Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

Rachel and I went to A’bravo Bistro and Wine Bar for lunch a couple of weeks ago.  This happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Green Bay.  When we were there I had the Caramelized Sweet Potato Salad.  The ingredients were: Caramelized sweet potatoes, spring greens, red onion, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, almonds, pecans, pepita seeds & parmesan. Served with honey balsamic vinaigrette.  It was AWESOME.  I had to try to figure out how to make those caramelized sweet potatoes. I think I was pretty close.  Here goes;

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

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Ingredients

2 Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Rachel thought it was too spicy.  I did not.  You can omit it you do not like a kick of heat.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place 1/2 inch cubed, sweet potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to coat sweet potatoes evenly.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (you may need 2 baking sheets.  If they the sweet potatoes are too close together they will not caramelize and bake evenly. I used 2 baking sheets.)
  5. Bake 15 minutes.  Flip over and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

That’s it.  Simple and Delicious.  You can use as a side dish or add to your salad throughout the week.  That is what I am going to do!

Enjoy!!

 

 

Palichinka Spread

Martin has moved to NYC.  Moving up some recipes I think he will enjoy cooking up in his own kitchen.  IMG_8651 Would much rather he be in this kitchen.  Just saying’!!

Palichinka Spread (Tzatziki is awesome, too!)

Ingredients

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8-1/4  cup bulgarian feta, depends on the consistency you desire.  Martin likes it thinner so I add 1/8 cup feta (you can use any kind of feta)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon fresh dill

Mix above together and you have a delicious spread!  It is better if you can refrigerate a couple of hours before use. Use on Chicken Duner, as a spread for crepes, or a condiment for a sandwich.  Quite simple and delicious.

Seven Layer Dip

Quick, favorite dip for this family!  Simple and Delicious!!

Seven Layer Dip
(compliments http://www.bettycrocker.com)

Ingredients

1 can Refried Beans (Don’t have refried beans?  You can do this recipe without them.  Still  delish!)
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 can chopped green chiles
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese blend (8 ounces)
1/2 sliced black olives, drained (2.25 ounces)
1 medium tomato, diced
Tortilla Chips

Directions

  1.  In medium bowl, mix refried beans and taco seasoning mix.  Spread mixture on 12′ round serving platter.
  2. In another medium bowl, mix cream cheese and chiles.  Carefully spread over bean mixture.
  3. Top with salsa, lettuce, cheese, olives and tomato.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Always trying to find a way to make weeknight meals simple and delicious.  If you stop by your local grocery store or Costco (that’s my stop) you can grab a roasted chicken.  Use a portion for this recipe and the rest for sandwiches, chicken salad or chicken tacos (just a few suggestions).  Also, always a little for our pup, Rooney.  IMG_E8590

This recipe is a quick weeknight meal.  Here goes:

Chicken Noodle Casserole

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12 ounce uncooked wide egg noodles
1/4 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme (don’t ignore this step.  If you don’t have dried thyme – go buy some. It adds a nice flavor to many recipes.  Just saying’)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I used milk.  That’s all I had.  If you don’t have, you could skip this step.)
3 cups shredded chicken (this is where the stop at Costco comes in handy.  Always $4.99 for a delicious roasted chicken.)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom and sides of 13×9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook and drain egg noodles as directed on package.
  2. In 12 inch nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat.  Cook celery, onions, carrots and garlic in butter until vegetables are tender.  5-8 minutes.
  3. Add 2/12 cups of the chicken broth, thyme, salt and pepper to skillet; heat to boiling.  In small measuring cup, beat remaining 1/2 cup broth and the flour with whisk. Stir into hot chicken broth mixture in skillet.  Simmer and stir 1-2 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.  Remove from heat; stir in shredded chicken and cream.
  4. Add cooked noodles to baking dish; stir in chicken mixture until mixed well.  Cover, bake 30 minutes or until casserole heated through.
  5. Meanwhile, in 8 inch nonstick skillet, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Cook bread crumbs in butter 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. (do not walk away, stir entire time.  It does not take long. The minute you walk away the bread crumbs will burn up.  I know this to be true!!)
  6.  Remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over baked casserole.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Baked Ziti

Here is how simple Baked Ziti is to whip up!

Baked Ziti

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1# ground beef or 1# italian sausage or 1# ground pork (Whatever meat works for you.  Or, if you don’t want meat, don’t use it.  Personally, no meat is my thing.)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small red onion or shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup shredded parmesan or romano or pecorino romano or whatever hard italian cheese you like
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil is fine)

1# Ziti (or any pasta you care to use.  I like to use medium shells too.)

