Friday, February 27, 2009

Pasta Primavera

I worked a really long day last week and was starving after work. Normally I would just grab something on my way home, but I wanted to be in the kitchen and have a yummy homemade meal and came up with this light pasta dish. I just grabbed all my favorite veggies, some shrimp and fresh pasta and threw it all together. This dish is very quick to make and you can literally use any type of veggies you like. Pasta Primavera simply means Spring Veggies in Italian, so do your own thing and enjoy!

Pasta Primavera

1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Shallots
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
8 Ounces Mushrooms, sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Pound Asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
Handful Fresh Basil, chopped
Handful Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Pound Fresh Linguini (I used half regular and half spinach linguini)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
Parmesan Cheese, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta per the package directions until almost al dente. While pasta is cooking, drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add shallots and garlic and cook until just tender. Next add the mushrooms, bell pepper, and asparagus, and continue cooking until almost tender. Add the basil, parsley, shrimp, pasta and chicken stock. Cook until pasta is al dente and shrimp is cooked through, just a few minutes more. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Veggie Samosas

If you have been an avid follower of my blog, you know that I love cooking Indian food. I just love the spices, the intense flavors, and aromas that come out of these dishes. Indian isn’t something that you can whip up at the spur of a moment, and many times it tastes better the next day, after all the flavors meld together, but it’s well worth all the wait and effort. I have a hard time with appetizers, especially when it comes to Indian cuisine and wanted something to go with dinner the other night, so I decided to dive into the world of fried deliciousness. What transpired in the kitchen was the perfect blend of veggies, spices, and fried dough, a truly perfect appetizer if you ask me. This recipe is wonderful as a standalone, but also goes well with a mango or apricot chutney and store bought is definitely accepted here, as most of the flavor comes from the samosa.

Veggie Samosas

3 Large Russet Potatoes, skinned boiled and mashed
¼ Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
½ Red Onion, finely minced
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and finely minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Peppermint, chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Package Spring Roll Wrappers (these are in the refrigerator section by the veggies)
Vegetable Oil, for frying

Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl until well combined, season with more salt and lemon juice if necessary.
Lay out several spring roll wrappers and with a pastry brush gently wet the edges with water. Place a heaping teaspoon-sized amount of filling in the middle of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling to form a long cylinder, then fold in the long sides to seal (see photo for more detail). Continue until all filling is used.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a large heavy bottomed pan to 350 degrees. Fry samosas until golden brown on all sides and warmed through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately, or keep hot in a 200 degree oven on a wire rack until ready to serve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Broccoli Stir Fry

There is just something about a simple stir fry that is so satisfying! I love broccoli, but only if it’s perfectly cooked and not soggy. I was at the store the other day and the broccoli just jumped out at me so I decided to take it home and throw it into a stir fry. I just added a few ingredients I had in the fridge and then used a little soy sauce and oyster sauce to flavor it with. If you have some Thai basil around that is another great ingredient to throw in at the end, it adds a yummy sweet, almost licorice type flavor.

Broccoli Stir Fry

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into thin slices
1 Head Broccoli, cut into little spears
6 Stalk Celery, sliced
1 Small onion, sliced
1 Pound Mushrooms, quartered
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, finely minced
Vegetable Oil, for frying
¼ Cup Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Heat a wok over high heat and add a little oil, fry chicken until browned and almost cooked through, remove and set aside. Next add a little more oil and cook the broccoli until just browned, but still crunchy and remove. Add the celery onions, mushrooms, and ginger and cook until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and broccoli back to the pan and pour in the oyster sauce and soy sauce, cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and broccoli is just tender. Serve plain or over steamed rice.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bloody Mary Mix

If you know me well, you know that I can’t resist a really good bloody mary! My friend Greg makes the most delicious bloody mary mix I’ve ever had. I have asked him for the recipe many, many times and he just rambles off a large list of ingredients with no quantities whatsoever. I was lucky enough over new years to actually whiteness the making of the mix, and immediately started writing down quantities as he was adding them to the tomato juice. It’s a lot of ingredients, but it has a wonderful depth of flavor and is truly the best mix I’ve ever had. I drink the mix in the morning sometimes for breakfast, and to be honest, I never miss the vodka when it tastes this good. If you need a little hangover cure, then throw in some vodka, add a couple celery stalks, pickled asparagus, and olives.

Greg’s Bloody Mary Mix

1 Large Bottle Tomato Juice (46 Ounces)
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Celery Salt
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
5 Ounces A1 Steak Sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Juice
1 Tablespoon Pickle Juice
1 Teaspoon Grated Horseradish, or more to taste (don't use creamed style)
Few Dashes Tabasco

Mix all in a large pitcher and enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I’ve never been one to have much of a sweet tooth but, this last week I just haven’t been able to get enough sugar. Then to top it off, the Food Network was broadcasting shows this morning all featuring chocolate. I went to work thinking about chocolate and had to fire up the oven and make a batch of brownies as soon as I got home. This is a recipe I have had for years, and have really enjoyed it every time I make it. I usually do a brownie mix, because it’s so quick and easy, but tonight I thought it would be so much better to have the ultimate, chocolaty, moist, dense, delicious brownie that you can only get from scratch. I’m not a fan of chocolate chips or nuts in my brownies, but if that something you like, please feel free to throw them in!


