With Easter, only a week away, start getting those ingredients together to make our tasty and fun Italian Easter Egg Breakfast Baskets (Pupa Cu L’ova)
A few weeks ago Jack & I were visiting family in Cary, NC, to celebrate my great-grandson’s 5th birthday. Julian was excited to show me how he swims in the big community pool so, off we went. After sunscreen, earplugs & swim arms, he was ready to have fun. All the while I was a little distracted by the amazing aroma of grilling taking place to my right at one of the grill stations nearby. I could see chicken and steak on the grill which made my mouth start watering. I had to investigate! I then had the pleasure of meeting Dwayne & Sylvia Pearce. Dwayne is the Grill Master but quickly confessed that it’s his wife Sylvia’s homemade rub that makes the food delicious. It was very evident to me that Dwayne was enjoying every moment at the grill in spite of the 90º temperature outside. Their generosity extended to me a sampling of their chicken drumsticks and I was hooked! The chicken was grilled to perfection, full of spicy flavor, and very moist. Like many accomplished cooks, Sylvia uses a little of this and a little of that until the taste is just the way they like it. Thanks so much to Sylvia & Dwayne for sharing your good nature, spice rub ingredients, and chicken with me. I love it!
Sylvia Pearce's Spicy Dry Rub for Chicken
- Small mixing bowl or plastic zip-lock bag
- Measuring spoons
- 3 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp Adobe seasoning
- 1 packet Sazon seasoning
- 1 ½ tsp jerk seasoning (if using jerk in a jar, omit the brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp cayene pepper
- 1 pinch black pepper
- Mix all of the above ingredients and blend well.
- Using paper towels, pat dry your chicken, then generously rub the spicy dry rub on both sides.
- Heat your grill to medium-high then lightly oil the grates.
- Place the chicken on the grill and grill for about 10 minutes on each side or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees for dark meat or 160 degrees for white meat.
- Rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
Please note: Although the Nutritional Facts are provided, we are not nutritionists and therefore cannot verify the accuracy of these calculations. Please verify any data you see here with your favorite nutrition calculator.
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Fish Fillet Roll-ups with Stewed Tomatoes
Who knew our Mom was cooking the Mediterranean Diet style long before it was ever acknowledged to be such a healthy way of eating? She used to prepare flounder fillets this way in order to disguise the fish so we would eat it. She was really onto something as we thought it tasted like pizza! I guess she fooled us alright...we loved it! Our local fish market was out of flounder but the cod looked great & was on sale so we adapted Mom's recipe using the fresh cod. If fresh fish isn't available where you live, by all means, use frozen and make sure you defrost it thoroughly & remove any bones before preparing. If your little ones don't like fish try telling them they're 'pizza style roll-ups' and give them a try. We won't tell!
- 2½ – 3 lbs white fish fillets (cod or flounder) fresh or frozen & thawed
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4- 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs (or gluten-free bread crumbs if gluten is an issue)
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano plus more for topping
- 1 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons or more Pecorino Romano grated cheese
- EVOO to drizzle over fillets & casserole dish
- 2 cans Stewed tomatoes with juice
- large toothpicks to seal fillets while baking
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels.
- Drizzle a little EVOO over each fillet. Rub the minced garlic on each fillet then sprinkle all seasonings starting with salt, pepper, oregano, bread crumbs, and grated cheese.
- In a 2 quart casserole, drizzle a small amount of EVOO on the bottom of the dish. Roll-up each fillet and place in casserole.
- Pour the stewed tomatoes over the fish roll-ups then place a large toothpick into each fillet to prevent them from opening. Sprinkle additional oregano, salt & pepper on top of the stewed tomatoes.
- Place in preheated oven and bake at 400ºF until fish flakes, about 20-25 minutes. Remember, these fillets are rolled up so they will take longer to flake.
- Remove from casserole and plate with your favorite salad and vegetable.
