Valerie’s Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Pignolis

 

Valerie's Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Pignolis

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

Today my dear friend Valerie Kachura served this delicious cauliflower side dish while hosting our weekly social bridge group.  Now, I'm not the biggest fan of cauliflower but I know it has many health benefits so when I saw our good friend Roz's face light up with delight, I knew I had to try it! It was delicious! I think this will be my new favorite side-dish.  Thank you, Valerie, for feeding our group so well, and graciously letting me share your recipe.  😋❤

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, rinsed and separated by large florets
  • 1/4 cup pignolis
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground curry powder
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. pink  Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp.  black pepper
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl combine, cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and curry powder. Mix well.
  3. Place in a casserole dish and bake 20 minutes until almost done.
  4. Sprinkle pignolis and grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top of cauliflower.
  5. Place casserole back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes until starting to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and serve.

Notes: This is a naturally gluten-free side dish

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Easy Empanada Flaky Dough

 

If you stayed away from making your own empanadas because you were intimated to make your own dough, DON’T be afraid! After trial and error & almost giving in to prepackaged pie crust, we found a great recipe from a book titled Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America. Not only is this dough flaky and delicious, but it also compliments any filling. The next time you’re having a small gathering of friends or family, give these a try. They make a great appetizer, side or snack for any occasion. 😋

An added bonus of this recipe is that it can be made gluten-free and tastes just as terrific!  

Servings: about 12 discs using a 4½” round cookie cutter

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces regular cream cheese, cubed & chilled
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed & chilled
  • 1 egg beaten with a Tablespoon of water for egg wash
  • food processor
  • parchment lined baking sheet
  • 1 ½ tsp of your favorite herb (i.e. thyme, oregano, cumin, etc. More or less to taste.)

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, herbs & salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse for 20 seconds, or until combined.
  2. Add the cream cheese and butter and pulse until the mixture comes together and forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Remove the pastry from the food processor.
  3. Divide the pastry ball in half.
  4. Shape each half into a flat disc on plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. ( Can be refrigerated up to 48 hours before rolling out).
  5. Remove from refrigerator and let sit for 10 minutes before rolling out. 
  6.  Using a well-floured pastry mat or surface and a well floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about 1/8″ thickness. Keep your surface & rolling pin lightly floured to prevent sticking & tears in the dough.
  7. Using a 4″ to 4½” round cookie cutter or bowl, cut  12 rounds, rolling & cutting the scraps as needed. ( Keep scraps covered while working).
  8. Place 2 level Tablespoons of filling on the bottom half of each pastry round. 
  9. Brush the edges with egg wash & fold over to form a half moon.
  10. Seal the edges of the empanada with your finger using your thumb or forefinger to look somewhat scalloped.
  11. Transfer the empanadas to the baking sheet & chill uncovered 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 400º F, brush the empanada tops with egg wash.
  13. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden, halfway through baking rotate the baking sheet to ensure even baking.
  14. Remove from oven when done & let rest 3-5 minutes before serving. Best served warm.

 

 

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Empanadas for Valentine’s Day ❤️

 

Empanadas are little hand-held pies that can be served as an appetizer, lunch or dessert depending on the size and filling. Traditional empanadas are shaped like half moons.  We were inspired by the upcoming celebration of Valentine’s Day so we shaped ours into hearts that you can enjoy with your special someone. ❤

These empanadas smelled so good while they were baking, for a moment we thought we were walking down a street in Argentina!  We could hardly wait to eat them. They are filled with a delicious combination of meat, vegetable & cheese.

Servings: 6-8 (depending on the size of your cookie cutter. We used a 5″ x 4″ heart-shaped)

Ingredients

  • 1 Easy Empanada Flaky Dough Recipe
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or frozen cubes)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese (cheddar or any cheese of your choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan Reggiano
  • 2 lbs bulk hot country sausage, no casings  (we use Neese’s)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Easy Empanada Flaky Dough 
  2. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  3. Sauté onion & garlic in EVOO on medium-low until soft & lightly golden, 5-10 minutes. Add oregano & cumin. Stir another minute.
  4. Turn heat up to medium and add spinach, cook, stirring until spinach is wilted & soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat & let cool. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Put bulk sausage in skillet, Cook and brown while breaking up into smaller pieces until done.
  6. Remove from heat and spoon sausage meat onto paper towels removing as much fat/grease as possible. Do not clean skillet at this time, keep sausage fat in skillet.
  7. Add flour to the skillet and whisk the milk gradually until mixture is smooth.
  8. Add butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.
  9. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs. Return to heat and cook, stirring until mixture comes to another boil and thickens, the sauce will be a paste consistency.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  11. Chop the cooled spinach, onion & garlic mixture. Add into the cheese sauce along with well-drained sausage.
  12. Roll out the empanada dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut 2 hearts with a 5″ x 4″ heart-shaped cookie cutter. Brush the edges of 1 heart lightly with egg wash.
  13. Place 2 Tablespoons of filling in center of the heart, cover with another heart-shaped cutout. Press edges together firmly all around with thumb or forefinger forming a sort of scalloped edge. Brush with egg wash then bake about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm.