2 ½ Sticks Butter (18 Tablespoons, cut into small pieces)
12 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (buy the best ones you can find)
1 ¼ Cups Flour
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
4 Eggs
2 1/3 Cups Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons Vanilla

In a double boiler, add the butter and chocolate chips, stir occasionally until melted, remove bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, set aside. Place the eggs into your mixer bowl and beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until light yellow and well combined. Next add the vanilla and blend until just combined. Remove the bowl from you mixer and fold in the chocolate mixture until blended. Next add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions, gently folding each addition with a spatula.

Pour the batter into a 9x13 inch baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool on a wire rack before removing from pan or cutting into squares.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fuzzy Navel

I was watching TV the other day and got inspired by the old days with the 5 o’clock cocktail, and thought it would be fun to feature a weekly beverage. I love a good cocktail, but don’t really drink them that often, as I’m more of a wine or beer person. I thought it would be a good idea to finally use that cocktail book that’s been sitting on my bookshelf the last 10 years!
Do you have a favorite cocktail that I could make and publish on my blog? If you do I would love to hear what it is! Just send an email to and I will make it, take a picture and post on my blog (don’t forget to send a link to your blog if you have one). I do love to try new things, and thought this would be a great way to make this happen.

A Fuzzy Navel is one of the first cocktails that I ever had, except it was served on the rocks, had really cheap vodka, and no garnish. I think this version is definitely much more delicious, and looks so much better up as a martini. Cheers!

Fuzzy Navel

1 Ounce Vodka
1 Ounce Peach Schnapps
5 Ounces Orange Juice
Maraschino Cherries, to garnish

In a shaker full of ice add the vodka, peach schnapps and orange juice, shake until extremely cold. Pour a splash of the maraschino cherry juice into the bottom of the glass (it’s just for color) and the gently pour the vodka mixture on top. Garnish with a couple cherries and enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stuffed Pasta Shells

I was trying to think of something different to make for dinner last night and came up with this recipe. I have been craving pasta with tomato sauce lately, but wanted something a little different from my regular linguini with tomato meat sauce, and came up with this recipe. If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, just substitute the hamburger with a pound of mushrooms, it would be just as delicious. This recipe makes a large amount of food, so make sure to invite a couple friends over to help you out, or throw a couple servings in the freezer for a rainy day.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

1 Pound Large Shell Pasta, cooked until just tender and drained
12 Ounces Fresh Spinach
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
8 Ounces Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
15 Ounce Container Ricotta Cheese (I use skim milk ricotta)
2 Large Eggs
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
1 Teaspoon Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Jar Pasta Sauce (yes I totally cheated here!)

In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat add a tablespoon oil and spinach, sauté until wilted and add to a large mixing bowl. Next add the garlic and ground beef to the pan and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Drain any excess fat from the meat and add to the mixing bowl with the spinach. Next add the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan and salt & pepper, stir well to combine.
Lightly coat the bottom of a 9x12 inch baking pan with the pasta sauce. Next spoon heaping tablespoons of the filling into each shell and place into the baking dish continue until the pan is full. Pour remaining pasta sauce over the shells and sprinkle top with cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until bubbling and cheese on top is melted and golden brown. Let rest for a few minutes and serve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hello & A Sneak Peak Into My Kitchen!

Hello & A Sneak Peak Into My Kitchen!

Wow, has it really been an entire month that I haven’t posted anything? It seems as if only a week has gone by, but it also feels like a year has gone by too. January was a big blur of crazy for me, and I hardly got into the kitchen to make a sandwich let alone a yummy meal.
My work schedule during January is always really hectic, finishing up year end, doing inventory, writing reviews, and prepping for the next year, phew….I’m so glad it’s all over with.
I am so thankful to still have a job, with so many of my friends and family getting that horrible news of losing their job, I just can’t imagine. I have been working 60+ hours a week, but all I keep telling myself is thank god I can pay my bills and enjoy life without the stress of money.
So let’s get back to cooking! Yes, I have been missing in action, and I thank you for your kind emails and comments to ensure I’m still alive and kicking. I am looking forward to another year of blogging and meeting new foodie friends. As a way to get back into the swing of things I thought it would be fun to show you all my tiny kitchen. I have two work areas, my largest counter space is about 40 inches wide and my other smaller counter space by the stove is a whopping 30 inches wide! I think people are always shocked when they realize how small my workspace is and how I can still entertain 12+ people comfortably, but it’s something I have learned to do quite well. I do use my dining table and pull out cutting board as back up counter space when prepping, and cleaning as I cook is a must! I love my gas range, but secretly wish I had 6 burners, wouldn’t that be a dream come true? I love all the cupboard space I have, even though my kitchen is small I have all sorts of storage drawers and cupboards to put everything in. I also have some metro shelving in the basement for all my serving dishes and large cooking pots, so it all works out pretty well.
Well I think that’s it for today, I have some delicious recipes to post, so please come back and visit. I also have some fun interactive ideas for this year as well. I will talk more about that later. Thank you everyone who reads my blog on a regular basis and posts comments, I really appreciate them! Happy late New Years, and cheers to a food filled 2009!