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CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

 

 

 

 

Back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour this past Thursday morning!  I feel so fortunate to be working with such a wonderful group of people at WTNH Channel 8 who make it so fun to share The Traveling Epicurean recipes with all of you.

My goal for this segment was to show you a couple of creative and really delicious ideas for all your summertime produce. Panzanella and Berries in Dreamy Cream came to mind.

One of the wonderful things about making these dishes is the abundance and variety you have to choose from at the farmers markets in the summer. The incredible flavors in this Panzanella recipe go without saying. All the aroma’s from the fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme & oregano to the fresh vegetables like the heirloom tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red onions really get you salavating. The creaminess from the fresh mozzarella and the crunchy from the homemade croutons balance it all out.

As for the Berries in Dreamy Cream, you can whip this one up in a matter of minutes as well. I’ve been making this sauce for over 20 years and always get the same delightful response from guests after their first bite. You would never think that melting Fluff and cream cheese together could make such a delectable sauce on fresh berries. It’s a sensation you have to treat your self to and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For other scrumptious, easy go to summertime dishes you’ve got to check out my Salsa 101, Best Guacamole Ever, Zucchini Spaghetti,  Fresh Grarden Tomato Sauce or Roasted Garlic & Cannelini Bean Dip ! ENJOY!

Best Shrimp Scampi!

Best Shrimp Scampi!

shrimpyShrimp scampi is one of those delicious dishes that’s sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face just on aroma’s alone! Shrimp sautéed in olive oil and butter with lots of garlic, shallots, clam broth, and white wine topped with fresh lemon juice, parsley and Parmesan make’s for a grand party atop a pile of linguine!

This quickie gourmet sauce I have created for you in this shrimp scampi dish is a light sauce, yet packed with flavor. The way we do this is by concentrating the juice’s released from those sautéed shrimp along with a couple of bottles of clam stock simmering for a brief seven minutes. The traditional and time consuming way to create this lovely stock would be to simmer the shrimp shells in white wine for a while like you would for a lobster bisque stock. The objective here was to take a short cut to accommodate our busy every day lives without foregoing taste by using bottled clam stock. Voilà, you have an amazing flavor base for our shrimp scampi with linguine in seven minutes.

One of my favorite way’s to serve the shrimp scampi with linguine is by offering up a Parmesan with red pepper flake’s mixed right into it. It’s nice to offer two small dishes of Parmesan, one with the pepper flakes and one without. By adding the red pepper flakes to the grated cheese guests are less likely to accidentally sprinkle on too much because it’s dispersed throughout the cheese.

You might want to try some homemade pasta to go with this wonderful shrimp scampi or even a Caesar Salad.  Some chocolate crackle cookies would be great for dessert or homemade chocolate eclairs with an incredibly easy and luscious vanilla filling. Then again there those drunk blondie bars with the bourbon caramel sauce that are to die for! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients for Shrimp Scampi with Linguine – 6-10 People:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of peeled & deveined large shrimp (ask for a certain number of shrimp …2-5 per person depending on what other side dishes you are serving)
  • 2 bottle of Snows clam broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine – pinot grigio
  • 4 lg garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 2 lg garlic clove smashed
  • 1/4  cup finely chopped FRESH FLAT LEAF Italian parsley
  • 5 Tbsp salted butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb pasta – linguine or linguine fini
  • 2 lemons
  • Reggiano Parmesano
  • Red pepper flakes -OPTIONAL
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp
  2. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil
  3. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter and 2 lg crushed garlic cloves to large sauté pan over med/high heat
  4. When the pan is hot add in the shrimp
  5. Saute for 2 1/2 minutes per side
  6. Remove shrimp and garlic – set aside
  7. Add in 1 tbsp olive oil, finely chopped garlic and shallots into the same pan and saute til soft (lightly golden) for about 2-3 minutes
  8. Then pour in both cans of clam juice with the garlic and shallots
  9. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn down to a low simmer for 7 minutes
  10. Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook until aldente (don’t over cook!)
  11. Let pan with the clam broth/garlic simmer and reduce by 1/3
  12. Add shrimp back into reduced clam broth/garlic
  13. Add in juice from 1 whole lemon and 3 tbsp of chopped parsley to shrimp scampi
  14. Add in salt and pepper here to taste
  15. Simmer on LOW for 2 more minutes
  16. Drain pasta and pour out pasta into a large serving platter or bowl
  17. Add in 4 tbsp of butter to pasta and toss, add in salt and pepper to taste …taste the pasta and make sure the pasta is PROPERLY seasoned at this point
  18. Pour the shrimp scampi mixture over the pasta
  19. Sprinkle with more fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese and serve…YUM!
  20. NOTE: Make sure that each person gets some of that tasty broth in their dish