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The other night we were so engrossed with updating this blog that we completely forgot about dinner! We realized it at 5:00 pm! After searching in the refrigerator we found country sausage, zucchini, and some leftover tomato sauce so we whipped up a really quick & tasty dinner. On nights when you are pressed for time, this recipe is not only quick & easy but also delicious, healthy & satisfying. There's a bonus too... it's low carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. You won't miss the pasta at all. Our family loves it with ricotta cheese on top...it's delicious! Give it a try and let us hear from you. 😋😋
- Spiralizer (we use the Veggetti-Pro Tabletop Spiral Vegetable Cutter, thick spiral blade)
- 6 medium zucchini
- 2 cloves garlic (we use Dorot frozen cubes for consistency)
- 1 lb bulk Neese’s Sausage, hot or regular
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup pre-made tomato sauce (more or less depending on your preference)
- salt & pepper to taste
- ricotta (for topping)
- Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- Wash unpeeled zucchini then dry well. Cut the end stem from one end of the zucchini then using the spiralizer thick ribbon blade, spiralize all the zucchini. Set aside.
- In a large hot skillet place the bulk sausage and brown completely on all sides, crumbling the sausage as it cooks.
- Add the garlic and continue cooking another minute. Stir well then add the butter combining well.
- Add the zucchini spirals and mix with the sausage.
- Cook until zucchini is soft or al dente then add a cup of pre-made tomato sauce and mix well. Heat until sauce is hot. Remove from heat.
- Serve in a pasta dish and sprinkle with grated Pecorino Ramano cheese then top with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese and enjoy.
Notes: Additional tomato sauce may be added depending on your preference. For those of you who must have pasta, just cook up a little gluten-free pasta (or regular pasta if gluten is not a health issue) and add the cooked pasta at the end to combine with the zoodles.
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Move over Chicken Marsala...we're here to introduce you to our juicy Chicken Maderia that will elevate your dinner to a whole new level that's sure to please! Tender chicken breasts combined with mushrooms and asparagus in a wonderful creamy Madeira sauce topped with melted gooey mozzarella (or as our old family from Brooklyn would say, Mootzadell, dropping the last vowel of a word was very common because they were always in a hurry! In carrying on that tradition, we think we'll start to call it Mootz) 😂😂 Whichever way you pronounce it, this dish is delicious. Our family loves this chicken dish and we hope it will become a new favorite of yours. We're sure your family and friends will be asking for more just like ours do so you might want to make a double batch! 😋 😋
- 12 -15 thinly sliced chicken breasts, season with salt & pepper
- 2 bundles of asparagus, blanched
- 6 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
- 32 oz small button mushrooms, washed and dried thoroughly
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced (or 4 frozen Dorot garlic cubes)
- 4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
- 3 cups Madeira wine
- 3 cups beef stock or broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- salt & pepper to taste
- Trim asparagus by snapping the ends off. Wash well and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, bring salted water to a boil, enough to cover asparagus and boil for 3-4 minutes. Remove to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop color turning. Drain well then set aside.
- In a large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat melt half the butter & half the EVOO until hot. Add the whole mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes then add the garlic & parsley. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove the mushroom mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.
- In the same skillet on medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and EVOO. Once hot, place seasoned chicken breasts in a single layer and sear quickly about 2 minutes on each side, just to get golden brown. Do not overcook as the chicken will finish cooking when everything is combined. Remove chicken and drain in layers on paper towels. Set aside.
- In the same skillet on high, add the Maderia wine and boil until reduced by half, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the beef broth and boil for about 10 -12 minutes until reduced to half.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir in heavy cream and simmer until sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste. (Sauce will not be real thick; however, you may add a small amount of flour to thicken)
- Add chicken back to skillet coating both sides with sauce. Add the mushroom mixture and asparagus on top then sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella.
- Broil on top rack in the oven just until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve.
Notes: For a large crowd, simply triple the recipe. This recipe is Gluten-Free & Keto-Friendly as long as you don’t add flour. Chicken Madeira is a delicious meal on its own but if you’re looking to stretch it, serve with pasta or rice to soak up the amazing Madeira sauce.
