Tag Archives: Basil

Feta-Basil Pesto

Feta-Basil Pesto

No doubt about it once you try this feta-basil pesto you will be hook! The creamy, French sheep’s milk feta pushes this pesto into a whole new arena! Combined with the fresh, floral basil leaves, Italian Reggiano Parmeggiano, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are a creation that’s just born to go together! Done in mere minutes in a food processor there’s no excuse not to make this delectable sauce bursting with flavor every chance you get!

Making fresh feta-basil pesto can’t be any easier then the convenience of your food processor! There’s no need whatsoever lugging out the ole mortar and pestle making a huge project out of something that literally take’s 2 minutes to make. No cooking, no baking, no washing, NO FUSS, just load up the food processor and pulse. Voilà, you have a gourmet sauce that turns around any dish you add it to into gourmet.

One of the appetizer’s I like to make with feta-basil pesto are Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted tomatoes. Let’s not forget to try the feta-basil pesto on seared Scallops, Swordfish or even Sweet Potato Fries! And then there’s the obvious, top EASY PEASY pasta or Zucchini spaghetti with the feta-basil pesto and you feel like a king. Any way you look at it this feta-basil pesto is a no brainer, a win-win situation! So get on it! lol … xoxo

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sheep’s milk feta cheese – from local cheese shop if you can! It’s the star of the show!
  • 2 packed cups – fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 packed Reggiano Parmasan – freshly grated if you can
  • 1 extra lg OR 2 medium garlic cloves put thru garlic press
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of your fav hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Place 2 packed cups of basil, 2 tbsp of olive oil, garlic thru garlic press, a sprinkle of s & p in food processor and pulse 6x
  2. Scrape down sides and add in Reggiano Parmesan and sheep’s milk feta and pulse 4x more
  3. Scrape down sides and add in a few dashes of hot sauce
  4. Drizzle in thru top opening of food processor 3 more tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and pulse 3x more …voila you have feta-basil pesto! It’s as easy as that! 🙂
  5. Add this feta-basil to Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella & Roasted Tomatoes for an appetizer that’s sure to turn heads!
  6. OR EASY PEASY …Add the feta-basil pesto to some sautéed shrimp and pasta! YUM!

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

When the aroma from your fresh garden tomato sauce smells exactly like a tomato plucked right out of your garden on a sultry summer day you know you have the right recipe! With all the beautiful weather we have had this summer everyone has an abundance of produce coming out of their garden’s. What a better way to dive right in and try your hand at making your very own tomato sauce. And when you taste how delicious the puréed tomatoes are as a raw sauce you may just stop right there. After that first taste of the raw tomato sauce there might not be any left over to go to the next simmering step!

I was very excited when some friend’s of mine, Becky and Mike, offered up a large bag of their fresh garden plum tomatoes. I knew I wanted to make fresh garden tomato sauce with them right off the bat. This is a bit nastalgic for me because it reminds me of when my mother used to make fresh garden tomato sauce for us when I was young.

It’s really an easy process of peeling, seeding and then puréeing the tomatoes with some sautéed onions and garlic. The more tomatoes you have the longer it well take but it’s so worth it. The fact that you can freeze the sauce for a later date makes it all worth while! What I love about making this fresh garden tomato sauce, other then the fact that it smells utterly amazing, is it’s just as delicious eating it raw as cooked. In fact, when I make this I can’t decide which I like better so I continue on to make both cause it’s so darn simple to do that once you are in the process.

Once you see how easy to make your own sauce it may become a new family staple for you. You just might get inspired to make it a family affair having everyone join in to make homemade gnocchi or zucchini pasta too. Don’t forget the gourmet Caesar salad and then of course there’s an amazing ricotta pie or go for the death by chocolate meringue pie!

