Eat Monte…

Eat Monte

Recipes?!?!?! I gotcha recipes right here! Family recipes from the old country, new recipes from the new country, ones I’ve stolen, modified and just plain made up. Yeah…I gotcha recipes!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Pomodor sauce is similar to marinara except it cooks longer and is smooth and not chunky.  In My home, Pomodoro sauce is also a bit spicier.  I’ve simplified it a bit by using some canned tomatoes but fresh is always better so substitute ripe Roma tomatoes.
4 Roma tomatoes diced
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
12-14 diced Roma tomatoes
10-12 large basil leaves chopped
1 small onion chopped
1/2 green pepper  diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 dried chili peppers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
1 pound rigatoni or ziti cooked al dente.
Pour oil in sauce pan and heat. add garlic, onions and peppers and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add tomatoes and all other ingredients and mix well.
Bring to near boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Reduce heat to a medium simmer, still stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Simmer for 25-30 minutes and remove from heat.
Remove the whole chili peppers from the sauce and discard them.
Using a hand blender, blend the sauce until is is a very smooth consistency.
Season with additional kosher salt or pepper to taste if desired.
Serve over hot pasta such as rigatoni or ziti with freshly grated Romano cheese for garnish and fresh Italian or French bread.
A roux is a thickening base for soups and stews and is essential in Cajun and Creole cooking.  Without it, gumbo is just a watery, spicy soup. While it does not sound difficult to make, it is fairly precise and it requires constant attention while making it.  There is a very fine line between a roux and a pan of burned ingredients.
There are only 2 ingredients-flour and oil (actually, you can also use butter)
The tough part of making a roux is keeping it from burning while keeping the heat high enough to make the roux.
You place the oil in a large pan and heat it until it is very hot but not too hot…how hot is something you learn by doing  Then you add the flour and stir it continuously as it darkens.  If you start getting black flakes in it you have burned it and you’re going to have to start over. Keep stirring continuously over medium-high heat until the mixture is a very dark and nutty brown.  Then remove from heat. There are lighter roux which are not cooked as long and there are roux that are nearly as dark as coffee.
Some people say that you can make the roux in advance and even store what you don’t need in the refrigerator.  Others say that you should only make the roux as you need it.  I don’t think it matters either way.
But don’t feel bad if (when) you burn a batch or two or three.  Roux takes practice.
Jaeger Schnitzel
A tester wasn’t too keen on this recipe (because of the wine I used we believe) but I loved it. It goes by different names depending on which meat you use-beef, veal, pork, chicken, etc. but they are all basically the same recipe.
The red wine I chose was a full-bodied Shiraz but a more mellow wine like Merlo or a sweeter red may suit some tastes better.
2-lbs boneless pork loin
2-lbs lean beef (beef round or the like sliced into roughly 3”-5” diameter medallions)
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
3 oz of extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 medium carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp parsley
2 whole bay leaves
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups of veal stock (or beef stock)
6 slices smoked bacon
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (wild or regular)
Slice meat ½ inch thick, trim fat, pound to ¼ “ thick and flavor with salt & pepper.
Heat oil in pan, dredge meat in flour and sear both sides until golden.
Remove meat from pan and set aside.
Chop onions, celery, carrots and sauté with thyme, bay leaves and parsley in original pan for several minutes. Deglaze with red wine and cook for approx 10 minutes until reduced by half. Add veal stock (or a good quality beef stock) Return meat to pan and cook until tender (about 20 minutes)
Transfer meat to a plate and keep warm, strain sauce, set aside.
While the meat & sauce are cooking, chop bacon into ¾ inch pieces, partially cook with 2
Tbsp butter.
Add mushrooms and sauté until golden
Combine strained sauce & mushroom mixture, cook until it thickens (15 min) then skim and discard excess fat
5 minutes before serving return meat to sauce and heat
To serve, divide schnitzels into 6 portions on center of heated plates. Pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve with spaetzle, noodle and cabbage or mashed potatoes and red cabbage.
German potato soup
5lbs peeled potatoes, sliced thin
2 medium carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
½ cup diced yellow or Vidalia onion
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Whole milk (2%, 1% or skim will also work)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Place vegetables in large pot and add water until it is about 2” over the level of the potatoes.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until all vegetables are very soft. Stir frequently and to avoid the mixture burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
You will not be draining the water as it and the potato starch make up the “broth” and thickening agent of the soup.
Turn heat to low, add butter and stir until melted.
Use a hand blender and blend soup until all vegetables are well blended/puréed.
Be careful blending because the soup is thick and very hot and sticks really well when splashed on the skin.
Add parsley, pepper and milk and mix by hand.  Add more milk if needed until the soup is a somewhat thick consistency.  If you add too much milk you can add instant potato flakes but try to avoid having to do that as it can change the taste of the soup.
You can also use light or heavy cream in the mixture.  I use some but it does add a lot of fat to the recipe as opposed to using milk.
Add salt to taste and serve.
Makes a lot!

German cabbage and egg noodles.
A very simple side dish but it goes so well with so many entrees
1 small head of cabbage, sliced into pieces about as big as egg noodles
1-lb bag of egg noodles
1 garlic clove
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Boil cabbage in lightly-salted water until somewhat soft but still with a bit of spring.
Boil egg noodles in lightly-salted water until al dente’
In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add finely-diced garlic.  Saute for about 1-2 minutes over medium heat, being sure to not let the garlic or butter burn.
Add the cabbage and mix thoroughly with the butter mixture over low-medium heat.  Add the, egg noodles and mix well until the noodles are well covered with butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix well until well heated and serve.
Variation: instead of egg noodles, combine the cabbage with freshly made spaetzle.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish,
German potato pancakes
3-lbs potatoes, cleaned.
1 small whole onion, peeled
Cheese grater
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp sugar
All-purpose flour
2 eggs
Grate the onion and potatoes into a large bowl with the course side of a cheese grater or pulp/puree with a food processor.  It will be a thick slurry but not overly runny.
Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes and carefully drain off any liquid that separates from the mixture.
Add the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.  Add about ½ cup flour and mix well.  If the mixture is still very loose add some more flour until it firms up a bit.
You don’t want it runny but you also don’t want it too thick.
Pour a couple of Tbsp of olive oil into a large pan and heat over medium-high heat.
Ladle the potato mixture into the pan and move the ladle bottom around the mixture to flatten it into pancakes. You should have pancakes about 3-5 inches in diameter and about ¼” thick.  They will cook fairly quickly.  Flip them and remove to a heated, paper towel-covered plate when they are golden brown on both sides.  Sprinkle a bit of salt on them when you place them on the plate.
Repeat this making more pancakes and replacing the cooking oil in the pan as needed. Until the potato mixture is all used up.
It is bet to reduce this recipe to make as many pancakes as you need as the mixer does not store well and the pancakes do not reheat well.
Giant Italian Meatballs
2-lbs lean ground beef &1-lb ground veal (or 3-lb lean ground beef if you don’t want to use veal)
1-lb ground sweet or mild Italian sausage.
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
½ Tbsp chopped oregano
½ Tbsp chopped thyme
2Tbsp chopped basil
3 eggs
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ Tbsp kosher salt
½ Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
½ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
Olive oil
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can whole Italian plum tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
½ Tbsp chopped oregano
½ Tbsp chopped thyme
1 tsp rosemary
3 Tbsp chopped basil
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil
Heat a few Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauce pan and add onions and green peppers.  Sauté until they just start to soften, add garlic and sauté about two minutes more, being sure to not let it burn.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a near boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat an let simmer for at least 45 minutes. Using a large wooden spoon or a spatula, mash up the large chunks of tomatoes in the sauce. You can also use a hand blender to blend the sauce to the consistency you want.  Let simmer longer if you can. The longer a sauce simmers the better it usually is.
Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand until all of the ingredients are well blended.
Form into large balls about 3”- 4” in diameter.  You should get about 3-4 meatball per pound of meat.
Pour a few Tbsp of olive oil into a very large frying pan and heat up.  Add meatballs and brown, turning them until most of the surfaces are well browned.
Remove meatballs from pan and drain off grease on paper towels.
Transfer sauce and meatballs to a large pot and simmer over low heat for at least 30-45 minutes.
Serve meatballs with pasta and Italian or fresh bread with Romano or parmesan cheese for garnish.
Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Yes, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Using better and more unusual cheeses can result in some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches you’ve ever had.  This isn’t health food but it’s going to be tough eating regular grilled cheese after you try these
Fresh large Italian loaf of bread
Gruyere, Swiss, provolone, Colby, pepper jack
and sharp cheddar cheeses or any combination.
Softened butter
Slice fresh Italian bread into slices.  They don’t have to be big.  The idea here is to make a greater number of smaller sandwiches.
Spread some butter on one side of two slices of bread and layer on a variety of cheeses in different combinations. Grill them in a cast iron pan until they are golden brown and the cheeses have melted.
Gruyere is an especially good cheese for this and melts nicely but it is a pretty expensive cheese.  Italian gruyere (if you can get it) melts better and has a slightly creamier taste but any of this type will work well.
You can add other ingredients such as grilled onions, sliced jalapeño peppers, ham or chicken, whatever you like.  You’re just trying different things to get out of the standard grilled cheese rut.
Parsley Rice
4 cups cooked rice
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp parsley
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp white wine
Kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
In a large sauce pan, melt butter.  When hot, add white wine, stir for a few seconds and then add the stock. Bring to a boil; add the parsley, a shake or two of kosher salt and the black pepper. Stir and remove from heat.
Add the rice and stir until well mixed.
Chicken Lazone
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 large Vidalia or yellow onion
4 fresh jalapeño peppers, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1 stick butter plus 2 Tbsp
4 Tbsp olive oil plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
16 oz light cream
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp shrimp boil
1 tsp old bay seasoning
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
16 oz cooked linguini
Kosher salt
Slice the chicken into long thin strips and sauté in 4 Tbsp olive oil in large pan, stirring until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, leaving any oil or liquid in the pan. Pour ½ cup of the white wine in pan to deglaze and add the following to the pan just before all of the wine is boiled off.
Slice the onions into thin strips. Add the 2 Tbsp of butter, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, shrimp boil, Old Bay seasoning and some kosher salt to the pan and heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they just start to soften.
Add the jalapeños and sauté until they just begin to soften.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan and continue sautéing the mixture until the wine is evaporated.
Stir in chicken and toss until all is well mixed.
In a large pan, melt the stick of butter and add the light cream.  Bring to a near boil and stir with a wire whisk frequently. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until the cream begins to reduce and thicken. Whisk in the parmesan cheese and parsley until well mixed.
Cook linguini until al dente, drain.
All three of the above should be finished roughly about the same time.
Place the linguini in a large, warm bowl and pour chicken mixture over the top of it.  Pour sauce over chicken and pasta mixture and lightly lift pasta with large serving fork to allow sauce to coat pasta evenly.  If the sauce becomes too thick, add a small amount of milk to thin it.
Serve with French or Italian bread.
Andouille and Shrimp
1-lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 Andouille sausage links, sliced (about ¾ to 1-lb. total)
1 Tbsp diced garlic
4 slices chopped bacon fried plus grease
½ cup chopped green peppers
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup white wine
½ cup sliced green onions
2 cups milk
Cornstarch and water mixture thickening
4 cups cooked white rice 16 oz cooked rigatoni
4 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
4 Tbsp butter
½ Tbsp fresh chopped basil
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Old bay Seasoning
½ tsp shrimp boil
Kosher salt
Grated parmesan or Romano cheese
Heat 2 Tbsp butter in large frying pan and sauté green peppers, celery and onion and mix well, cooking for about 2 minutes.
Add the sliced Andouille sausage, bacon & grease and garlic and cook for about 1 more minute.
Add wine to hot pan and stir.
Add shrimp and continue to cook until liquid is mostly evaporated.
Add milk to mixture and bring to a boil.  Add green onions, basil and half the parsley and cornstarch mixture to thicken the mixture.  Add a small amount of additional milk or cornstarch as needed for the proper thickness and simmer for an additional two minutes. Salt and pepper to taste
Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large pan.  Mix in some fresh black pepper, kosher salt and half of the parsley.
Stir up and add four cups of hot cooked rice.  Mix well and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Rice (or pasta) and sauce mixture should be finished about the same time.
Ladle shrimp and sausage mixture over rice or cooked pasta.
Sprinkle at least 1 Tbsp of grated parmesan or Romano cheese over each serving.
Serves 4
Shrimp With Crab and Cream Sauce
1-lb medium shrimp-peeled and deveined.
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
6-8 oz. fresh, coarsely-chopped crab meat (canned will do if fresh is not available)
About 20-30 large basil leaves coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green onions
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp diced garlic
2 cups light cream
1-½ sticks butter
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
1 tsp shrimp boil
½ tsp white pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 cups parsley rice
Or 16 oz penne pasta cooked al dente
Melt ½ stick of butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add 1 tsp of the chopped garlic, celery and a few twists of black pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes being sure the butter and garlic don’t burn.  Add the wine and stir to deglaze and then add the vegetable stock. Bring to a near-boil and add the shrimp, mushrooms and parsley.  Stir frequently, cooking until the mushrooms and shrimp are nearly done.
The above should be finished at the same time the sauce mixture below is finished though the sauce should be started about 6-8 minutes before the shrimp and mushroom mixture.
Melt one stick of butter in a large sauce pan. Add 1 tsp of the garlic and stir. Add the light cream and stir with a wire whisk frequently until the mixture reduces and starts to thicken slightly.
Mix in the crab meat, basil leaves, nutmeg, shrimp boil, plus some more kosher salt and a few twists of ground black pepper. Continue to gently whisk for another minute or two to further thicken the mixture.  Try to avoid breaking the crab meat up too much.
Add the shrimp mixture from the other pan to the sauce and stir until the shrimp and mushrooms are completely cooked.
Serve immediately over parsley rice or penne pasta with fresh French or Italian bread on the side.
Serves 4
Cinnamon Apple crumble
This stuff is addictive so we are not responsible for extreme overeating.
10 cups slice Granny Smith apples (about 5-6 large apples before peeling)
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup water
1 cup fast cooking oatmeal
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter melted
Place sliced apples in a high-sided 9” x 13” glass baking dish.  Add white sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and water and mix well
Combine the oats, butter, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well until you have small crumbles. Break up larger clumps by hand.
Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apple mixture
Bake at 350-degrees for about 45 minutes.
Maryanne’s Fruit Crumble
1 stick butter (melted)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 can of fruit of your choice
Heat oven to 375-degrees.
Melt butter and pour in bottom of large oval glass dish.  Mix flour, sugar, and milk in bowl and pour over melted butter.  Pour fruit over top and mix everything gently but don’t worry about getting it all completely mixed together.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes until solid.

Note to me from Maryanne:
P.S. if you like it enough to get into the cook book, you should credit me!

Tilapia fillets pan-sautéed with sliced fresh mushrooms and basil topped with a spicy white wine butter sauce. Served over a bed of parsley rice.
4 tilapia fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sweet white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 stick butter
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp white ground pepper
½ tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 whole bay leaves
½ lemon
Kosher salt
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and place the fresh tilapia fillets in the pan. When done on one side, sprinkle with the paprika, nutmeg, some kosher salt and a sprinkle or two of white pepper.  Turn them over and continue to cook until they are about done.  Tilapia cooks fairly fast so it should not take long
When nearly done, remove the fillets to a heated plate and pour ¼ cup of the wine into the pan to deglaze and scrape it around with a spatula.  Then squeeze the juice from the ½ lemon into the pan and stir more. The liquid in the pan should evaporate quickly.  When it does, remove the pan from the heat and return the fillets to the pan with the seasoned side facing up.  Cover with a lid and set aside as the mixture below is prepared.
Melt butter in large pan.  Add bay leaves and simmer over low heat for about two minutes.  Add the garlic, white pepper, black pepper and nutmeg. Stir all and simmer for another two minutes making sure that the garlic doesn’t burn.  Add ¾ cup of white wine and the vegetable stock and increase to a near boil.  After another minute, remove the whole bay leaves and add the mushrooms and stir as the mixture cooks.  Continue until the mushrooms are nearly cooked and liquid in the pan is about boiled off.
Add the rest of the stock, half the remaining wine and the chopped basil to the pan, reducing heat to medium and stirring.  It should only take a minute or two for the mushrooms and basil to be cooked through.
Ideally the mushroom-basil mixture and the tilapia fillets should be prepared simultaneously and be finished at the same time.
Place a fillet over a bed of parsley rice, (recipe above) ladle ¼ of the mushroom/basil mixture over each fillet and serve with fresh French or Italian bread.
Flattened breaded chicken breast with garlic-sautéed spinach and a seasoned butter sauce.  Served over linguini.
4 chicken breasts, butterflied in half
2-lbs fresh spinach, thoroughly washed and drained
½ Tbsp diced garlic
3 plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup dry white wine
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 cup flour
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp Creole seasoning
Butterfly the chicken breasts so they are half their thickness.  Lay the breast halve on a wood
Gumbo doesn’t get any more New Orleans than this. The recipe is from Mr. B’s Bistro (“B” as in Brennan, one the historically great family names in the NOLA restaurant business)
You can substitute 2-lbs of mixed seafood (shrimp, crawfish, crab, fish, etc.) for the chicken and sausage to make this a seafood gumbo. You can also leave the Andouille in it if you make it seafood gumbo.
The file’ powder (pronounced “fee-lay”) is a finely ground, hot seasoning
This recipe is for two gallons of gumbo, enough to serve at least 12 people–but you can refrigerate it for several days…and Cajun and Creole foods like this just get better when a day or two old.
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped green peppers
1cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1½ gallons chicken stock
1 lb. cooked chicken
1 lb. Andouille sausage, sliced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbs. hot sauce
½ Tbs. file’ powder or Creole seasoning
½ cup chopped green onions
In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat until it almost begins to smoke. Add flour and stir well to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly until roux is a nutty brown color, then lower the heat.
Add onions, celery, and peppers. Cook in roux for five minutes, until onions just begin to soften.
Add chicken stock, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer 15-20 minutes.
Cut chicken meat and Andouille or seafood) into bite-size pieces and add to pot. Simmer another 20 minutes.
Add hot sauce, file’ and green onions, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve in a bowl over a big scoop of boiled long-grain rice with French bread on the side.
These premixed seasoning blends are becoming more popular outside of New Orleans but they cost so much more than the actual cost of the ingredients. Even worse, many of them are mostly salt when they don’t have to be.
You can make up any of these blends for about 1/7th the cost, control the salt level yourself and store what you don’t use.  This will easily keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months in any tightly-sealed container as long as you use freshly purchased spices.
Here are several variations on the recipe.  All are good and the choice of which to use depends entirely on your preferences.
4 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp ground black pepper
4 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp basil
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dry mustard
Mix the ingredients well in a jar with a tight lid
1 1/2 cups paprika
3/4 cup ground black pepper
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated garlic
1/3 cup dried thyme
1/3 cup dried oregano
1/3 cup dried basil
1/4 cup granulated onion
1/4 cup cayenne
In a bowl combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container
1/3 Cup Paprika
1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
4 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp White Pepper
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
In a bowl combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (a.k.a. Bayou Blast):

Emeril’s seasoning blend without the Emeril’s price.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
The key to a good blackened dish is the seasoning blend with which it is encrusted.  You want spicy without going overboard. This also makes a great spice blend for sauces or seasoning for any seafood dish. Unlike the Creole seasoning above, this one does require salt but not in the ridiculous amounts you would find in many commercially-available spice blends. This seasoning blend will also keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 months in any tightly-sealed container as long as you use freshly-purchased spices.
3 Tbs. paprika
2 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 Tbs. black pepper
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. oregano leaves
Mix the ingredients well in a jar with a tight lid.

Creole Tartar Sauce:

1 egg
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Creole or whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Put the egg, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and green onions in a food processor and puree for 15 seconds. With the processor running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Add the cayenne, mustard, and salt and pulse once or twice to blend.
Cover and let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator before using. Best if used within 24 hours
Shrimp Remoulade
Shrimp Rémoulade is in every New Orleans girl’s arsenal of favored dishes for relaxed entertaining. Serve this simple dish on elegant china and it’s fit for a king- Mardi Gras or otherwise. This is our most popular dish and most frequently requested recipe. Bonus for the home cook: The sauce is definitely best made a day in advance and refrigerated, then all that’s left to do is toss in the shrimp and plate and serve. It’s a snap to make, yet it’s always impressive.
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
½ cup chopped curly parsley
1 cup chopped yellow onion
½ cup ketchup
½ cup tomato purée
½ cup Creole mustard or any coarse, grainy brown mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Spanish hot paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup salad oil
4 dozen jumbo (15 count) shrimp, peeled, boiled, and chilled
1 small head of iceberg lettuce, washed, dried and cut into thin ribbons
Mince the celery, scallions, parsley, and onions in a food processor. Add the ketchup, tomato puree, Creole mustard, horseradish, red wine vinegar, paprika, and Worcestershire. Begin processing again and add the oil in a slow drizzle to emulsify. Stop when the dressing is smooth. Chill for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Correct the seasoning with additional horseradish, if desired after the ingredients have had the opportunity to marry.
In a large mixing bowl, add the sauce to the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Divide the lettuce among 6 chilled salad plates. Divide the shrimp evenly atop the lettuce and serve.

Gumbo Ya Ya 

Making a roux is tricky business. Some pointers to keep in mind: cook your roux over moderately low heat because too high heat will cause the roux to speckle and if that happens you’ll have to throw it away and start over; add the flour gradually to the butter or oil; you must stir the roux constantly with a wooden spoon, your arm will get a workout; and never, but never leave your roux unattended.

