Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Big Papi's Wings
Serves 6

4 lbs. wings, patted dry and extra skin and fat removed
2 Tbsp Fresh rosemary, diced
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Pepper
1 Tbsp Lawry's Season Salt
1 tsp Chili Flakes
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Preheat broiler to 500°F
Mix Herbs, Spices and Soy Sauce in a large bowl.  Add wings and toss until covered well.
Place wings on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Roast wings under broiler for a total of 22 min. turning halfway through.
Serve and enjoy either with or without your favorite sauce.


Weekend Brunch and Leftovers
I do a good amount of cooking during the week.  Consequently, when the weekend comes around I have a lot of leftovers.
One of my favorite leftover dishes for a Sunday morning is a Frittata.  Call it a Spanish/Argentine Tortilla, a quiche w/o the crust or whatever, Frittata works for me.  It's a healthy, tasty one pan meal that everyone will LOVE!  Even Lauren, who hates eggs, devours it...

Note: Can be eaten hot, out of the oven; or at room temperature, so it's great for a brunch or a party item.

JD's Frittata
Serves: 4-6

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
2 shakes Mrs. Dash, or whatever seasoning you wish
2 potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (mandolin)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 zucchini sliced in 1/4in. discs
1 handfull of baby spinach
4 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 grilled chicken thigh, diced
3 cooked breakfast sausage links, diced
1/2 cup corn
8 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper

Like I said, this is an opportunity to use what you have in the fridge.  If you have leftover brie, use it!  If you have leftover steak, use it!  Whatever works for you...meats, veggies, etc.  I love to add grape tomatoes, sliced in half but didn't have any last weekend.
In a 10" non-stick saucepan, on medium-high, heat Oil and butter until butter stops foaming.
Add potatoes and stir fry for about 2 min. until they start getting soft.
Add onions, garlic, Mrs. Dash, and peppers - cook until they start to smell delicious, about 2 min.
Add mushrooms and cook until they start to render their juice, about 2 min.
Stir everything else (except eggs) in and cook for a couple of minutes, until well combined.

Add eggs and lightly stir, making sure egg covers the bottom of the pan.
Drop the heat to medium and cover for about 10 min. After about 6 min., it helps to run a heat resistant spatula around the perimeter every once in a while to make sure the frittata unsticks from the side of the pan.
At 10 min. uncover and shake it as well to detach it from the bottom of the pan.

Grab a plate that is larger than the pan, place it over the top of the pan - flip the frittata so the top/uncooked side is on the plate.
Slide frittata back into the pan and let that side cook for about 3 min, until it's golden brown (if needs be, add a little more olive oil to the pan before reintroducing the frittata).

Slide Frittata onto serving plate and allow to cool for about 5 min. before slicing.

Garnish with any fresh herbs used in the frittata, flowers, cheese, tomatoes, etc.

I like to slice it like a pie and serve it in wedges.

You can add any kind of hot sauce, cheese, ketchup (?), sour cream/creme fraiche, whatever you want...

I like mine with Sriracha...

Great Sides

A while back, we had a family dinner for Austin, before he left for the Army.  Lauren was in charge of the menu and she chose grilled, marinated chicken breasts, Roasted Garlic Alfredo Tortellini, sautéed asparagus, and her French toast a la mode for dessert...it was amazing!
Most of the stuff was basic (except Lauren's French Toast, which she did), but the Tortellini is a 'keeper'!


Serves 4+

2 heads of roasted garlic (see below, it's simple!)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup Heavy Cream, divided
¼ cup, heaping Sour Cream
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese + another ¼-1/2 cup
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 20oz. container of tortellini (refrigerated or frozen - cook according to directions beforehand)
3 Tbsp. of butter
Parsley to garnish (optional)

Roasted Garlic: Just slice off the top ends of the entire garlic head, leaving the root bottom alone.  Place them in a tin foil ‘boat’ then pour about 1 teaspoon of oil over each head. Fold the ends of the tinfoil up over the garlic, making an aluminum foil pouch of sorts. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour exactly.  Let cool until cool enough to handle, or refrigerate if you plan on using it later.
1. In a food processor or blender, combine the 2 heads of roasted garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, & ¼ cup of the heavy cream.  Blend until the garlic is pulverized.  Into the garlic mixture, pour in the remaining ¾ cup heavy cream, heaping ¼ cup sour cream, & ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Blend the mixture for 30-60 seconds until everything is combined. The mixture will be thick & slightly lumpy, which is perfectly normal! Set the sauce aside.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Add your tortellini & toss the pasta around in the melted butter to coat.  Pour the sauce on top of the pasta, & stir gently to combine.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring gently occasionally.  The sauce will thicken.
3. Sprinkle on ¼ cup to ½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (depending on your taste), stir to combine and remove from the heat.  Pour the tortellini into a serving vessel, & garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts, lightly roasted in a dry pan (pecans preferred)
1/4 cup butter ( melted)
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes ( can use canned to save time, just drain)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs ( well beaten)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly.
Pour mixture into buttered baking dish (9"X9")and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.