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! 🙂

 

Spanakopita at Dana’s

Spanakopita at Dana’s

When you bite into the buttery, flaky pastry layers with the creamy sheep’s milk feta and ricotta-spinach filling you’ll agree that Spanakopita, a classic Greek dish, is so worth the effort. We neatly fold this delicate pastry dough, with a tablespoon of this amazing spinach mixture, into triangles for the perfect little appetizer shape that just melts in your mouth. The #4 fillo pastry dough becomes this delicate shell making for an elegant nibble.

This recipe came from my good friend, Dana, who happens to be a wonderful chef. In fact, Dana and her husband are opening up a restaurant in early spring at The Goodwin Golf Course called Birdie Cafe. Dana is half Greek and half Italian so this was family tradition for her growing up making these with her mother. My great grandmother was born in Crete making me one eighth Greek. So with a hint of Greek lineage in my blood I’m thinking that’s what drives my palate towards these Mediterranean flavors that I adore so much.

Spending the day in Dana’s kitchen with our other college friend, Lynn, making these spanakopita was ideal considering we were having so much fun it didn’t seem like work at all. We didn’t even realize how much we were accomplishing. Lynn, who manage’s Sam The Clam Pub & Grub in Southington, CT introduced us to a Greek Mojito with Metaxa, a Greek liquer, that was very delicious.

The fact that you can easily make these spanakopita triangles ahead of time which freeze so nicely for future dates is ideal for parties. So start making this spanakopita now for your Super Bowl get together! Invite over a few friends to make the spanakopita and the task goes really quickly and it’s a lot of fun. Add in our Greek Metaxa Mojito’s and I think you have yourself a pre-party to the party just like the one at Dana’s.

To cut down on the time and effort and not forgo making this delectable dish you could make one big tray of the spanakopita. In a 9 x 13 x 3 (or similar size) baking dish lay down 9 full sheets of phyllo pastry dough brushing in between each layer with butter of course. Next, lay in the entire bowl of spinach filling, then 9 more buttered layers of phyllo with a finishing buttered coating right on the top. If you are baking this one tray be sure to refrigerate the the spanakopita for twenty minutes before baking it. This will firm up the pastry dough so you can run a knife through the top layers of dough cutting in only about 1/4″ to give you pre-cut lines in the serving sizes you’ll want. It makes cutting the spanakopita much easier after it comes out of the oven. Of course, a tray this size will need to bake for about 55-60 on 350º instead of the 20 minutes the triangles take. The phyllo pastry dough is very forgiving. If your sheets are larger then the pan giving you extra dough on the sides when lining the baking dish just fold them over. You won’t notice that the sides may be folded over after it’s baked because it will be all flaky and puffed anyways and still taste incredible.

You may want to serve up some other appetizers like Prosciutto wrapped asparagus, a caesar salad with the spanakopita, turkey stuffed peppers are one of my very favorite or maybe something light like an Asian noodle & shrimp salad only to end with Pavlova or chocolate avocado mousse! To make a similar dressing to the one Dana makes in the show check out my amazing TANGERINE DRESSING here!