This recipe makes a lot of gumbo, 6 quarts, so you’ll have enough for a big party or you can freeze some for later.
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 red bell peppers, in medium dice
2 green bell peppers, in medium dice
2 medium onions, in medium dice
2 celery stalks, in medium dice
1 1/4 gallon (20 cups) chicken stock
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
3 1/2 lb. chicken, roasted and boned
hot sauce to taste
boiled rice as accompaniment
In a 12-quart stockpot melt butter over moderately low heat. Gradually add a third of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add a third more flour and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add remaining third of flour and stir constantly 30 seconds. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add bell peppers and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add the stock to roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add all remaining ingredients except chicken, rice, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes, skimming off any fat and stirring occasionally. Add chicken and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with hot sauce. Serve over rice.
Yield: about 6 quarts
The Shells and tails from 2 lb. of Shrimp
1/2 Cup chopped Onion
1/4 Cup chopped Celery
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns
Add all ingredients to a 2 qt. saucepan. Cover this with cold water, it should be about 6-8 Cups Cups. You’ll need 1 1/2 Cups for the Etouffee. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain.
Tip: When adding fresh Thyme to a simmered dish like this, I always bundle the Thyme tightly with butchers twine. The leaves will remove themselves while cooking, and you will get all of the flavor from the stems. When ready to serve just remove the bundle of stems along with your bay leaves.
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe
2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 Cups Shrimp Stock
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
I bundle of Fresh Thyme
2 tsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (I like Crystal or Louisiana Gold)
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
2 lb Good Quality Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined, Save shells for the stock
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Season the shrimp with 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning.
Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, add the onions, bell pepper, and celery, saute until translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining Creole Seasoning. Add a small amount of the shrimp stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, Thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, a little salt, black pepper, and Cayenne. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Add the shrimp, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, and adjust the seasonings to taste.
1 cup butter
1 cup white onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup shallots (green onions), finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole tomatoes
2 cups fish stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
dash of cayenne
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-½ cups crawfish meats
In a large saucepan melt butter and sauté onion, celery and shallots until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in flour and stir constantly until golden brown. Add tomatoes and brown. Blend in stock and simmer 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and crawfish, cook slowly 15 5o 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with hot rice
Crawfish Etouffee-2
2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
2 lbs Crawfish Tail meat
1/4 Cup Flour
1 1/2 to 2 Cups Crawfish Stock
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (I like Crystal or Louisiana Gold)
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Italian Parsley, minced
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and 1 Tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, saute until translucent. Add the Crawfish tail meat, the remaining Creole seasoning and saute until the tails let off some of their liquid, cook for 3-5 minutes more. Add the flour, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.
Add a small amount of the crawfish stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.
Add the garlic, Thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, a little salt, black pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Add the green onions and parsley, simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, lemon juice, and adjust the seasonings to taste
Shrimp Creole
2 lbs. Peeled and Deveined Shrimp, save shells to make Shrimp Stock
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
2 Ribs Celery, finely chopped
1 small Green Pepper, finely Chopped
2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2-1/2 Cups Very Ripe Fresh Tomatoes, Diced
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Cups Shrimp Stock (recipe here)
2 Tbsp Garlic, minced
2 Bay leaves
Cayenne to taste
Kosher Salt to taste
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp White Pepper
1 bunch Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp Tabasco
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Green Onions, green tops thinly sliced, white part sliced into 1/4″ thickness
1/8 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan with the vegetable oil over medium high heat. When the butter begins to froth add 1/2 cup of the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown. Add the remaining onions, celery, and bell pepper, reduce the heat to medium and season with 1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning and a healthy pinch of salt. Sweat the vegetables until soft.
Add the tomato paste mixing well, and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to brown, then add the fresh tomatoes and another healthy pinch of Kosher salt, this will help the tomatoes break down. Stir well.
When the tomatoes start to break down into liquid add the white wine, and turn the heat to high until most of the alcohol burns off. Add the Shrimp Stock, remaining Creole seasoning, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne (to taste), and Thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
(If necessary at this point thicken the sauce with 1 Tbsp Cornstarch/ 2Tbsp water. Bring to a boil to maximize the thickening power of the cornstarch.)
Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire, and season to taste with Kosher salt. Last chance to re-season your sauce, remember that good cooking is all about proper seasoning. Make your Boiled Rice, and season your shrimp with 1 Tbsp Kosher salt and a pinch of Cayenne.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the shrimp. The key is to not overcook your shrimp. Let them slowly simmer in the sauce until just cooked through.
Serve with boiled rice and garnish with the remaining green onions and parsley.

Red beans and rice

4 cans red beans
½ pound bacon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp. creole seasoning.
3 bay leaves
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
6 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish
Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until well done.  Remove bacon and set aside, you won’t be using it for this recipe, just the fat in the pot.  Add the olive oil, chopped ham and 1tsp of creole seasoning and stir while the ham browns.  Add the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic and stir over medium heat until the vegetable just start to soften.
Add the red beans with liquid, bay leaves and 1 Tbsp of creole seasoning and mix well.  Bring to a near boil and reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and checking occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.
Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash about ¼ of the beans against the side of the pot and mix well, being certain not to break up the bay leaves. Add the sausage and allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  The mixture should be thick and creamy but not too thick.  If it is too thick you can add some water or chicken stock to the mixture.
Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.
Shrimp Victoria1 lb Peeled and Deveined Shrimp
1/4 stick Unsalted Butter
1/8 Cup sliced Green Onions
1/8 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Mushrooms Thinly Sliced
2 oz Dry White Wine
2 oz Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt or to taste
Pinch of White Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp White Roux (Equal parts Unsalted Butter and Flour, cooked together for 1-2 minutes)
2 oz Sour CreamMelt the butter in a sauté pan, add the Green Onions, Mushrooms, Basil, and Shrimp. Saute until the shrimp just start to turn pink. Add the white wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the Heavy Cream, Worcestershire and seasonings. Add the Roux, cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, adjust the seasonings if necessary, serve immediately. Brennan’s serves this over parsley rice, it goes well over pasta also.
Fresh, Oven-Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce and Shrimp Over Rigatoni
2 cups grape tomatoes (cherry will work if grape not available)
2 tsp sugar if cherry tomatoes are substituted
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1-1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp thyme leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 pound rigatoni cooked al dente
1 pint Half-N-Half
3/4 pound large shrimp-shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large cast-iron skillet, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and thyme and season with kosher salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper from a pepper mill. Roast the tomatoes for about 25-40 minutes, until starting to lightly brown and their skins split.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
Add the Half-N-Half to the tomatoes, move the pan to the stovetop and bring to a simmer.  Add the basil and cook over moderate heat, thoroughly crushing the tomatoes with a metal or wood spatula or a wood spoon, until the cream starts to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick you can add any type of milk at any point to get it to a proper consistency.
Mix in sugar if cherry tomatoes were substituted. Add the shrimp and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with more kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Add lemon juice and mix.  Place pasta in large warm bowl, pour sauce mixture over pasta, add parsley and toss until the pasta is coated.  Transfer the pasta to warm bowls and serve at once with grated parmesan or Romano cheese as garnish and fresh Italian or French bread.
Roasted Tomato Garlic Pink Sauce with Penne
1 large can whole Italian plum tomatoes in sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
¼ cup diced green peppers
¼ cup chopped yellow onion
1 tsp chopped oregano
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp minced or chopped garlic
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp thyme leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 pound penne, cooked al dente
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 400°.  Drain the sauce/liquid from the plum tomatoes and set aside.  In a large cast-iron skillet, toss the tomatoes, peppers and onions with the olive oil and thyme and season with kosher salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper from a pepper mill. Roast the mixture in the oven for 15-20 minutes until sizzling and thoroughly cooked.

Remove from oven and pour sauce into deep bowl, and carefully mix with a hand blender (not a hand mixer) until it is a still-thick sauce. The tomatoes, peppers and onions should be shredded up but they should not be a smooth and even mixture.  There should still be a fair amount of small to medium chunks in the sauce. Return the mixture to the cast iron pan and place on stove over medium/high heat and add sauce/liquid you drained from the plum tomatoes can, the basil, parsley, sugar and oregano.  Simmer an additional 5 minutes and add the milk.  Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes over medium heat.  The sauce should thicken up a bit as liquid evaporates.  If it doesn’t don’t worry, just simmer a bit longer over medium/low heat.  Make sure to stir the mixture a lot to keep it from sticking or burning.2011

My grated cheese rant.

Okay, here we go…let me start out by saying that there is no such thing as parmesan cheese! It’s true. Parmesan is a word made up by the Kraft Foods Corporation because they weren’t allowed to use the word Parmagiana or Parmagiano-reggiano which is actually the cheese you are thinking about. Parmesan is a cheep, mass-produced cow milk cheese that Americans have been trained to think of as Italian. It’s not! No more than Chow Mien is Chinese (it was invented in San Francisco)
Italian foods are strictly regulated by that nation according to quality and region of production so there is a huge difference between foods produced there and those which are not but only called Italian. Huge difference in price too. For example, Prosciutto (cured Italian ham) is available in grocery stores and is produce in America, Spain and many other countries. Parma Prosciutto is produced in the Parma region of Italy and is not only vastly superior in taste and quality but also costs 2-3 times as much. Same names, vastly different products.
Also, balsamic vinegar, the kind actually made in Italy, has no vinegar in it as it isn’t actually vinegar. I know that may be confusing but remember that a shoehorn it is not a musical instrument even though it has the word horn in it but .
Real balsamic vinegar is thick and syrupy and costs about $100 per bottle. That price may seem steep but it takes many years to make the stuff and it is transferred between several different barrels as it ferments, much like wines are made. Yeah, real stuff costs more but it’s almost always worth the difference.
A. Buy the real stuff, especially when it comes to cheeses. You cannot beat Peccorino Romano or real parmaggiano for taste and they don’t cost that much more than cheap cheeses.
B. Buy them in block and grate them as you need them. They retain their flavor much longer and the taste is fuller and more complex when freshly grated as compared to the cheaper, pre-grated cheeses which are just flat and salty.

Fettuccini Alfredo***

I put a new recipe for this in every year that we make a cookbook…oh well.

Fettuccini Alfredo is not actually Italian. It was invented, however, by an Italian restaurant owner in New York City who’s name was Alfredo. That’s not really important. What is important is that the “Alfredo” sauce you buy in a jar in the grocery stores is NOT Alfredo nor is it even Alfredo-like. I’m not saying that it’s not any good, it’s just that it is actually a white cheese sauce while genuine Alfredo is almost all cream and butter with no cheese. Actually, genuine Alfredo has around four ingredients: butter, cream, salt, pepper with maybe a dash of parrmaggiano-reggiano cheese. That’s it. But this is the Alfredo I make so that’s what’s in this book. It’s basically genuine Alfredo with some extra seasoning. Just use the first three ingredients listed below with a garnish of grated Romano or parmesan if you want 100% authentic Alfredo sauce.

16 ounces heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
1 stick Butter
A dash of garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
16 ounces Fettuccine or rigatoni; cooked al dente‘& drained

In large saucepan heat butter until melted. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Add cream and bring to a high simmer. Whisk almost constantly over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until cream reduces and begins to thicken. Whisk in cheese stirring constantly until smooth. Sprinkle some parsley over just before serving
Toss pasta lightly with sauce, coating well and serve.

Low Fat Alfredo-Like Pasta Sauce***
Okay, this is just so wrong to me on so many levels. But without it, a lot of people won’t eat Alfredo for a very good reason-it is outrageously fattening. When your ingredient list is cream, butter and cheese, you’re asking for your heart to blow up by just looking at the dish.
So I made a low-fat version which actually isn’t bad. In fact, daughter Maryanne seems to like it better than the original. You simply can’t make this completely fat-free without it tasting like…well…nothing. And do not try using fat-free Half-n-Half either, it doesn’t work. It winds up with some weird, artificial sweet taste

3 cups fat-free milk plus some extra to mix with cornstarch
½ cup low fat or fat-free grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ cup Promise-brand spread or other butter alternative
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta of choice cooked al dente’
Romano or parmesan grated cheese for topping.

Melt butter substitute spread in large sauce pan and add the garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and let simmer for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the milk and bring to a near boil. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes at a near-boil, whisking very frequently.
Prepare some thickener by mixing around two tablespoons of cornstarch with around ¼ cup cold milk. Mix thoroughly while the sauce simmers and set aside.
Add parmesan cheese to the pan and whisk in thoroughly over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Do not stop whisking. Stir up the cornstarch mixture with a fork to be sure it hasn’t all settled to the bottom of its cup and pour some into the sauce mixture. Keep whisking the mixture and add more cornstarch mixture until the sauce is at its desired thickness. Remember that you need to stop adding cornstarch when it is almost the right thickness since cornstarch will continue to thicken for a while after it has been added. If it gets too thick just thin it with a bit of milk.
Place pasta in a large, heated bowl and pour the Alfredo sauce over it. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately with grated parmesan or Romano cheese for topping and fresh Italian or French bread.
This sauce can also be the base for a tomato cream sauce, for a pasta carbonara-ish sauce (using fat-free bacon, of course) or even Magianno’s Rigatoni-D recipe from last year’s cookbook. In addition, it works reasonably well for the creamy veal and veal ala mare’ recipes, also from last year’s cookbook.

McDonald’s McRib Sandwich
Yup, you read right. Since McDonald’s sees fit to grace us with the McRib for only a short time every few years I decided to make an exact duplicate of the McRib so that I could enjoy the heart attack on a bun whenever I want to. The benefit is that it is much less fatty and lower in calories than the original.

Pre-formed pork patties
Pepperidge Farms hoagie rolls
KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce
Dill pickle slices
Onion slices

First, you need a box of the formed rib patties in barbeque sauce. The kind I use is the brand called “Family Buffet” at WalMart for about $2.00 for five patties. You also need a package of Pepperidge Farms hoagie rolls with sesame seeds, a bottle of KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce, dill pickle and onion slices.
Cook the box of pork-(ish) patties in the microwave until they are just warm and remove. Here’s where it gets strange; thoroughly wash all of the original BBQ sauce off the patties. You may even need to scrub them a bit with a brush…I’m not kidding.
When they are clean, set them aside. You then slice up the onion and pickles. Heat the patties in the microwave with a generous coating of the KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce, place the patty on the bun along with the pickles and onion slices and there you have your McRib.
Two bonuses of making your own McRib is that you can eat two or three for the same amount of calories and fat as one from McDonalds and that you can have them whenever you want.
Another bonus it that each sandwich costs about $1.20 so you can eat more for less…how’s that for great health advice-eat more pork!
For a more authentic dining experience, put way too much sauce on each sandwich so it gets all over everything within 10-feet of you.

Chocolate, strawberry, banana protein smoothie***
So when I started working out I found that I needed more protein and fewer calories to loose the massive quantity of weight I gained after I quit smoking. This shake is very, very health, tastes great and only has about 350-calories for a 40+ ounce shake and (depending on the protein powder you use) at least 50% of your RDA of protein. I toss a few blueberries into the mix just because they are so incredibly healthy for you.

½ Cup fat-free milk
½ Cup low fat strawberry or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Very Authentic Pasta Carbonara
This dish is considered to be a late-night staple in Italy…sort of like going out for breakfast after a night out is in America

1 lb spaghetti cooked al dente
8 slices bacon
4 medium to large eggs
1.2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup of the boiling water used to cook the pasta

Fry the bacon in a pan until a bit crisp but not crunchy. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels and cut across the marbling into thin strips.
Combine the cream, eggs, bacon, parsley and cheese in a large bowl.
Carefully scoop a quarter cup of water from the cooking pasta just when you are ready to drain it.
The cooking pasta should be timed to be ready just when the other ingredients are combined in the large bowl. Quickly drain the pasta in a colander, do NOT rinse and then quickly pour the pasta into the bowl. Add the ¼ cup of pasta water and quickly toss the pasta, coating it thoroughly with the mixture in the bowl. It is important that the pasta be as hot as possible when added to the bowl since the hot pasta “cooks” the eggs in the mixture.
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve with fresh French or Italian bread.

Basic Italian Bread
1 pound all-propose flour
1 cup warm water
1 ounce moist active cake yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix yeast and warm water in a measuring cup with a fork until the yeast is broken up.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, mix the salt and sugar and make a hole in the middle of it. Pour the water/yeast into the middle, add the olive oil and mix it with your hand until it forms a dough-like ball. You can use an electric bread mixer or bread making machine for the first mixing.
Remove from the bowl and kneed on a floured surface for about two minutes.
Place large, deep pan on the bottom rack of an oven.
Heat oven to 250 degrees for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Wait five minutes and then fill the pan in the oven with boiling water and close the door.
Place the dough on a large greased pan, spray a piece of aluminum foil with coking spray and loosely cover the dough with the foil and then place the greased pan in the oven
Let rise for about 30 minutes then remove from the oven.
Repeat the process of heating the oven and adding new boiling water to the pan while you kneed the dough on a floured surface for about a minute. Return the dough to the oven and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
Pull the dough out and kneed it for another minute and cut into even pieces for rolls or form it into loaves or place in greased bread pan. Let rise again for 30 minutes in the oven, remove and set the oven to 350-degrees. Bake bread until golden brown.

Fresh fire-roasted Walrus
An international favorite that sounds weird but people in northern Europe have been eating various recipes with some or all of these ingredients for generations. If you cannot find fresh walrus you may substitute fresh killer whale.

1 fresh, large male walrus, 10-14 feet long. 1,200-1,600-lbs. Dressed and cleaned
1 large onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
One 16-oz ribeye steak
Salt and pepper
100 gallons water
1 metal bath tub
1 big metal grate
2 cords of fire wood

Using half of a chord of the firewood, build a fire under the bath tub filled with the water and bring to a boil.
Clean and dress the walrus remove the head and tail and chop into three even pieces. Drop it all into the bathtub one piece at a time along with the onion, garlic, salt and pepper bring water back to a boil and let cook for 2 hours. Replace water as needed as it boils off. Remove the head after 1 hour and set aside.
Remove all of the walrus and remove the tub from the fire. Keep the liquid remaining in the tub
Put the rest of the firewood onto the fire and let burn until reduced to hot coals. Place metal grate over the fire and put all of the walrus over the fire except for the head and tail. After two hours put the head on the grate. Cook for one more hour.
Remove all of the walrus parts from the fire and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Dig a large hole about 6-feet in diameter and 6-feet deep. Throw all the walrus into the hole, cover with dirt, go into the house and cook that 16-ounce steak. Eat that instead because walrus tastes like shit!

The second-best basic way to cook a steak.
Quite frankly, we make cooking steak too complicated. As long as you start with a reasonably fresh cut of quality beef, it shouldn’t be that difficult. You do have to remember that the flavor and tenderness of steak is often dependent on the fat content of the cut. The more fat that is marbled into the meat, such as in a rib-eye, the more flavorful it will be. You can make any cut taste like a steakhouse steak if you remember a few simple basics.
1. Do not fork or “tenderize” meat. Poking, cutting, stabbing or forking it will tear the muscle fiber in the steak, releasing moisture and actually making it tougher.
2. Searing the outside under high heat will seal in flavor and juices.
3. You don’t have to marinade meat for it to be tender. You can, but buying a good cut is more important.

You’ll need
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Olive oil
Chopped garlic (optional)
Here’s the best (simplest ) way to prepare a steak.
First wash and dry the steaks. Place the steaks in a large glass, baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle kosher salt all over the steaks and then rub it all in with your hands for a few minutes. Do the same with both sides then sprinkle fresh ground pepper on each side.
If you are grilling the steaks, sear them on both sides over high heat and then cook over medium heat a few more minutes until cooked how you want them.
If broiling, place in a preheated oven set on broil. Pour about 1” of water in the bottom of a broiling pan and place it in the oven under the heating elements so that it is about 2” away from them. Let the pan heat for about 4 minutes. Slide the rack out with the pan on it and, using tongs, drop the steaks onto the broiler pan. They should sizzle really loudly since the pan has been under the heating elements for a few minutes. Cook about 2-4 minutes per side and when you flip the steaks (again with a tong, not a fork) flip the steak onto a part of the broiler, the longer you cook, the more well done the steak. But be aware that it cooks faster under a broiler than you think it does so be careful not to overcook it.
If you want to use garlic, first wash and dry the steaks. Place the steaks in a large glass, baking dish, place a tablespoon of chopped garlic on them and rub the garlic into the steak with your hands for a few minutes. Follow the remaining steps above.
When your steaks are finished, place them on a heated plate, drizzle some melted butter and a pinch more of kosher salt on each steak and serve. Remember that a steak will continue to cook even after you have removed it from the heat so serve them quickly when they’re finished.
If pan cooking a steak use a cast-iron skillet and heat it very hot before dropping the steak in it as to sear the outside of the meat. Flip onto another part of the pan to sear the other side. Reduce the heat and continue to cook. For thicker cuts, place a smaller pan of hot water on top of the steaks to press them down onto the pan.

The best way to cook a steak EVER!!!!
This one may sound strange but it will be the BEST steak you ever had. The better the cut the better the steak but as with the recipe above, even cheaper cuts turn out great.
You will need:
Salt and pepper
Ziploc bags big enough to hold one steak
A big pot of water
An accurate candy or cooking thermometer.
A propane torch (yeah, the kind used for plumbing repairs.)

Wash steaks and place in individual Ziploc bags (no cheap substitutes here)
Heat a large pot of water to exactly 120-degrees and drop the steak bags into the water.
Maintain the water temperature as best you can at 120-degrees for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 145-degrees for an additional 15 minutes. Reduce the times for thinner cuts, increase it slightly for thicker cuts.
remove the steaks from the bags and fire up the torch. Thoroughly sear every surface of the steaks with the torch. This will take a few minutes but you have to do it. Do not sear them under a broiler or in a pan as it will overcook the steaks.
when seared to your satisfaction, sprinkle on some Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, maybe some garlic-infused butter. Serve.
The reason to go through all this is that as beef cooks slowly with low heat, it releases an enzyme that softens the muscle fibers. This does not happen when you cook beef under high temperatures.
Trust me, go through this work and your reward will be amazing.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Pasta
Sort of like a shrimp scampi with pasta but spicier! mmmmmmmmm

2 pounds fresh shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pound box spaghetti or fettuccini pasta cooked al dente’
1½ sticks butter
1 small julienned onion
1 tablespoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon dry chopped oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ cup white wine
4-6 small dry Mexican red chili peppers, cored and cut in half lengthwise
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
½ cup milk
Cornstarch/water mix
½ cup chopped green onions
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Peel, devein and wash shrimp and set aside.
Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add garlic, salt, pepper flakes, black pepper and oregano and simmer over medium heat for two minutes. Add lemon juice and stir for one minute. Add wine and parsley stir until heated through. Add milk and stir until heated. Add shrimp to mixture, stir over medium heat until shrimp is cooked throughout. Do not overcook the shrimp. If mixture is too thin add a very small bit of cornstarch/water to it and stir.
Serve over pasta. Garnish with green onions and parmesan cheese.

Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms
12 large 2-3 inch diameter mushrooms
1 eight-ounce package cream cheese
1 can crab meat
1 small onion diced
2 teaspoon diced garlic
Mushroom stems finely diced
Kosher salt and pepper
½ stick butter plus 2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil plus two tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
¾ cup breadcrumbs plus extra if needed

Remove the stems form the mushrooms and set aside. Trim the loose, rubbery edges off the caps so they make nice little bowls.
Dice the onion and the mushroom stems. Heat olive oil or melt the half stick of butter in a small sauce pan and place the diced stems, onions, garlic, salt and pepper in the pan and stir over medium heat until he onions get soft. Remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
Combine the crème cheese, bread crumbs, onion mixture and crab meat and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be firm enough to form into balls that hold their shape. If too moist, add more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a small bit of milk.
Press even amounts of the mixture into each mushroom cap and place caps in a buttered glass baking dish (mushroom side down) large enough for all of the mushrooms. Once the dish is full, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and brush or drizzle some on top of the seafood mixture in each mushroom.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in center rack of oven for 20-30 minutes at 325-degrees or until mushrooms appear cooked throughout.

Healthy substitutions:
Use low-fat cream cheese and low fat butter-spread

Coney Island Chili-Dogs***
Damned Yankee chili-dogs the way they are supposed to be. You serve them with chopped onions, melted cheese and chili sauce, not coleslaw. Coleslaw on a hot dog ?!?!?! That’s not right…that’s not a topping, that’s just missing your target when serving a side dish J

1 pound Ground Beef, Lean as possible or you may substitute ground turkey
1 Small Onion, Chopped
2 Tbls. Prepared Yellow Mustard
2 Tbls. Vinegar
2 Tbls. Sugar
1 Tbls. Water
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp. Celery Seed
1/2tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1/4 cup Catsup, Approximate (Use enough to keep mixture loose)

In salted skillet, over medium heat, brown ground beef with onion, breaking up meat with fork to crumble fine. Drain off fat.
Add mustard, vinegar, sugar, water, Worcestershire sauce, celery seed, and Tabasco sauce. Mix well. Add enough catsup to keep mixture loose.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer (uncovered), for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes enough sauce for six to eight medium wieners.

Healthy substitutions:
Use meat substitute such as “Crumblers” brand that you can find in the frozen section of your grocery store. You can also use a no-sugar added ketchup. When preparing the meat, sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil plus a bit of water and add the meat substitute when the onions are almost completely cooked through.

Crab Cakes-II
This is supposedly the recipe from the famous Four Seasons Restaurant. They do not have the “bread” consistency of Maryland-style crabs cakes and are a different kind of eating experience if Maryland-style is what you are used to. You can save a bit of cash by substituting the artificial crab meat for some, or even all of the called-for amount of crab meat. but you should only do this if you have previously tried the brand you are going to use in other recipes and find the taste acceptable.

2 pounds fresh, frozen or canned lump crabmeat
½ pound fresh cod fillet
½ to 1 cup heavy cream
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil for sautéing
Unseasoned bread crumbs (if needed)

In a food processor, grind codfish until pureed. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and puree until incorporated. Then add more cream if needed so that the mixture is smooth and shiny, yet firm enough to hold its shape.
Break the crab meat up into small pieces but do not tear it completely apart. If blending in artificial crab meat you may need to use a knife and cut it into smaller bits but afterwards, tear it into small chunks.
Place the mousse in a metal bowl, mix in the eggs and add the crab meat and other ingredients, except for the olive oil, and mix well.
If the mixture is too thin to hold together when formed into patties then add a small amount of bread crumbs. Mix them in just until they hold a patty shape.
Take a small portion of the crab-cake mixture and sauté in hot olive oil until golden brown. Taste to adjust seasoning.
Form the rest of the crab cakes into patties no more than 1” thick and sauté in hot olive oil over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Finish by baking in a pre-heated, 450-degree oven for 5 to 6 minutes.

Baked Potato Soup***
You can make this delicious soup more healthy by the simple substitutions you‘ll find at the end of the recipe or make it just as it is.. Of course, you can also go the other way and add grated cheddar cheese and cooked, chopped bacon with a teaspoon of the bacon grease to make it completely unhealthy but still delicious potato bacon soup.

2 Cups potatoes, diced but unpeeled
¼ lb butter
2 Cups finely diced yellow onions
½ Cup flour
1 quart warm water
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ Cup chicken or vegetable bouillon
1 Cup potato flakes
2 Cups heavy cream
2 Cups milk
½ teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley plus more for garnish
Salt, pepper and dried basil to taste

Sauté onions in melted butter for 10 minutes in large kettle. Add flour to onions and butter and cook for four to five minutes, stirring until flour is absorbed.

In a separate container, combine water, bouillon, potato flakes, and seasonings. Stir until thoroughly mixed and no lumps remain. Add to onion mixture, one pint at a time.
Add milk and cream, stirring until smooth and lightly thickened.
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
In a separate container, the potatoes should be covered with water, brought to a boil, and simmered for 20 minutes.
Combine the potatoes with the soup to complete.
Serve as is with French or Italian bread or garnish with crumbled bacon bits and/or grated cheddar cheese.

Healthy substitutions:
Substitute all fat-free milk for the cream and milk and increase the potato flakes to thicken the soup (or add cornstarch) and substitute a healthy butter-spread for butter.

Leak and Potato Soup

I love potato soups os almost any kind. I guess it’s the German mom who made me that way. This is a creamy soup that is actually not bad for you depending how you make it. You can go full-on cream and butter or substitute fat-free milk and butter-substitutes.

Five pounds pealed potatoes sliced thin
Four cups leaks sliced
One stick butter or ½ cup promise-brand fat-free spread
One cup light cream or one cup fat-free milk
One large carrot diced
3 stalks celery finely chopped
Two teaspoons black ground pepper
One tablespoon Kosher salt
One tablespoon chopped garlic
Two tablespoons parsley

Peel and slice the potatoes into thin slices. Clean and chop the white part of the leaks into small pieces and the green parts into thin rings. Keep the white and green parts of the onions separate. You should wind up with about 4 cups of leaks total.
Dice up the carrots and celery and combine with the potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a large pot. Fill the pot with hot water until the level is just above the vegetable. You will not be removing any water because the potato starch will act as the soup’s thickening agent. You can add more water if needed but not too much
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes being careful that it doesn’t burn.
At the same time, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add all of the white part of the leaks and half of the green leeks. Sautee until the leaks are just getting soft. Add the rest of the leeks, mix well, remove from heat and set aside.
When the thickest slices of potatoes are soft, allow to simmer a few more minutes. Add the cream or milk and use a hand blender to blend up the potato mixture until it is absolutely smooth. If you find that the mixture is too thin you can add some instant mashed potato flakes to thicken it up. If too thick you can add milk or water.
Once you are satisfied with the consistency of the soup, add the leek and butter mixture and the parsley. Stir well and serve with French bread.

Reduced-fat Key Lime Cheesecake***

I have a very unhealthy love of cheesecake but it is just too fattening. I made this basic recipe so I could have a lower fat version of it without eating something that tastes like foam rubber and crackers. My Starbuck likes key lime cheese cake so…

Two 8-oz packages fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
One 8-oz package reduced-fat cream cheese
½ cup key lime juice
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup fat-free sour cream
½ cup sugar or Splenda
Two 9” pre-made graham cracker pie crusts

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Allow the cream cheese packages to come to room temperature for at least one hour. Place cream cheese in a large bowl and blend with an electric blender for a few minutes.
Add the eggs, sugar and sour cream and blend thoroughly until all the cream cheese is mixed and there are no lumps.
Add the flour, vanilla and key lime juice and blend well until the mixture is smooth and uniform.
Pour even amounts into the tow pie shells and place in the 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 250-degrees and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes.
Cakes will still be slightly giggly when done and will continue to firm up as they cool.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on racks.

Creamy Italian Dressing***
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Crumble the oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt, pepper, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk in the mayonnaise and then the gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.
Healthy substitutions:
Substitute ½ cup fat free mayonnaise for the regular kind and reduce the olive oil to ¼ cup and add ¼ cup water. Use fat-free grated parmesan instead of regular.

Sweet Tartar Sauce***
This tastes just like the tarter sauce at Red Lobster…mmmmmm.
1/3 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
2/3 cup Sour cream
¼ cup Confectioner’s Sugar
3 Tablespoons sweet white onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish from jar with the relish juice
3 Teaspoons carrot, finely chopped
¼ Teaspoon salt
Chop the sweet white onion in food processor, put in small container and set aside. Chop carrot in food processor, and add to onion.
Mix in remaining ingredients and stir to blend thoroughly. Do not use electric mixer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to let flavors blend.
Healthy substitutions:
Substitute fat-free sour cream and fat-free Miracle Whip for the regular kinds. Substitute Splenda “Spooners” for sugar

Baked Tomato Alfredo Ricotta Pasta***
Okay, you can cheat a bit on this recipe by using the grocery store “Alfredo” sauce in a jar. The Alfredo and the red sauce layered together make an interesting presentation and taste great. If you want to go to the trouble of making the real Alfredo feel free to do so but the store-bought stuff isn’t really Alfredo, it’s a white cheese sauce.

Two tablespoon olive oil
1 jar store-bought “Alfredo” sauce of you choice
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 14.5 ounce can tomato puree’
½ cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely diced
1 teaspoon diced oregano
1 teaspoon diced thyme
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese
16 ounces ricotta cheese, reduced fat

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add garlic, onions, green pepper, oregano, thyme, ground pepper and salt and sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until onions begin to soften.
Add basil and stir in for about 1 more minute.
Increase heat and add wine to deglaze the pan. Stir continuously until nearly at a boil and wine is nearly evaporated. Add chopped tomatoes, puree and sugar and stir well.
Continue to stir mixture until it is all hot and begins to bubble and then reduce heat to low.
Cover tightly and let simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring very frequently. Do not let sauce stick or burn while simmering.
While the sauce is simmering, cook 16 ounces (dry) of ziti until al dente’. It is important that the pasta not be overcooked. In fact, it is best if it is somewhat undercooked since it will be going into the oven to cook further.
Heat oven to 325-degrees (cont…)
When sauce is finished remove from heat and ladle some into the bottom of a large glass baking dish. Drop about 8 dollops of ricotta cheese (one tablespoon at a time, about 4-ounces of the cheese) onto the bottom of the dish and then cover with ½ of the pasta. Ladle some of the Alfredo sauce over the pasta until well-covered and then drop more dollops of ricotta all over the pasta evenly with a spoon (about 8-ounces of the cheese.) You should have used about ¾ of the ricotta so far. Do not mix the sauces, just layer them all around each other.
Pour the remaining ziti over the pasta and sauces in the dish, cover with more sauces and then drop the remaining ricotta all over the top of the dish evenly and using small dollops. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses, cover with aluminum foil and (cont…)

Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the sauce can be seen bubbling in the dish.
You can also cut a bunch of meatballs in half or in quarters and include them in the layers. You can even use vegetarian meatballs to keep this a meatless dish.
Serve with grated cheese of choice for topping and fresh Italian or French bread.

Healthy substitutions:
Use low-fat or fat-free ricotta and parmesan where available and Splenda instead of sugar.

Meatless Chili***
Not too bad for meatless chili. I will never ever be a complete vegetarian but recipes like these make it a whole lot easier to cut red meat out of your diet. Unfortunately, the meat substitute is a bit on the pricy side.
Like regular chili, this dish tastes better the longer it simmers.

4 bags “Crumblers” veggie hamburger substitute
28-oz can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
3 cans kidney beans, drained
½ cup chopped green peppers
1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil, sauté onions and peppers until they just become soft. Add other seasonings, beans and “meat.” cook until heated.
Add tomatoes and sauce and cook all over medium heat for at least an hour.
Serve with grated cheddar and fresh bread.

Pan-seared Center-cut Cider Pork Cops

This is a great way to prepare pork chops. They come out a bit sweet and a bit sour ant the same time. Too bad Laura won’t eat piggy…but that does leave more for me…heh, heh.

4 center cut pork chops 1” thick
2-oz. cider vinegar
4-oz apple cider
8-oz chicken broth
½ cup finely chopped fresh shallots
2 tablespoons cold butter
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan. The pan should be hot enough to sear the meat but below the temperature that would make the oil smoke.
Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on both side of the pork chops and press it in with your hand.
Drop the pork chops into the pan and let them sear for about 3 minutes. Do not repeatedly lift the chops to check on them or they won’t get the medium-dark brown seared color or crispness. Make sure the pan is large enough to give good spacing between the chops as crowding them together will steam the chops instead of searing them.
Turn the chops over and let them sear for about 3 minutes on the other side. Then turn the chops on their edges (fattiest edges first) and stack them together so they sit upright. Let the ends sear for about 3 minutes on one side and then flip them over and repeat on the other edges. This will leave some additional fat in the pan which you need to for the sauce,
When the chops are finished searing, remove them along with the thyme sprigs and set it all aside. Make a small cut in the center of the thickest cut to check doneness.
Add half of the butter to the pan and stir until melted. Add the thyme sprigs and shallots and stir until all is coated by the butter.
Add the vinegar to the pan to deglaze, stirring constantly, and let it and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed by the shallots and evaporated.
Add the apple cider and chicken broth and simmer until it is all reduced by about half, stirring frequently.
When reduced by half, add the cold butter to the mixture and stir constantly until melted. The butter must be cold so it emulsifies and thickens the mixture and adds the proper texture.
As soon as all the butter has melted, add the pork chops back to the pan and let them reheat for 30 seconds or so on each side.
When done place the chops on a heated plate, spoon the sauce over the chops, garnish with the cooked thyme sprigs and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
Goes great with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh buttered asparagus.

Pasta Rustico
This is the name of a dish at the Macaroni Grill but it is definitely NOT a copycat recipe.
We went to dinner at the Macaroni Grill one evening and the dish I ordered was called Pasta Rustico, a tomato-cream sauce pasta with grilled chicken breast and shrimp. I ordered some Italian sausage added. When the dish arrived it was so salty that it actually hurt my throat to swallow it. That’s saying a lot since I can sometimes tend to be a salt junky. So I sent it back and the replacement dish (which was probably loaded with a generous portion of spit) was almost as salty. I had Starbuck try it and she agreed…so it wasn’t just me.
I left hungry and not a little pissy.
Well we go home and I decide that I’m going to take those same basic ingredients, pasta with cream-based sauce, shrimp, chicken and Italian sausage and try to make my own version of it. Well it was turned out to be one of the best recipes I’ve ever come up with. I couldn’t stop eating it. I also call it Pasta Rustico as a kind of culinary flip-off to The Macaroni Grill and their bowl of sodium hell.
As a side benefit, this can also be made as an extremely health version compared to the restaurant version and can have very little fat.

2 vegetarian Italian-style sausages
2 Italian sausages
One 14-oz cans chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped green peppers, fresh or frozen
1 medium chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ tablespoon Old bay seasoning
2 chicken breasts
16-24 medium peeled raw shrimp
1 large handful fresh basil leaves (whole leaves, not chopped or cut up)
Olive oil
¼ cup sweet white wine
8-oz sliced mushrooms (canned is actually ok here)
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup fat-free milk
One pound dry penne pasta cooked al dente
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the chicken breast across the grain into strips. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add some olive oil, chicken breast strips, crushed red pepper, a bit of salt, the Old Bay seasoning and the chopped garlic. Brown the strips until about half cooked through and then add the onions. Reduce heat and add the green peppers and some more olive oil and sauté’ until the onions are mostly soft. (cont…)
Add the can of chopped tomatoes, wine and sugar and simmer the whole mixture for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring almost constantly. When the tomatoes begin to soften, mash them down a bit with a spatula while stirring.
Cook the link sausage in a pan until thoroughly cooked and slice up. Add the sausage and stir in well.
When most of the liquid from the tomatoes is evaporated, add the milk with a bit of cornstarch for thickener and all of the basil. Add to the sauce pan along with the shrimp and stir over medium heat until the shrimp are cooked through and the milk mixture has thickened. If too thick, add more milk. You can also just add more milk and thickener if you want more sauce.
While making the sauce, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. The pasta and sauce should be finished about the same time.
Drain pasta and place in a heated bowl. Pour sauce mixture over pasta, sprinkle with a tablespoon of freshly-grated Romano cheese and parsley and toss well.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on the side and French or Italian bread.
Serves 4

Pepper Chicken
A peppery chicken dish which is the picture of simplicity. I first had something like this at restaurant called the Panda Inn which had the best Chinese buffet of all time but has long since gone away. (because the landlords decided to triple the rent on the building…bastards!)

2-lbs chicken, dark or light meat or both
Fresh ground black pepper
½ tablespoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
Cornstarch and water
½ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt to taste

Chop chicken into cubes about ½” to ¾” square. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. Brown chicken, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and sauté over medium heat until almost completely cooked through.
Mix a small amount of cornstarch and water together and have ready to use.
Add chicken stock, garlic, black and white pepper and stir into chicken. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through. Add some cornstarch/water mixture to the chicken and stir well until it thickens up just a little bit. The peppery sauce should be thin, not runny but also not very thick.
Stir well and serve.

Pronounced “Pier-OH-ghee“ this Eastern European dish is a traditional dish in the Northeastern United States. Immigrants from Germany, Poland and Slovakia brought the recipe with them when they came to the States. When I was growing up in Youngstown Ohio, pirogues were very frequently made by large groups of women in large batches since they were so labor intensive. Sort of like pirogue-making parties where everybody got together and spent the weekend in the kitchen of the local Catholic church just churning out a huge quantities of pirogues assembly-line fashion.
Since pirogues freeze very well for months at a time it was a pretty god idea. You still see pirogue sales going on at churches of civic clubs throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as well as many other states of the Northeastern U.S.
They are a labor-intensive dish but they are so delicious. They are generally boiled (my favorite) like one would boil ravioli but you can also pan fry or deep fry them and you can fill them with just about anything you like. The potato cheese filling below is for the traditional pirogue but you can experiment with any filling you like.
If it turns out that you like pirogues, go ahead and make a massive bunch of them all at once and freeze the uncooked ones that you don’t use right away. It is best to freeze them by laying them separately on a towel so they don’t stick together. After they are completely frozen, remove them from the freezer, wrap them individually with wax paper then aluminum foil and then place in a zip-loc bag for long-term freezer storage.

3 pounds of peeled and sliced potatoes
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Milk for mashing
Peel, clean and slice the potatoes and cook in a large pot as you would if you were making mashed potatoes. If you prefer to not peel them so that they are a bit more healthy, just make sure to cut them up very finely before boiling them. When softened, drain them and return them to the pot, add salt, pepper, garlic powder and just a bit of milk and mash up by hand with a potato masher until a thick and very firm but smooth consistency is reached. It should not have hunks of un-mashed potatoes in it but should not be as creamy like mashed potatoes.
Add the cheeses and mash until well mixed and set aside to cool.

Pirogue dough
If you have a favorite ravioli dough recipe you can use that as it is basically the same thing. Just roll it out a bit thicker than you would if making ravioli.
Flour for kneading

Divide dough into several manageable chunks. Roll out a piece of dough on a floured
surface with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Using a glass, a cup or a cookie cutter about 3” in diameter, cut out circles of dough. Place the cut-outs on a towel until it is covered, lay another towel on top and lay more cut-outs on that, and continue rolling and cutting out circles until all of the dough is used up.
Scoop about a tablespoon of potato mixture out and place in center of a disc. Fold it in half, brush some of the egg mixture on the edges to seal them and press all around the edges with the tines of a fork (tines pointing towards the center of the pirogue. Place the pirogue on a towel and continue filling/pinching until all of the dough and filling is used up.
To prepare, drop the pirogues into a large pot of boiling water. Cook for about 4-6 minutes or for a minute or two after the pirogues begin to float on top of the boiling water.

2 large sweet yellow or Vidalia onions
2 sticks butter, margarine or mix of the two.
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Sour cream as garnish (optional)

Melt butter/margarine in a large sauce pan. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Skin, clean and slice onions about as thick as you would for onion rings. Add the onions to the pan with the butter and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. Adjust salt and pepper to personal tastes.
Make dough

Serve 6-10 pirogues per plate (they are VERY filling) Ladle the onion butter mixture over the tops of the pirogues and serve immediately. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Healthy substitutions:
Use fat-free or low fat cheeses and butter-spread instead of butter. Use Egg Beaters instead of regular eggs

Roasted Turkey Injection Marinade
After they are completely frozen, remove them from the freezer, wrap them individually with wax paper then aluminum foil and then place in a zip-loc bag for long-term freezer storage.

1 stick salted butter
1-1-2 cups water
½ cup sweet white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until mixture has reduced by 1/3.
Let cool and use a cooking injector to inject into the poultry of choice. Move the needle in and out and in in different directions as you inject the solution.

Shepherd pie
I have never been a fan of shepherd pie so I decided to play around with the traditional recipe just a little bit. It now ranks as one of my favorite dishes. The Angus ground beef is not absolutely necessary but it does make a difference.. If you don’t use the Angus beef, use the lowest fat percentage ground beef you can find.

1 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 lbs Angus ground beef
3 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon worsteshire sauce
¼ cup frozen or fresh peas
1 medium carrot, coarsely diced
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Parsley flakes
Milk or half-n-half

Peel, slice and cook potatoes in large pot as you would to make mashed potatoes. Use the milk or half-n-half and butter with salt and pepper to taste. Mash and set aside.
Break up the ground beef with a spatula in a large pan over high heat. When about halfway cooked add the onions, garlic, carrots, worstershire sauce., salt and pepper.
Continue to stir mixture and break up ground beef until the onions and carrots just start to soften. Make a small amount of cornstarch and water and add to the mixture so that the liquid forms a sauce. There won’t bee much liquid but you don’t want a watery mixture so use just enough cornstarch to thicken it all up.. Add peas and stir well.
Pour the beef mixture into a large rectangular glass baking dish so that is fills it up about half way or less. Spread it out evenly and then spread the mashed potato mixture evenly on top and sprinkle with parsley. Place in an overheated to 375 degrees and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the beef mixture is bubbling up around the sides.
You can turn the oven on broil for a few minutes if you want a slightly browned top.
Serve hot with fresh French or Italian bread.
Serves 4-6


Special note: Scoville rating for hot sauces.
Hot sauces (and I think pepper sprays) measure the hotness of pepper-based products by the Scoville rating system which measures caspasin, the ingredient which makes hot peppers hot. The scale goes from the low end of 0 (no hotness, of course) to the high end of over 150,000 (Earth catches on fire and falls into the sun)
They typical bottle of hot sauce (like Durkee’s) has a Scoville rating of about 2500 which is actually fairly low on the scale. The higher the rating, the hotter the sauce. I have the approximate ratings in parenthesis next to the recipe name in the sauces listed below.

