Thursday, October 30, 2014

Italian sausage and eggplant pasta sauce

The other night, my wonderful, but picky-eater husband was out of town. I seized the opportunity to put eveything he hates into my dinner--Thus, pasta with eggplant, olives, and red peppers. This would also be delicious without Italian sausage, but it's wonderful with it.

Serves 6

1 1 lb package hot italian sausage, casings removed and cut into fairly large chunks
2-3 tbl olive oil
1 eggplant, peeled and chopped into fairly large dice (keep it big, so that it doesn't turn into mush)
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, in large dice (you can sub green or yellow)
1 hungarian pepper, chopped (I used seeds and all to up the spiciness)
3-4 large garlic cloves, minces
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 tbl tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in hald
1/4 cup capers

Brown sausage and remove. Add eggplant and 1 minced garlic to pan drippings and saute. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove eggplant. Add olive oil, onion, peppers and saute. When onion is translucent, add remaining garlic. Return sausage and eggplant, stirring well.  Add wine, tomatoes, paste, basil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, but go light on the salt since the sauce will be reduced. Stir well, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Let simmer partially covered for 30 minutes until sauce has thickened and eggplant is soft. Add olives and capers, stir, and correct seasonings. Serve over shell pasta or rotini.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple cream cheese cake with praline frosting from Positively Splendid

  1. This sounds delicious. Got to try it!

  2. For the cream cheese filling

  3. 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  4. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  5. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  7. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. Pinch of salt
For the batter
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  10. 3/4 cup canola oil
  11. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. 3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples, a combination of Gala and Granny Smith
  14. 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted, plus 2-3 tablespoons for garnish (optional)
For the frosting
  1. 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup butter
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup powdered sugar
For the cream cheese filling
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed with a hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat well to combine. Add the 2 tablespoons flour and remaining ingredients, and beat until mixture is light and creamy. Set bowl aside.
For the batter
  1. Place flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and baking soda in bowl of an electric stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment. Stir at low speed to combine. Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla to the bowl, and mix at medium speed until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in the chopped apples and walnuts.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Grease and flour a 14-cup Bundt pan. Pour half of the apple batter into the pan, using a spatula to spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the batter, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Spread the remaining batter over the cream cheese mixture, making sure the batter extends all the way to the outer edges of the pan. (This will prevent the cream cheese filling from oozing out at the cake cooks.)
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. (Be sure when testing to not insert the tester through the cream cheese filling, as this might make the cake appear uncooked.) Cool in pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. While cake cools, prepare the frosting. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter and milk. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until mixture boils and sugar dissolves, about 90 seconds total. Stir in vanilla. Gradually stir in powdered sugar, mixing with a spoon until mixture is smooth and creamy. Drizzle warm frosting over cooled cake. Top with remaining chopped walnuts, if desired.
Adapted from Southern Living

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Easy gnocchi casserole from the Food Network

This sounds like a great, fast dinner. I'll change the cheese to Parmigiano Reggiano.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
One 8-ounce piece deli ham, diced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
One 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Preheat the broiler to high heat.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and thyme and continue to cook until the ham is lightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi, stir well, cover and cook until the gnocchi is slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Uncover and stir in the peas, cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Serve.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicken Paprika

I don't pretend to know anything about Eastern European cooking. So, please don't yell at me because this isn't authentic Chicken Paprikash. I just made this up for dinner tonight and served it over egg noodles. My son, Phillip, loved it.

Serves 3

Olive oil
3 chicken thighs, boned, skinned and diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 banana pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlice, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced 
1-2 tbls sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1 tsp corn starch
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1-2 tbl vinegar

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and saute on medium high heat til browned on all sides. Add onion and peppers and saute til onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute. Add tomatoes and paprika and saute. Add the white wine, stock, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and correct seasonings. Add sour cream, corn starch, and bring to a boil til thickened. Add vinegar and let cook another minute or 2. Serve over egg noodles

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Chana saag (chickpeas with Spinach)

I ate this last week at our local indian restaurant and really liked it. I want to try it at home now.

4 bundles spinach, washed leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 28 ounce can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1 28 ounce can stewed/diced tomatoes
Salt to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a tall stockpot. Add the spinach leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes breaking down the spinach leaves until wilted and pulped but some liquid remains. Remove to a separate bowl.

2. Heat 1 more tablespoon of olive oil in the same stockpot. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until they sizzle.  Add the chickpeas and 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Remove from heat and add the ground spices.

4. Return to heat and mix in the tomato puree and canned tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add 3 cups water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

5. Add the spinach with its liquid and cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat.

6. Taste and adjust salt and chili as needed. Serve hot with naan, raita and rice.