 

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Zucchini Lasagna/Ravioli

 

Gluten-Free, Low Carb

If you love ravioli or lasagna and want to cut down on carbs this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for! Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s so easy to make. Zucchini makes a great substitute for the traditional lasagna noodle or ravioli while delivering that classic Italian flavor. It can be layered like lasagna or folded into a ravioli style. Trust us…you will not be disappointed.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta, whole milk
  • 4 medium zucchini ( if making lasagna, add more zucchini for more than 2 layers)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Basil, thinly sliced & divided
  • EVOO for greasing casserole or baking dish
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1½ cups Basic Tomato Sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Lightly drizzle EVOO into a large casserole or baking dish.
  3. Add a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce and spread evenly.
  4. Wash zucchini and cut off ends.
  5. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise then, use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice each zucchini into flat strips. (stop peeling when you reach the center or slices will get too narrow).
  6. In a medium bowl mix the ricotta, egg, Pecorino Romano, garlic, 2 Tablespoons basil, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.

 Lasagna Option: Spoon a few tablespoons of tomato sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish or lasagna pan.

  1. Lay strips of zucchini noodles in bottom of the baking dish so that they overlap lengthwise.
  2. Spoon about half the ricotta mixture over zucchini and gently spread over noodles.
  3. Spoon a little tomato sauce over the filling and spread evenly.
  4. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella on top and repeat layers, ending with mozzarella on top.
  6. Bake on middle rack until cheese is melted and starting to brown lightly about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and top with remaining basil and grated cheese. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.  If too much liquid from the zucchini is present use a turkey baster to remove excess.

Ravioli Option: Spoon a few tablespoons of tomato sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish or lasagna pan.

  1. Using 4 strips of zucchini,  place 2 slightly overlapping on a flat surface in a vertical position. Place the other 2 strips horizontally to form an even cross.
  2. Spoon approximately 1 Tablespoon of ricotta mixture in the center of the zucchini cross.
  3. Starting from the top fold down strips to cover the mixture. Repeat with the 3 remaining sides. Place seam side down into baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle with grated cheese, basil, and top with mozzarella.
  5. Bake at  375º F oven on middle rack for approximately 15-20 minutes until cheese melts and starts to brown lightly.
  6. Remove from oven and top with remaining basil and grated cheese. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. If too much liquid from the zucchini is present use a turkey baster to remove excess.

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Barbara’s Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

 

When Barbara was raising her family this was one of their favorite pasta dishes. Her youngest son always requests this delicious meal every time he visits from California and even asks her to cook this dish while visiting him. It’s a quick and easy meal.

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth to cook broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth,
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Oregano, dried
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, divided into thirds
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO + additional as needed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or frozen cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box Pasta ( we used Farfalle, use any pasta of your choice)
  • reserve 1/2 cup cooked pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large pot bring salted water to a boil to cook pasta.
  2. When water boils lower heat just to keep water hot until ready to add the pasta.
  3. Cook broccoli in chicken broth in a covered microwave-safe dish 6-7 minutes in a microwave. (make sure covering is vented).
  4. In a large skillet or flat-bottomed wok add 1/3 the butter & EVOO until heated. Add the onions and sauté until translucent and softened, Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  5. Remove onion mixture and set aside.
  6. Add additional 1/3 butter and EVOO to skillet. On med-high heat add chicken pieces & lightly brown quickly on both sides, being careful not to overcook.
  7. Bring pasta water back to a boil and cook according to package directions.
  8. Reduce skillet heat and add onion mixture back to the skillet, sprinkle the dried oregano onto the chicken and onions, continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Add the cooked broccoli and chicken broth to skillet and stir well.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste,  simmer another 3 minutes add the remaining  2 Tablespoons of butter to melt into the mixture.
  11. Add cooked pasta to chicken mixture and toss well. If needed add reserved pasta water a little at a time until the desired consistency.
  12. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.