1 cup margarine
2 tablespoons Franks or Durkee’s hot sauce
2 tablespoons dry white wine
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh peppercorns
6-oz shredded parmesan cheese
Two or three lbs deep fried chicken wings

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan then add remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Fry wings and drain on paper towels. Ladle some sauce into a large Tupperware-like container with a lid, add wings and shake until thoroughly coated with sauce. Continue until all wings are coated. There should be enough sauce for 2-3 lbs of wings.
Sprinkle shredded parmesan over wings. Serve with celery sticks and baby carrots and Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing.

Healthy substitutions for wing sauce recipes:
Sorry folks, you’re on your own for this one. The best suggestion I can make is to use cut up chicken breasts instead of wings since the wings have so much fat in them. The taste is not quite as good (if you ask me) but if you deep fry the breast meat it’s fairly close. Also, deep frying plain old skinless chicken breast adds very little in the way of fat or calories since the meat doesn’t absorb much oil like breaded chicken or chicken with fatty skin does.
About the only substitutions you can make are fat free butter spread in place of the margarine and fat free cheeses (won’t make much difference since so little cheese is used)

a.k.a the second greatest wing sauce in the history of the Earth
2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
3/4 cup soybean oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white wine
Oil for frying

Mix all together in a sauce pan and heat to a simmer. Simmer over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool and store in a jar in refrigerator. Keeps in refrigerator up to 3 months.
Deep fry wings until brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To serve, place wings in a large bowl that has a lid. Pour sauce over all, cover and shake to coat the wings. Serve with celery sticks and baby carrot and Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing.

Hot Chicken Wing sauce (Scoville rating 5,000-10,000)

1/4 Lb. Margarine (do not use butter!)
8 Oz. “Frank’s” Hot Sauce (also labeled as
Durkee Hot Sauce. NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!)
4 habanera peppers
Oil for frying

Melt margarine in sauce pan until barely liquid.
Add hot sauce to food processor, Clean and core peppers and add to processor and cover tightly. Turn on and blend until smooth.
As the processor puree’s the peppers, small particles of them become airborne and can act like pepper spray.
Add hot sauce to margarine, mix, and put aside.
Deep fry wings until brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To serve, place wings in a large bowl that has a lid. Pour sauce over all, cover and shake to coat the wings. Serve with celery sticks and baby carrot and Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.

Atomic Chicken Wing sauce (Scoville rating 30,000-100,000+)

The hotness of this sauce is no joke. Depending on the hotness of the peppers you use, it can actually injure you. The Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant chain makes you sign a legally-binding waiver relieving them of responsibility if you want to eat these wings. These wings are so hot that they can hurt you just by being around them. Many years ago, my son (about 4 years old at the time) and I were at the Lube and somebody on the other side of the room ordered 6 of these wings. Though the wings never came within 25-feet of us, my son started crying since his eyes were burning so badly, as were mine. That’s just from being in the same room!
The hotness of peppers available in retail grocery stores varies wildly. If you want really, really hot peppers you may have to grow them yourself, order them online or you may find them at a small Mexican shop or grocery if you have one nearby. (cont…)

1/4 Lb. Margarine (do not use butter because it will catch on fire….kidding. But use margarine)
8 Oz. “Frank’s” Hot Sauce (also labeled as
Durkee Hot Sauce. NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!)
12 Habanera peppers (buy the hottest peppers available when making atomic sauce
Oil for frying

Melt margarine in sauce pan until barely liquid.
Add hot sauce to food processor, Clean and core peppers and add to processor and cover tightly. Turn on and blend until smooth.
As the processor puree’s the peppers, small particles of them become airborne and can act like pepper spray. The more peppers you puree’ the worse it is.
Add hot sauce to margarine, mix, and put aside.
Deep fry wings until brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To serve, place wings in a large serving or storage bowl that has a cover. Pour sauce over all wings, cover, go outside and shake to coat the wings. Serve with celery sticks and sliced or baby carrots and Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.

The ingredients that will make almost everything
When you look at most foods, you’ll see that only a few ingredients make up most of the dished served out there. Here are my go-to ingredients that I can’t live without in the kitchen.
Kosher salt
Olive oil
Parmesan or Romano cheese
There you go…eight ingredients in various combinations and quantities make up the majority of dishes that come out of my kitchen. It’s like Taco Bell…eight ingredients, a bazillion different items)

Cajun shrimp and rice.
This recipe is one based on a dish I had at the Village Tavern restaurant. It’s not a great restaurant but it tries to be up-scale and expensive and draws a crowd consisting primarily of old white guys who shop for golf shirts at Belks and their Bo-toxed Stepford wives…picture the crowd at Bushwood country club from the movie “Caddyshack” and you’ll get the idea. It’s not a laugh-a-minute crowd but at least this dish is very good.

1 pound medium-large shrimp. Peeled and deveined
1/3 cup light cream
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 stick butter
Kosher salt
1-½ cups lo-fat milk
1 teaspoon shrimp boil
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1 shake Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Cornstarch for thickening
2 boxes rice pilaf (I use Zatarain brand)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and add the garlic and simmer for two minutes. Add the cream bring to a high simmer over medium heat and stir almost constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the roux and all of the seasonings and simmer for about five more minutes over reduced heat.
Add shrimp and stir until the shrimp is cooked through.
Serve over rice with French bread.
Serves 4

Orange honey baked chicken
This is one of our friend Wood’s recipes. Next I’m going to hit him up for some of his cookie recipes.

1/4 c. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
1 lb. (4) skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
2 tbsp. orange marmalade
Orange slices for garnish.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a baking Pyrex dish, mix together orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey, orange peel and ginger. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat all sides. Let chicken marinate for 10 minutes.

Bake chicken uncovered at 400 degrees F. for 8 minutes, baste with pan juices. Bake an additional 8 minutes, baste again. Glaze chicken with a mixture of marmalade and remaining 1 tablespoon honey. Continue to bake 8-10 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken to serving plate. Garnish with orange slices.

Genuine Low-Fat Italian Wedding soup (as genuine as a low-fat recipe can get)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
16 vegetarian meatballs
1 small can of chicken breast meat
3 packages frozen chopped spinach-square packages
1 medium onion, diced
12 cups low fat or fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
½ tablespoon dried chopped Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1-2 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup Acini di Pepe pasta
Grated parmesan or fat-free parmesan

Brown the vegetarian meatballs in a frying pan with one tablespoon olive oil. Remove and cut meatballs into quarters.
Drain can of chicken and dice into small pieces.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a heavy simmer and cook for at least 1 hour.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a garnish of 1 or 2 teaspoons of grated parmesan cheese

Serves 6-8

Broccoli and cheese soup
One 16-oz package frozen cut broccoli floret’s and stems) or—
One average grocery store-sized bundle of fresh broccoli
Four 14-oz cans chicken or vegetable broth
Three cups 2% milk
8-12-oz grated sharp cheddar cheese or—
12-oz Velveeta-type cheese log, cubed
¼ stick butter
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup sweet white wine
One teaspoon Italian seasoning
One teaspoon chopped garlic
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of grated Romano cheese
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Defrost frozen broccoli or wash fresh broccoli bundles. Cut the florets off of the broccoli and dice up the large stems. Set both aside separately.
Combine butter, olive oil, onions, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a sauce pan and stir over medium heat until onion starts to soften. Add balsamic vinegar and stir mixture an additional 2-4 minutes.
Pour chicken broth into large pot and heat to a near boil. Add broccoli stems and simmer over medium heat until the stems start to soften. The fresh will take longer than the frozen to soften. Once the stems start to soften, use a hand blender to pulp them in the broth. You should not use the blender until the stems are completely pulped. There should still be chunks of stems in the soup.
When finished, add onion mixture, milk, wine and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add remaining broccoli and cheese and stir well and let simmer until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is at the desired tenderness.
Use 8-oz sharp cheddar or up to 12-oz if you like a lot of cheese.
Increase the heat and bring the soup to a near boil, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Make up a small quantity of milk and cornstarch and add to the soup until it thickens up a bit.
Serve hot. with French or Italian bread

Wild mushroom tagliatelle with thyme

1 pound tagliatelle pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (shiitakes, creminis, oyster, porcinis, chanterelles), washed and sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish

Set a large saute pan over high heat. Add olive oil and when hot, add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are just translucent then add mushrooms. Cook over high heat with minimal stirring until golden brown and crispy around the edges – 3-4 minutes. Add thyme leaves and allow them to toast and become fragrant. Season with salt and pepper then add cream. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until it is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop pasta in and cook until al dente – about 5 minutes. Using tongs or a strainer, remove the pasta from the water and add directly to mushroom pan. Add a little of the pasta water to thin the sauce if desired. Using tongs gently fold the tagliatelle to coat in the sauce.
Serve pasta in shallow bowls and use a large spoon to serve mushrooms and sauce over the top. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.

Stuffed sausage and ricotta manicotti
12 x 4.5-inch manicotti (1 1/2 pound box)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound loose Italian pork sausage
3 cups lightly packed baby arugula, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups good quality ricotta
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus 1 cup for topping
1/2 cup shredded packaged mozzarella, for topping

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
Begin by making a quick tomato sauce: Set a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute onion and garlic until just translucent. Add thyme leaves, basil leaves then pour in canned tomatoes and juice. Break up tomatoes into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Make filling: Add olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sausage and start to brown. Break it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once browned, add arugula to pan and cook until just wilted. Add extra olive oil as required. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out onto a plate then place in the refrigerator so it cools quickly.
In a large bowl add ricotta, eggs and parmesan. Stir well to combine, then add cooled sausage and arugula mixture. Set aside.
To assemble, spoon half the sauce into the bottom of an 8×11 baking dish. Arrange manicotti in rows and top with remaining sauce. Shower with grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Finish under broiler for 2 minutes until slightly golden.


This is another variant on a tomato pasta sauce. It is delicious and very much reminds me of the fresh-made sauces you find in restaurants in N.E. Ohio. This sauce has a very smooth texture and is my favorite. The key is thoroughly blending the ingredients.

One 28-oz can for Italian crushed tomatoes
One 14.5-oz can diced or cut Italian tomatoes
½ small chopped yellow onion
½ cup chopped green peppers
1 medium carrot grated
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup sweet white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh grated Pecorino Romano

Sauté onion, carrot, green peppers and garlic in olive oil in a large cast iron sauce pan over medium-high heat. until just they just start to get soft Add the basil leaves and other seasonings plus slat and pepper and wine. Stir well and continue to cook the mixture until the vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Pour the tomatoes with liquid into a blender and blend until completely puréed and smooth. Add the cooled vegetable and seasoning mixture and blend again until it is all completely smooth with no chunks at all.
Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Simmer sauce for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure the sauce does not burn. The longer it cooks the better it is. Add more salt and pepper to taste if desired plus the parsley and one tablespoon of the Romano cheese. Stir well and serve over pasta of your choice with more Romano cheese for topping.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipes by Monte and Laura


Spicy tomato spread

A little of this spread goes a long way. Laura and I first had something like this at Angeli’s restaurant in New Orleans and I decided to try to make it myself. It is spread on pita bread wedges and has a bit of a kick to it and, like I wrote above, a little bit of this goes a long way.

Two 12-oz cans of good quality tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 small, finely-chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
About 8-10 medium-sized fresh basil leaves finely-chopped.
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Mrs. Dash seasoning
Spray-on butter spread or butter
8-12 pita bread rounds

Combine chopped garlic, jalapeno and basil in a small glass bowl, drizzle olive oil all over the mixture until covered (approx 1-2 tablespoons)
Place mixture in the microwave and cook on 50% power for 3-4 minutes, stopping frequently to stir it up. Do not just put it in the microwave and let it cook or the basil will get hard and unusable. When done, combine the mixture with about 1/2 a can of tomato paste in a tall plastic cup or other similar container and use a hand mixer to get as fine a mixture as possible. When finished combine the mixture with the remaining tomato paste and mix thoroughly by hand.
Melt butter and brush on pita bread or spray with spray-on spread. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Mrs. Dash seasoning and cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges Place on pan in oven set to broil until lightly browned and heated.
Serve tomato mixture chilled with the pita bread wedges.
Serves at least 8-10 people as an appetizer.

Cheese garlic biscuits

Here’s one of those chain restaurant recipes (Red Lobster) that is really good. They aren’t even close to healthy eating but Laura and I like them and daughter Maryanne loves them.
When you prepare them, however, just be sure not to over mix them or they bake up a bit hard and dry.

2-1/2 cups of Bisquick baking mix
3/ 4 cup cold milk
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Brush-on topping:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon chopped dried parsley

Combine Bisquick and butter in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Break up the butter while mixing but do not over mix. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of a small pea throughout the mix.
Add the milk, cheese and garlic and mix until evenly combined but again, do not over mix.
Heat oven to 400-degrees.
Use an ice cream scoop to drop approx. 1/4 cup portions of dough onto a non-stick baking sheet. You should wind up with about 10-12 biscuits.
Bake in oven for 14-17 minutes until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn golden brown.
While thy are baking, melt the remaining butter, garlic powder and parsley and mix well.
When the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the garlic butter on the tops of the biscuits and use up all of the butter mixture.
You can use some healthier alternative spread besides butter….that’s up to you.


This is the Italian flatbread that you pay through the nose for at places like Panera Breads. It is great with different spices baked onto the top like oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic, etc. Add whatever you like and enjoy eating the experiments.

1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup very warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. Sift flour into large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture, salt and remainder of water into the flour and mix by hand. When dough forms, remove from bowl and kneed on flat flour-covered surface for 10 minutes. Return to bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.
Remove dough from bowl, kneed again for a few minutes and place in an oiled, shallow baking pan, pressing out from the center. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Press out dough evenly in pan and poke all over with fingers. Brush on the remaining olive oil and then sprinkle with some salt or any herbs or spices of your choice.
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool on rack. Best served the same day but also freezes well.

Green pesto

I realized that after a few cookbooks I hadn’t included a good pesto sauce…how very, very un-Italian of me.
I make pesto at the end of the growing season out of the remaining crop of basil that I grow. I always have more basil than I can use in the fall and this is a good way to be able to use it long after the growing season is over.

40-50 assorted-sized basil leaves
3 large cloves garlic peeled and crushed or 3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1-oz pine nuts
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pepper and kosher salt

Place the basil, parmesan and pine nuts in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding the olive oil slowly as it blends. Add kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste.

Insalata Tricolore or Capresi

This translates to “three-color salad” and it is a special dish in Italy because it features all three colors of the Nation’s flag; Red, green and white. It makes for a very colorful, eye-catching and, of course, delicious dish as an appetizer.
The type of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese used here makes all the difference in this recipe. The tomatoes should be a fresh beefsteak or heirloom variety and locally grown if at all possible. The best would be tomatoes that you grew and picked out of your own garden!
If you have no choice but to buy the plastic-tasting grocery store tomatoes then buy the least-ripe and firmest ones you can find and let them sit (stem-down) to ripen for a few days before using them. NEVER EVER refrigerate tomatoes as the cold ruins their flavor and breaks down the sugars.
The mozzarella should be the very soft Buffalo Mozzarella, not the harder, firmer kind that you would normally use for grating. The soft Buffalo Mozzarella can be difficult to cut without tearing it up so using a wire-type cheese cutter might be your best bet. If you can’t find the buffalo milk mozzarella you can use the cow milk mozzarella as long as it is the soft kind.
I know what you’re thinking; “Buffalo milk!!!!” I know it sounds weird (and I’ve never had just plain old buffalo milk) but it makes a absolutely great mozzarella cheese.
I prefer this dish without the balsamic vinegar, Laura prefers it with it.

Two or three ripe, large tomatoes sliced about 1/3 inch thick (need about 10-12 slices)
Equal number of slices of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese about 1/ 4 to 1/3 inch thick
20 fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Warm sliced Italian or French bread

Cut tomato and mozzarella into an equal number of slices. Lay them on a plate in a circular pattern, alternating a slice of tomato and a slice of cheese. (think of playing cards spread out on a table)
Lightly drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes and cheese so that so
gets on each slice of them. You don’t have to drown them but make sure the oil and vinegar gets on every slice.
Finely chop around 5 or so of your largest basil leaves and sprinkle them over the tomatoes and cheese. Tear up the remaining basil leaves into large pieces and garnish the tomatoes and cheese with it.
The basil leaves are not just for decoration, however, and should be eaten with the dish. Sprinkle the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste over it all and serve with fresh Italian or French bread

Important note: The olive oil used should be extra virgin, not just virgin olive oil. Extra virgin is the highest quality, best-tasting of the olive oils.
Always buy the best quality olive oil you can, and, since it is such an important flavor in this dish, you shouldn’t cut costs here.
Regular virgin olive oil is fine for cooking but extra virgin must be used when it is an up-front part of a recipe like it is here.

Capri salad

Though served warm as an appetizer, this dish is still called salad. Italians…go figure.
The tomatoes and olive oil used in this recipe are just as important as they are in the previous Insalata Tircolore recipe but you can use the type of mozzarella you usually find in your local grocery store either sliced or grated.

12 slices of large beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes (two or three tomatoes)
12 thick slices of mozzarella cheese or about 16-ounces grated.
1/2 cup pitted and sliced black olives
About 20 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Romano cheese
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Place the tomato slices on a large cookie sheet. Divide the sliced olives and place an even amount over each tomato.
Finely chop 10 of the basil leaves and sprinkle over tomatoes evenly.
Coarsely chop the remaining basil and set aside
Divide the mozzarella and cover the tomatoes and olives evenly.
Place cookie sheet with tomatoes under a pre-heated broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melting and just beginning to brown.
Remove from oven and place half the slices on a plate and then stack the other slices on top of the first ones like you would a sandwich.
Lightly drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the tops of the tomatoes and sprinkle some salt and pepper over them. Garnish with the coarsely-chopped basil and Romano cheese and serve with fresh Italian or French bread.

Serves 6

Fresh creamy tomato soup

Think you’ve had tomato soup before? Not until you had homemade soup with fresh, real tomatoes. Fresh heirloom, plum or Roma tomatoes are, of course, the key to this recipe.
And no canned or (just as bad) refrigerated tomatoes either!

2-ounces butter
2 tablespoons virgin or extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pounds fresh heirloom, plum or Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cups light cream
3 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely-chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese, chopped basil and parsley for garnish

Drop tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 10-20 seconds each and remove, immediately dropping them into a pot of cold water. Remove them from the water and the skin should rub easily off the tomatoes. Discard the skins, cut out the stems and core and chop the tomatoes coarsely when all of them are de-skinned.
Heat olive oil and butter in large pot. Add onions and cook until softened (about 8-10 minutes) but do not let them burn. Add the chopped tomatoes salt, pepper and sugar and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the hot stock, bring to a boil and then cook and additional 10 minutes over medium heat.
Place a large, wire-mesh strainer or colander over another large pot and pour the mixture into the strainer. Push the mixture through the strainer with the back of a large wooden spoon to remove the seeds and any remaining skins..
return the mixture to the stove and stir in the cream, basil and parsley and heat thoroughly for about 10 minutes without brining to a boil.
Serve in warm bowls with French or Italian bread. Garnish with chopped basil and parsley and grate parmesan cheese.
Place 15-20 garlic croutons in warmed bowl, ladle soup over the croutons and garnish with grated parmesan, chopped green onions and parsley.
Place a slice of toasted French or Italian bread in a heated, oven-safe bowl, ladle over soup and place a slice of mozzarella cheese (or a few spoons of grated mozzarella) on top. Place in pre-heated broiler until mozzarella just begins to melt and brown. Garnish with parmesan and chopped basil and parsley and serve immediately

Butternut squash soup

Good and good for you…except for the butter…but what, do ya wanna live forever?!?!?

8 cups chopped fresh butternut squash
1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup half-n-half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 stick butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Clean and de-seed the squash. Cut off the outer rind and cut the orange flesh into 1/2” cubes.
Combine all ingredients except the parsley and half-n-half in a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until squash is very soft, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from heat, add half-n-half and blend with hand blender until smooth. Simmer over medium heat for a few more minutes. If soup is too thin, continue to simmer over medium-low heat until it thickens.
Stir in parsley and serve.

Rigatoni D from Maggiano’s Restaurant.

a.k.a. Chicken and mushroom pasta with a Marsala cream sauce.

Okay, this is not an original family recipe. It is a copycat recipe, a clone, an approximation, an homage to the dish served at Maggiano’s. (if you use a French word like” homage” it seems much less like ripping them off which is, of course, what I’m doing here)
This recipe is sooooooo good that when I made it, Laura had to tell me to stop eating it. If she hadn’t, I’d have kept eating it until I exploded. It will easily serve 6 people and it is the signature dish at Maggiano’s for good reason. I have made this recipe a little bit more diet-friendly by substituting half and half for the heavy cream and the use of very little butter, both of which do not change the taste in any noticeable way. The original recipe had over 1,600 calories per serving and well over 100% of the RDA for fat intake…basically a delicious heart attack in a bowl. You can probably use plain old milk or even low-fat milk without changing the taste too much but I think half-n-half is about as low-fat as you’d want to get.
I use plain old button mushrooms but you can try different and more exotic varieties if you want.

16-oz small fresh mushrooms
1 large onion
1-qt half-n-half
4 raw chicken breasts
Olive oil
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
8-oz Marsala wine
White wine
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh basil 20+ leaves
Two tablespoons plus two teaspoons finely-chopped fresh parsley
One tablespoon finely-chopped fresh garlic
One pound rigatoni cooked al dente

Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips across the grain of the meat. heat approx. one tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pan and add the chicken, one teaspoon of garlic and some kosher salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is almost cooked completely through. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
In a large pan heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onions until caramelized. Add a few tablespoons of white wine to the onions to deglaze the pan. Let simmer a few seconds until the wine is mostly cooked away and transfer onions to a bowl.
Return the pan to the stove and add the mushrooms and stock and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Reduce the heat a bit and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by at least half.
Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of boiling water and do not overcook it. The rigatoni should be al dente (firm, not mushy.) You can also use fusilli, penne, bowtie or even ziti pasta if you like.
When the mushrooms are ready, deglaze the pan with an ounce or two of white wine, add the onions, Marsala wine, garlic and chopped basil and heat all together, bringing it to a near boil.
Add the chicken and half-n-half and heat to a near boil and then reduce heat to medium, stirring nearly constantly to avoid burning or sticking. Add the parmesan cheese and mix well.
Remove from heat and mix with the pasta in a very large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and chopped parsley while mixing with pasta, and serve immediately with French or Italian bread. Garnish with parsley and shaved parmesan cheese if desired.
The sauce (as in the original) is just a bit thin. That is perfectly fine but if you prefer a thicker sauce like I do then just add a bit of cornstarch and water blended together to thicken it up.