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Ingredients:

  • 91 fresh garden tomatoes OR as many as you have
  • 1 tbsp sea salt, LESS if you have a smaller amount of plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 5 lg fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lg dried bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine – for the simmered sauce
  • 1 tsp finely ground Italian seasoning
  • 1 small Vadalia onion finely chopped
  • 4 extra lg OR 6 medium size garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine to de-glaze the sautéed onions and garlic

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil adding in 1 tbsp of salt
  2. Core the stem side of all your tomatoes
  3. Get a large bowl of ice water ready to put the tomatoes in after you blanch them
  4. Add plum tomatoes to boiling water, 25-30 at a time and blanch for 30-45 seconds, it’s totally fine if it goes past 45 seconds cause it’s going to take you a minute or two to scoop the tomatoes out
  5. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and submerse into the ice water
  6. Repeat until you have gone thru all your tomatoes
  7. Begin to remove the loosened skins from the tomatoes then placing into another bowl as you go
  8. Cut or tear tomatoes in half with your hands and remove most of the seeds putting pulp in one bowl and tomato flesh in another
  9. Spoon off any excess water that rises to the top of the bowl with all the tomato flesh
  10. Sauté chopped onion and garlic cloves til tranlucent
  11. De-glaze onions and garlic with 1/4 cup white wine
  12. Let the alcohol burn off and reduce slightly
  13. Begin to purée tomatoes and sauteed onions in the food processor in batches
  14. Add the puréed tomatoes/onions back into the large pan that you blanched the tomatoes in as you go along
  15. When done puréeing add salt and pepper to taste and voilà there is your raw sauce
  16. FOR RAW SAUCE: top pasta with raw sauce and sprinkle some fresh julienned basil, Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  17. FOR COOKED SAUCE: Put the pot of puréed tomatoes/onion back on the stove and add in the 5 extra lg fresh basil leaves, bay leaf, sugar, Italian spices, red wine and simmer for 1-2 hours…mangia mangia!!

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!

Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!

Hope you enjoy this secret meatball recipe show and remember he serve’s up 3 of these colossal meatballs in one “spaghetti and meatball” order from his restaurant! You might want to start with a few appetizer’s like my crab cakes, buffalo chicken dip, Mediterranean layered dip, spanakopita or my hummus!

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Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs – makes approx 10-12 Colossal Size…Can make them smaller to yield more meatballs!

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • 2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly  (1 lb. about 1  loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
  3. Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
  4. Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
  5. Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
  6. Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
  7. Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
  8. Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
  9. Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!

 

Best Braciole Ever!

Best Braciole Ever!

Making Braciole for dinner or the holidays is one of those authentic comfort foods that’s so delicious it could easily become a tradition for you and your family, even if you are not Italian. Some of you may be asking yourself what is braciole? Well, it’s thinly sliced flank steak that’s rolled up and stuffed with Reggiano Parmigiano, Asiago, and fresh herbs. The braciole is sautéed in olive oil and garlic cloves and then simmered in a tomato-basil sauce for a couple of hours until tender and juicy. And I tell you it’s even better when re-heated the next day!

The Italians aren’t the only ones who have come up with this fun and creative idea of rolling up and stuffing thinly sliced beef then simmering or braising in a gravy until tender. There’s a German dish that I absolutely love that’s just as flavorful as braciole called beef rouladen. German beef rouladen is made up of thinly sliced top or bottom round stuffed with mustard, onions, bacon and pickles, then sautéed and braised in the oven with veggies in a beef and wine gravy until tender. It’s serve with sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle or potatoes and ooh is that scrumptious too! That will have to be another show I will put together for you!

Now that I have you in the mood for some creativity in the kitchen …get to work! lol You will be very happy to expand that recipe repertoire of yours after making this wonderful Italian braciole for dinner. Make sure to serve up your sliced braciole with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta to give it that unexpected extra flavor and creaminess. I will get working on the German beef rouladen show for you:)

If you are going for the Italian theme you might as well treat yourself to some of my appetizer’s like baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, or crab cakes with a homemade remoulade sauce. Then you can really go for it with my SECRET manicotti recipe or homemade spaghetti that’s totally fun for the whole family and easy to make! Then end it all with some chocolate eclairs with the BEST vanilla custard you have ever had …enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb flank steak sliced horizontally into 3 layers
  • 1 cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 1 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp dried ground Italian seasonings
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce but simmered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup red wine or white (I actually prefer to deglaze here with red)
  • 1 lb rigatoni

Directions:

