roasted

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s (w/ semi-homemade Parmesan Risotto)

In the mood for Italian food but tired of the same ol’ pasta dish? going for the “Meatless Monday”? or maybe even the gluten-free route?  Well, as always, I have a goodie that fits all of those bills!

Honestly, my reasoning for this creative dish was that my oldest son and I are mushroom fanatics and my dear husband was out of town with work (dang trains!).  The “my husband” part is important to this because he does NOT eat meals without meat.  Salads are for the meat he eats, aka cows. 😉 but I digress…

I relished at the opportunity of a meatless meal and obviously that is where the Portobello fit in!  Rich and meaty in it’s own right that pairs so well with Italian flavors!  Now for the non-heavy, gluten-laden feeling, I went with rice…and in Italian fashion, I tweaked it to a cheat-sheet risotto!

I tell ya, this will be a staple in my home from here on out!  On Mondays.  On day’s my carnivore husband is away. 😉

The Starting Lineup

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s

  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms, “gills” scraped out of center)
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick and quartered
  • Fresh mozzarella (sliced, torn or small individual ball’s i.e. BelGioiosa or Galbani, etc)
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • 2+ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Balsamic reduction (i.e. FINI brand), garnish drizzle
  • Parmesan cheese, garnish

Semi-Homemade Parmesan Risotto

  • 1 box risotto (parmesan flavor if possible, i.e. Lundberg Creamy Parmesan Risotto), substitute low-sodium chicken broth/stock in place of water required
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line baking sheet with foil or parchment.

“Risotto”

Prepare similar to your package directions:  Toast the Arborio rice with the 1 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet or sauce pan over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and seasoning packet to rice, stir, bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, leaving uncovered for 20 minutes, until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Once thickened, add in the butter and parmesan cheese; fold in the parsley.  *If too thick, stir in 1/4 cup more chicken broth at a time. 

Meanwhile….

“Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s”

Place your cleaned out Portobello onto your baking sheet, hollow side up.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Layer on the fresh mozzarella cheese, followed by the sliced tomatoes, a bit of the fresh basil and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil overtop.  Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese appears melty and gooey and tomatoes slightly roasted; juices appearing.

To serve:  Spoon the creamy risotto in a bowl making a slight well.  Place the roasted Caprese Stuffed Portobello overtop that well you made and sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.  Enjoy!

CapreseStuffedPortobello

 

Stuffed Tomatoes Puttanesca

A lot of influences helped bring this recipe idea to mind.  One, being my love for Pasta Puttanesca, a common order from me at many Italian restaurants.  Secondly, I love having people over and serving unique appetizers aka hors d’oeuvres if I’m being fancy, and thought this will make a great contender for my counter….and lastly, my hilarious, old soul of a little 6-year-old son who legitimately enjoys anchovies on his pizza.  Yes, if he’s not a chef, food critic or stylist when he grows up, I will be shocked.  Future foodie right there!

So because of that last reason, I had a couple containers of anchovies handy and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for me…so given all that, the Stuffed Tomato Puttanesca was born!  Thanks Brooks. 🙂

Also, you can make this with out stuffing the tomato/oven-step and serve in a dish drizzled with a bit more olive oil alongside crackers, bread and veggies for a great tapenade!  Heck, even spread it on your bread for an amped up turkey sandwich!  Endless options folks!  Ps.  These are great paired with a juicy steak and glass of red….

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 small cocktail style tomatoes, 2-3 inches and ripe
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 25+ pitted Kalamata olives, rough chop
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 8-10 anchovy filets (canned or jarred in olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or silpat sheet.

Using a serrated knife (I always use serrated when dealing with tomatoes, trust me), slice off the tops of each tomato (keep) and carefully scoop out the inside of each tomato with a spoon into a bowl.  Once finished, pour and press the tomato flesh through a fine mesh sieve to get the fresh tomato juice.

In a food processor, place in the tops of your tomatoes (stem cut off), Kalamata olives, anchovies and garlic.  Process until well chopped.

