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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

I’m so behind with this blog it’s not even funny!

I have a ton of recipes lined up… and now I have to search through my thousands of archives of pictures to find them!! This recipe for Spring Green Risotto was chosen as one of the May recipes by Kimberly from Indulge and Enjoy. I have to say I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of risotto… I had only had it once at a very nice restaurant in England… however it was so bland I had to dump practically an entire container of salt on it! I should have known better… because honestly at this point I think we all know Ina doesn’t make things that don’t taste good!! That said, I did have to modify this recipe a bit… while I’m sure that the mascarpone is delish… it had like an INSANE amount of calories and fat and since I was just cooking this for the 3 of us and not any guests I took the liberty of slimming it down. I’ve posted my modifications in green. And I just have to say that even with my hip slimming modifications this dish was amazing! Creamy, flavorful, and just yummy yummy!! I made it with lemon garlic grilled chicken cutlets… it was fab!!! ¬†Enjoy!!!


Spring Green Risotto

Source: Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Serves: 4 servings for dinner (if you are feeding linebackers) or 6 for appetizers (normal people size ūüôā )

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil * I cut this down to 1 tablespoon and used olive oil cooking spray as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter * I cut this out completely
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade * I used the one in a box… I think it was College Inn??
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas * ((SHUDDER)) I hate peas… so I used fresh string beans and cut them in half
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian * I used fat free cream cheese… it was delish!
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Heat the olive oil and butter¬†(I used the 1 tablespoon olive oil and cooking spray) in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.
  • Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter.
  • Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  • Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.
  • This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends.
  • Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.) ¬†¬†( I blanched the string beans same as the asparagus)
  • When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas¬†(string beans), lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
  • Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone (fat free cream cheese) together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone (cheese) mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives.
  • Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.
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close up bruschetaKACHOW!!¬†¬†That is what can be said about this…. take a look at the big tray I made… between 6 people it was gone… very quickly!

So easy to make….and not a bank account killer either… really very reasonable! Which is good because this recipe was chosen as the first Barefoot on a Budget Challenge.¬† I made a ton of it and although I didn’t save the receipts (I’m bad I know!) it fed a lot of people for not a lot of $$.¬† This was the appetizer we did for our Memorial Day BBQ. It was so good… try it!

pepper bruscheta

 

Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Creamy Gorgonzola

Source: Ina Garten

Serves: Makes 18 rounds

Ingredients 

  • Good olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Baguette
  • 3 ounces creamy Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, at room temperature

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the capers and basil, and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set aside. (I added some additional Italian Seasoning as I had a bit left that I wanted to get rid of)
  • Slice the baguette crosswise into 18 thin round slices. Brush the bread rounds lightly with olive oil on 1 side. Arrange them in rows, oil side up, on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toast in the oven until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Top each toast round with a teaspoonful of the pepper mixture. Place 2 small pieces of Gorgonzola on top.
  • Return the toast to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes and warm through. Serve immediately.

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100_1921Sigh…. BIG SIGH….. wow… I am so sad to say that this one was a big bummer! No one liked it at all really. Not sure why… I followed directions to the “T”…. maybe we’re just not fans of sun-dried tomato? I don’t know… it wasn’t so bad you would spit it out… but I certainly wouldn’t go back for seconds…. I’ll have to check and see what the other Barefooters said about this one….

 

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb fusilli pasta
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium diced
  • 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

How to pull it all together:

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water with a splash of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
  • Boil for 12 minutes, or according to directions on the package
  • Drain well and allow to cool
  • Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • For the dressing, combine sun dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta , sprinkle with¬†Parmesan cheese and basil and toss well

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Chicken Piccata

real-chicken-piccata-1

Awhile¬†back, the Barefoot Bloggers made Ina’s Chicken Piccata.¬† Overall the reviews were positive, but for me it just didn’t taste like Chicken Piccata because it didn’t taste like the recipe I had been using forever.¬† So, I decided to make my Chicken Piccata to do the comparison…..and the winner is (in my house at least) my Chicken Piccata.¬† The reasons that I like this recipe better are that 1. It has capers… and I love me some capers! 2. It’s not dipped in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then fried in oil.¬† While that is yummy, I can usually feel my arteries clogging as I eat it. This version is sauteed and not breaded… therefore, not as heavy.¬† The recipe is from (drum roll please….)¬† The Joy of Cooking: All About Chicken.¬† Again, this book was a present from my mother in law when I first got married.¬† Maybe she wanted to make sure I didn’t starve her baby boy? :o) Any way, it’s a great book and I use it all the time.¬†