  • Start sautéing the veggies for the tomato-basil sauce and use the same pan for sautéing the braciole logs
  • Slice or have your butcher slice the 2 lb piece of flank steak into 3 horizontal layers
  • Then cut those pieces in half so you now have 6 semi-equal pieces
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp each of Reggiano and Asiago on each piece
  • Lay whole basil leaves or chop basil and parsley and sprinkle onto flank slices
  • Roll up starting at the small end
  • Cut approx 40″ of cotton string and tie a knot at one of the ends
  • Then keep wrapping string all around the length of the rolled up flank til you are at the other end
  • Now come back tucking under each row of string going across like shown in the video til you get to the end and tie off a knot with the original piece of string you started with
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil a large pan and a few large cloves of garlic kept whole for extra flavor and sauté 3 rolled up pieces of braciole at a time
  • Brown on all sides on medium/high heat about 3-4  minutes each side (remove the garlic coves when golden and smear on a baguette and dip into the tomato-basil sauce when you start to simmer with braciole…YUM!)
  • After browning the second batch of (3) braciole add back in the first 3 and de-glaze with red wine (I used white in the show but prefer to use red here)
  • Add in puréed tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • Take braciole rolls out and slice 3/8″-1/2″ thick
  • Serve with pasta (rigatoni) and a dollop of ricotta on top with a few slices of braciole and grated Reggiano…mangia, mangia.
  • PS- It’s even better re-heated the 2nd day! 🙂

 

Holiday Appetizer’s

Holiday Appetizer’s

iphone pictures 572The first holiday appetizer I have for you is my baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto that has a smear of a cream cheese, sweet onion and Parmesan spread on the Prosciutto. These Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus are one of my favorite appetizers and can be a topping to a salad or a pretty side vegetable to lunch or dinner. I first had these delicious little bundles at my sister-in-law’s, Anita’s house, twenty years ago.  She is an amazing chef who’s always cooking up a storm. They can totally be made a day ahead, placed on a cookie tray and stored in the frig until you need them. The asparagus is blanched and shocked in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to keep that vibrant green color before they are wrapped with Proscuitto. You want to make sure you buy “Proscuitto di Parma” for this holiday appetizer because it’s the best and most delicate in flavor.  There are other tasty Prosciutto’s out there but they won’t be as tender as the Parma and may get too salty or waxy after baking.

The second quick and easy, gourmet tidbit i have for you are my holiday crostinis with Gorgonzola, fresh chopped tomato, basil and garlic that bakes for seven minutes. These take the same amount of time as the asparagus-Prosciutto appetizer’s. How convenient is that? You can buy already crumbled Gorgonzola at the market in small plastic containers. A little chopping of cherry or grape tomatoes and basil and voilà! The crostinis are beyond simple to make and you can check out that recipe by the hyper-link.

The last wicked easy and delicious holiday appetizer I have for you is something a little sweet. It’s a dollop of goat cheese, fig jam, fresh chopped pear and a mint leave all in a pre-baked fillo shell. Yes, I said pre-baked!!! Can you believe that one? This one you serve at room temperature so all you need to do is thaw the pre-baked shells which takes all of two minutes. It just can’t get any easier than that.

You can totally be flexible with these perfect little holiday appetizer’s too. If you don’t like Gorgonzola switch it out with some cubed up fresh mozzarella to top the crostinis and tomato-basil mixture. As for the pre-baked phylo cups, you can always swap out the goat cheese for a slice of brie if that’s more your taste.

I hope these last minute holiday appetizer’s help you out for your party! I wish you all a joyous New Year! You can certainly swap out or add in other hors d’ oeurves if you are feeling ambitious like baked coconut shrimp, zucchini torta, roasted chick peas, or smoked salmon on crostinis with cream cheese-caper spread. Enjoy 😉

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Baked Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

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Ingredients:

  • 20 large asparagus (the bigger the better)
  • 1/4 lb Prosciutto di Parma sliced thinly
  • 4 oz cream cheese room temp (Philadelphia)
  • 1 Tbsp grated vidalia onion (yellow or white is fine too)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
  2. Hold the asparagus with your fingers in the middle and on the end and bend.
  3. The asparagus will break where it’s supposed to.
  4. Line them up and cut evenly across the bottom so they are all at a consistent length.
  5. Bring salted water to a boil and add in asparagus …Blanch 2 minutes
  6. Drain and put into a ice bath.
  7. Dry the asparagus with paper towels.
  8. At this point you can pop them into a zip lock and into the frig until you are ready for them.
  9. Mix together in a small bowl the room temperature cream cheese, grated onion, Parmesan and lemon juice just til combined
  10. Take a piece of Prosciutto and smear 1 Tbsp of the cream cheese mixture down the length of it.
  11. Place the asparagus on a bit of a diagonal (see photo) and roll up.
  12. Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes – you are heating thru only
  13. Use a spatula to remove from pan and be sure to flip them over when you plate them to see the lovely caramelization on the under side.
  14. Optional: Drizzle a little olive oil, a fresh squeeze of lemon and some shaves of Parmesan on top for a little extra!

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 TIP:  Using a micro-plane grater or rasp to grate the onion is a wonderful culinary tool which actually started out back in the day as a wood planer for woodworkers!

 

 

Baked Crostinis with Gorgonzola, Fresh Tomato, Basil & Garlic

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 Ingredients:

  • 1 french baguette sliced into 20 – 1/4″ pieces
  • Crostini Recipe
  • 1 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh julienne basil
  • 1 garlic clove put thru garlic press
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 1 small container crumbled Gorgonzola cheese 4 oz. OR diced up fresh Mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Top crostini with tomato-basil mixture and a tsp of crumbled Gorgonzola OR Mozzarella
  3. Bake for 7 minutes

Goat Cheese, Fig Jam, Fresh Pear and Mint in Pre-Baked Fillo Cups

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pkg of pre-baked fillo cups (if you can’t find these just buy pre-formed pastry cups that you can quickly bake)
  • 2 oz. goat cheese OR wedge of your favorite dbl cream brie…Saint Albray for example
  • fig jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped pear
  • Wedge of fresh lemon
  • fresh peppermint leaves

Directions:

  1. Chopped the pear and give a squeeze of a wedge of lemon
  2. Thaw the pre-baked fillo cups
  3. Place fresh mint leaf into cups
  4. Place a dollop of goat cheese or slice of brie into the cup
  5. Top with 1/2 tsp of fig jam
  6. Then top with diced fresh pear
  7. Serve room temperature

 

Zucchini Spaghetti at Jaynee’s

Zucchini Spaghetti at Jaynee’s

Wow! Zucchini spaghetti…who would have ever thought? A gluten free dish full of nutrients that taste’s amazing and looks as gorgeous as does is the perfect path to healthy eating! Bringing you this zucchini spaghetti simmering with tomato, basil and red wine at Jaynee’s has inspired me to put together future recipes and shows like this one.

Jaynee and I cook the zucchini spaghetti in this recipe so that it’s al dente. For those of you who might not know what Al dente means it’s an Italian term meaning to have some tooth or bite to it where the texture isn’t too soft. This is kind of ironic because that’s exactly how I like to cook my wheat pasta. I can’t think of anything worse than pasta that is fully cooked to a soft texture.

It is really exciting all the different things you can do with these creative veggie noodles! From Thai themes where raw zucchini noodles are dressed with a citrus dressing made from puréed mangoes, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and avocado’s to tahini sauce puréed with green onions, coconut meat, ginger and fresh lemons. Not only are these dressings packed with anti-oxidants and exotic flavors but the citrus partially cooks the zucchini getting results similar to ceviche. The citrus actually softens the texture of the vegetable giving you a softer mouth feel crunch rather than a harsh raw bite.