Bake for 10 additional minutes. Allow to set at least 15 minutes before serving.

I have also been thinking about doing a Prime Rib with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Yorkshire Pudding.
I found this recipe and am definitely going to see if it is really the one from the House of Prime Rib...

Creamed Spinach from The House of Prime Rib
Makes 4

Helen Brown’s West Coast Cookbook features this recipe. The recipe is credited to the head chef at Lawry’s Prime Rib in Los Angeles, who opened the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco in the 1940s. Note: The instructions say to make a medium cream sauce with butter, flour and milk. This is a béchamel (bay-shah-MEL) sauce, which is a French white sauce that can be made thin (1 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk), medium (2 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk), or thick (3 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk). You make the sauce by stirring the milk into a roux, which is made by slowly mixing the flour into the softened butter over very low heat.

1 lb. fresh spinach
3-4 strips bacon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream Sauce:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup whole milk

Boil spinach (not too well done). Remove from heat, wash spinach in cold water, and squeeze dry in a dish towel. Grind in a Cuisinart and set aside. Grind bacon and sauté in a skillet. Grind onion and add to bacon with garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté until all moisture is gone.
Make a medium cream sauce with butter, flour and milk (see note above). Add ground spinach, onion, and bacon mixture to the cream sauce and bring to a slow boil.
Remove from heat and serve.

Roasted Veggies Serves 4

4 Potatoes - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Sweet Potato - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 Red Onion - cut into 1/2 in pieces
6 cloves garlic - skins removed, can cut in half if desired
4 Carrots - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.
Toss above prepared veggies in olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme (fresh herbs can be substituted with dry herbs or Italian Herb Seasoning), lemon zest (1/4 of the lemon) salt and pepper.
Spread veggies on a sheet pan and cook in the oven for approx. 20 min. or until carrots can be easily pierced with a paring knife.

Serve and Enjoy!


Easy Weeknight Meals

An easy mid week meal...

This 'Way Too Easy' lasagna is genius: You start with simmering marinara in a skillet, add ravioli and cooked sausage, and top it off with cheese for a melty one-pot meal.
Serves:  4 with leftovers
1 lb. Hot Italian sausage, casings removed
Mrs. Dash, Garlic Powder and Italian Herb Seasoning
2 ½ c. marinara
½ c. liquid - water, white wine, chicken stock
1 lb. cheese ravioli
1 1/2 c. ricotta
1 large egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. shredded mozzarella
½ c. shredded parmesan
1- Heat broiler. In a cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned and no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes, throw in additional seasoning and cook for 1-2 min. (Drain fat, if desired.)  Add marinara and liquid to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ravioli and let simmer until ravioli is tender and sauce slightly thickens, 10-13 minutes.
2- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta and egg and season with salt and pepper. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture all over the ravioli, make holes in the dish and plop some in, and let cook 3 minutes.
3- Sprinkle mozzarella and parm all over, then transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is golden, 3 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Sometimes I get in a rut and just make what's easy, but everyone seems to be getting tired of spaghetti, tacos and stroganoff, so in the spirit of branching out, I'm going to try a few things that sound good.  Of course, they will have my spin on them but let's see how it goes...

Prep Time: 20 minutes/Cook Time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. chicken breast or tenders.  For a quicker recipe, use a rotisserie chicken or previously grilled.
1 tsp. Lawry’s Season Salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil - combined)
5 medium tomatoes, chopped in large cubes or 1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes.
1 cup cooked spinach (1 box frozen, cooked per directions)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/3 cups Half& Half
1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
10 oz. penne pasta cooked per directions
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

1. In a large skillet, on high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute. While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Reduce heat to medium, flip chicken over again and cook, covered, for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from the pan and keep chicken warm.
2.To the same pan (but without chicken), add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, half of the chicken (sliced into small strips) and half the bacon (already cooked and drained of fat). Mix everything.
3. Add Half& Half and bring to boil. Only after Half & Half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan cheese - immediately reduce to simmer and stir, while simmering, until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 2-3 minutes. Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.
4. In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water and drain again.
5. Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add remaining half of bacon (cooked and drained of fat) and chicken. Season with more salt if necessary. Be careful not to over-stir and break up the pasta. To serve, top the pasta grated Parmesan cheese.

This turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so for my damn self!  The recipe makes about 4 good servings with enough for left overs.

I have also made this with various additions of veggies, cheese, pasta etc. Very versatile!