Tagliatelle with garlic olive oil pesto

A very basic, simple recipe that also happens to be delicious.

1 pound tagliatelle (or fettuccini or spaghetti) cooked al dente’
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese

Cook pasta until al dente’. Drain, place in a large, warm bowl and set aside.
In a small pan, combine the pesto, olive oil, garlic and parsley and heat over low heat.
Pour oil/pesto mixture over pasta and toss thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste and Romano cheese and toss again.
Serve with warm Italian or French bread.

You can use any wide, long pasta in this recipe such as fettuccini or thick spaghetti.

Traditional cannelloni or stuffed shells

This is a traditional dish in Italian-American homes in the U.S. It is not that difficult to make but it is a filling and delicious main course. There are nearly as many variations as there are Italian families preparing them and you can try as many as you like but this is my family’s basic recipe. You can use either the cannelloni (tubes) or even the large pasta shaped like sea shells. This mixture also works well as a basic filling for ravioli.

2-3 cups tomato sauce (or more if needed)
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package cannelloni tubes or shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

2 eggs
16-ounce ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely-chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese

Place pasta into a large pot of boiling water and cook until springy but still very firm. It is very important that you do not overcook the pasta since it will cook more in the oven. Remove the pasta tubes from the water, rinse and set aside to allow to cool.
Place the olive oil in a small sauce pan and add chopped onion and sauté until the onions are soft, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Combine the 10 filling ingredients above with the onion mixture in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Spray cooking spray in a large glass baking dish and put down a thin layer of pasta sauce.
Take a pasta tube and fill with the ricotta mixture with a spoon or a pastry bag and
place the cannelloni in the glass baking dish. Keep filling the tubes and place them side by side up against the other tubes in the baking dish until you have used up all of the ricotta mixture and tubes.
Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese and sauce is bubbling and the cheese is just starting to brown on the top.
Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley as garnish.
Serve with fresh, warm Italian or French bread.

Italian shrimp skewers

These delicious shrimp are outstanding when served with a mushroom or vegetable risotto and buttered green beans or asparagus..

2 pounds fresh, large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup fine plain or Italian bread crumbs
1 generous teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely-chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine oils in a large bowl and mix in shrimp, thoroughly coating them in the oil. Add the remaining ingredients with a few turns from the pepper grinder and some kosher salt (careful, a little kosher salt goes a long way)
Toss thoroughly to make sure the shrimp are all evenly coated with breadcrumbs. Cover and let marinade for an hour
Place the shrimp on metal skewers, making sure the skewer goes through both the tail and body of the shrimp.
Cook the shrimp under a preheated oven broiler on a non-stick broiler pan for around 2 minutes per side until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Pasta alla Napolitana

A great way to serve fresh made pasta sauce without much work. Fresh ingredients are the key (as with most recipes) and it can be served using most pasta shapes like penne, rigatoni, bowties, shells or raidiatore’

1 pound pasta, cooked al dente’
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
3-4 medium to large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, shredded or finely chopped
1 small celery stalk, quartered lengthwise and then finely chopped
1/ 2 tablespoon Romano cheese
3-1/ 2 cup canned chopped Italian tomatoes or 5 cups peeled chopped fresh
12 large basil leaves, finely chopped
8 large basil leaves, coarsely shredded
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a large sauce pan, add onion and garlic and sauté’ for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until onion starts softening. Add the carrots and celery and cook another two minutes.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and simmer for 15-25 minutes uncovered until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir every few minutes and add the chopped basil halfway through.
When sauce has thickened, add Romano cheese and stir well.
Place pasta in a large, warmed bowl and our sauce over it. Stir well and garnish with shredded basil.
serve with grated parmesan cheese and fresh Italian or French bread on the side.

Stuffed crabs/stuffed fish

This is the filling for stuffed crabs but it also works perfectly for stuffing fish or jumbo shrimp or even fried crab balls.
The best crab to use is, of course, fresh in the shell but frozen in the shell is fine. If you can’t get the shells to stuff you can just make them baked or pan-fried patties or bake them in individual ramekins. Frozen chopped or canned chopped will also work but fresh is always best.

1 -1/2 pounds crabmeat (16 live or frozen crabs)
Or three, 6-oz cans of crabmeat
12 empty shells
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 green pepper diced
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 large cloves garlic finely diced
2+ cups bread crumbs
1 /2 stick butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

In a large sauce pan combine the butter, garlic, onions, green peppers and parsley and cook until the onions just start becoming soft. Add white wine to deglaze the pan, stir well and simmer until wine is half reduced.
Add some salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Add 2 cups of bread crumbs and all the crab meat and mix well over heat. Add more breadcrumbs but don’t add so much that the mixture becomes dry. It should be moist enough to form into patties that hold their shape. Add more butter if the mixture is too dry. You don’t want to cook it in the pan, just warm it up a bit.
Remove from heat and stuff it into the crab shells, fish fillets or ramekins or from into the desired shapes for pan frying, deep frying or baking.
If oven-baked, top each patty with a pat of butter, place in 350-degree oven until the tops are browned. Brush with melted butter before serving.

Shrimp Victoria

This is a knockoff of a dish served at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans. There is a reason that the Brennan family owns so many world-class restaurants in the Big Easy for so many generations…it’s because the food is fantastic!

3-pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
30-40 fresh basil leaves very coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup white roux

White Roux:
1 tablespoon butter
Tablespoon flour
1/4 cup hot milk

White roux, like the browned dark roux, is used as a thickening agent but is much easier to make than the dark version.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan, mix in the hot milk and gradually add the flour, stirring constantly. Press the flour to the bottom of the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon with a circular motion, breaking up the flour and mixing it with the milk. Making roux is best done with a cast iron skillet or cast iron wok but a small sauce pan will work fine for this.
Keep stirring/pressing the mixture over medium heat until all of the flour is broken up and it has all begun to thicken up. Do not let it burn or brown.
Set roux aside until needed.
Melt one stick of butter in a large heavy sauce pan. Add the scallions, mushrooms and basil, stir well and cook for about 12 minutes. Add the shrimp and wine and cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly.
Add half of the white roux and stir. If the sauce is not thick enough add more of the roux until it is. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until it is near a boil.
Remove from heat and allow it to sit uncovered for a few minutes. Stir in the sour cream and serve immediately on warmed plates with French bread and over or along side white rice.

Honey ginger soy glazed broiled rainbow trout or tilapia

This sweet ginger honey glaze is wonderful over trout or tilapia. It is quick and easy to make as well. Serve with a vegetable medley, garlic mashed potatoes or a vegetable risotto.

8 tilapia or trout fillets
6 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Apply cooking spray to non-stick cookie sheet.
Warm the honey by placing the container in a large bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes before you need it. You can also just microwave the glaze mixture for a few seconds before coating the fish with it.
Combine the 5 ingredients for the glaze and mix well. Place the fish close together in a baking dish and pour the glaze over them. Move the fish around to make sure they are completely covered with the glaze, place the dish in the refrigerator and let them marinade for 30 minutes.
Place the fish on the metal baking sheet and place in the oven. Set aside the glaze remaining in the marinade dish for later use.
Let them bake for about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven, pour the rest of the glaze remaining in the marinade dish over the fish, return to the oven. Bake for another 2-3 minutes and then turn the oven to broil.. Watch carefully and remove fish when the glaze is just starting to bubble from the broiler but do not let it begin to burn.

Kielbasa oven bake

I’m not sure if it is possible for a meal to get any easier than this. It is baked all in one dish, the meat and vegetables all come out juicy and delicious and it only takes about 10 minutes to get all the ingredients together and into the oven..
Laura doesn’t eat this sort of dish because it has animal in it which happens to be kielbasa or polish sausage, not exactly the best health foods ever created by mankind. But I am an unapologetic meat-eating omnivorous processed European sausage-loving fool so here is the recipe for all my fellow carnivorous peeps.

2-pounds kielbasa or polish sausage cut into 8 pieces
4 large baking potatoes
2 medium to large onions
3 large bell peppers
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chicken, or vegetable stock
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
Garlic powder
Dry Italian seasoning.

Cut the sausage into 8 even pieces, puncture them all over with a fork and place in a large, oven-safe glass baking dish.
Cut the potatoes, peppers and onions into large, bite-sized pieces and spread them evenly around the sausage in the baking dish.
Pour in the water and stock and sprinkle the vegetables with as much (or as little) salt, pepper, garlic powder and dry Italian seasoning as you want.
Tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 375-degrees for around 45-55 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
You can also prepare this dish in the microwave. Just use a microwave safe dish with a lid and don’t use the foil. Microwave cooking times vary so you’ll have to experiment with that.
Serve with hard rolls

Special section: me whining and complaining about something or other
I want you people to know how tough this cookbook has been for me to write this year. First of all, I quit smoking in July. Secondly, I somehow got old without noticing it. Results…my weight went from a trim 170-pounds to a not-so-cool 212+ pounds!
Now keep in mind that I do not just copy down these recipes, I actually prepare them and EAT THEM!!! And if they don’t turn out the way I want them to, I prepare them and EAT THEM AGAIN!!!
So I’ve had to practically kill myself in the home gym I was dumb enough to build in our basement so I won’t balloon up to three or four metric tons!
It hasn’t been easy…I hope you people appreciate the tremendous sacrifices I’ve made by eating delicious food FOR YOU!!!
Yes, a thankless job, I know….please excuse me while I sob silently over my veal alla mare’ and cheesecake.

Chicken mushroom pasta

This is a very simple dish and kids who don’t like mushrooms usually like this.

1 pound penne pasta cooked al dente
1 pound chicken breast, sliced into strips
8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pepper
1 cup milk

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil, add some salt, pepper and half of the garlic and the chicken. Sautee over medium heat until the chicken is just cooked through. Transfer chicken to a large bowl and deglaze pan with white wine.

Add the butter to the wine and bring to a near boil until the butter melts.
Add onions, the remaining garlic, salt and pepper and cook onions until they become soft.
Add the soups, mushrooms, parmesan cheese and milk and stir well. If the sauce is still too thick you can add more milk until it is the consistency you desire. Heat to a simmer and continue cooking until the mushrooms become soft.

Add the chicken and mix well. Simmer until it has warmed completely. Add some more milk if the sauce is too thick. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.

Creamy veal and pasta

Okay, I’m a bad person because I eat veal. But I only eat it because (a) it is so freaking good and (b) people invented cows as they exist today. If this were a recipe featuring baby hamsters I ’d be the first to say “No way man…that’s not right” but since it’s cow I say go for it.

1 pound fettuccini cooked al dente
1 pound thinly-sliced veal cut into 1-inch strips
1 egg
2 tablespoons grated parmesan plus more for serving garnish
1-1/2 cups half-n-half
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon Ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
10-15 fresh basil leaves, coarsely-chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Cook pasta al dente while working on the rest of the dish.
Mix flour with nutmeg and some kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Wash veal and (if not thin enough) pound with a meat-tenderizing mallet.
Mix egg and milk in a large bowl with a wire whisk.
Place veal into a bowl with the milk/egg, mix well and let sit for two minutes.
Heat 1/2 the oil in sauce pan and add onions, cook until onions just begin to soften. Add garlic, mushrooms, basil and a dash of salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms soften. Remove mixture from pan and set aside. Add wine to deglaze the pan and then add remaining oil to pan and heat the oil and wine.
Remove the veal strips from the milk/egg mixture and dredge each piece in the flour mixture and cook in the pan until golden brown.
Place cooked veal on paper towels to drain and return onion/mushroom mixture to pan and heat. Add half-n-half and parmesan. Mix over medium heat until it starts to thicken and then add the veal. Mix well and serve over the fettuccini. Garnish with more parmesan and serve with fresh Italian or French bread.

Veal ala mare’

Another veal recipe…I am so going to burn for this…oh well. This is a somewhat expensive to make/though fantastic-tasting dish. It is veal with a cream crab sauce and jumbo shrimp.

8 veal fillets pounded thin
32 large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bunch fresh asparagus. (About 24 thin pieces)
6 tablespoons olive oil
6-ounces crab meat, fresh, frozen or canned, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup flour
1 cup milk plus 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon Ground nutmeg
5-large leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1 egg
Hungarian paprika
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup half-n-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/ 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried chives
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Clean and trim asparagus. Put about 1-inch of water in a large pan, add some salt and the chives and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 3 minutes and skim off the chives then add asparagus. Cook until tender. Remove from pan, drain and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and a dash of salt and pepper and the garlic. Add asparagus and toss until well coated. Asparagus should be finished at the same time as the veal is. It should still be cooked through but still a bit firm, not like canned asparagus which is limp and mushy.
Mix flour with nutmeg and some kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Wash veal and (if not thin enough) pound with a meat-tenderizing mallet.
Mix egg and 1/2 cup milk in a large bowl with a wire whisk.
Place veal into a bowl with the milk/egg, mix well and let sit for two minutes.
Heat olive oil in large sauce pan.
Remove the veal strips from the milk/egg mixture and dredge each piece in the flour mixture and cook in the pan until golden brown.
Repeat the above process of soaking, dredging and frying of the shrimp until it is all cooked. Add more oil to the pan if needed but be careful to not overcook the shrimp.
Place the cooked veal and shrimp on paper towels on a heated plate to drain
After veal and shrimp are all cooked, discard any oil remaining in pan and deglaze with white wine.
Melt three tablespoons of butter and add the Italian seasoning, some salt and pepper, the cream and half-n-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer stirring often until the sauce starts to thicken.
Add the crab meat, 1 tablespoon of parsley and the basil and continue stirring as the sauce cooks and thickens for about 2-4 minutes.
Place 1 or 2 pieces of veal on warmed plates (1 piece per plate to serve 8 people, 2 per plate to serve 4 people.) Place an even o=amount of shrimp on top of each piece of veal and top with and even amount of asparagus spears then ladle even amounts of the sauce over each plate of veal. A side of boiled red potatoes goes well with this dish. As does a vegetable or mushroom risotto.
Serve immediately with fresh, warm Italian or French bread.

Pasta carbonara

This is one of my favorite dishes of all-time but healthy it certainly is not. Cream, butter, eggs and Italian bacon…yeah, definitely not on any healthy cooking list. But it is so good that it’s worth it and if you don‘t eat it every day, you‘ll be okay…probably.
This is also a “make it until you get it the way you like it” kind of dish. With many possible variations. For example: I usually prefer to not use American-style bacon since it has such an intense and salty flavor as compared to the Italian bacon which is much more subtle. Sometimes I like to put chopped fresh mushrooms in it, sometimes not. And, as always, I try not to overload it with salt. You can always add more salt when the food’s on the plate but you can’t take it out when it’s in the pan.
My big divergence from standard-type carbonara recipes is the addition of Fontina and Gruyere cheeses. The Swiss-made Fontina cheese is preferred but the Italian Fontina will work just fine. Both are “melting cheeses” (a Fontina grilled cheese sandwich is incredible) and have very complex, nutty and delicious flavors. They add a subtle, yet definite difference to the dish. They’re also very expensive cheeses but well worth the cost, especially since you need so little for this dish.

1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
1 egg
1 medium onion diced into small pieces
1/3 pound sliced pancetta (Italian pork bacon) chopped into small pieces.
4 full slices smoked American bacon chopped into small pieces.
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
16-24 ounces half-n-half
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
15 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry chopped thyme
2 tablespoons Grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon Grated Romano cheese
2 thin slices Fontina cheese
3 thin slices gruyere cheese
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in large sauce pan and cook the onions until they are just starting to get soft. Lower heat and add oil, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Do not let the garlic or other spices burn.
Add the pancetta and bacon and cook over medium heat until they are just cooked through..
In a small bowl, combine 16-ounces of half-n-half and the egg and whisk until well mixed. Mix in the parsley, Romano and parmesan cheeses.
Add cream/eggs, Fontina and gruyere cheeses and continually stir over medium heat until the cheeses are all melted and the sauce starts to thicken. If it is too thick, add more half-n-half or regular or low-fat milk.
Immediately toss with the cooked pasta in a large, warmed serving bowl and serve right away with grated parmesan on the side and fresh, warm Italian or French bread.
If there are leftovers, do not reheat in the microwave as the butter and cheeses can often separate. Instead, heat in a saucepan over medium heat, adding some milk or half-n-half to thin out the sauce.

Spicy garlic shrimp

Don’t let the spicy part of this recipe scare you off. It is actually very mild but the peppers give it a nice kick since the shrimp picks up the pepper flavors without making it a tongue-burning adventure. You can substitute fresh jalapeno peppers if you can’t find the red chilies.

1 to 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh red chili pepper (or 2 jalapeno peppers)
1 generous teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of butter
Kosher salt
White pepper

Cut pepper lengthwise into four quarters with stems still on, discard seeds and white pulp and set aside.
Heat olive oil in large sauce pan, add garlic and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, being certain to not let it burn or stick.
Add peppers, some salt and a few pinches of ground white pepper and stir well over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
Add shrimp to pan and stir until the shrimp is completely cooked throughout.
Add butter, remove pan from heat and stir until everything is well-mixed. Serve immediately.

Serves two people as a main course or four as an appetizer.

Special section: Basil growing for non-green-thumbed-plant-killer types
I highly-recommend growing your own basil and, luckily, It’s really easy. And if you try it once, you‘ll do it every year. First, you need to get a large, plastic, flat under-bed storage container. The ones that are about 2-feet by 3-feet by 6-8-inches tall. Drill some drainage holes about halfway up the sides in 5 or six places around the container. Wash thoroughly and then fill 75% of the way to the top with soil/potting mix (think bag of Miracle-Grow dirt) Sprinkle basil seeds very evenly on top of the leveled soil-two small seed packets are more than enough. Press them down into the soil with the palm of your hand, so you are “tamping” the potting mix down firmly. Gently cover the entire thing with another 1/3” of soil and tamp that down firmly with your hands. Gently water until thoroughly wet and leave in a sunny place. Basil takes 5-8 days to sprout and it grows fairly fast. You can start the seeds inside in early March and by the time you set them out in late-April/early May when all danger of frost has passed, they should be nice and tall. Thin the smaller seedlings out so the larger ones’ final spacing is about 2” from the next plant.
They like direct sunlight but shielding the plants from the uber-harsh noonday sun in mid-July isn’t a bad idea. Harvest a few leaves from each plant as you need it when they get about 14“-18” tall and the leaves become broad and strong.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT BASIL: If you see a really cool-looking, green, flower-like structure starting to develop at the tops of the stems, pinch it off immediately! This is the basil beginning to produce seeds and if you let the flowers form, the basil will turn bitter and be useless.
A couple containers like this will cost you maybe $20 total but will provide you more basil than you can ever use. A few ounces of basil costs around three dollars or more in the grocery store (enough for maybe two recipes in this book) so using it even a few times will pay for itself…and fresh basil adds so much to so many dishes that you’ll find yourself putting it in just about everything.
Any extra basil left at the end of the season can be frozen, dried or made into a pesto which you can then store in your refrigerator.

Maple honey glaze roasted pork tenderloin

I really can’t make this in my home because it’s full of vegetarians and I don’t want to eat a whole pork tenderloin by myself (something I’m fully capable of doing…scary, I know) But if I could make this I would…as often as I could.

1 2-pound pork tenderloin, butterflied lengthwise for stuffing
6 ounces dry stuffing mix
1 small apple, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 -1/ 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1 tea spoon fresh chopped rosemary
1/ 2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/ 2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350-degrees
Melt butter in large sauce pan and add apples and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly until apples just start getting soft. Add vegetable stock, 1/ 2 the salt and 1/ 2 the pepper, mix gently. Cover and allow to sit for five minutes as stuffing absorbs the liquid.
Spoon stuffing mix into the cut side of the pork and roll lengthwise when full, either inning the edges together with toothpicks or wrapping the tenderloin with cooking twine.
Place in a glass baking pan seam-side down and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour.

Mix honey, syrup, rosemary and the remaining salt and pepper in a cup. Remove pork from heat and pour glaze over evenly, spreading it with a basting brush.
Return to oven and bake about 20 more minutes. Check doneness with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat (and the center of the stuffing) should be at least 160 degrees.
Remove from oven when done and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Mexican chicken skillet bake

I don’t do many Mexican dishes and I’m not sure why. They’re usually pretty easy to make and delicious. This one is a simple, fast, fairly healthy and a not-too-spicy south of the border recipe that isn’t so hot that kids won’t eat it. Serve with a Spanish rice and you have a meal.

2 pounds chicken breasts (6-8 small breast pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small can of tomatoes and green chilies
16 ounce jar of mild chunky salsa
1 small can of black beans
4-ounces shredded American cheese
8-ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
8-ounces sour cream

In a large bowl mix the chili powder, salsa, black beans and tomatoes with green chilies.
Heat olive oil in very large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add garlic and some kosher salt and stir for a minute over medium heat.
Add chicken breast and brown on each side for about 4-6 minutes.
Increase heat and add salsa/bean mixture to pan. Bring to a near boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked completely. Internal temperature of thickest piece of chicken should be at least 165-degrees.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the chicken with the cheeses. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes until he cheeses have melted.
Serve on warm plates with sour cream on top and a side of Spanish rice.

Indian butter chicken

This dish isn’t like its name sounds but it’s really good. It is primarily a dish from India with a touch of Thai.

Meatball Ingredients:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh finely-chopped)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, bruised
12 ounces tomato puree
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup light whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Trim any fat from chicken breast and cut each one into large pieces (yielding about 12-16 pieces per breast)
Heat oil in hot wok and brown 1/ 3 of the chicken at a time until all is nicely browned. Add more oil if needed and when finished, place chicken in bowl and set aside.
Reduce the heat and place butter in wok, stirring until melted. Add the paprika, coriander, ginger, garlic, cardamom and chili powder and stir fry for about a minute or two until the seasonings’ smell become very prominent.
Return the chicken to the wok and stir until it is all well coated in the spices. Add the tomato puree and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring very frequently until the chicken is tender, cooked through and the sauce is thick.
Stir in the yogurt, crème and lemon and simmer another 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened back up somewhat.
Serve with steamed or saffron rice, rice pilaf or even a vegetable risotto on the side.

Mushroom spinach medley

A great side dish to serve with just about any entrée and pretty healthy too. Substituting something like SmartBeat spread for the butter can make it even more healthy.

