Archive for January, 2011

January 26, 2011

Red Wine BISCUITS (cookies)

The flavors of the wine and olive oil bring a smile to any Italian dinner table – so why not continue those great flavors to your dessert!? That is exactly what I thought when I stumbled across this recipe the other day. The [light] extra virgin olive oil lends just enough flavor to come through (and hey – its good for you too, right) without overpowering.

If you like a really sweet cookie – please stop reading now! These are just sweet enough to work on that sweet tooth without being too super sweet.

A perfect ending to a great Italian dinner. They also make a great ending for a Not-So-Great dinner as was my case! Yes, these cookies were the ending to a not so successful night of having my parents over. My parents fed me for more than 20 (25, whatever – who’s counting, and I was in college for some of those years) years, so I enjoy having them over for dinner. After my horoscope last week I invited my parents over for dinner for the weekend. I made crab cakes (tried a recipe without egg – they fell apart), baked french fries (great, could have been crispier and about 1/2 the salt), and caesar salad (too much anchovies for the boy). This was not a GREAT dinner (although I am sure my mom cooked a few failures for us when I was growing up, and I survived because I don’t remember them) but the company was good. We ended the meal with these fresh Red Wine Cookies (for the record – dad hated them)


(makes 16 – 24, depending on ring size)

  • 4 cups flour (I did 3 cups all-purpose & 1 cup wheat – it can handle even more wheat if you want)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c + 1 T mild extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c + 1 T dry red wine (Sirah was today’s choice – but feel free to use your favorite “dry” red OR white wine!)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Granulated sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add wet ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms: it should clump together when you squeeze it in your hand. If it is still too dry, add a little more wine by the tablespoonful (I ended up just dunking each ball in some wine to make it a little moister before rolling each one).

Divide the dough into small (golf ball sized) pieces. On a flat, unfloured surface, use the palms of your hands to roll each piece into a 1/2″-thick rope. Don’t be afraid if the dough “cracks” as you roll, as long as it’s not crumbling (I had trouble working with it when it was cracking – so just get a tiny bit of wine on your ball before rolling it out). Pinch the ends of each rope together to form a ring.

Dip one side of each biscuit in sugar and place on the prepared pan. Bake about 15 minutes, until bottoms are golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.(You can also freeze in a ziploc bag/plastic container after baking, and taken from the freezer as needed. Let biscuits come to room temperature before serving.)

“Beauty [taste] is in the eye [mouth] of the beholder” Although my dad might not have been the biggest fan (on, I think he hated these pretty much) of these, please try them because I think you will enjoy them! & always remember “if at first you don’t succeed: try, try again!”

January 22, 2011


While wandering around on the internet the other night I cam across this interestingly titled “Spanakorizo” but then the blog was all about working out and healthy stuff (nothing against that – but I’m not there yet) – so I read on (and gawked at the photos) and finally got to the recipe: HEALTHY Spanakopita. All the flavor without the filo dough & extra fat. The rice is so rich but it doesn’t have anything unhealthy in it! Loaded with fresh greens and then make falafel patties to go with it wow… tasty & healthy trip to Greece all at once!

When I found this and told Rich I had something exciting planned for dinner the next night he told me that he wanted me to cook something that was vegetarian (he likes to give me mini-challenges every once in a while). This has chicken stock, so doesn’t really fit the bill BUT it is SUPER healthy and loaded with nutrients, while tasting so much richer than it really is. Make this & kick start that whole weight-loss thing since it isn’t so heavy that you will not be able to get that evening Wii Workout in 🙂

Serves 3 (in our house), from Eats Well with Others who adapted fom Closet Cooking

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 lb spinach (or 1 bunch)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 1/2 cups broth (1 can plus a little water)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • [salt and pepper to taste]

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan.  Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes or until lightly brown.  Add in the garlic for 1 minute.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted. In the same pan, add the rice, broth, parsley, and dill.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice (or squeeze fresh lemon on top after plated).  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve – topped with feta.

Falafel with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
Serves 3 @ our place, from Eats well with Others who adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 large egg

Whisk [first set of ingredients] – yogurt, cilantro, onion, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne in medium bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blend garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons flour, cumin, cilantro, garlic, cayenne in processor [I used a blender – it did not work too well] until almost smooth. Add egg and remaining onion and blend, using on/off turns, until onion is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Turn patties in remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat on both sides. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. [I fried one in some Olive Oil – I think that would work just as well and Olive Oil is a good oil, no deep frying! Then just add a bit more flour into the mix!] Serve topped with cilantro yogurt sauce.