It couldn’t get any easier to make these spiral veggie noodles with the new-fangled devices available out there. I purchased my Spiralizer at William Sonoma Outlet in Westbrook on a 30% off sale with an additional 20% off if I gave them my email. Can’t go wrong there. Here is the Spiralizer Amazon link offering a great deal too! Can’t wait for you to venture off into veggie noodle land. You will be amazed how fun and delicious it is to make this recipe. Hope you enjoy the show and keep a look out for future veggie noodle recipes 🙂

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Ingredients: Need “Spiralizer” or similar to make zucchini spaghetti

  • 4 med/lg zucchini
  • 1 small vadalia (sweet) onion chopped
  • OPTIONAL: 2 finely chopped garlic cloves – If you love garlic as I do
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes flavored with onion, garlic, celery and or green peppers OR your favorite can of peeled tomatoes in your cabinet (just need to add in 1/4 cup chopped peppers in addition to the onion/garlic above – chop up the whole peeled tomatoes as well to add in after you sauté veggies)
  • NOTE: If you use “whole peeled” tomatoes DO NOT use the juice too, tomatoes only, because the zucchini renders out a lot of water all on its own.
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsn olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • S & P to taste
  • OPTIONAL: 1 small container of fresh ricotta to garnish at the end with the Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Spiralize all 4 zucchini and place in a lg bowl
  2. Add chopped onion to 3 tbsp olive oil in a large fry pan on medium heat
  3. Sauté for 5 minutes til soft
  4. Add in Spiralized zucchini with 1/2 tsp salt and sauté 5 minutes on med/high heat- Make sure to stir a couple of times to help it from not sticking.  Sautéing on med/high will help to evaporate some of that liquid rendering out of the zucchini while sautéing– (If you saute on low it will just simmer in all the water, you will then have to drain a little of the water out of the pan)
  5. Add in tomatoes, red wine, s & p to taste and simmer 5 more minutes
  6. Plate up and top with your favorite grated Parmesan cheese
  7. OPTIONAL: Top with dollops of fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan

Homemade Turkey Meatballs Recipe/VIDEO

Homemade Turkey Meatballs Recipe/VIDEO

OK, I know you are probably saying “where’s the beef” but just give these light and flavorful turkey meatballs a chance. They are meaty, garlicky, cheesy, moist and melt in your mouth after simmering in my tomato-basil pasta sauce for 2 hrs. Wait until you try these gourmet turkey meatballs in tomato basil sauce on a crusty sub that’s baked with oozing mozzarella and a julienne of fresh basil …do I have your attention now? That’s what I’m talking about  🙂

Good ole meatball subs are just one of those all american comfort foods that I have always adored. Although, I think the word “sub” referring to a “sandwich” is represented differently through parts of the US. It threw me a little when I first moved to California because when I would asked for a “sub” they had no idea what I was talking about because they use the term “hoagie” there. Another little play on words which would totally crack me up when I living in California was asking for the location of their nearest package store and they would send me to a mailing facility!

Anyhow, I am excited for you to make these homemade turkey meatballs because even though they are made exactly like my 100% Angus meatballs these aren’t as heavy.  I have been substituting out a lot of ground beef for turkey and it’s has really given me a new lease on cooking, a new avenue so to speak on the whole meat situation. To enjoy a meaty meal with the same herbs and spices but making it a lighter meal in the end.

I actually started making my lasagna with ground turkey instead of ground beef and it’s amazing! Once again using the turkey makes the lasagna a lighter dish then if it were made with beef. I brown the ground turkey and de-glaze it twice with a nice Cab (Cabernet) and by the time I’m done the color even looks like beef lol. My very picky daughter Bella, who loves my lasagna didn’t even know I had switched some time ago to turkey until I recently told her. She loves the taste of the lasagna so much that she’s totally OK with this…I call that a home run!

desEnjoy watching my “how to ” video on making these homemade gourmet turkey meatballs in an Italian meatball sub. And if you need something sweet and refreshing, easy to make and out of this world check out my Pavlova recipe!