1 large 3-pound bag of raw spinach
1 16-ounce container of fresh button mushrooms (small as you can find)
1 large Vidalia onion sliced
1/2 tablespoon diced garlic
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 stick butter

Wash spinach and pat dry. Place in a large microwave-safe glass dish. Sprinkle the mushrooms on top and cover tightly with microwave-sate plastic cling wrap.
Microwave on high until spinach has reduced completely and the mushrooms have released their liquid.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic, onion and some salt and pepper. Sautee until the onions are just starting to soften up.
Pull back the plastic wrap and drain any excess liquid from the bowl. Mix the onion mixture with the spinach and mushroom mixture, recover and microwave for 2-4 minutes until steaming hot.
Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Meatball bake

This dish also isn’t like its name sounds but it’s really good. It uses the same meatball recipe from last year’s cookbook but they’re shaped more like hamburger patties than little round meatballs.

Meatball Ingredients:
2-LB lean ground beef
2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 tablespoons finely diced garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons dry basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons pepper
4 tsp grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste

8 slices of a large, beefsteak-type tomatoes
8 thick slices mozzarella cheese
1/ 2 cup sliced mushrooms
Grated Romano cheese for garnish
Finely chopped parsley for garnish
1 /4 cup sliced black olives
8-10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and mix well by hand. When done, divide into eight equal amounts and form into patties about 4” in diameter. Spray large frying pan with cooking spray and brown meatball patties on each side for a minute or two and continue until cooked through.
Place finished patties on an oven broiler pan and top with sliced mushrooms and olives, then a slice of tomato and then a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Place pan in middle rack of oven heated to 375-degrees and cook until cheese is completely melted. Turn on broiler and broil until the top of the cheese just turns golden brown.
Remove from heat and garnish with parsley, basil and Romano cheese. Serve with fresh Italian or French bread.
Serves 4-8 people

Uncle Spiro’s Pancakes

I have no idea who uncle Spiro is but my friend Hollywood does and that’s where I got this recipe…and any uncle named Spiro is an uncle of mine. These pancakes are not like the kind you’re used to. They can be made with a bunch of different flavors and toppings and they come out great just about any way you make them.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
2 eggs
Dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
Flavoring of your choice (orange or lemon or vanilla extract, etc.)
Powdered sugar for topping

Heat oven to 400-degrees
Combine flour and milk in bowl and thoroughly mix. Mix eggs in separate bowl until well mixed. Pour eggs into flour/milk mixture, add a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and any flavoring you like. Mix until just evenly mixed. Do not over mix. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Put the butter in a flat 9” by 9” square Pyrex dish ( I prefer 9” by 13” which means you have to double up every ingredient listed above) and put In oven until the butter is melted (do this while the batter sits for the 10 minutes)
When melted, pull the dish from the oven and swirl it around so the butter coats all of the inside of the dish.
Pour the batter into the dish and place it on the center rack in the oven.
Let bake 17-20 minutes until the pancake edges have curled up and over on themselves. The pancake will look cooked on top and the butter in the dish will be pooling above and below the surface of the pancake.
Remove from the oven and cut up into individual servings. Serve with toppings of your choice. Ones such as orange marmalade, strawberry glaze or other fresh fruit glazes work well as does plain old maple syrup. A topping of whipped cream is also great with other toppings.
This is a fairly dense pancake so it should serve at least two adults and a child.

Butternut squash mash

This is a great side dish and is somewhat like sweet potatoes but much lighter and fresh tasting. It’s Incredibly simple to make as well. You can make it a bit more healthy by substituting Smartbeat spread for the butter and a bit more diet friendly by substituting Splenda sweetener for the sugar and Splenda brown sugar for the real brown sugar.

1 large butternut squash
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Regular refined white sugar to taste

Microwave directions:
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy center. Cut each half into several pieces, set those pieces on end and slice the outer, tough skin off. When finished, cut the orange flesh into smaller cubes.
Place in a large, microwave safe, glass bowl, cover tightly with clear plastic wrap and microwave until tender.
Remove the plastic wrap and drain off any excess liquid. The squash should be very soft, about the consistency of boiled potatoes about to be mashed..
Oven directions:
Heat oven to 350-degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy parts and place in a glass baking dish, rind facing down. Drop a half of a tablespoon of butter or butter-spread into each seed cavity, pour a cup of water into the dish and bake In oven until the flesh tender.
Add the remaining ingredients and mash the squash with a potato masher until well mixed. Since the size of the quash will vary you have to adjust the sweetness of the mix to suit your tastes.

Maryanne’s pumpkin cream cupcakes.

This is daughter Maryanne’s first contribution to our cookbooks and it is a really good one. These are more tiny little muffins than cupcakes but they are huge on taste and utterly addictive. The first time she made them I think I ate five of them in about 20 minutes!

1 pkg. (2-layer size) spice cake mix
1 3.4 ounce package jell-o vanilla instant pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 8-ounce pkg. cream cheese, softened.
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

Heat oven to 350-degrees
Prepare cake batter as directed on the package. Add dry pudding mix and pumpkin to the cake batter and mix well.
Spoon even amounts into 24 paper-lined muffin cups
Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Blend in sugar and egg and mix well.
Spoon over batter in muffin cups and swirl around a bit with a toothpick
Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake part of the muffins comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. Remove muffins to wire rack and let cool completely.

Hollywood’s caramel cheesecake

Don’t like a graham cracker crust on cheesecake? How about a caramel crust? Yup, I said a caramel crust…mmmmmmmmmmm.

Cheesecake recipe of your choice for a 9” cake pan with angled sides
(you can use the cheesecake recipe on the next page but you have to cut the quantity of all the ingredients by 25% or you‘ll have too much filing for the shell)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional crushed graham crackers

Put the water, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy sauce pan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the mixture begins to simmer continue cooking until the mixture begins to turn caramel brown and the temperature reaches 340-degrees. Use a candy thermometer to be certain. Immediately remove from heat and pour into the 9” angle-sided cake pan. Swirl the pan around so coat the bottom and sides as it cools. Set in refrigerator to cool.
You could probably also use regular caramel cubes, melt them in a double-boiler and swirl them around the cake pan but I haven’t tried that and can’t tell you how much caramel you’d need or whether it would work properly or not.
Place cheesecake mixture in the caramel-coated pan and bake as instructed. When done, set aside to cool and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours (preferable overnight)
You can do one of several things at this point. You can (a) cover the “top” of the cheesecake with the crushed graham crackers if you like that kind of topping and then cover the cake with a flat plate, turn the plate and cake upside down and remove the pan from the cheesecake leaving what is basically a caramel-covered cheesecake with a graham cracker crust or (b) just put the flat plate over the cake, turn both upside down and have a crust-less caramel-covered cheesecake when you lift the pan off..
If you have any problem with the pan sticking to the caramel you can heat it with a blow dryer or a cooking torch for a bit to free it up.

The world’s greatest cheesecake

I can eat a whole one of these cheesecakes myself in one sitting…I’d drop dead from it but I still could eat a whole one in one sitting.

Four, eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
16 oz sour cream
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Graham cracker crust
1 cup crushed graham crackers
2- 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix well until the crumbs are all coated with butter. Pour them into a 9” spring-form baking pan and press into the bottom. Place in an oven heated to 325-degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.
Combine softened cream cheese, flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just blended. Add sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon and mix until well blended but do not over mix. Everything should be blended until just well-mixed, no more.
Pour into pan and bake in heated oven at 450-degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 250-degrees and bake an additional hour. To p of the cake should be just lightly golden browned. It will still seem jiggly when removed from oven but will firm up as it cools.
Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then unclamp the spring form ( but don’t remove it) and very carefully loosen it from the outer edge. If you don’t, the cake will contract as it cools and the surface will crack. Allow to cool in the refrigerator, preferably for at lest 24 hours to allow the flavors to properly meld.
NOTE: If you prefer a moister cheesecake just decrease the flour to one tablespoon.
Serve as is or with fruit toppings of your choice.

Laura’s Key lime cheesecake

I’m not big on Key lime anything…in fact, I strongly dislike it. But this is really good and very…ummmmmm…limey

Three, eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/ 2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Key lime juice plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

Graham cracker crust
1 cup crushed graham crackers
2- 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix well until the crumbs are all coated with butter. Pour them into a 9” spring-form baking pan and press into the bottom. Place in an oven heated to 325-degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.
Combine softened cream cheese, flour, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well blended but do not over mix. Everything should be blended until just well-mixed, no more.
Pour into pan and bake in heated oven at 350-degrees 50 minutes. To p of the cake should be just lightly golden browned. It will still seem jiggly when removed from oven but will firm up as it cools.
Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then unclamp the spring form ( but don’t remove it) and very carefully loosen it from the outer edge. If you don’t, the cake will contract as it cools and the surface will crack. Allow to cool in the refrigerator, preferably for at lest 24 hours to allow the flavors to properly meld.
Serve as is or with fruit toppings of your choice

Bonus recipe section
Holiday turkey feast
I can’t believe that I have never included my roasted or fried turkey recipes in on of our cookbooks. It is absolutely the best turkey dinner you will ever have. I don’t have the recipes for everything listed below. Some of them are in a previous cookbook but if you need me to tell you how to open a can of cranberry sauce then you should be going out for turkey day dinner.
Here is the menu for our thanksgiving or holiday dinner.
Turkey with stuffing and gravy
Garlic mashed potatoes
Fresh green beans and Corn
Butternut squash mash
Jellied and whole-berry cranberry sauce
Pumpkin pie, blackberry pie and cheesecake

Big turkey
Lots of butter, half -n-half, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, oregano, basil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme, rosemary
3-4 loaves of bread
6-8 celery stalks chopped
1 large onion chopped
Water and white wine plus optional poultry broth
You’ll also need a cooking injector which is basically like a large hypodermic needle, fine strainer, roasting pan and bag or deep fryer setup.

The key to the turkey is to shoot seasoned liquid into the bird before cooking it. Prep the turkey as usual and when finished, place the following in a medium sauce pan:
1 cup water, (1/3 cup water if you are deep frying it) 1 stick of butter, 1/ 2 cup white wine, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until it has reduced bay half. You should have between 1 and 1/2 cup of liquid left. Let cool and then strain out any of the large solids in the liquid with a course mesh strainer. Draw the seasoned liquid into the injector and inject it throughout the meat of the turkey by moving the injector in and out of the meat and in constantly changing directions while the liquid is injected. Some of it will leak out so catch it in a pan under the turkey and re-inject it back into the bird. If it is a stuffed bird for roasting, it should be stuffed and ready to go in the oven before you begin the injection process.
This combines with the juices that come out of the bird as it cooks and really adds to the flavor of any gravy made from the turkey bastings. Roast or fry as per standard directions.

Place 6-8 cups of water in a medium pot along with all the gizzard parts in the turkey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.. Remove from heat and remove the turkey parts and discard then skim off the scum that forms when you boil any poultry parts in water.
Add 2 tablespoons of white wine and as much of the turkey bastings that come off the turkey while it cooks as you can get. Since you have injected it with extra liquid, most of it should come back out except it is a seasoned liquid now. Add it to the turkey stock and keep warm until the turkey is done roasting. Bring it to a boil and add either sifted flour or some cornstarch to the gravy while stirring constantly to thicken it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Side dishes
I prefer fresh green beans over frozen but frozen corn is okay with me…but NEVER canned!!! I just cook the corn with butter salt and pepper. For the beans, you have to steam/boil them until the turn bright green and tender but not so much that they become overcooked and limp. I make a butter, salt pepper, chopped garlic and basil sauce. Just mix it all together and serve hat…easy.

Homemade stuffing
Simple to make but not simple to make…first get 3-4 loaves of sliced white bread and cut into roughly 1” squares. In a really big stainless steel pot melt 1 stick of butter then add ¼ of the chopped onions and ¼ of the chopped celery, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic and simmer until the vegetables begin to soften. Have a cup of water standing by and add ¼ of the cut up bread to the pan. Stir and flip the bread with a spatula as it mixes with the butter and vegetables and add a generous amount of ground, powdered poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Immediately add water or poultry broth to the mixture but don’t just pour it all in. You want to dampen the bread without turning it into a pot of mush so sort of sprinkle it on while stirring and flipping the bread. Some of the bread will brown, some won’t, some will be damp, some won’t. just keep mixing it for a while and when a reasonable percentage is browned, remove it from the heat an transfer it to a large bowl. Repeat until all of the stuffing is made, let it cool and then stuff that bird!
Now here’s my warning: for the stuffing mixture, there is no exact measurement for any of the above…it is trial and error and guestimating and figuring out things as you go. The basic ingredients list doesn’t change for me but there are a lot of variable so you have to experiment. You really have to do this to know how to do this…confusing, isn’t it. The good news it that if you get it close, you’ve nailed it. It isn’t rocket science and close is actually good enough. This stuffing recipe is trial and error, not trial by jury so don’t sweat the details.

Mushroom Bisque

¼ lb. unsalted butter
2 medium onions
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
7 oz. Shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
20 oz. Portabella mushrooms, sliced
16 oz. Button mushrooms
8 oz. morels or Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
5 cups chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon Tarragon
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Basil
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cumin
1 oz. Balsamic vinegar
3 oz. Cream Sherry
1 oz. Worstchestershire
1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 pints heavy whipping cream
Salt to taste (1 – 3 tablespoons)

You will need a large stock pot for this recipe.
Sauté onions in butter until translucent. Add garlic and shallot. Cook 3 minutes. Add shitake, portabella and button mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms start to stick. Add chicken stock or broth. Simmer for one hour. Add morels or Baby Bella mushrooms. Simmer 15 minutes. Transfer portions into blender and mix on high (liquefy). Transfer mixed portions into large intermediate container, continuing until all but last 4 cups are blended. Blend last 4 cups of mushrooms on low (chop), so that you leave some chunks of mushrooms. Transfer all blended portions back into original stock pot and add remainder of ingredients. Cook until thickened (about 30-45 minutes).

Makes 20 servings (freezes well)

German Potato Soup

6-8 medium potatoes cut into small pieces
½ cup baby carrots, cut into small pieces
1 stalk celery cut into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ tablespoon garlic, minced
½ to 1 stick butter
Half n’ Half
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Place potatoes, carrots, onion and celery into pot. Pour water to ½ inch above potatoes. Cook until tender. Do not drain water.

Add half n’ half keeping a fairly thick consistency in the soup, add butter. Add salt and pepper.
Mix with a small, high-speed hand blender

The soup can be thickened with dry potato buds if you get it too watery.

Serves 6

Italian Wedding Soup

1 10-ounce box frozen spinach-thawed, drained, and squeezed of excess moisture
12 cups of chicken broth
1 medium onion chopped
¼ to ½ cup Acini de Pepe (very small pasta rounds)
24 Italian meatballs cut into 8 pieces each
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour chicken broth into large cooking pot. Add onion and spinach. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta balls and meatballs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook a minimum of 15 additional minutes. The longer you cook it, the better it tastes.

Hungarian Goulash

1 medium onion
1 lb ground beef
1/3 cups cooked rice
8 slices American cheese
2 cans tomato soup
3 cans water (or more)

Brown beef and onions. Add rice, soup, water cooking over medium heat. When done, add cheese to top and melt.

Serves 4-6


3 lb ground beef
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can either red or kidney beans
3 bay leaves
Salt to taste
Tabasco to taste

Brown beef, garlic and onions and green peppers, drain excess fat.

Add all other ingredients. Cook gently at least 30 minutes, but the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.

Great with grated cheddar cheese on top.

Serves 10

Seafood Gumbo

¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup butter
2 qt water
1 onion
1 clove garlic
½ green bell pepper
¼ cup parsley
½ cup flour
½ lb crab meat
½ lb Andouille sausage sliced (or other hot sausage)
½ lb shrimp, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon File (if available)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste

Brown vegetable oil, butter and flour being patient, this takes a while to get a dark roux.

Lower heat; add water, onion, garlic finely chopped, bell pepper, parsley, and cook 30 minutes.

Add crab meat, Andouille, shrimp, bay leaves, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste, cook 15 minutes. Add shrimp, cook 5 minutes on high. Remove from heat and add File.


1 egg
5 tablespoons (heaping) self-rising flour
10 tablespoons (heaping) self-rising corn meal
4-5 tablespoons (level) sugar
About 1 ¼ cups milk

Stir ingredients together. Quickly pour into cupcake muffin liners sprayed with Pam.

Bake at 275 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Move to cooling rack until cooled off.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all purpose “White Lilly” flour
1 tablespoon double acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Mix above together in bowl with wire whisk.

Cut in with pastry blender:
¼ cup or 4 tablespoons unsalted cold butter till you get course crumbs.

Make a well and add ¾ to 1 cup fat free buttermilk using fork or wooden spoon. Knead briefly.

Roll out about ½ inch hit and cut out. Do not twist. With lightly floured hand, put on cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Pecan and Red Onion Bread

(Bread machine)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
3 cups Bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
½ cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup pecans, chopped

Add first six ingredients to pan in order listed. If your machine calls for dry ingredients first, then invert the order of ingredients.

Program to mix bread to a setting that will allow addition of the onion and pecans to be folded into the dough at a later point in the process. Push start.

When the signal sounds, add the onion and pecans. Allow the machine to continue cooking.

Remove the bread from the pan when done.

Fusilli with Spinach and Ricotta

½ pound fusilli or rotini or bow-tie pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10 oz box frozen shopped spinach-thawed, drained and squeezed of excess moisture
2 scallion, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole or part-skim ricotta
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 cup golden raisins (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the label directions. Drain and return to pot. Add the olive oil, spinach, scallions, raisins, and basil and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and balsamic vinegar; stir. Add to the pasta mixture and toss lightly. Top with the parmesan and pine nuts (if desired).

Note: This salad is best served at room temperature. If you are serving it right away, try to let it rest for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors develop and meld. This pasta salad goes well with grilled chicken.


1 head chopped cabbage
Mayonnaise (to coat)
¼ teaspoon Lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Mustard
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

Mix all ingredients together


3-4 oz flaked coconut
1 20 oz can pineapple tidbits
2 1-lb cans mandarin oranges
1 8 oz container sour cream
3.5 oz small marshmallows
8-10 Marchino cherries halved

Drain pineapple and oranges. Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate 4-5 hours.

Broccoli Salad

3-5 heads broccoli
8-10 strips bacon
½ lb pecans
1/3 cup raisins (regular or white)

Cook, cool and crumble bacon. Clean and chop broccoli. Chop pecans. Mix broccoli, bacon, pecans and raisins.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Mix the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over the broccoli mixture. Mix well, refrigerate.

Note: It is best to make this dish the day before so that the broccoli can marinate and soften.

Vegetarian version: leave out the bacon

Serves 6


2 lb round beef
Crushed red pepper
2 onions, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic salt
1 10 oz can tomato paste
Large Fritos

Sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Brown ground beef with onion and drain. Add can of tomato paste, and add a small amount of water. Keep adding water during cooking so the Fritos will be absorbed. The sauce should be liquidy.

Add crushed pepper, garlic salt. Simmer 45 minutes to 2 hours. Serve on large Fritos or Scoops with your choice of toppings.

Italian Pork Loin with Garlic

4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oregano
½ rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3 ½ to 4 lb boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied

Stir and mash together the garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil to make a paste. Rub all over the outside of the pork loin, covering as completely as possible.

Rotate the pork roast on the spit rods for 1 hour 15-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on the instant thermometer. Remove roast and slice into ½ inch thick slices to serve.

Serves 6-10

Chicken Parmesan

4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups spaghetti sauce (see recipe)
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Mix crumbs and garlic together. Dip chicken in egg; dredge in crumb garlic mixture. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
Pour spaghetti sauce over chicken. Cover reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Top with cheeses. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until mozzarella melts.

Yield: 4 servings.

Cilantro Chicken

1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground hot red pepper
4 boneless, skinned chicken breast halves, slightly flattened
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 small sweet green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ¼ pounds ripe tomatoes, sliced (about 4 med size tomatoes)
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (1 cup)
Cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

Combine lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and the ground pepper in medium-size bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat. Let stand 10 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Remove to paper toweling to drain. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet. Add onion, green pepper and garlic; sauté until tender but now browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro.

Place about 2/3 of tomato slices in bottom of 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 onion mixture and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with about 2/3 cheese. Arrange chicken in layer over cheese. Top chicken with remaining tomato and onion mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro.

Beef Stroganoff

¾ cup half and half
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Campbell’s Beefy Mushroom Soup
1 8oz tub sour cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1 medium onion chopped
1 lb beef tips or cut up steak or ground beef (can use turkey or chicken also)
1 package of extra wide eggs noodles

Brown beef, onion and garlic until beef is cooked, drain. Return to pan, add soup (do not add water), half and half, Worcestershire and stir while cooking over medium heat. Add meat mixture. Continue cooking over low heat.

Cook noodles as directed on package, drain. Mix noodles in with sauce and serve.

Serves 8

Herb-baked Chicken

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Coarse Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Garlic and Herb Seasoning Mix
Olive oil

Place chicken breasts on baking dish. Brush with oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt on each breast. Sprinkle remaining ingredients as you like on each breast.

Cook for 30-45 minutes or until done

Fusion Shrimp Pasta

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup half and half cream
1 ½ tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Minced onion
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Savory (optional)
1/8 teaspoon Basil
1/8 teaspoon Thyme
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cumin
¾ cup Sesame Ginger Marinade (Ken’s) or Barbeque sauce
2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled
1 box fettuccine

Note: you may use additional Old Bay or Tabasco to make the sauce spicier. Also, you can experiment with different sauces, dressings and marinades to vary the flavor of the dish’s sauce.

Mix all ingredients but the shrimp and fettuccine in very large saucepan. Bring to slow boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer or turn off.

Cook pasta as directed, drain. Add shrimp to sauce and cook over medium high heat to cook shrimp, add pasta when shrimp are cooked.

Serves 6-8

Cajun Meatloaf

Seasoning mix:
2 whole bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* * *
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup evaporated mild
1/2 cup catsup
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (may substitute ground turkey)
1/2 pound ground pork
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup dry Italian bread crumbs

Combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Melt butter in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, green onions,

garlic, Tabasco, Worcestershire and seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture starts sticking excessively, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently. Stir in the milk and catsup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove the bay leaves from the cooled vegetable mixture.
Mix together the ground beef and pork in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, cooked vegetable mixture, and bread crumbs. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Place the meatloaf mixture into a large bread pan and form loaf shape. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 25 minutes, then increase oven heat to 400 F and continue cooking for 35 minutes longer.