One last thought: health is a state of mind – and I have made up my mind to be more healthy… this does not mean I will cut out chocolate or sweets or cheese, but that I will be fully aware of my day as a whole and be sure to fit some fitness into every day, which I have been lacking! THANK YOU

January 21, 2011

HOROSCOPES… oh the horror

That was my horoscope yesterday & it made me laugh and smile, so I wanted to share.

All of this time off from school because of snow has left me with plenty of time to browse recipes online & I have a whole slew of things that I just can’t wait to cook, so look for the recipes & if you are lucky, maybe even a taste when I see you!!


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January 19, 2011

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Recently we were supposed to have a big “Post-Holiday Party” for all of Rich’s far-away friends but everyone ended up not being able to come (and even our local friends couldn’t make it). I had a pan of Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Shells all ready to go already for our guests though. Since my parents were hanging out with the dogs while we hit the slopes we decided to bring dinner over. The shells were awesome (I used the sauce from my Venison Meatballs) but the pictures were not (guess I will have to make them again!)

After making my awesome Italian shells I had about a half-dozen shells already cooked that I ran out of filling and then another dozen or so shells in the box that didn’t get cooked the first time. I then stumbled across a brilliantly amazing recipe for MEXICAN Stuffed Shells (think Enchiladas but in a pasta shell instead of taco shell)


  • apprx 15 jumbo shells
  • 1 chicken breast (boiled in seasoning [taco] & shredded)
  • 1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 oz. cream cheese [optional]
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 can of your favorite enchilada sauce
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • any other Mexican toppings of choice (cilantro, avocado, sour cream)


Boil your chicken breast with cayanne pepper, cumin, & chili powder for approx 15 minutes (just until you can easily shred it). Let it set in the flavored water for a few minutes to soak up the flavors then dump out the liquid and pour in your can of refried beans as well as your green onions (scallions), garlic, and sour cream. Mix all ingredients well, turning the heat back on if needed. Let the mixture cool while your shells are cooking

Pre-heat your oven to 350. Cook jumbo shells in boiling water until al dente (follow box directions). Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour 1/2 of your salsa & enchilada sauce in bottom of a large baking dish. Stuff each shell with your mixture and place in baking dish Cover with the other half of the enchilada sauce & salsa, then with cheddar cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let cool a few minutes so your mouth can actually enjoy this and not burn your face off! Place on a plate and top with your favorite Mexican toppings & ENJOY!

Remember what I keep telling you… think outside the box & don’t be afraid to experiment! MEXICAN would not be what comes to my mind first when I think of STUFFED SHELLS – but combining these two different origins really works.

Get in the kitchen & (think) out of the box!

January 18, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

I have said it before & I will say it again… soup is one of those things that you can just play with and can’t really mess it up too badly! Pasta Fagioli is a soup that has beans, tomato, & pasta – but once you have those basics, you can pretty much play around to get what you like! We are currently experiencing Snow Day #3 in the past three weeks: so you probably have [most of] what you need to make this soup and enjoy it (maybe even by lunch!) This was the perfect (snow day #2) meal to enjoy with my no-knead bread after playing out in the snow!

I made this soup with some crumbled sausage, but feel free to make a vegetarian version. It is a good healthy soup: hearty and filling but not loaded with cream or fats (yes, I know it has pasta: but we need starch and pasta does not have to be the enemy)! Get off the computer (or maybe look at some other recipes first if this one doesn’t seem ‘perfect’ for you), get in the kitchen and enjoy this tasty soup (reminds me of an even tasty version of that popular Italian restaurant) today


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 or 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • ½ bag baby carrots or 2 regular carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • SPICES: 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons parsley, 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cans beans (today I did a mix of  small red kidney beans and cannellini beans)
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock (and add water if its too thick)
  • 1 ½ cups pasta (tubetti, mini shells, etc)
  • [fresh] parmesan cheese


Heat oil over medium heat in large pot. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add sausage and cooked until browned, stirring often. Add carrot, celery, spices, beans, tomatoes, water, and stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer with lid off for at least 45 min. Remove bay leaves (if used). In a separate pot cook pasta to ‘just less than’ al dente stage. Drain pasta and toss with a very small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking [OR just throw in soup right away]. When serving: [add pasta and] top with a shaving of parmesan.
~          *          ~          *          ~          *          ~
I leave you with a Mark Twain quote: “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.” – so: take a lazy, cold day to play and have fun with something you might normally think of as work!
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