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Archive for March, 2011

  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 (8oz.) package sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 8-10 cherry or grape tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 (8oz.) package dry penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. In medium skillet, add butter, asparagus, peas, and peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Transfer vegetables and drippings to a large bowl; set aside. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Place pasta in the bowl with the vegetables. Toss with olive oil, Parmesan, onion salt and pepper.

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We eat a lot of chicken – so I’m always looking for ways to add a little twist – and make it less boring.  My kids love this meal – the chicken falls off the bone and they ladle the sauce over jasmine rice.  I usually serve it with cole slaw or zesty corn.  The nice thing about this meal – once you do the first part – is it pretty much cooks itself!  (Always a plus!)

It also re-heats well- so if you want to make it on the weekend and serve it during the week, that makes life a little easier too!  You can also transfer to a crockpot after the first steps and then put on low to cook for the rest of the day if that works better for you too!

  • 1 package chicken leg quarters with thighs**
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • garlic powder
  • ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • bottle of your favorite bbq sauce

All right — take a big skillet and put on medium heat – add about a tablespoon of olive oil and your butter. Season your chicken with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cumin can be strong – so you may have to play with it to get the right amount for your family. If you want you can take the spices and create a rub first and sprinkle it over the chicken that way – but I just tend to give everything a good shake then put the chicken in the skillet to brown (medium-gold) on both sides.

Take the chicken out when brown then add the wine & lemon juice to the drippings and scrape the drippings free to make a nice sauce base (about 5 minutes) — then put the chicken back in, cover and put in a 250 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours. After the first hour and a half, add about half your barbeque sauce, cover the chicken liberally and then cover the pot back up and put back in the oven. (If your skillet’s not big enough – transfer everything to a casserole to roast in the oven) At hour 2 – check your chicken for doneness — add remaining BBQ sauce. Cook additional 1/2 hour if needed or let rest. I serve it over jasmine rice – the kids pour the sauce all over the rice and are happy little BBQ campers!

**you can use any chicken pieces you want – these just happen to always be on sale here so you know — but if you prefer chicken breasts that’s cool too – or if I’m making a lot of it for company, I get a package of breasts, a package of leg quarters..

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We LOVE olives around here– straight from the jar — no problem.  But sometimes, when company’s coming or it’s a holiday or you just want a little extra savory in your snack — marinated olives are the way to go!  They’re easy – and they store well in a jar for a week or two.  They are the perfect compliment to a cheese and fruit tray as well if you’re invited for dinner and want to bring an appetizer!

  • 1 cup of mixed olives (I like large green Spanish and black Kalamata olives)

    Marinated Olives

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons chardonnay or pinot grigio
  • pinch of red chili pepper flakes
  • cracked pepper and sea salt

Pull herbs from stem – toss all ingredients in a bowl and then place in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature and let marinate for at least 4 hours before serving.   You can then store the jar in the refrigerator for a week or so (if there’s any left!)  If you like, directly before serving, toss in a skillet with a little more olive oil for just a couple of minutes and serve warm.  They are oh-my-goodness good!

Want to switch things up?

You can also try using orange juice and orange zest and star anise.  Sundried tomatoes are always welcome at my table (love those little guys!)  Roasted red pepper or pimento can be added in.  If you like it HOT – add a 1-2 scored cayenne peppers or scored jalapenos!  They can heat things up pretty quick though – so make sure your guests like SPICY!  If you go with the peppers – consider changing the herbs to cilantro, the citrus to lime and add a dash of smoked paprika and peppercorns.

Make serving them fun – you can skewer them, or serve in a big martini glass or in a long boat dish or just in a pretty bowl next to your other appetizers!

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Want an easy recipe that can cook all day and make your family smile at night?  Try this recipe on for size with your family this weekend!

  • 2 lb. fresh beef brisket
  • 8 Baguette rolls
  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 10-oz. can condensed beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Gravy Master (found in your marinade or spice section of grocery)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped

Combine all ingredients in 3-4 quart slow cooker. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours until beef is tender. Skim any fat from liquid in crockpot. Remove beef and cut across grain into thin slices.  Puree the cooked veggies with the broth for dipping.  (One of those wand mixers works perfectly!)  Serve on crusty baguette rolls and serve with the hot broth for dipping.  Want to kick it up – add a slice of smoky Gouda or Provolone to the top.  and place under the broiler for a minute or two to melt before serving.  Enjoy!

HINT:  Really want to kick them up — saute up some mushrooms, green pepper and onion and add to the sandwich — I like adding chopped jalapeno to mine!– either way – dolled up or letting the beef speak for itself – it’s a heart meal made easy!

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When I first came to Tampa I discovered all new flavors – rich, intoxicating recipes from Cuba, Spain and Mexico and I fell in love with them.  This is my variation of one of my favorite soups, Caldo Gallego- which is hearty, amazing and good for what ails you as my mom would say.  Sometimes I’ll make it at holiday time as a first course, on a cold day or just when you feel like some nasty virus is just gunning for you – this is great for scaring the germs away!  I hope you like it!

  • 2 – 15+1/2 cans of white northern or navy beans (You can use dried beans if you prefer – but you’ll have to soak them overnight and then rinse before using – this way is faster!)
  • 1 small can chick peas (Garbanzo beans)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 pat of butter
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 chicken bouillon
  • 2 medium potatoes – cut into cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion – cut small
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove crushed and diced
  • 2 small or 1 large chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup fresh green collards -chopped
  • 1 ham hock – scored
  • ¼ cup roasted pork or smoky ham – shredded or cubed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 bay leaf

In a large soup pot – heat teaspoon of olive oil and add chorizo and brown for about 5 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels. Chorizo is very oily – and I don’t like a lot of excess oil in the soup – but you do want the flavor of the sausage when browning your other ingredients- so take a quick swipe of the pan bottom with paper towels – just to remove the excess oil – then add in your garlic and onions – and stir until translucent.  Next, add a pat of butter and your potatoes and toss your potatoes well for about 4-5 minutes. Next add your broth, wine, beans, chick peas, collards, ham hock, pork or ham and can of tomatoes.  Season well with salt & pepper, add teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika and bay leaf.   Bring your brew to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer about an hour until potatoes are tender.  Great served in bread bowls –or at least with a big, warm, crusty loaf of Cuban bread —  add a smattering of shaved parmesan on top if you like.  Enjoy!

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  • 1 pound large peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray

In a small saucepan, simmer apricot preserves, ginger and ¼ teaspoon salt over low-medium heat 2-4 minutes until melted.  Lightly coat baking sheet with cooking spray, drizzle with ½ apricot sauce – broil until browned in spots and opaque throughout about 5 minutes.  Serve with remaining sauce.

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