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INGREDIENTS FOR Spanakopita – will make approx. 30 spankopita triangles :

  • 1 pkg. #4 Phyllo Pastry dough or Fillo pastry dough put into frig over night if frozen
  • 1 cup (1 pkg) thawed and fully drained (squeezed) frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese
  • 1 lb. melted butter
  • 3 scallions finely chopped white and green parts OR 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS FOR Spanakopita:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Take Phyllo dough out of the frig to bring to room temperature but still in the box
  3. Drain and squeeze ALL the water from chopped thawed spinach
  4. In a large bowl add 2 cup ricotta, 1 cup drained spinach, 1 cup sheep’s feta, scallions or shallots, parsley, dill, nutmeg and pepper – stir gently to mix and set aside
  5. Unroll Phyllo on counter top
  6. Cut the 15″ long pastry dough with a sharp knife into 3 3/4″ pieces getting 4 across
  7. Start to lay out the strips 4 across a work surface – always keep a layer of saran wrap and a damp dish towel on top of the layers you’re not using
  8. Brush thin coat of butter in between each layer til you have 3 layers down in each of the 4 rows
  9. Put 1 tbsp of ricotta-spinach mixture in the right bottom corner of the phyllo sheet – you can use a sm. cookie dough scoop to help keep the tbsp all the same size – this will help you to move along quicker
  10. Fold right corner over so the bottom edge lines up with the left side, like you are folding a flag
  11. Continue on up until you are at the top and used up all the pastry dough – brush a little butter on the last fold to seal it
  12. Put filled phyllo triangles onto a baking tray about 9 per tray
  13. Bake each tray of spanakopita triangles for 20 minutes on 350º until golden
  14. Be sure to let the spsankopita cool a little – the filling will be hot 🙂
  15. You may have 1/2-3/4 cup of filling leftovers so freeze it, roll up in pounded-out chicken breasts, stuff bone-in chicken breasts under the skin with the filling and bake or just buy extra phyllo…enjoy 🙂

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INGREDIENTS for the METAXA MOJITO’S:

  • 1 cup Metaxa Greek Liquer
  • 1 1/2 cups soda water
  • 1 fresh lime cut into wedges
  • 1 fresh lemon juiced = 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 mint leaves or basil leaves

DIRECTIONS for making the Metaxa Mojito’s:

  1. Mint leaves muddled with fresh lime wedges and light brown sugar in a glass cocktail mixer
  2. Add fresh lemon juice, Metaxa, soda water and ice, shake and serve with mint or basil garnish…enjoy 🙂

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 🙂

 

Arancini Reuben Balls

Arancini Reuben Balls

My homemade Arancini Reuben Balls are absolutely gourmet. Arancini balls, also called risotto balls, are an Italian appetizer made with left over risotto, stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto, then breaded and deep fried! Oh boy, they are out of this world. They are crispy on the outside, and creamy and cheesy on the the inside. You can eat them plain or serve them with a tomato sauce.

My homemade Arancini Reuben Balls are made with risotto, diced corned beef, Swiss cheese, cream cheese and sautéed jalapeño’s to incorporate that “popper” flavor! I serve them with my gourmet thousand island dressing which I make with Greek yogurt and a creamy horseradish to compliment the corned beef. The flavors of the risotto balls paired up with the thousand island dressing are outstanding!

Do you remember having poppers? You know, those deep fried jalapeno’s stuffed with cream cheese? Wow, I used to love those little morsels and I haven’t had them in ages so that’s why I thought it would be fun to put a twist on my Risotto Reuben Balls. It was a great idea too because the cream cheese lightens up the risotto balls and the jalapeno’s give it that something extra special!

You’ll be so happy when you make these homemade gourmet Arancini Reuben Balls with your left over St. Patrick’s Day corned beef. They freeze up really well too which will make for a nice little treat at a later date although I highly doubt you’ll have any left behind.