1.  Fry ground beef in medium to large pot.  When browned, remove from pot and set aside.
2.  Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to pot.  Add diced onions or shallots, saute until opaque.  Add garlic and saute about 1 minute.
3.  Add crushed and diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parmesan, salt, oregano, thyme.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add basil and simmer for 10-20 more minutes. (You don’t have to cook sauce on the stove all day long.  30-60 minutes is perfect!)
5.  While the sauce is simmering, boil a large pot of water for the pasta.  Don’t forget to add salt to the pasta water.  I add 1-2 Tablespoons of salt.
6.  When pasta is done (don’t overcook!), drain and set aside.
7.  Spray casserole dish with vegetable spray.  (I use a 9×13 casserole dish) Add a ladle or two of sauce in the casserole dish.
8.  Add the pasta on top of the sauce.   Add more sauce on top of the pasta.  Be generous. (I used most of the sauce.  I had 1 cup of sauce I did not use.)
9.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  Until top is golden brown.  (Today that took 45 minutes)

Enjoy this simple and delicious meal!

Pork Dim Sum

Kent enjoys Dim Sum.  The last time I made this was 2013!!  The reason is because it may be simple but it is time consuming.  Sometimes I am lazy.  I guess 5 years is being really lazy.  This time I used all the filling which ended up being 48 wonton skins.  It took 2 hours between filling and steaming.  They were delicious. You could use duck sauce or sweet/hot chili sauce for dipping.

Pork Dim Sum

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Ingredients

1 pound ground pork
3 green onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cabbage (any cabbage will do. Of course, Napa would be first choice.  Today all I had was red cabbage and it was just fine.)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (if you don’t have try 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar (you can use rice vinegar)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Wonton skins

Directions

1.  Place ground pork, green onions, shredded carrots, chopped cabbage, ginger soy sauce, sherry or rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, salt and beaten egg white in a large mixing bowl.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.

2.  Stir in cornstarch, mixing until completely incorporated with the other ingredients.

3.  Spread out wonton skins on your counter.  Place a heaping teaspoonful of pork mixture in center of each wonton skin. Lightly brush edges with water.  IMG_8583Bring sides of skins together in the center of the filling.  Pinching firmly together (it will look like a little purse).

4.  I placed the dim sum on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and covered with a damp cloth while I continued to fill the skins.  That way they won’t dry out.

5.  Line a steamer with a clean, DAMP tea towel (or you can use lettuce or cabbage leaves) and arrange wontons inside.  IMG_8585
6.  Cover and  steam for 5-7 minutes, until dim sum are cooked through.  Serve immediately.

You can always do a few at a time and then freeze the filling for later.  You can also freeze the wonton skins.

Enjoy!!

 

Chicken Doner Kebab (Bulgarian Gyros)

Martin is home for a visit.  He moved to NYC and can have gyros everyday, all day long.  I thought I would make our family’s gyro recipe for Sunday dinner before he heads back.  I always double this recipe and there are rarely leftovers.  As always, a very simple and delicious meal.

Chicken Doner Kebab!

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Ingredients

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1 # chicken thighs (lamb, pork, beef would work too.  It is up to you!)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon paprika
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon

For the Doner Kebab/Gyro
Pita Bread
Cabbage, shredded
Tomatoes, diced
French Fries

1.  In a large bowl or food safe bag, add the above ingredients with 1 pound chicken thighs.  (I cut into strips) Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.  (Don’t forget to make the tzatziki.)
2.  After you allow to marinate, heat frying pan at high heat. I don’t add oil,the oil from the marinate is enough.  Drop the chicken pieces into the pan and leave untouched for 1 minute. (Don’t use a non stick skillet.)
3.  Turn the chicken pieces and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes, until browned.   (I have grilled the chicken on a skewer also.)  The chicken tastes great grilled and fried.  So pick your way and go from there!
4.  Chicken is ready for the gyro!
5.  When you wrap your doner kebab you will use pita bread or flour tortilla, meat, tzatziki, diced tomato, shredded cabbage and a few french fries.  (Believe it or not the french fries are a nice addition.)  That will be your Bulgarian Doner Kebab.  It is truly simple and delicious!

Sloppy Joes – Simple and Delicious

I keep forgetting to post this quick weekday recipe.  Under an hour and you will have a delicious Sloppy Joe Sandwich.  One thing I do during the week is chop my veggies and set out my ingredients in the morning before I leave for work.  No prep work when I walk in the door from my 8 hour day.  Everything is out and ready to go. All I have to do is prepare the meal. Simple and Delicious!!

Sloppy Joes
(compliments Allrecipes)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped bite size pieces
2 cups water
3/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I have used yellow and brown mustard too)
1 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1.  Place ground beef and onion in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook and stir the mixture constantly until the feef is browned and forms small crumbles, about 10 minutes,
  2. Stir in garlic and green bell pepper; cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 cup water and stir, scraping the pan to dissolve any brown flavor bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Mix in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup water and return mixture to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick, about 40 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.  If you want a bite add cayenne to taste.