Combine the olive paste with the bread crumbs/panko, capers, parsley, thyme, olive oil, the tomato juice, pepper and Romano cheese.

Place the cut and hollowed tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet and use a spoon to stuff each tomato with your tapenade filling.  Once they’re all full, sprinkle the tops with the shaved parmesan cheese slices.  Place into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has browned and tomato is slightly wilted and heated through.

Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme or parsley overtop and serve as an appetizer or side dish, enjoy!

PuttanescaTomatoes

French Onion Chicken Poutine

What kind of comfort-food-sort-of-blogger would I be without a plate full of hot salted fries, topped with a rich gravy and melty cheese chunks?  Not one that I would like to know…

Now here in the states, we fondly know of this dish as Disco Fries (main difference being the variety of cheese overtop), but it’s more commonly known everywhere as “Poutine” thanks to our friends north of the border, eh Canada?  That main difference, again, is the use of real cheese curds…and please choose the white variety for more authenticity.

Now myself, I find the cheese curds in the gourmet cheese/deli section, but if you just cannot track them down, you can substitute torn full-fat mozzarella chunks (NOT the fresh mozzarella you’d make a pizza with) as you actually do not want these cheese chunks to completely melt.

Now to add my weird twist on the forever popular dish, I made a classic French onion soup combined with chicken (my boys always HAVE to have their protein) and turned it into a poutine.  So whether you prefer to eat this with your hands or a fork, you will NOT be unsatisfied!  It’s also equally great as leftovers!!

 

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2-4 (about 1lb) chicken breast or thighs, skinless/boneless
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons beef broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Cheese curds
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped, for topping (optional)

French Fries

  • Frozen bagged fries are fine or….
  • 4 very large russet potatoes, skin on, cut into 1″ wide fries
  • Vegetable/ or Canola oil, to fil a large skillet/pot 2″ (or deep fryer)
  • Kosher salt

Begin by cleaning and cutting your potatoes, if making homemade fries.  Add the cut potatoes to a large bowl of ice water and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  This helps to remove the starch, resulting in a crispier fry.  *Completely pat dry before frying.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large oven-safe skillet, over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and 4 tablespoons of the beef broth; sauté onions till a buttery brown in shade and are rich and caramelized, about 20+ minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

While onions are cooking, prepare the chicken by drizzling with oil, then seasoning with salt & pepper and the Italian seasonings. Once onions have finished cooking and are removed from the pan, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat (don’t clean out the pan between the onions and chicken) until browned on both sides. (Chicken may not be fully cooked through yet, that is okay).  Remove from pan.

To the skillet, pour in the beef broth over medium-high heat to deglaze and stir while scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Next, turn down to medium-low heat and whisk in the flour thoroughly for 5-6 minutes until smooth; taste for seasoning.  Add the sautéed onions and browned chicken back in.  Cover the chicken with the Swiss cheese slices and transfer, uncovered, to the oven for 10 minutes, till cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Meanwhile, pat dry (between two towels) and fry up the sliced potatoes.  Salt and keep warm. **After you fry, transfer each batch to a paper towel/baking rack lined baking sheet and straight into a 225 degrees preheated oven.

Remove the skillet of your French Onion Chicken from the oven and either shred or slice the chicken in pan.  Ladle the rich gravy and chicken over your fries and top with the fresh, chopped parsley and cheese curds!  Enjoy!…because I so know you will!!

Poutine

 

Milanesa de Carne with Roasted Jalapeño Chimichurri

Today I’m going south of the border…like SOUTH, south of the border with this simple, comforting dish that is very popular in parts of Mexico and South America.  The milanesa I prepared is a variation of the Italian version brought over (think chicken parmigiana) more than a century ago.  It can be any meat of your choosing: beef, chicken or pork and lightly dredged and shallow-fried till golden.  In fact, health conscience people are even baking them to cut down on their fried food intake.  To each their own…though I stick with the authentic way!