Here is the recipe:

Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts Piccata

Source: The Joy of Cooking: All About Chicken by Irma S. Rombauer/Marion Rombauer Becker/Ethan Becker                (I guess it was a family affair?)

Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are!

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (@ 1 1/2 lbs) (You can also use thin cut breasts, tastes better)
  • Salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 2-3 tablespoons minced shallots or scallions
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3-4 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (use a real lemon, not from a jar/bottle/can etc)
  • 2 tablespoons nonpareil capers, drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

How to pull it all together:

  • Rinse and pat the chicken breasts dry. Trim any fat etc.
  • Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper to taste (obviously don’t lick the raw chicken ha ha!)
  • Spread the flour on a plate and coat the chicken on both sides.¬† Shake off the excess flour.
  • Heat the butter ¬†in a heavy 10-12″ skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and nut-brown, then add the olive oil.
  • Swirl the butter and oil together, then add the chicken and cook @ 4 minutes each side.¬† Keep the¬†pan as hot as possible without burning.
  • Keep the chicken warm in a 200¬į oven while you make the sauce.

The sauce:

  • Remove all but @ 1 tablespoon of fat from the chicken skillet.¬†
  • Heat the scallions or shallots over medium heat and cook, stirring, until wilted @ 1 minute.¬†
  • Increase the heat to high and add the chicken stock.
  • Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to dissolve the brown bits.¬†
  • Add the lemon juice, and capers and boil until the mixture is reduced to @ 1/3 cup, @ 3-4 minutes.¬†
  • Add the accumulated chicken juices and reduce again.¬† Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter.
  • Pour over the chicken and serve immediately.

Note: This cookbook has some great recipes, but it’s sometimes confusing how they write out the recipe.¬† Or, maybe it’s me.

Enjoy!

real-chicken-piccata-2

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spaghetti-al-bianco-2The little trivia portion for this recipe says that “When Italians feel the need to look after themselves, they cook “al bianco”, or “white” food without the acidity of tomatoes.”¬† So, since 1. I’m part Italian and 2. I’m not feeling well as I’ve got a cold, I decided to try it out.¬† And it did make me feel better! Ah, the magic of Italian food!¬† Now, I’ve never had spaghetti al bianco before so I have nothing to compare it to but this was really, really good and a nice change from tomato sauce!¬† It was super easy to make too!¬† Saute the veggies and add the meat, mushrooms, and stock and let it simmer. How hard is that? It’s not!¬† The end result is a light pasta dish, with just a hint of lemony freshness at the end.¬† Seriously, it does make you feel better…. as did the glass of wine I had with it!

So, since hubby is away and I have enough for like 8 servings I’ll be eating this for a while.¬† Too bad he missed out!

Here is the recipe:

Spaghetti al Bianco

Source: Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4 (but those are big servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 oz dried wild mushrooms ( I used a full 1 oz of dried porcini)
  • 1 leek, trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs ( I may have added extra? I wasn’t sure what to do.. do you pull the little bits off the stem? throw it in whole? I ended up doing a bit of both… it was good anyway)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef ( I only used 1 lb as that is what I had.. it was fine)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 cups hot stock or water (I used 2 cups of beef stock made with one of those Knorr cubes)
  • 14 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes.¬†
  • Finely slice the leek and celery, finely dice the carrots.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and cook the leek for 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef and cook, stirring, until nicely browned.¬† Sprinkle with the flour, sea salt, and pepper, and stir for a minute or two to cook the flour.
  • Add the mushrooms with their soaking water, discarding any sediment. Gradually stir in the hot stock or water, then simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes or longer. ( I simmered for @ 1 hour)
  • Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente-tender but firm to the bite.¬† Drain well, then toss with the meat sauce and add the grated lemon zest. (Don’t leave out the lemon zest, it makes the dish in my opinion)
  • Serve with grated Parmesan