Serves 6


2 lb ground beef
½ can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 eggs
2 slices of bread and enough milk to soften bread
Some wheat germ
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper, fresh ground
Dash balsamic vinegar

Mix all ingredients together, and put in loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, drain off fat and put tomato sauce on top and continue cooking for 30 minutes.

You may also put strips of uncooked bacon on top before baking.

Spicy Shrimp Casserole

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup milk
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s Long-grain and Wild Rice, cooked
2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted
2 lbs. medium-size fresh shrimp, uncooked and peeled

Melt butter in small saucepan add onions and cook until translucent over medium-high heat. Add Worcestershire, pepper, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and sauté until mixture sticks to bottom of pan; remove from burner and add milk to mixture, mixing well.

In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, cheese and soup, mix well. Mix in spice/onion mixture. Add shrimp to mixture, mixing shrimp in carefully.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11 x 7 x 1-1/2 inch or 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.
May cook in Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

Serves 6


½ lb. hot Italian ground sausage
1 lb Andouille smoked sausage
½ lb shrimp
13 oz canned chicken chunks, drained
2 cups onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 1-lb crushed tomatoes
2 cups rice Uncle Ben’s Converted ONLY
3 cups chicken stock (hot)
4 green onions sliced
¼ cup Parsley chopped
½ teaspoon Thyme
3 Bay leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce: 5 shakes=medium, 8-10 shakes=hot

Brown ground sausage in big pot, and crumbled. Do not drain.

In same pan add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic and other spices. Cook until tender. Add rice and stir until well coated and mixed. Add tomatoes with juice, and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a near boil. Reduce heat. Cover and let simmer on low heat, with care not to burn for about 30 minutes or until rice is done, adding the Andouille and shrimp at the halfway mark. Add green onions and Parsley before serving.

Note: if you do happen to burn the bottom of the pan, do not scrape it, pour the Jambalaya into a new pot, but take care not to scrape out the burned part in the bottom.

Other smoked or hot sausages can be substituted but only as a last resort.

Serves 8

Seafood Florentine

Note: We use Tilapia, but any mild fish will work

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cups half n’ half or light cream
1 teaspoon sugar
2 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach-thawed, drained, and squeezed of excess moisture
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tilapia fillets
1 lemon, ½ juiced and ½ cut into wedges
¼ cup bread crumbs

Preheat broiler. Melt 4 tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, 1-2 minutes or until just starting to brown. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to medium. Add the half n’ half slowly, whisking into a smooth sauce. Cook 2-3 minutes, until thickened, whisking as needed. Add sugar and stir, add spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot. Reduce heat to low, so the spinach stays warm.

Place the fillets on a broiler pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Pour the lemon juice over the fillets, and then sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on top. Dot fillets with remaining butter. Broil 5-6 minutes or until the fillets are opaque and the bread crumbs golden. Spoon some creamed spinach onto each of the plates, and then place a fillet on top. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Serves 4

Tilapia with Charleston Sauce

4 – 6 tilapia filets
Olive oil
½ lb uncooked shrimp, chopped into very small bits
1 cup plus ¼ cup half and half cream
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon Cumin
½ tablespoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
Salt and pepper to taste

In saucepan, add 1 cup half and half, old bay, Worcestershire, nutmeg, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat over medium high heat until just beginning to boil. Add shrimp bits and continue cooking over medium high heat until shrimp are cooked.

Add corn starch to a cup with remaining ¼ cup half and half stirring to mix. Add corn starch mixture to bubbling sauce, bring to boil and reduce heat while stirring.

You may add more cornstarch to thicken the sauce more, but make sure to add it to a cup with half and half or milk in it before adding to sauce. Also, make sure to bring sauce to a boil once you add the corn starch, as boiling is the mechanism that aids in thickening the sauce.

Once your have the sauce the consistency you like, turn the heat to simmer/low and cover. Place the tilapia filets on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and black pepper. Broil for 5-6 minutes or until done. Serve sauce over fish.
Bean Pot

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon
1 c. chopped onion
1 15 oz. can kidney beans (drained)
1 15 oz. can butter beans (drained)
1 15 oz. can baked beans (sometimes I use 2 cans)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. ketchup
2 tbs. vinegar
1 tbs. dry mustard

Brown ground beef, bacon and onion in a large skillet. Drain.
Mix all ingredients in a large baking dish, cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes-1 hour.

Carrot and Potato Medley

4-5 medium potatoes peeled and quartered
10-12 baby carrots
1 teaspoon Parsley
2 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the carrots and potatoes until tender, but not falling apart.

Drain water. Add butter, Parsley, salt and pepper, cover and shake to mix up and melt butter.

Note: you can leave out the carrots and add a few more potatoes if you like

Serves 4
Seasoned Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, with ends removed
1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning mix
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt

Place asparagus in lightly greased baking dish.
Sprinkle with olive oil and all seasonings.

Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Serves 3-4

Holiday Sweet Potato Bake

2 (16 oz.) cans cut sweet potatoes, drained (may use yams)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup apricot brandy or brandy
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (15-1/4 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Combine first 8 ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat at low speed until blended. Stir in pineapple, 1/2 cup pecans, raisins, and coconut; spoon into a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes; sprinkle with marshmallows, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Serves 8

Sweet Potato Souffle

3 cups sweet potatoes (cooked or can use canned)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Blend well and pour into a buttered dish.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping
¾ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar packed
½ cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients and crumble over top of souffle. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Marshmallow Topping (substitution for Pecan topping)

When souffle is done, top with marshmallows and place under broiler until marshmallows are browned.

Baked Vidalia Onions

4 large Vidalia onions
¼ cup butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
nd black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Slice and separate onions into rings. Place onion slices in lightly greased 9×11 baking dish. Place butter into dis hand sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and top with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Servies 4

New Orleans Dirty Rice

1 cup white rice, cooked
1 lb sausage
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Brown sausage and onions in skillet and then crumble. Drain most of fat off but leave a little in pan with meat. Add cooked rice, garlic powder, salt, Worcestershire, and cayenne pepper mixing well.

Serves 4

Chocolate Pecan Chess Pie

1 deep dish piecrust
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Line piecrust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake at 425 F for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove weights and foil, bake 2 more minutes.
Stir together sugar and next 7 ingredients until blended. Add eggs, stirring well. Add cocoa and chopped pecans until well mixed. Pour filling into piecrust.
Bake at 350 F for 50 to 55 minutes, shielding edges of crust with aluminum foil after 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Serves 8

Dutch Apple Pie

1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
5 cups fresh or canned apples
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell
* * *
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar

Stir together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, and apples. Pour into a 9-inch pie shell. With pastry cutter, mix together 1 cup flour, butter, and sugar till crumbly. Sprinkle over pie. Bake in a 400 F oven for 45 minutes

Serves 6

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

All-purpose flour for dusting
1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 large whole eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz) pecan halves
1 egg yolk (slightly beaten)
Whipped cream (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, 4 whole eggs, corn syrup, maple syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Fold in half the pecan halves. Pour filling into pie shell; arrange remaining pecan halves on top of pie. Brush top of arranged pecans with egg yolk.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 F then reduce heat to 325 F. Bake until a knife tip comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

May be served with a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie; Serves 8

Decadent Pecan Pie

1 pie crust, thawed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans
Note: the key to this rich pie is the dark corn syrup)

Cream butter and sugar; add syrup, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well, and then add pecans. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake at 350 F until filling is set (about 50-55 minutes). Cool before cutting. May store in tightly sealed container or refrigerator.

Serves 8

Key Lime Pie

(without eggs)

1 extra serving size graham cracker pie crust or baked pie shell
2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk (may substitute with fat free)
1 cup Key lime juice (Nellie & Joe’s)
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar

Stir together milk and lime juice until well blended. Pour into crust. With clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer just until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until soft peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over filling. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 28 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Chill 8 hours.

Serves 8

Key Lime Pie

(with eggs)

1 baked deep-dish pie shell or extra serving graham cracker pie crust
1 can sweetened condensed milk (may use fat-free)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup Key Lime juice (Nellie and Joe’s)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

Beat 1 egg white stiff and set aside. Beat 3 egg whites and gradually add sugar and cream of tartar; mix until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Mix together sweetened condensed milk, 4 egg yolks and Key Lime juice. Fold in reserved 1 beaten egg white. Pour into baked pie shell or graham cracker pie crust.

Spread egg white mixture (3 eggs) over pie filling forming peaks and bake at 350 degrees until egg whites are golden brown.

Serves 8

Pumpkin Pie

1 deep dish pie crust, unbaked
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups pumpkin filling
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sweetened condensed milk

Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then 375 F for 50 minutes. Allow pie to cook before serving.

Serves 8

Peanut Butter Pie

8 oz package cream cheese
14 oz can Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
¾ cup Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla
6 oz Cool Whip
2 prepared Chocolate Pie Crusts

Beat cheese, milk, and peanut butter. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in Cool Whip. Divide into both pie crusts. Freeze until set for 2-3 hours.
Optional: top with more Cool Whip
Peach Cobbler

Note: you may substitute most any fruit you like in this recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup warm milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups peaches, drained or fresh

Warm butter in baking dish. Mix other ingredients, except peaches in separate bowl. Pour mixture in baking dish and whisk into melted butter. Pour peaches on top. Bake at 350 F for 50 – 60 minutes.

Serves 6

Five Flavors Pound Cake

Cake ingredients:
9 eggs, separated
1 lb. butter, softened
3-1/3 cups sugar
1 cup Self-rising flour
3 cups Cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons Coconut flavoring
1-1/2 teaspoons Rum flavoring
1-1/2 teaspoons Lemon flavoring
1-1/2 teaspoons Butter flavoring
1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla flavoring

Beat egg whites until well mixed and foamy. Lightly beat egg yolks. Cream butter and sugar together. Add flour and beaten egg whites. Add beaten egg yolks and flavorings. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Cool cake in pan for 20 minutes. Invert cake and take out of pan, punch holes in cake and pour warm glaze slowly over warm cake.

Five Flavors Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon of each of the flavorings above
Mix all ingredients over low heat to boiling. Remove from burner and allow to cool slightly before pouring over cake.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3 cups sugar
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup milk
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz. sour cream

Cream butter and sugar. Sift together in separate bowl flour, salt and baking powder. To butter and sugar mixture, add milk and flour alternating beginning and ending with flour. Mix in eggs one at a time; vanilla extract and sour cream last, mixing well. Pour batter into greased and floured tube pan.
Bake at 325 F for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove cake when inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool on wire rack.

Serves 12

Bavarian Cream Dessert

2 packages French Vanilla pudding
1 8 oz. container Cool Whip
3 cups milk
2 packages Graham crackers (original)

Mix pudding, Cool Whip and milk together.
In 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish, layer graham crackers, 1/2 pudding mixture, graham crackers, remaining pudding mixture, top with Graham crackers.
Microwave store-bought icing (remove foil cover) for 30-40 seconds, pour over graham crackers. Cover and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours to set.

Serves 12

Double Pineapple Upside Down Cake

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 can (14 oz) pineapple slices
2 eggs
Maraschino Cherry halves
1 package Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme Deluxe Cake Mix
Cool Whip

Melt butter in a 13x9x2 inch pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly in pan.

Drain pineapple, save the syrup. Arrange pineapple and cherries on the sugar mixture. Add water to pineapple syrup to make 1 1/3 cups liquid. Add liquid mixture to two eggs and the cake mix and mix as directed on the label. Pour batter over fruit.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, until cake pulls away from side of pan. Let stand 5 minutes for toping to set. Then carefully turn upside down onto a large platter or cookie sheet.

Serve warm with Cool Whip.

Serves 8

Unforgettable Coconut Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 egg whites (room temperature)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
Lemon Apricot Filling (see next page – optional)
Fluffy White Frosting (see next page)
3-4 cups grated coconut

Combine first 3 ingredients, and set aside. Combine milk, water and vanilla, and set aside. Beat egg whites until foamy; gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until soft peaks form and set aside.

Combine shortening, butter, and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix after each addition. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cook in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Spread Lemon-Apricot Filling between layers and Fluffy White Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with grated coconut. Garnish, if desired. Yield: one 3-layer 9-inch cake.

Lemon-Apricot Filling
2 cups dried apricots, diced
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
2 egg yolks, beaten

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Reduced heat, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot mixture into egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in lemon rind. Let cool; cover and chill 1 hour. Yield 2 1/2 cups.

Fluffy White Frosting
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in top of double boiler. Beat at low speed of an electric mixer 30 seconds or just until blended. Place over boiling water; beat constantly at high speed 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Remove from heat. Add vanilla; beat 2 minutes or until thick enough to spread.

Yield 4 1/4 cups.

Blackberry Wine Cake

1 box white cake mix
1 3 oz box blackberry gelatin
4 eggs
1 cup Manischewitz blackberry wine (at grocery stores)
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup cooking oil

½ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup Manischewitz blackberry wine

Cake: combine cake mix and gelatin; add eggs, oil and wine. Beat with hand mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium for 2 minutes, scraping bowl often. Grease and heavily flour Bundt pan. Sprinkle pecans in bottom of pan. Pour in batter and bake in preheated 325 degrees oven for 45 minutes.

Glaze: mix glaze ingredients together and bring to a good boil. More powdered sugar may be added if needed to thicken.

When cake is done, remove from oven. Before pouring glaze on cake, punch holes in cake. Pour half of glaze over warm cake while still in the pan. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn cake out of pan and cool.


8 eggs, with yolks and whites separated
1/3 cup Sugar
1 lb. Mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups cooled espresso coffee
2/3 cup brandy
2 packages lady fingers (approx. 30)
2 oz. Bittersweet chocolate, grated
¼ cup cocoa powder, Dutch process, sifted, for garnish

Mix the sugar into the egg yolks, blending well. Add a little Mascarpone at a time to the egg yolk mixture, and mix until smooth. Set aside. Clean beaters.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Clean beaters.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture; then fold in the beaten egg whites.

Place cooled espresso coffee in a large mixing bowl, and combine with the brandy.

Spread about 1/3 of the cream mixture into a 4 to 6-quart baking dish or serving bowl. Dip several lady fingers into the espresso mixture and lay them in the baking dish on top of the cream mixture. Top with grated chocolate. Continue in this manner,

laying lady fingers side by side to cover the bottom of the dish.

Place another 1/3 of the cream mixture on top of soaked lady fingers. Cover with another layer of espresso-soaked lady fingers. Top with remaining cream mixture and grated chocolate. Dust top layer with cocoa powder.

Chill 2 hours to set.

Makes 12-14 servings

No-Bake Cheesecake

12 (3 inch) graham cracker tart shells or 1 large pie crust
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (may use fat-free)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
Beat cream cheese until fluffy in medium size bowl; add milk; blend thoroughly. Stir in lemon juice and sour cream; chill for 20 minutes in tart shells or 2 hours in large pie crust (or until firm). Garnish with chopped nuts or pie filling/topping.

Serves 8

Bread Pudding

1 loaf French bread
1 quart milk
½ cup sugar
6 eggs
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Splash Amaretto (or other liquor)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, taking care to retain as much of the bread’s texture as possible. In other words, do not mix until it is mush. Place in well buttered baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Note: Any kind of bread can be used, but French is the best and stale bread is preferred by many Cajun chefs.

Amaretto Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup Amaretto (or other liqueur)

Over low heat, melt butter and sugar together, stirring constantly. Add Amaretto and heat slowly for 1-2 minutes. Pour sauce over bread pudding after removed from the oven.

Crème Brulee

8 oz heavy cream
8 oz half and half
2 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Superfine sugar for topping (optional)

Combine first three ingredients in a medium saucepan and scald, careful not to burn. Remove from heat.

In separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with vanilla. While whisking, ladle some of the hot cream mixture from the saucepan into the yolks.

Next whisk the yolks (with added cream) into the remaining cream mixture in the saucepan. To cream mixture in saucepan, stir in 1 tablespoon sugar until dissolved. Pour into ramekins filling about ¾ full.

Place ramekins on baking sheet with a rim. Place the baking sheet with filled ramekins in the oven and pour water ideally from a tea kettle into the baking sheet up to about 2/3 of ramekin.

Bake shallow ramekins for about 20-25 minutes or deep ramekins about 40-45 minutes or until set on outside, but center still jiggles a bit. Remove from

oven to baking rack to cool for 10 minutes (be careful not to burn yourself with the hot water in the baking sheet). Chill.

If you like, sprinkle tops with fine dusting of Superfine sugar (only use this for topping, don’t try anything else, it does not work nearly as well).

Use a torch or oven broiler to caramelize the sugar (turns light brown). Be careful not to burn the sugar, because it will taste bitter.

If serving immediately, put the ramekins in the freezer for about 1 minute to set the toping. Eat immediately or place ramekins in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.

7-Minute Frosting

2 egg whites
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup cold water
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients (except vanilla) in double boiler. Beat 1 minute with electric mixer. Cook over boiling water beating constantly, until mixture forms peaks (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat; add vanilla and beat until of spreading consistency.

Yield: frost tops and sides of two 9-inch layers or one 10-inch tube cake or 12 cup cakes

No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter (optional)
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

Bring 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), sugar, milk and cocoa to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract, peanut butter and oats. Place tablespoon-size drops on parchment paper and allow to cool.

Stained Glass Cookies

Note: May be used for Christmas Ornaments

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 6 ounces various-colored life savers or other small hard candy
Various colored sugar (optional)
Ribbon or string

Using electric mixer, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in yolk, lemon peel and vanilla extract. Add flour and salt and beat until mixture begins to clump together. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Flatten each piece into disk; wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 2 days ahead.) Soften dough slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 375 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2
to 2 1/4-inch-diameter cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, cut out cookies. Using small cookie cutter (may use various shapes), make cutout in center of each cookie.
Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets. Place 1 candy into each cookie cutout. Sprinkle colored sugar over cookies. Using a straw, cut out hole in top of each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough disks. Bake cookies until firm and light golden and candy looks translucent, about 8 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets.
May store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month. Thread ribbon/string through holes in cookies to use for hanging.
If you want to eat the cookies, do not bother adding the hole for hanging.

Yield: 30 cookies

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-3/4 cups (10 oz.) Almond Toffee Bits
1 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Heat oven to 375 F. Beat butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla extract until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until blended. Stir in oats 1/2 cup at a time (will be very hard to stir).

Drop by 1 teaspoon-full rounds about 2 inches apart onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove cookies to wire cooling rack.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 shortening
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add brown sugar, shortening, eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Stir in oats and nuts. Form dough into small balls. Dip tops in a little additional sugar (if desired). Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 3-1/2 dozen cookies

Toffee Bars

2 packs graham crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar

Lay graham crackers on cookie sheet including sides. Heat butter, vanilla extract and brown sugar and simmer 2-3 minutes; add pecans. Drizzle heated mixture over crackers. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Break apart.

Serves 18-24

Sinful Brownies

2 ¼ cups white sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
4 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; mix in melted butter, eggs and pecans until completed blended. Spread batter into a sprayed 9 X 13-inch baking pan.

Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Makes 2-dozen brownies

***Ranch Dressing

30 Saltine crackers
2 cups Dry minced parsley flakes
1/2 cup Dry minced onion
2 tablespoons Dry dill weed
1/4 cup Onion salt
1/4 cup Garlic salt
1/4 cup Onion powder
1/4 cup Garlic powder

Salad Dressing:
1 tablespoon Mix
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Buttermilk

Put crackers through blender on high speed until powdered. Add parsley, minced onions, and dill weed. Blend again until powdered. Dump into bowl. Stir in onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Put into container with tight-fitting lid.

Dry mix may be stored in refrigerator in tightly-sealed container for up to 4 months. After that, spices will lose their flavor.
Makes 42 1-tablespoon servings. To use mix–Combine mix, mayonnaise, and buttermilk.
Yield: 1 pint.

***Fettuccini Alfredo

16 oz heavy cream
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese — grated
1 TB Romano cheese
1 stick Butter
1 garlic clove finely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
1 tsp parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces Fettuccine or other pasta of your choice, cooked and

In large saucepan Sautee garlic and spices in olive oil and butter
Add cream and bring to high simmer. Whisk medium-low heat for 8-15 minutes until cream begins to thicken. Whisk in cheese stirring constantly until smooth. Toss pasta lightly with sauce, coating well.

You may also add grilled shrimp or chicken to this recipe. Add them to the Alfredo sauce just before it is finished cooking.
Adding the vegetable of your choice and you have an Alfredo primavera. The vegetables should be cooked to the tenderness you want and mixed in with the Alfredo sauce just before it is done cooking.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Alfredo recipe from page 3 plus…
1 lb chicken breast cut into small pieces or strips
1 T Paprika
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 T chopped parsley
1 cup green pepper cut into strips
1 tsp shrimp boil seasoning
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 medium onion chopped up
1 lb penne or fusili pasta cooked al-dente
Kosher salt to taste

Heat olive oil in large frying pan. Add all ingredients to pan except garlic, parsley and green peppers to oil and brown chicken, stirring very frequently. When chicken is almost cooked through, add garlic, parsley and green peppers and continue cooking and stirring until peppers soften.

While cooking the chicken mixture, the Alfredo sauce should also be cooking so they are finished at the same time.

When both are finished, combine the two in a large bowl and add the cooked pasta and toss until well mixed. Serve with Italian or French bread.

Louisiana Fried Chicken

3 c Self-rising flour
1 c Cornstarch
3 T Seasoned salt
2 T Paprika
1 tsp Baking soda
1 pk Italian Salad Dressing Mix Powder
1 pk Onion Soup Mix — (1 1/2 Ounces)
1 pk Spaghetti sauce mix — (1/2 Ounce)
3 T Sugar
3 c Corn flakes — crushed
2 Eggs — well beaten
1/4 c Cold water
4 lb Chicken — cut up

Combine first 9 ingredients in large bowl. Put the cornflakes into another bowl. Put eggs and water in a 3rd bowl. Put enough corn oil into a heavy roomy skillet to fill it 1″ deep. Get it HOT!
Grease a 9x12x2 baking pan. Set it aside. Preheat oven to 350~.
Dip chicken pieces 1 piece at a time as follows: 1-Into dry coating mix. 2-Into egg and water mix. 3-Into corn flakes. 4-Briskly but briefly back into dry mix. 5-Drop into hot oil, skin-side-down and brown 3 to 4 minutes on medium high.
Turn and brown other side of each piece.
Don’t crowd pieces during frying. Place in prepared pan in single layer, skin-side-up. Seal in foil, on 3 sides only, leaving 1 side loose for steam to escape. Bake at 350~ for 35-40 minutes removing foil then to test tenderness of chicken.
Allow to bake uncovered 5 minutes longer to crisp the coating.
Serves 4.
Leftovers refrigerate well up to 4 days. Do not freeze these leftovers.