 

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INGREDIENTS for Homemade Turkey Meatballs In An Italian Meatball Sub – (Makes 21 Small Meatballs):

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 extra-large egg (rule of thumb …1 egg per 1 lb. of meat)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup after soaked in milk – (1/2 loaf of 2 day old Italian bread soaked in 1 cup milk)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lg. garlic clove put thru garlic press
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 recipe Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 10 oz part skim mozzarella
  • fresh baguettes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425º
  2. Break up a 1/2 loaf of 2 day old Italian bread and place into a large bowl as shown in photo
  3. Pour 1 cup milk over bread and let it absorb for 10 minutes
  4. Wash, spin, dry and finely chop parsley, set aside
  5. Discard outer crusts from soaking Italian bread
  6. Begin to break soaking bread pieces apart with your fingers…if you feel any gooey pieces throw those away (if it sat out for a couple of days it won’t get gooey)…the bread should just fall apart easily
  7. Take 1/2-3/4’s cup of this soaking bread and add to a large mixing bowl
  8. NOTE: with turkey being as moist as it is you should squeeze a little more of the milk out (you don’t do this with beef because it’s drier)
  9. To this bowl add in Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic clove thru garlic press, salt and pepper and 1 egg
  10. Whisk til just combined
  11. Add in 1 lb. of ground turkey and begin to mix gently with your hands…DON’T over work the meatballs you don’t want it to look fully combined like a meatloaf
  12. Using a cookie scooper begin to shape and roll mixture with your hands – they will be small about 1 1/2″…have a small bowl of water to the side to keep hands damp not wet (this makes it easier to rolls meatballs)
  13. Spray cookie tray with Pam canola oil and give a drizzle of olive oil for flavor
  14. Place 21 shaped meatballs onto the cookie tray and spray the tops of the meatballs
  15. Place them into the oven for 17 minutes
  16. Take out the turkey meatballs and set aside in a bowl, meanwhile add 1/2 cup red wine the cookie sheet (as long as the cookie sheet has 1″ sides) and scrape browned left over turkey meatball bits and pour this along with meatballs into tomato basil sauce
  17. Add turkey meatballs and wine with bits to my Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hrs.
  18. Spoon tomato sauce onto baguette(s), then add turkey meatballs and top with mozzarella
  19. Bake in a 400º oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, then add a julienne of fresh basil and slice up for several servings or keep whole…good luck and make sure to have plenty of napkins!
  20. Mangia mangia 🙂

 

Pesto Garlic Bread

Pesto Garlic Bread

This is a great alternative to plain ole garlic bread. You do need to make my pesto recipe and the pesto butter log and then it’s a breeze from there. This pesto bread is very aromatic so it’s a good thing to pop into the oven when guests are over…it will drive them crazy. I really like to have this bread with soups, or leafy greens that you can dunk the bread in or top it with like my bok choy and cannellini beans, or a side to mama Maria’s secret manicotti’s, or a slow cooked pasta sauce 101 dish.

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375º
  2. Slice the the sourdough baguette in half length wise and then half again as shown in photo to better fit on the cookie tray
  3. Slice off 8 1/4″ slices of the pesto butter log
  4. Add 2 Tbsp soften butter to the 8 slices and just soften in microwave (a few seconds) BE CAREFUL not to over cook it you just want the pesto mixture spreadable for the baguette
  5. Add in 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan and mix
  6. Spread onto the sliced baguette halves
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes til slightly golden on the edges
  8. Take out of oven, slice and mangia!

 

Pasta Sauce 101

Pasta Sauce 101

Pasta sauce is such an essential part of any kitchen that I want to share with you my basic pasta sauce that I use for so many things. What I don’t use right away I freeze in small pint-like containers for futures uses. A basic slow cooked pasta sauce can be used for virtually anything from plain pasta’s to lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, vodka sauce, sausage and peppers, curry sauces and the list goes on.

When making an authentic slow cooked pasta sauce it’s important that one of the base layers of flavors come from some kind of meat like sausages, pork chops, meatballs or braciole, thin cut flank steaks rolled and stuffed with herbs and parmesan and then sauteed like the sausages.  This method is something my family has been doing for generations. I happen to love the homemade fennel sausages from Liuzzi Cheese, an Italian delicatessen located in North Haven, CT. If you haven’t been there yet you really should check it out especially for their homemade cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, and my favorite scamorza. Scamorza is an Italian cow’s milk cheese similar to mozzarella but dryer and a little saltier with better melting qualities…my kids love it! Liuzzi also has homemade pasta’s and their own delicious line of canned tomatoes and olive oils.