I amp my recipe up with the slightly spicy and smoky flavor of my Roasted Jalapeno Chimichurri!  It’s quite simple and very versatile!  Make sure to use it with your potatoes as well, and if there is any leftover, spoon it over eggs, burritos, sandwiches or a dipping sauce!  Finally, make sure to squeeze that fresh lemon over each bite as the acid cuts through the fried richness…salivating now.

The Starting Lineup

Milanesas

  • 4-6 (appx 1 1/2 lbs) Thinly cut beef steaks, i.e. literally “Beef Milanesa” in my grocer’s meat section.
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs + 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (can substitute in Panko bread crumbs)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • vegetable oil
  • Lemons, quartered, for serving/squeezing over top the milanesa

Roasted Jalapeños Chimichurri

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste

*Serve with a simple salad, crispy roasted potatoes and lemon wedges.

Start with the Chimichurri sauce (this can also be done the night before).  Roast your jalapenos over an open flame (gas oven/grill) or under your broiler, turning until the skin is slightly charred and blistered.  Let the jalapenos steam in a closed paper bag or plastic wrap covered dish for about 10 minutes.  Remove the outside blistered skins and the seeds.

Using a food processor, blender or an immersion blender (like I did), combine all of the Chimichurri ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  Cover and set aside in your refrigerator.

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Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, to keep the fried and breaded steaks warm while you cook the others.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and in a large zip lock, bag combine the steaks, lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Let sit out and get to room temperature while your heat up the oil.

In 3 shallow dishes:

1st dish:  Flour   2nd dish:  beaten eggs   3rd dish:  breadcrumbs seasoned w/ garlic powder, dried parsley, salt & pepper.

Heat 1/2 inch of  oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot prior to frying up the steaks.

One by one, dredge each steak lightly in the flour, then the eggs, followed by an even breadcrumb coating.  Place in the hot oil, cooking each side for about 3-4 minutes until a golden brown crust.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet in the oven to soak up any excess grease and keep warm while preparing the remaining steaks. *TIP: You may need to lightly pat dry the lime marinated steaks with a paper towel prior to the dredging process.

Serve each steak with a simple side salad, roasted potatoes (or fries) and lemon wedges.  Drizzle the Chimichurri sauce over top and enjoy!

Milanesa2

Roasted Malt Vinegar Potatoes

Every now and again I like to transport our dining experience to England…or rather.. perhaps just to a pub.  I dunno …Regardless, we do enjoy a big old plate of “Fish & Chips” with a tall beer and I was bound to make it happen.

However, this time I did not feel like cutting, soaking and frying homemade French fries (I know, I know…they come bagged frozen, and I currently happen to have two large bags in my freezer, but if you’re gonna do it..do it right), so I decided on roasted potatoes!

Naturally, they couldn’t be just any roasted potatoes, I needed a ‘British element’ to them.  Therefore, the presoaking in hot vinegar gives them that extra added bite and the roasting after helps them crisp up like your typical chips!  Once topped off with a bit more malt vinegar, the only difference you’ll notice is the extra time you have to enjoy!  Easy Peasy!

*You can use russet potatoes just as well, just cut into about 1″ cubes.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs small potatoes (Yukon gold/ or yellow), halved
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste 

Garnish

  • Malt vinegar
  • Chives, fresh
  • Dipping Sauce

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add in both of the vinegars and the tablespoon of salt.   Lay the potatoes into the hot salted, vinegar water and cover for 1 hour.

When the hour is up, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and non-stick spray.

Completely drain the potatoes and pat dry with a tea towel or paper towels.  Once they are dry, place on the baking sheet and sprinkle on the cornstarch.  Follow that with a drizzle of the olive oil and evenly distribute with your hands.  Finally, add a good amount of the salt and pepper over top and make sure they’re in a single, even layer.  This will ensure they crisp up and do not steam and get soggy.

Bake these for 20 minutes.  Flip and toss and bake for another 20 minutes until just fork tender, golden and crisp.