My thousand island dressing is fantastic as a dip for my baked sweet potato fries too. You might want some other appetizer’s to go along with the Risotto Reuben Balls like my crab cakes, or bloody Mary shrimp. You could even serve them as an appetizer to a homemade pasta dinner served with a Caesar Salad and some chocolate pecan pie for dessert! Hope you enjoy the show 🙂

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Risotto Ingredients and Directions – Total time to make approx. 30 minutes: (I halved my recipe specifically for the Arancini Reuben Balls but I usually make full (dbl) this amount) 

  • 1 cup Arborio Rice
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth – homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 cup grated Reggiano Parmesano

Directions: 

  1. In small pot heat 4 cups chicken stock til simmering
  2. melt 1 tbsp butter in different medium size pot 
  3. add onion to medium size pot and sauté on low til soft and translucent. 
  4. Turn up heat to med. and add in 1 cup Arborio rice and saute til the rice looks chalky while stirring all along
  5. Pour in 1/3 cup white wine, keep stirring and when wine is absorbed begin to add in 4 cups of the simmering chicken stock ONLY 1/2 cup at a time-it will be approx 4 minutes for each addition 
  6. ONLY add in chicken stock when previously addition is completely absorbed while STIRRING all the time
  7. Stir in 1 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Reggiano Parmesano after the last of the chicken stock is absorbed, then let cool to make Arancini Reuben Balls.

Ingredients- Makes 20 – 1 1/2″ Arancini Balls:

  • 1 1/4 cup diced into 1/4″ pieces of corned beef
  • 2 cups cooked risotto (see below for recipe my recipe for risotto)
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated and packed Jarlsberg swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated and packed mozzarella cheese
  • 2 jalapeno’s finely diced and sauteed just til barely softened 2 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions for Arancini Reuben Balls:

  1. Put all of the above ingredients into a large bowl and stir with spatula til mixed
  2. Use cookie scoop and from balls, roll in hands after scooping to get nice and round
  3. Whisk eggs in a med. bowl
  4. Add bread crumbs to another and begin the dip formed risotto balls into egg and them into bread crumbs and place on dish
  5. Put breaded risotto Reuben balls in frig for 20-30 minutes
  6. When the Reuben balls are chilled heat 1/2″ vegetable oil in medium size pan and begin to heat on low for 5 minutes and then turn up to med/high to 350º
  7. Add in Arancini Reuben Balls in 2 batches into hot oil
  8. Fry for about 2 minutes and then turn over for another 2 minutes til golden
  9. Remove to cookie rack covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil
  10. Plate up Arancini Reuben Balls with my homemade gourmet thousand island recipe below 🙂

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This Thousand Island Dressing is great on Reuben Wraps also

INGREDIENTS FOR THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING:

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I ONLY use Helman’s)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 Heaping tbsp finely chopped cornichons
  • 1 Heaping tbsp sweet relish
  • 1 Hesping tbsp grated sweet onion
  • 1 Heaping tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp creamy horseradish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 2 dashes of Siracha

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk til combined

 

Homemade Italian Meatballs

Homemade Italian Meatballs

Got to love homemade authentic Italian meatballs! No matter how you look at it spaghetti and homemade meatballs is an all time American favorite. Not that I wouldn’t have eventually gotten to one of my meatball recipes but I am dedicating this recipe today to my good friend Laura who has requested a recipe for homemade meatballs…hope you like these Laura!

I have many different ways to mix up the meat percentages using varying cuts like beef, veal, pork or beef and pork, or just turkey when I am trying to cut back on beef. This recipe is your basic 100 percent beef meatball, inspired by the way my mother use to make them with a 2 day old loaf of good Italian bread instead of using processed bread crumbs.

I used to stand by the stove frying the meatballs in olive oil but these days who really has the time? So I have come to the conclusion that they taste exactly same baked in the oven at a high temperature…saving lots of labor and time. I suggest you try my pasta sauce 101 while making these homemade meatballs because granted the meatballs are wonderful right out of the oven fresh baked without any sauce but it goes to a new level when you simmer them in the sauce for a good hour or 2. And don’t forget to have that crusty loaf of sourdough bread for dunking or my pesto garlic bread, and if you are really serious you might attempt my mothers Maria’s manicotti’s the next day. Some sides or appetizers to go with the spaghetti and meatballs might be a zucchini torta, bacon wrapped scallops, or baked coconut shrimp…enjoy!

