Barilla Gluten-Free Penne pasta with the lines (sauce sticks to it better)
  • 6 Tablespoons of salted butter
  • 8-10 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more for a bigger kick)
  • 6-8 shakes red pepper flakes (more if you like it hotter)
  • 1/2 lb. very thin sliced Prosciutto, shred into pieces with your fingers
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 1 qt heavy cream (light cream can also be used)
  • 4 cups of already prepared Basic Tomato Sauce, (or your favorite red sauce)
  • 4 heaping handfuls of Pecorino Romano grated cheese (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese,  shredded or diced

Instructions

  • Saute garlic and prosciutto in melted butter in a deep skillet.
  • Add salt, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes.
  • Add vodka to deglaze and stir well.
  • Add cream, red sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese. 
  • Simmer & stir until it comes to a boil, don’t overcook.
  • Add mozzarella just after it comes to a boil to avoid mozzarella from balling up.
  • Pour 2 ladles of vodka sauce over cooked penne to coat.
  • Use remaining sauce to top individual servings and pour the additional sauce in a gravy boat for the table.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves. 


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Penne Alla Vodka

Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite…her granddaughter Stefani could live on this alone! Stefani recently requested that Barbara make it for her baby shower, and she was disappointed when there weren’t any leftovers to take home to Virginia! It’s always a big crowd pleaser and a must have for every holiday dinner.

This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick. 

Ingredients

Servings: 8-10

  • Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
  • 2 lbs. Penne pasta with the lines (sauce sticks to it better)
  • 6 Tablespoons of salted butter
  • 8-10 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more for a bigger kick)
  • 6-8 shakes red pepper flakes (more if you like it hotter)
  • 1/2 lb. very thin sliced Prosciutto, shred into pieces with your fingers
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 1 qt heavy cream (light cream can also be used)
  • 4 cups of already prepared Basic Tomato Sauce, (or your favorite red sauce)
  • 4 heaping handfuls of Pecorino Romano grated cheese (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese,  shredded or diced

Instructions

  • Saute garlic and prosciutto in melted butter in a deep skillet.
  • Add salt, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes.
  • Add vodka to deglaze and stir well.
  • Add cream, red sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese. 
  • Simmer & stir until it comes to a boil, don’t overcook.
  • Add mozzarella just after it comes to a boil to avoid mozzarella from balling up.
  • Pour 2 ladles of vodka sauce over cooked penne to coat.
  • Use remaining sauce to top individual servings and pour the additional sauce in a gravy boat for the table.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves. 


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