Serve this in Lou of “chips” with your beer-battered cod and cold beer!  We also like to drizzle a bit more malt vinegar over top and fresh chives.  Enjoy!

MaltPotatoes

German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

Rouladen3

Seared Filet with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Ravioli

My husband and I do not get a lot of “date nights” as we have two young boys, rarely a babysitter and he has the craziest schedule working for the railroad.  No set schedule actually.  All that combined leads me to craving fancy-dressed, wine-filled nights out even more!  That being said, I knew I could do it!  Not the literally leaving my house to enjoy a quiet kid free atmosphere, but create that upscale dining experience here at home!

I already knew I could make a fantastic steak, so I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta.  Like REAL homemade pasta, no attachment to my Kitchen-Aide or anything.  So out came my flour coated rolling pin and I finally attacked the somewhat scary mound of welled flour and eggs.  You know what?  It wasn’t that hard.   I’ve been scared all these years for nothing!  Now, if I’m making a crockpot meal asking for the filled pasta, then frozen is fine, but for this meal all the slight extra work was sooooo worth it!!

So please, next time you can’t get away, or maybe your budget is a bit tight, please give this a whirl!

The Starting Lineup

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 1 small butternut squash
    2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5-6 sage leaves, minced

Protein (optional)

  • (2-4) Filet mignon or Ribeye Steaks
  • Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 2 vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened

 

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Roasted butternut squash and blue cheese filling!

 

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To begin…..

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Next, (this is a great tip!) prick your butternut squash with a fork all over.  Cut off the ends of the squash and place on a plate in your microwave for 4 minutes (if you don’t, this vegetable is extremely hard to cut).  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and then cut in half length-wise.  Discard of the seeds and then cut into rough cubes.  Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile…..

Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well with a fork in the center, creating almost a “volcano” in appearance.  In the well, crack the eggs and add in the salt and oil.  Using your fork, slightly beat together while gathering a bit of flour at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Using your hands, start needing the dough until it forms a perfectly smooth ball with a shiny appearance (10 minutes).  Add more flour if it seems sticky or a tbsp. at a time of water if it feels too dry.  Wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Now that your butternut squash is roasted, transfer to a large bowl along with the blue cheese crumbles and the salt & pepper.  Mash together with a fork to your desired consistency. Cover and set aside.

With your dough ball, unwrap pasta and cut into four sections. You will work with one section at a time. Wrap the remaining three up in plastic in the mean time. Flour your work surface liberally. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the middle and rolling out. Try to get the thinnest and longest piece of dough you can. Keep rotating and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Once your dough is rolled very thin, place a small amounts of the filling {about a teaspoon} onto the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Fold the top of the dough over the filling. Press the top piece of dough over and around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Now using either a ravioli stamp, pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut into perfect squares {you will need to crimp the edges with a fork if using a pizza cutter}. Place on a floured tray and cover with a tea towel as you make these. Form any leftover dough into a ball and place in the plastic wrap to rest. Continue this pattern until all the raviolis are filled and cut out.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis (4-5 at a time) and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain.  Once finished add to a warm sauté pan of melted butter, oil and sage that is slightly crisped.  Toss gently to coat.

Now you can eat these delish ravioli’s as is or pair with a great steak!  If you choose the steak route, here is my favorite way..

Set the steak out of the fridge to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes {I did so while I’m preparing the ravioli’s} and heat oven to 400 degrees, rub the steak all over with oil and coat in freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.  Heat your cast iron pan on med-high heat till about smoking.  Add in the butter and then the steaks, let cook (do NOT move) for 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the skillet with the seared steaks to the oven and let cook for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).  Remove the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  {Here is where I cooked and sautéed the ravioli’s.}  ***Make sure you have a well ventilated kitchen as cast irons smoke something crazy.  You can absolutely grill your meat too if preferred.

So, whether you decide to make this a vegetarian inspired meal or are a true carnivore like myself, you will not be disappointed!  Serve with a great red and you have a true 5-star restaurant meal!  Enjoy!!

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