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Ingredients – Makes 21 Small Meatballs:

  • 1 lb. Angus beef
  • 1 large egg (rule of thumb …1 egg per 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)
  • 1/2 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

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 cup of this soaking bread and add to a large mixing bowl
  8. To this bowl add in Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic clove thru garlic press, salt and pepper and 1 egg
  9. Whisk til just combined
  10. Add in 1 lb. of Angus beef 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
  11. 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)
  12. Spray cookie tray with Pam canola oil
  13. Place 21 shaped meatballs onto the cookie tray and spray the tops of the meatballs
  14. Place them into the oven for 17 minutes…mangia mangia : )

 

Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s

Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s

These baked spinach wrapped Reuben’s from St. Patrick’s Day leftovers just melt in your mouth. They are zesty, creamy and tangy made with thousand island dressing  & horseradish, melted Swiss cheese, thinly slice tomatoes and drained sauerkraut. They almost make you want to skip the bland corned beef and cabbage and call it a wrap! In this version of my thousand island dressing I add in prepared horseradish which compliments the corned beef so well, and I substitute 1/2 the mayo for Greek yogurt.  It’s quite good, in fact it would be a great addition to a turkey, roast beef or fish sandwich and it will keep nicely in the frig for several days. These baked spinach wrapped Reuben’s would be delicious with my baked Yukon potato fries and zucchini torta!

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Ingredients for Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish:
(makes 1 3/4 cup of sauce…keeps for several days in frig)

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp prepared hosreradish (Inglehoffer cream style)
  • 1/3 cup drained pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh zested or grated spanish onion
  • 1/2 Tsp Tabasco

Directions to Thousand Island with Horseradish:

  1. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk, set aside

Ingredients for Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s – makes 4 Wraps:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced and chopped leftover corned beef
  • large spinach wraps
  • 1 cup drained Boar’s Head Sauerkraut
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • 4 small tomatoes thinly sliced (with out juice and seeds)
  • 1 recipe Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish (above)

Directions for Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º
  2. Lay out 4 spinach wraps
  3. Lay down 2-4 pieces of Swiss cheese as the base layer
  4. Spread 3 Tbsp Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish sauce all over each wrap, keeping sauce in 1″ from the edges
  5. Put 3 or 4 slices of tomato down right across the middle
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup corned beef next running across middle to bottom…closer to to the bottom edge of the circle
  7. Add in 3 Tbsp drained sauerkraut to the middle of the wrap on top of the tomatoes
  8. Fold in the sides and begin to roll up from the bottom
  9. Place seem side down on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes
  10. A tiny bit of the stuffing will be sizzling out at the ends but that’s ok
  11. Use a spatula to remove spinach wrap and place on serving dish, cut in 1/2 and serve with the homemade thousand island dressing with horseradish and my baked Yukon potato fries and zucchini torta!

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Usually I make these stuffed peppers with beef but a good friend has me converting to turkey and I am really loving it. I don’t even wish for the flavor of beef in the stuffing because the turkey hold its own!  These peppers are juicy, tender and sweet made with sautéed mushrooms, onions, fresh chopped parsley, rice, grated Reggiano Parmesan, pinot noir and a porcini red sauce.  My porcini sauce gives this recipe a really nice flavor but if you don’t have time for it you shouldn’t let that stop you from making these savory stuffed peppers.  You can buy a favorite store sauce for convenience or use one of your own.  I have you slice the mushrooms paper thin here and then cut those in 1/2 and that keeps the flavor delicate and the mushrooms very tender not chewy …. they almost melt into the stuffing when baking. The onions are finely chopped so I love to use my vegetablehand chopper because it saves a ton of time when you are doing all this prep work unless you have a sous chef that is. Now you of course can use any color pepper you like. I like using the green ones because I like the strong flavor they render, but here I went with the pretty colors and the peppers are a little sweeter when you go to the reds, oranges, and yellows.  I don’t believe in using “instant rice” ever because it doesn’t have a great texture. Making rice is a simple process …see “TIP” below.    These stuffed peppers are a few step process so it’s a good idea to get some of the work done the day before like making the porcini red sauce and the rice.  This dish  is so worth the effort …. It just may become your go to Sunday dinner and you can even end this delicious dinner with a bang making a quick and easy German pancake recipe or chocolate-avocado mousse!