That’s it. Serve on a roll.  For myself, I serve over rice.  Kent has as a sandwich.  Salad is our side.  ENJOY!

 

 

Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Noodles – Hungary

How many of you out there make the same chicken dishes over and over again?  I know I do.  The last few weeks I have been looking for different dishes to make.  Main factor for me to even consider the recipe – they have to look like they are SIMPLE and delicious.  Simple to me means not too many ingredients. I know the delicious part won’t happen until we taste it.  During the week it is most important that it is SIMPLE.  I really like recipes that don’t leave me in my kitchen until 9pm on a weekday.  Also, sometimes I have to improvise.  I did not have any noodles in the house so I used Fettuccine.  (I always have pasta!) Here is a SIMPLE and delicious recipe from Hungary.

Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Noodles

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2 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs (6-8 larger sized.  I had boneless, skinless thighs.  I pulled a couple of bone in, skin on thighs out of the freezer.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
3 Tablespoons sweet /Hungarian Paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream, warmed to room temperature
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take sour cream out of fridge – it needs to come to room temperature.
  2. Chop your onions and garlic.  (I also measured out all ingredients.  Makes it a lot easier when you have everything all set out to go.)
  3. Place chicken thighs on a plate and pat dry with paper towels.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium hight heat.  Add 1 Tablespoon butter swirl to melt.
  4. Add chicken to pan skin side down.  4 minutes per side.  Remove to plate.  Pour excess fat in heat proof bowl.  Leave a little oil in the pan for the onions and garlic.
  5. Add chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
  6. Add paprika and cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix together.  (Have the tomatoes near by.  You don’t want to burn this combo.)  Once mixed all together add the tomatoes.
  7. After adding the tomatoes, add another 1/2-1 teaspoon salt and some pepper along with the 2/3 cup water.  Mix together.
  8. Add the chicken thighs back to the sauce, nestling into the liquid but not submerging (you want the skin exposed sit it stays crispy.)
  9. Transfer skillet into oven and roast until fully cooked.  35-40 minutes.
  10. Halfway through cooking start a pot of water on the stove and make your noodles.  Drain the noodles and add 2 Tablespoons butter and toss to coat until the butter is melted and the noodles are coated.  Add some salt and pepper along with 1/2 of the chopped parsley.
  11. Remove skillet from oven.  Take out the chicken and place on a plate.  Take 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and put in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and mix together.  Add to tomato sauce and stir until fully mixed.  Taste the sauce to see if you want to add any more salt.  Arrange chicken thighs along with juices back in the skillet and top with remaining chopped parsley.  Serve over noodles.IMG_E6635

Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!!

Thanksgiving 2017 – My 2 cents

It has only taken me 3 months to post my Thanksgiving 2017 memories.  This post is more for me than anyone else.  Thanksgiving is my absolute, favorite day of the year.  I didn’t take too many pics but the memories are always in my mind.  This was the first year of my life without either of my parents to visit or call and wish a Happy Thanksgiving and tell them how much I loved them.  I am thankful every single day for the love of my parents.  They are the ones who made me realize family is so important.  The many Thanksgivings spent with the Caruso’s leave fond memories.  I am also thankful for the love of my husband and my kids and their partners.  I am a very fortunate lady, that is for sure!

As far as the day, this was a very smooth running year in my kitchen.  With help from the kids; Eric brought the mashed potatoes, Martin made a fruit salad, Paige brought sweet potato crisp and Rachel brought apple pie. Their help made it a much less stressful day in my kitchen.  Thank you guys!!

Thanksgiving 2017

 

 

I ended up getting a Butterball turkey at a local grocery store instead of getting a Heritage turkey.  You know what?  It was delicious.  I used an herb butter recipe that I rubbed on the turkey before putting it into the oven.  Delish!

As always I lightly stuff the cavity with stuffing. Kent likes stuffing from the bird. If I didn’t do this he would not be a happy camper.  I also bake the stuffing in a baking dish separate from the bird.  For the stuffing this year I made with a mix of Pepperidge Farm White, Wheat and Marble Rye.  Cut into cubes and toasted the bread in the oven versus letting them sit out over night.  That worked out just fine.  fullsizeoutput_399No need to leave out for 3 days to get stale!!

One thing I did differently this year was I made the stock for the gravy and stuffing the night before.  5BC22325-6B41-44ED-9E8C-C48B10AF2E79That was a great idea and I will do that every year.  I never realized how much time that takes.

I made a Butterflake Herb Loaf bread.   IMG_6387 This was a hit.  I found that recipe on King Arthur Flour website.  It takes some time but well worth it.

Our Thanksgiving table had great conversation, food and family.  We all agreed dinner was delicious and we are very thankful for each other.  It’s a new year. Let’s see what next Thanksgiving will bring. Ciao!!