***New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

4 cans red kidney beans
2 andoullie sausage links halved and sliced
4 cups cooked Uncle Ben’s converted rice
3 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, diced
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ T kosher salt
½ teaspoon thyme
½ T Old bay seasoning
2 shakes Texas Pete’s hot sauce
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup finely chopped white onion
½ finely diced green peppers
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup water
2 T olive oil

Sautee white onions, garlic, hot sauce, bay leaves, sausage and green peppers in olive oil for a few minutes. Add beans, spices and water. Bring to near boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 30 minutes over low heat stirring occasionally. Smash about 1/3 of the beans onto the sides of pot until they become a mashed-up paste and mix it into the rest of the beans. Simmer another 20-30 minutes. Add more water if mixture becomes too thick and pasty. Before serving, add the parsley and green onions and mix well. Spoon mixture over bowls of cooked rice.

To make this vegetarian just eliminate the sausage or substitute a non-meat vegetarian smoked or spicy sausage.

Bourbon Rib Glaze

12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T olive oil
¾ cup water
¾ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup teriyaki sauce
1 T soy sauce
1-½ cups dark brown sugar
2 T lemon juice
3 T minced white onion
1-½ T bourbon or Jack Daniels
1-½ T crushed pineapple
¼ T black pepper

Put garlic into a small casserole dish or baking pan, drizzle olive oil over it, and cover with a lid or foil. Bake in a pre-heated 325° oven for 1 hour. Remove garlic and let it cool.
Combine water, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Stir occasionally until mixture boils then reduce heat until mixture is just simmering.
Mash up garlic and add to mixture and stir well.
Add remaining ingredients to the pan and stir.
Let mixture simmer for 40-50 minutes or until sauce has reduced by about 1/2 and is thick and syrupy. Make sure it doesn’t boil over.
Cook//broil ribs in oven. When they are ¾ of the way done, brush a thin layer of glaze on the ribs. Continue cooking until done. When finished cooking, stir glazing mixture and pour ½ of it over the ribs. Place back in the oven and broil just long enough to heat up the glaze. Serve with the remaining glaze on the side.

Makes 1 cup of glaze which covers 1-2 full racks of ribs.

This glaze also works well for chicken and shrimp.

***Italian Dressing

Dry mix
4 T Garlic powder
4 tsp Onion powder
4 tsp dry chopped onion
4 tsp dry chopped garlic
12 TB Sugar
6 T Oregano
1 T Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
4 tsp Basil
4 T Parsley
1 tsp Celery salt
4 T kosher Salt

For Dressing Mix:
1 ¼ Cup Vinegar.
2/3 Cup Oil minus 1 TB
1 T olive oil
2-½ T Water
2 T Dry Mix

Combine dry ingredients, chopped garlic, water and vinegar, shake well, and let sit for at least five minutes. Add oils, shake well
Dry mix may be stored in refrigerator in tightly-sealed container for up to 4 months. After that, spices will lose their flavor.

***Italian Red Pasta Sauce With or Without Meat

1 lg can crushed tomatoes
1 lg can tomato sauce
1 regular can diced tomatoes
1 sm can tomato paste
½ cup water
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ T oregano
1 T fresh chopped basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
2 T chopped parsley
1 small white onion, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped green pepper
1-lbs Italian sausage
1-lbs Italian meatballs (see page 10)
¼ cup grated Romano cheese
3 T olive oil
4 T sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 T ground black pepper
¼ cup white wine

Brown meatballs then Italian sausage in large pot. Remove before fully cooked and add olive oil to the leavings. Add garlic, onion, peppers and all spices except sugar and sauté’ until vegetables are tender. Add all tomatoes, sugar, sausage and meatballs.
Simmer sauce for at least one hour over low heat, stirring frequently to be sure sauce does not stick or burn. The sausage and meatballs will finish cooking while sauce simmers. Remove meat and place in separate bowl before serving sauce over pasta of your choice.
Sauce may also be made without meat. If so, increase olive oil to 4 TB

Italian meatballs

1-lb lean ground beef
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 T finely diced garlic
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp grated Romano cheese
1 T olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and thoroughly mix them by hand by repeatedly taking handfuls of mixture and making a fist so they squeeze through your fingers. When completely mixed, roll into firm balls about 2 inches in diameter.
Brown them in a frying pan and add to cooking sauce to complete cooking.
If not adding to sauce, cook in frying pan over low heat after browning until completely cooked.

***New Orleans Bread Pudding

Pudding mixture
1 lg loaf French bread (best if hard and stale. May also use regular white bread)
6 eggs
1 qt milk
1 cup sugar
½ T vanilla
1 T butter

1 cup powdered sugar
1 stick butter
¼ cup Frangelica or whisky, Jack Daniels or bourbon

Break or tear up the bread into small pieces and gently mix all the ingredients of the pudding mixture together in a large mixing bowl until the milk is full absorbed. Do not over mix as it should have a chunky consistency. Let sit for at least ten minutes. If the mixture appears to have too much liquid which is unabsorbed add some more bread and gently mix it in.

Spread butter on the inside of a large glass baking dish and add mixture. Cover and place in a pre-heated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Bake until top is golden brown.

Sauce mixture
Melt one sick of butter in a small pan. Add powdered sugar and mix constantly with a wire whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and melted. Add amaretto and continue to whisk, mixing well. Break up the bread pudding with a large fork when it is finished baking and pour sauce over it. Serve hot.

You may also add ½ cup of raisins and or chopped walnuts to the bread pudding mixture before baking.

Bourbon Chicken

4 large chicken breasts Cut in strips
4 oz Soy sauce
1 cup water
1 T worstershire
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 T finely chopped Garlic
1 tsp. Powdered ginger
2 T. Dried minced onion
1/2 cup Jim Beam
2 T White wine
4 cups cooked rice

Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over chicken strips in a bowl.
Cover and refrigerate (stirring often) for several hours (best overnight).
Bake chicken at 350 for one hour in a single layer, basting every 10 minutes. Remove chicken. Scrape pan juices with all the brown bits into
a frying pan.
Heat, and add 2 Tbs. white wine. Stir and add chicken.
Cook for 1 minute and serve over rice

Chili with beans

4-lbs lean ground beef
4 15-oz cans red kidney beans
10 lg. cloves garlic finely minced
1 large green pepper finely chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 sm can tomato paste
1 teaspoon tobasco sauce
½ cup water
1 T kosher salt
1 T pepper
6 T chilli powder
6 lg bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 T olive oil

In large sauce pan, add olive oil, peppers, onion, jalapeno, garlic and all spices except the chili powder and bay leaves. Stir and simmer until vegetables become slightly soft.
In large pot, brown ground beef and break up until fine. Beef may be drained or washed if desired to remove excess fat.
Add vegetable mix to beef. Add tomato past and crushed tomatoes. Add beans and all remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for at least two hours (six is better) stirring occasionally and making sure that it does not burn. More beans may be added to the mix if you desire. More chili powder may also be added to taste.


8 large Roma tomatoes diced
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
10 large leaves fresh basil finely chopped
1 lb thickly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper
1 loaf thinly sliced Italian or French bread.

Combine ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Place cheese on sliced bread and melt in oven on broil. Serve over toasted bread.

***Creamy German Potato Soup

5 lbs peeled potatoes
1 cup carrots chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 stick butter
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 T kosher salt
6 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 cup half & half

Put vegetables, salt, pepper and garlic in a large pot and fill with water until the vegetables are just covered with water. Bring to a boil and cook 20-30 minutes on medium-high heat until vegetables are very tender. Remove from heat but do not drain water. Add half & half and butter.
Use a hand blender and thoroughly blend until the soup has reached a fine texture with no chunks of vegetables. If the soup seems too thick you can add water or milk until you reach the desired consistency. If it seems too runny you can mix in good quality instant mashed potato flakes until the consistency is correct.
If you prefer a chunkier soup you can cut several more potatoes carrots and celery stalks into cubes and/or larger chunks, boil separately and add to the finished soup.
Add more salt or pepper to taste As needed.

Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce

1 T butter
4 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
One 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
One 32 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup vodka
½ T finely chopped fresh basil
1 T sugar
1 T finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and pepper to taste
penne pasta, cooked and drained
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over
finished dish

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt better with oil; add onion and sauté for 8 minutes or until transparent.
Add tomatoes, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes in skillet; stir frequently.
Increase heat and add cream, vodka and red pepper flakes, kosher salt, pepper, sugar and basil; boil for 2 minutes or until thickened to sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Bring sauce to a simmer and pour over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese; serve.

***Garlic Mashed Potatoes

8 large red potatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled each cut in half once
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
1 TB parsley
1/2 cup half & half warmed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Place sliced potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Drain well. Add the butter, milk and salt; mash. Stir in Romano cheese.

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb egg noodles
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 lbs beef sliced
4 TB butter
2 cloves Garlic copped
Salt and pepper
16 oz mushrooms
15 oz beef broth
1 large chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup white wine
2 cup sour cream

Cook beef, garlic, salt and pepper. Do not overcook. Place in bowl with pan juices.
Cook onions in butter for a few minutes, add mushrooms and cook until tender. Stir in broth, Worcestershire sauce, white wine until simmering. Add beef and cook until liquid is reduced. Add sour cream and cook until it is all hot. Combine with noodles.

Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Pigs in a blanket)

Filing mixture:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sweet mild Italian ground pork sausage
½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 TB chopped oregano
1 TB chopped fresh basil
1 TB chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp rosemary
½ tsp thyme
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 head of cabbage (you will have cabbage left over)
½ T kosher salt
½ TB black pepper
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
½ cup water
1 T chopped fresh basil
½ T oregano
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 TB sugar
1 small can tomato paste

Sauce mixture:
Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, salt, pepper and the 2 cloves of chopped garlic in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Filling mixture:
Combine first ten ingredients plus half the salt and pepper in a large bowl and hand-mix until well blended. Do not over mix.
Tear off whole, large leaves from the cabbage and wash. Form the meat mixture into small cylinders about 1-½” wide and 3“-4” long and tightly wrap each one in a whole cabbage leaf.

To prepare:
Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of a large, deep pot. As you roll each meat portion in the cabbage leaf place it in the bottom of the pot, placing the next one snugly up against it until the bottom of the pot is covered.
Add another cup of sauce on the first level of cabbage rolls and make and stack another layer on top of the first. Repeat until you are out of the raw cabbage rolls.
Pour any remaining sauce over the mixture and place a tight lid on the pot. Heat over medium heat being careful not to burn them.
Do not stir or move the cabbage rolls around while they cook. Reduce heat to low and cook for at least 1 hour. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

You may coarsely chop a few cups of the remaining raw cabbage and place on top of the mixture before cooking but you will need to add another 8-10 oz of tomatoes sauce or crushed tomatoes.

Italian Stuffed Green Peppers

Filing mixture: same as the filling mixture for cabbage rolls above
6-9 medium green bell peppers

Sauce mixture: same as the sauce mixture for cabbage rolls on page 19

To prepare:
Cut each bell pepper in half lengthwise, cut out the stems and clean out the seeds and white pulp inside.
Fill each pepper with the meat mixture.
You may need more or fewer peppers depending on the size of each. Coat the inside of a large, deep glass baking dish with non-stick spray.
You must be able to cover the dish with a lid when the peppers are inside of it. Pour about a cup of the sauce in the baking dish and place the stuffed peppers inside.
Place the peppers in the baking dish, meat-side facing up. Pour the remaining sauce over the peppers and put the lid on the baking dish.
Place the dish on the middle rack in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees and bake for 50-minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle more grated Romano or parmesan cheese to taste over peppers before serving

***Vegetarian Italian Wedding Soup

A very low fat version of the Italian classic. The recipe normally calls for chicken broth and Italian meatballs each cut into 4-6 pieces. This vegetarian variant tastes almost exactly the same but has no meat and is very low in fat except for the cheese.

Filing mixture: same as the filling mixture for cabbage rolls on page 18
3 quarts vegetable broth
4 vegetarian Bocca-brand no-meat hamburger patties
2 T olive oil
1/2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped oregano
1 T chopped basil
½ T chopped thyme
¼ cup chopped parsley
6 ounces dry Anci de Pipi pasta (little balls half the size of rice)
2 square packages of frozen chopped spinach
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 large stalk celery finely chopped
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a large frying add oil, 1/3 of the oregano, thyme, basil, garlic and some salt and pepper. Add the Bocca-brand vegetarian burgers and cook until browned, flipping them often. Remove from head an let cool for a few minutes.
Put the burgers on a cutting board and cut them into approximately ½” by ½ “ squares.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot with lid and let simmer for an hour. Sprinkle grated cheese over bowls of soup and serve with French or Italian bread.

Sweet and Spicy Curry Chicken or Shrimp with Rice

Don’t be put off by the unusual name or ingredients list in this Thai dish, it is wonderful spicy and sweet at the same time. Small jars of red curry paste are readily available in grocery stores and you can find Thai fish sauce (a clear brown liquid that adds a fish flavoring to a dish) in most grocery stores in the general area of soy sauce and other Asian sauces and ingredients.

4 large chicken breast cut into long, thin strips
Or 1 lb large pealed and deveined shrimp
30 large fresh basil leaves cut into long, medium-thickness strips
2 cans coconut milk
1 T Thai fish sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
½ to 1 T red curry paste
1 each large green red and yellow bell peppers cut into long thin strips
1 T minced garlic
2 T olive oil (1 T if using shrimp)
4-6 cups cooked or steamed rice

Brown the chicken strips in a large frying pan along with the garlic and salt. When nearly cooked, add 1 can of coconut milk, sugar, curry past, fish sauce and bring to a near boil.
Add the sliced peppers, reduce heat and simmer until the peppers are just beginning to soften.
Add the other can of coconut milk and bring to a slow boil, stirring until the peppers are softer but still have some crispness.
Add the strips of basil, mix well, reduce heat and let simmer for about one more minute.
Remove from heat and immediately ladle over rice on individual plates.

Serves 4-6
Notes: You can adjust the hotness of this recipe by varying the amount of curry paste used. When using red curry past, remember that a little can go a long way. This dish is intended to be spicy to hot, but you can adjust it to suit your liking.
When using shrimp instead of chicken, heat the oil, garlic and salt and add the shrimp for just a minute before adding the first can of coconut milk. You do not want to overcook the shrimp.

Easy Chicken Florentine

4 large chicken breasts cut into 8 pieces
2 T olive oil
1 very large bag of fresh spinach or 6 boxes frozen whole leaf spinach.
2 cups small button mushrooms (cut into smaller pieces if only large ones are available)
1 T minced garlic
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 large onion
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
½ cup half & half
1 tsp dried basil
½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Thoroughly was spinach and place in large bowl. Microwave until it has wilted and reduced in volume completely. Place in colander and allow to drain for at least 20 minutes. If using frozen, defrost completely and drain in colander for at least 20 minutes.
Slice onions in to rings and then quarter them. Set aside.
Wash and clean the chicken breast, pat dry with a paper towel, mix them with the olive oil in a large bowl until all are evenly coated.
Mix cans of soup, half & half, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into a large, rectangular glass baking pan and ½ of the mushrooms and ½ of the onions.
Squeeze the spinach to get any remaining excess water out and spread over the soup mixture in the baking dish then place the chicken breast on top of the spinach and sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cover with the rest of the onions, mushrooms followed by the soup mix and then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Serves 4-6 people.

French Toast

8 large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp Mexican vanilla
½ cup half & half
6-12 pieces of large, thick-sliced French bread

Combine all ingredients except for bread in a large bowl and wire wisk until thorouly mixed. Pour in a wide low plate or baking dish and place bread one slice at a time into the egg mixture, flipping over several time and allowing it to absorb as much of the mixture as desired.
Immediately place in a heated gridle or in a frying pan covered with melted butter and until cooked throughout. Remove from the heat and place on a heated palte untill all are cooked.
Quantities vary depending on the size of the bread slices and how much egg mixture you allow the bread to absorb.
Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream and/or any toppings of your choice.

New Orleans Seafood Chimichanga

¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup minced celery
½ cup minced bell pepper
1 to 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded, ribbed and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 medium-sized tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ pound fresh crabmeat, picked over
1 pound crawfish
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 (12-inch) flour tortillas
oil for frying

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeno peppers and garlic until onion is softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute.
Add the shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish and cilantro and sauté, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place 1/8 portion of seafood mixture on a flour tortilla, fold the ends in and roll up burrito-style. Repeat until all tortillas are filled.
Heat about 3/4 to 1-inch of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
When hot, cook 1 to 2 chimichangas at a time, seam-side down (do not crowd the pan).
Fry until golden, turn and cook the other side until golden. Drain on a brown paper bag lined with paper towels. Keep warm.
Repeat until all chimichangas are fried.
Place chimichangas on a bed of shredded lettuce with guacamole on the side and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions, if desired.

Beef Burritos

2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 potato, peeled, cooked and diced
2 green chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 to 8 flour tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream

Heat oil in a frying pan, then sauté onion for 3 to 4 minutes. Add ground beef, garlic, cumin, pepper and salt.
Cook, stirring with a fork, until brown. Stir in the potato and green chilies and continue cooking until the until the potatoes and chilies are warmed through.
In a nonstick frying pan, heat each tortilla until just warm.
Remove from pan, spoon a little of the beef mixture into the center of each tortilla and roll up.
Top with shredded lettuce. Serve with sour cream, salsa refried beans and rice on the side.

To make this a vegetarian dish substitute vegetarian refried beans for the beef.

***Lasagna With or Without Vegetables

1-lb package large flat lasagna pasta
Tomato sauce (recipe on page 9)
Large container ricotta cheese
1-½-lb shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 T chopped parsley
½ T chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped oregano
½ tsp chopped thyme
½ tsp chopped rosemary
8-10 large fresh basil leaves finely chopped
2 eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground pepper
Optional vegetables:
¼ cup finely diced onions
½ cup chopped green peppers
½ cup chopped mushrooms

Bring water to boil in a large pot and cook lasagna noodles until al-dente’. remove from heat, drain, return to pot and fill with cold water to cool.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, 1 T of the Romano cheese, ½ T of the parmesan cheese and the two eggs and mix well until all ingredients are completely blended.
Spoon a layer of tomato sauce to just cover the bottom of a large, rectangular glass baking dish. Remove the lasagna noodles from the water one at a time, pat dry with a paper towel and cover the bottom of the glass baking dish with a single layer of noodles.
Set aside about 1 T each of the Romano and parmesan cheeses and ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Spread a layer of 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles then 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of each of the vegetables and then another layer of sauce. Repeat this until you are out of lasagna noodles.
Place a final layer of sauce on the top along with the cheeses set aside.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the cheese bubbles. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

***Extremely Low-Fat Vegetable Soup

This is nearly a zero-fat recipe that actually tastes really good. You can substitute or add any vegetables of your choice. Variations on this soup are used to help hospital patients loose weight fast.
Whether you use this for a diet or not it is a great vegetable soup. If you do use it for a diet, I would suggest not using carrots and substituting high-protein pasta available in any grocery store.

1 ½ gallons water in a large soup pot
Dry bouillon mix for beef, chicken or vegetable broth as per
package instructions.
½ head cabbage coarsely chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
4 large bell peppers chopped
2 large onions chopped
5 celery stalks chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
1 cup broccoli chopped
1 cup dry small pasta
1 T chopped garlic
1 T kosher salt
½ T ground pepper
2 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped basil
1 T chopped oregano

Place all ingredients in the water except for the pasta Bring to a boil and cook on a low boil for 5 minutes. Add pasta and continue cooking until the pasta has softened.
Serve with French bread and Romano or parmesan cheese sprinkled over soup.

***Authentic German Potato Pancakes

8 large potatoes cleaned but not peeled
1 small onion
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
2 eggs
1 T flour
Oil for frying

Using a fine cheese grater, grate the potatoes and the onion into a large bowl. The potatoes should be of a fine, sooth consistency
When finished, transfer them to a large mesh colander or a regular colander lined with cheesecloth and allow excess moisture to drain out for a few minutes.
Transfer back to the large bowl and thoroughly mix in all of the remaining ingredients
Put about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauce or frying pan and place over burner until very hot.
Using a large spoon, drop the potato mixture into the hot pan and spread it out until about ¼ inch thick and 3-4 inches in diameter.
Do several at a time and cook until slightly browned on one side.
Flip with a spatula and cook until other side is browned.
Remove from the pan and transfer to a heated dish lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Replace oil in pan if needed and repeat until all the potato mixture is gone.
These pancakes make a great side dish and are also good by themselves with just a light sprinkling of kosher salt.

Shellfish Etouffe

1 cup chopped onions
½ cup finely chopped green peppers
¼ finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
¼ finely chopped parsley
1 ½ stick butter
1 T chopped garlic
1 ½ cups chicken broth
4 tsp cornstarch
½ cup white wine
2 T tomato paste
1 Worcestershire sauce
1 lb cooked chopped crabmeat, canned or fresh
3 lbs peeled & deveined raw shrimp
Kosher slat and ground pepper
Tabasco sauce
4-6 cups cooked white rice

Melt butter in a large pan and add onion, celery and green peppers. Sauté until tender. Add garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 cup of the chicken broth and add to vegetable along with the wine and stir well. Add tomato paste, green onions and parsley and mix well.
Stir in shrimp and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring frequently. Add 2-3 shakes of Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in crabmeat and simmer just until thoroughly heated.
Serve over rice.

Single skillet meat and potato meal

8 large baking potatoes cut into slices
2 medium onions coarsely chopped
2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped parsley
2 lbs steak/beef of choice sliced or chopped into cubes
2 cups cooked ham cut into cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ sticks butter or 1/3 cup margarine
Kosher slat and ground pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped dried basil

In a very large frying heat the olive oil and add the onions, salt, pepper and basil. Stir until well mixed and add the beef. Stir over medium to high heat until the beef is browned.
Add the butter and garlic and stir until melted.
Add the sliced potatoes and reduce heat. Cook until the potatoes have softened. You can add small amounts of water as you cook if the potatoes are browning too quickly but you must stir often to keep them from sticking.
When finished, the potatoes should be browned like fried potatoes but soft and not chewy.
If using ham instead of beef, add the ham when the potatoes are about halfway cooked.

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