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chicken-piccata-2

 

So the Barefoot Blogger recipe for March was chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings.¬† Lindsey chose Ina’s Chicken Piccata!¬† Sounds great and it went well with one of this month’s Bonus Recipe Challenges.¬† This recipe was a bit different then my usual recipe for Chicken Piccata, but since we’re all about branching out from the familiar I gave it a whirl.¬† And I have to say, I was a bit disappointed!¬† I know.. I know… disappointed with an Ina recipe?¬† I can’t even really say disappointed because it tasted fine.¬† Seriously, it was actually pretty good.¬† It just didn’t taste like¬† Chicken Piccata to me.¬† Where were the capers???¬† That was the big missing thing for me… Also, I wasn’t a fan of breading the chicken.¬† It tasted good, but it also just tasted like a breaded and fried chicken cutlet with a lemon sauce.¬† So while it was a¬†pretty yummy meal, it just wasn’t what I expected, and I will be sticking with my regular go to recipe for Chicken Piccata.¬† (Will post soon, as it’s on the menu this week.)

Here is the recipe:

Chicken Piccata

Source: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine ( Note, never use a wine in cooking you wouldn’t willingly drink by the glass)¬†¬†
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 400¬įF.¬† Line the sheet pan with parchment paper. ( I skipped this part, it was fine)
  • Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4 ” thick. ( I skipped this because I’m lazy. I just used my fillet knife to thin them out and it was fine. I do it all the time).¬† Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow plate.¬† In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon water together.¬† Place the bread crumbs on a third plate.¬†
  • Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Here are some visual aides:

flour

egg bread-crumb

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat.¬† Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned.¬† Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  • For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel.¬† Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.¬† Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes.
  • Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine.¬† Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.¬† Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and sprinkling of parsley.

 

 wine-label I used Wolf Blass Chardonnay Semillon 2007  

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meatballs-sauce

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!¬† Sorry, don’t you just have to sing Italian when eating/cooking Italian? We like to listen to Mob Hits & Louis Prima in our house when we do!¬† With that said, this recipe was¬†really yummy! I have never bothered to follow a meatball recipe. They all seemed kind of plain… so I would “wing it” each time. I’ve never had really bad results.. sometimes they are really delicious, however they come out different every time I make them.¬† Sometimes they are too wet, some too dry, some too much flavor, some not enough you get the idea. This recipe was awesome! Even with the substitution I made (I used 1 lb pork instead of 1/2 pork and 1/2 veal, since my grocery store over here didn’t have veal) it was excellent.¬† I’ll definitely keep this recipe around and keep it in mind when I want to make sauce. I would probably double the recipe for the sauce as it didn’t make that much… Also, I ended up with a lot more meatballs then expected. I probably just made them too small…. Oh well, we’ll definitely have these again!

Oh yeah, the other “tweaks”¬†I made:¬† I had to season my own breadcrumbs since they don’t sell them over here. I added garlic powder and onion powder and Italian seasoning to the crumbs. Not sure how much, I just eyeballed it.

Also, I don’t fry (at least when it’s not necessary), and I didn’t feel it was necessary for this recipe. I used instead @ 2 tablespoons of olive oil and olive oil cooking spray as needed.

And, I used extra lean ground beef and extra lean ground pork for the meatballs¬†but they were still juicy and flavorful. I think that is it on my “tweaks”.

Here is the recipe:

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground veal¬†¬† (I couldn’t get veal so I did 1 lb of pork )
  • 1/2 lb ground pork (see above)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

How to pull it all together:

  • Place the grounds meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl.¬† Combine lightly with a fork.¬† Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  • Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch.¬† Heat the oil.¬† Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or fork.¬† This should take about 10 minutes for each batch.¬† Don’t crowd the meatballs.¬† Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.¬† Discard the oils but don’t clean the pan.
  • For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan.¬† Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes.¬† Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.¬† Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.¬† Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.¬† Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

meatballs-on-plate2

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