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Ingredients: For Porcini Red Sauce:

  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes (I use Sclafani)
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup water for the porcini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup pinot noir wine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Directions: 

  1. Put the dried porcini mushrooms in 1/4 cup water and let sit for 1/2 hour.
  2. Sauté 4 large garlic cloves in 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan until golden.
  3. Add whole tomatoes and golden garlic cloves to food processor and purée for 1 minute.
  4. Add this back to the pan.
  5. Take the soaked, softened porcini’s out of the water and coarsely chop.
  6. Add the porcini’s and their juice to the sauce pan along with 1/4 cup pinot, salt, pepper and sugar.
  7. Bring to a simmer, lower heat and keep simmering for 1/2 hour.
  8. Remove from the stove and cool.

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Ingredients – For Stuffed Peppers – Serves 6 people:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 large bell peppers, 2 red, 2 orange, 2 yellow
  • 2 1/4 cups porcini red sauce (1 c. in the stuffing, 2 1/4 c. in the bottom of baking dish)
  • 1 cup cooked Basmati or Jasmine long grain rice
  • 1 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 8oz. pkg of baby bella brown mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • 1 large spanish onion FINELY chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup pinot noir (1/4 c. for mushroom/onion mixture, 1 c. for baking dish)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp live oil (for sautéing)

Directions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º.
  2. Cut 1″ off of the top of the peppers, pull out the centers with your hands and clean out the inside white part of the pepper.
  3. Place into baking dish.
  4. Clean your mushrooms with either a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush … you should NEVER wash your mushrooms or submerse them in water because mushrooms are porous.
  5. Pop out the mushroom stem and finely slice them and then slice that pile in 1/2…don’t need to be neat about it.
  6. Finely chop a large spanish onion…I’m all for using one of those choppers for this!
  7. Add onion and mushrooms to 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes…add 1/4 cup pinot, let evaporate.
  8. Remove from the stove and let cool.
  9. Add Turkey, grated cheese, 1 cup cooled sauce, 1/3 cup pasley, and all of cooled mushroom/onion mixture to a large bowl and gently mix.
  10. Fill the peppers gently with the stuffing, don’t pack it down.
  11. Add the rest of the porcini sauce (approx. 2 1/4 cups), 1 cup pinot, and 1/2 cup boiling water to the bottom of the baking dish.
  12. NOTE:  If the porcini sauce was refrigerated you should warm it a little to room temperature so it doesn’t prolong the cooking process of the stuffed peppers.
  13. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan, cover with foil and bake at 350º for 1 hr.
  14. Remove the foil after 1 hour and continue for another 15 minutes at 350º (check the tenderness of the pepper… You don’t want them mushy just tender).
  15. Then up the heat to 400º for another 20 minutes uncovered
  16. Keep an eye on it at this point so the tops don’t blacken too much (everyone’s oven is a little different)
  17. Total cooking time approx. 1 hour/ 35 minutes
  18. Take the peppers out of the oven, cover back up with foil and let them sit for 10 minutes.

TIP:  RICE- To make Basmati or Jasmine rice measure 1 cup rice and put into medium pan. Run cold water over rice and drain using your hand to hold back the rice.  Then add 2 cups water (1:2 ratio or water level is 1 knuckle over rice), cover and bring to a boil, turn down heat IMMEDIATELY to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and keep covered letting it sit for another 10 minutes and voilà.  Fluff with a fork