Note: Sauté mushrooms in butter for a variation as shown in the last photo below.



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Gluten-Free Corn & Crab Chowder

 

Heavenly is the only way to describe this fabulous, hearty corn & crab chowder. My good friend, Nancy Baker, cooked this today for our bridge club gathering. Everyone loved it and Nancy was kind enough to share her recipe with me for our blog.  Thank you, Nancy! ❤

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Old Bay® Seasoning Blend
  • 3 Tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill® Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour (regular flour if gluten-free not needed)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth (vegetable broth can be substituted)
  • 1-quart whole milk
  • 3 cups corn kernels, drained well or frozen can be used
  • 8 oz. lump crab meat, cooked
  • gluten-free crackers (oyster crackers if gluten-free not needed)
  • sliced scallions for garnish
  • hot pepper sauce

Instructions

  1. Chop vegetables and set aside.
  2. Add EVOO & butter into a large deep pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the vegetables & bay leaf.
  4. Add salt, pepper & Old Bay® Seasoning.
  5. Sauté vegetables 5 minutes, then sprinkle in flour. Cook mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in broth & combine.
  7. Stir in milk & combine.
  8. Bring soup to a boil, add corn & crab meat. Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove bay leaf.
  10. Ladle soup into soup bowls and top with gluten-free cracker, hot sauce & sliced scallions.
  11. If serving buffet style, keep chowder warm in a crockpot on warmest setting.

chowder_crock_pot

 

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Gluten-Free German Potato Salad

 

Both our husbands love this German potato salad with its irresistable bacon flavor & dijon vinegar dressing. This can be served hot or cold; either way, it’s delicious.

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs baby red potatoes skin on (any baby potatoes can be substituted)
  • 1 lb uncured bacon, crispy & crumbled
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 tsp water
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1½ Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ Tablespoons sugar
  • Pink Himalayan Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 8 scallions (green onions), sliced
  • parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water and season with salt.
  2. Bring the water to a boil cooking until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, approx. 12-15 minutes….careful not to overcook.
  3.  Drain well and let cool to touch. Slice potatoes to the desired thickness and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Reserve about 2-3 Tablespoons of bacon fat in skillet.
  5.  Add finely chopped red onion to the skillet & sauté until tender and translucent. Whisk in apple cider vinegar, water, EVOO, dijon mustard, and sugar.
  6. Bring mixture to a boil, then quickly lower the heat to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in sliced scallions and 3/4 of crumbled bacon. Pour over potatoes, toss gently to combine,  top with remaining bacon crumbles and serve. Garnish with parsley if desired.  Can be served hot or cold.

 

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Grandma Florence’s Chicken with Potatoes, Onions & Peas

 

grandmaflorence

Our beautiful Grandma Florence DeBlasi. She cooked wonderful Neopolitan cuisine which was learned from her native home in Naples, Italy. She was a master seamstress and made many of our childhood clothing and costumes. How lucky we were! ❤

 

Would you like to make dinner in one roasting pan and have an easy cleanup?

This simple recipe comes from our maternal grandmother Florence. Our family has been enjoying this dinner for as long as we can remember. We regret not having a written record of her wonderful meals but we’re on a journey to recreate them to share with you. Some crusty Italian bread to soak up the juice is a great way to enjoy this meal.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4  chicken legs (thigh and drumstick connected), skin on
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 2 cans Le Sueur® very young sweet peas in their liquid
  • 4 russet potatoes, cut in quarters & quarter again
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • EVOO
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to sprinkle on skin of chicken
  • dash poultry seasoning

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Place potatoes and onions in a large roasting pan (9x12x2 or larger) and drizzle a little EVOO then add garlic.
  3. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, mix well.
  4. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, stir 2 or 3 times. (This starts softening the potatoes & onions)
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the skin side with salt, pepper, garlic powder & poultry seasoning.
  6. Place the pan back in the oven and cook for 20 minutes then turn the chicken skin side up.
  7. Continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes until skin is brown
  8. Add the 2 cans of peas with the liquid. Stir well and cook 10 – 15 minutes longer or until chicken skin is crisp and pulls away from the bone.

FYI…We use pink Himalayan salt for its natural mineral content which is not present in regular table salt. I found I’m not sensitive to the pink salt as I am with table salt.

Variations:

After our mother passed away, Dad made his own version sometimes adding mushrooms and Italian sausage. Most of the family loves Mom’s original but Dad’s is tasty too! Feel free to add your own favorite veggies.

 

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