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Casseroles are a great way to combine your family's favorite vegetables into a one-dish meal that is sure to please. Our family loves eggplant, zucchini, ricotta cheese & mozzarella (among many other foods) so we combined all those ingredients into a delicious casserole? They loved this dish so much that they requested it 3 nights in a row! You can make this casserole with or without sausage because it's just as hardy without it plus you get the added bonus of it being Gluten-Free and Keto friendly if you follow a keto diet. You and your family will love it! 😋😋
- 2 medium eggplants, firm to touch
- 2 medium zucchini or summer squash (or 1 of each, personal preference )
- 1 lb bulk Italian Sweet or Hot Sausage, optional (bulk country sausage can be substituted)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 8-10 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
- enough EVOO to lightly coat all the sliced eggplant & zucchini before roasting, plus extra for lightly coating the baking sheet
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder to season eggplant & zucchini before roasting
- 1 cup ricotta (we used whole milk but you can use skim or fat-free if desired)
- 1/2 beaten egg
- 2 shakes crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated plus extra for between layers
- 8 oz. mozzarella, grated & divided in half
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped & divided plus a few whole leaves for garnish
- Cut the end stems from each end of the eggplant, zucchini or summer squash.
- Slice into 1/2-inch thick round pieces.
- With a small pastry brush, lightly brush EVOO over both sides of the eggplant and zucchini.
- Position your oven racks to upper and lower thirds of your oven.
- Preheat oven to 500ºF. Once it reaches 500ºF lower to 425ºF.
- On a small rimmed baking sheet (no parchment paper) place tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Drizzle 1 Tablespoon EVOO over the tomatoes & unpeeled garlic. Toss with your hands to coat, roast on the top oven rack for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft & caramelized. Remove from oven when done and set aside to cool.
- Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and drizzle a very small amount of EVOO in each pan.
- Arrange the eggplant slices in a singer layer in one of the pans then arrange the zucchini in the second pan.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over the tops of eggplant & zucchini only.
- Using a pastry brush, use 2 Tablespoons or more of EVOO to lightly brush over the eggplant and zucchini slices in both pans (both sides).
- Place pan with eggplant on top oven rack and zucchini on middle rack and roast at 425ºF for 15-25 minutes until nicely browned but not burnt. Zucchini might brown before the eggplant so check often as individual oven temperatures vary.
- Once browned, use a spatula to flip eggplant & zucchini over. Continue roasting the eggplant & zucchini until brown, about 10 minutes, checking often.
- Once done, remove from oven & let cool.
- In a medium skillet brown the bulk sausage meat until fully cooked. Drain & set aside in a bowl until ready to begin layering process.
- In a medium bowl combine 1 cup ricotta, red pepper flakes, 1/2 beaten egg, 2 Tablespoons chopped basil, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and 6 oz mozzarella. Drizzle a tsp of EVOO and mix with a fork to combine. Add salt to taste.
- Remove the cooked garlic cloves from the cooled tomato pan & move to a cutting board. Using a fork, press on the skins to remove the soft, caramelized garlic. The skins can be discarded. Mash the cloves into a paste then add to the ricotta mixture and combine well.
- In a shallow 2-qt baking dish drizzle some EVOO on the bottom. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant & zucchini in a single layer. Add 1/3 the blistered tomatoes and scatter them around. Add a dollop of ricotta evenly over each vegetable section (do not spread, leave dollop as is). Add half the drained cooked sausage and sprinkle on top of ricotta dollops. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Tear some of the basil leaves and generously scatter around the first layer.
- Repeat step 18 & 19 for the second layer.
- Add remaining ricotta mixture on top of the second layer, top with remaining slices of eggplant & zucchini then add the remaining tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Roman cheese and top with remaining shredded mozzarella.
- Bake approximately 20 – 25 minutes at 425 ºF or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
- Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.
Notes: 2 large and 1 small rimmed baking sheets are needed for this recipe. We used Neese’s Country Sausage (bulk) in this recipe; however, the meat is optional. Add some sauteed mushrooms if you’re a mushroom lover like Teresa is. Can be served as a main dish (4-5 servings) or a side dish (6-8 servings).
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