One of the best things about making this sauce is that your kitchen will smell amazing all day long. It would be wise to keep a crusty loaf of Italian or sourdough bread for dunking every now and then…you know, just to check and make sure every thing is going well! An appetizer dish that goes great with pasta and sauce is zucchini torta, baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, baked coconut shrimp,wrapped, smoked salmon with cream cheese-caper spread on crostinis, clam puffs, or how about a  roasted beet salad with mint and feta, or a refreshing fennel and citrus salad with tangerine dressing. Then there always dessert to plan for like a fresh fruit pavlova, or chocolate-avocado mousse.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. fennel sausage (your favorite) my favorite is Liuzzi in North Haven, CT
  • 5 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 lg. garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tsp Italian seasonings (ground in spice grinder)
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 3 slices pesto butter log or handful of fresh basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Slice up the sausage links into 3″ pieces
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with a large knife to release the cloves from it’s wrapper
  3. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil and 6 smashed garlic cloves to a large pan (this will be your sauce pan)
  4. Put the heat on low and sauté garlic til lightly golden … This will take about 7-10 minutes
  5. When the garlic is slightly golden remove from pan and set aside
  6. Add in sliced sausage links to the same sauce pan and turn heat up to medium/high
  7. Sauté sausage links turning every 5 minutes or so until they become golden on all sides…this will take about 20-30 minutes
  8. Put the 1/2 of the whole peeled tomatoes into a food processor (this will take 2 rounds with this large can) and then add the golden sauteed garlic cloves
  9. Puree for 40 seconds and add to the sautéed sausages
  10. Add the rest of the whole peeled tomatoes and puree for another 40 seconds and again add to the pot of sauce
  11. Add in the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes to the sauce pan (no need to purée these) and the cup of red wine
  12. Add in all the spices and turn heat to medium to bring to a simmer
  13. Cover the pan, leaving a little opening at the edge to let condensation escape during the cooking process
  14. Turn down right away to low heat and keep a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours
  15. When you take the pan cover off to check on sauce be sure to NOT let all this condensation drip back into the sauce from the inside of the lid
  16. Stir every 45 minutes or so to make sure bottom isn’t burning
  17. Towards the end oil will accumulate from the sausages on the top layer of the sauce so just skim this off with a spoon
  18. Serve and take off stove to let cool
  19. Put into frig or into container for the freezer


Pesto Butter Log

Pesto Butter Log

Even though they have been far and few in between having those few warm days has inspired me to bring out one of my spring recipes for fresh basil pesto butter logs which I love because it’s so versatile. Really simple to do and when you combine the pesto and butter to form the log you keep it in the freezer like the Challah bread croutons taking the pesto butter log out to slice off what you need and then back into the freezer. How easy is that? Try a slice of pesto butter on grilled filet mignon served on a bed of perfectly mashed potatoes and red onion, sautéed chicken breast and spinach, on a piece of Sea bass  or put a slice of pesto butter inside a turkey or beef burger when you are forming the patty. Cook it on the grill or stove top and when you bite into it lovely garlicky pesto oozes out! Another creative thing to do when you are cooking pasta sauce and you want to add in some basil flavor just throw in a slice from your pesto butter log!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of a quality butter – room temperature
  • 1 recipe of pesto

Directions:

  1. Make a fresh batch of pesto and combine it with room temperature butter using a spatula
  2. Tear off a large piece of saran wrap and place down going horizontally on a cutting board that will fit in the freezer
  3. Scoop out the combined pesto-butter mixture and place in a 2″ wide line going down the center of the saran wrap… it should be about 12″ long log
  4. Pull up both sides of the saran wrap and this will help round the mound
  5. Fold over the 2 pieces of saran going in the same direction so there isn’t any air in it and begin to roll the pesto log
  6. Pinch the ends, twist and roll again to get a good roll log shape …still holding on to the pinched ends
  7.  Place the newly formed log on the cutting board and pop it into the freezer til frozen about 1 1/2 hrs – 2 hrs.
  8. Once the log is frozen you can remove the cutting board and place the log into a Ziploc baggy and back into the freezer
  9. Slice off 1/4″ slices when ever you need and pop the log back into the freezer to keep