Saturday, November 23, 2019

Ruby Red Clam Sauce


So it's the weekend before Thanksgiving and you have lots of family coming in? Maybe the cousins from Detroit or the kids are home from college? Well, they all want to eat and but who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen right before the most labor intensive cooking day of the year?


I learned this fast, little cheat of a recipe from Ruby Menozzi, a Florida friend from Upstate New York. Ruby and her husband Ed come from huge families and they are used to feeding a lot of people, without being stuck behind a stove.


This easy recipe feeds a crowd with little effort because it relies on ingredients such as canned clams, tomato juice, and tomato paste. In fact, Ruby uses garlic from a jar and dried parsley- but even I couldn't go that far! (But it could be done!)  If someone feels that bad about cheating with canned clams, run to Sam's Club or Costco and get some frozen clams. Steam them and stick the shells on the top when it served - but wait - who wants to go to all that trouble!



Ruby Menozzi's Red Clam Sauce - Serves 8


Ingredients:



Several glugs of olive oil - enough to cover the bottom of a large pot to about 1/8 inch
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 whole head of garlic, each clove peeled and put through a press or finely minced
1 (46 oz.) can tomato juice
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (6 oz.) can chopped clams
1 (10 oz.) can whole clams
1 pound of pasta cooked according to package directions


Directions:



Put oil in pan and warm it up over medium heat. Add pepper flakes, oregano and parsley. After they sizzle for 30 seconds, add the garlic and saute for another 30 second.



Pour in the tomato juice. Whisk in the tomato paste. Add the chopped clams along with the juice.



Turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer for an hour or so.



About 10 minutes before you are ready to eat, drain and add the can of whole clams. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the liquid from the clams and some water. Simmer another 10 minutes.



Serve over spaghetti, linguine, or even zucchini zoodles.


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Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Kane Sister's Pumpkin Bread (Muffins)


This recipe for pumpkin bread or muffins came from the same source as my family's legendary carrot cake- the Mueller girls. These two sisters, who I knew when we were all teenagers, seemed to be on a diet all the time.  It was so ironic that they sure could bake!  Just like their fabulous carrot cake, this recipe has typical ingredients but a totally unorthodox way of combining them. Besides that, the directions call for baking it low and slow.  It wasn't until years later that I realized how unconventional the recipe was. Nevertheless, my sister Claire and I used the recipe often and brought the resulting pumpkin bread to holiday pitch-ins for years!


Pumpkin Bread - Yields Two Loaves or 24 Muffins


Ingredients:



3 cups regular white sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts



Directions:


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Oil and flour two loaf pans or insert cupcake liners in muffin pans.



Beat together the sugar and eggs.

Add the flour, oil, pumpkin, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Combine well.



Stir in the raisins and nuts.



Make at 325 for one hour for pumpkin bread, about 30 to 40 minutes for muffins. Top will have characteristic crack and when inserted, toothpick should come out clean. 

If making pumpkin bread, let the loaf rest 5 minutes before removing from the pan.



Thursday, August 22, 2019

Three Summer Salads & Squash Blossom Soup

We are on the road again, hence the collage of dishes in lieu of step-by-step photos. During this late summer into fall trip we are headed towards the eastern states. So far we've hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and parts of charming Connecticut.


I've been inspired by some OPRs (other people's recipes) that I've seen in magazines and some recent cookbook purchases. This is a great time of year to find fresh produce and I took the recipes and adjusted them to suit us and our way of life in a tiny motor home kitchen. But that's what everyone does with a recipe- right? You might follow it the first time, but after that you make it your own!


Tomato, Bean, and Basil Salad - Inspired by a Photo in Bon Appetit Magazine




Ingredients:


2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced and cubed
2 cups cooked cannelloni beans or 15 oz. can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh pureed tomatoes or 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes that are food processed
1 clove garlic, put through a press or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup green olives
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup basil leaves, some chopped, some whole
1/2 cup dark leafy lettuce blend, like spinach & kale


Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the pureed tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, olives, olive oil and vinegar. Add the beans, basil and leafy greens and gently stir. Place on platter and serve with crusty bread, if desired.



Peach and Cucumber Salad - Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine




Ingredients:


2 or 3 ripe peaches, sliced
1 large cucumber or a couple smallish ones, both sliced and cubed
2 or 3 cups of some kind of dark leafy green salad mix - like spinach/kale
1/4 of red onion, finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup, plus more for a finishing squeeze
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup of crumbly white cheese - original recipe calls for feta, I used queso fresco

Optional - the original recipe calls for a handful each of basil and mint leaves, I've done it with and without

Directions:


Whisk together onion, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bon Appetit says to divide the resulting dressing and pour 1/2 over the peaches and 1/2 over the cucumbers before ultimately mixing them together, Lazy me, I just put greens on a platter, mixed together the peaches and cucumbers and then poured the dressing on top. I then crumbled the cheese over it all and finished it off with a sprinkle of more Kosher salt, a dash of pepper and some squeezes of lemon juice.



Corn Salad with Crunchy Corn Nuts - Adapted from Dining In by Alison Roman



Ingredients

4 ears of corn on the cob
2 limes
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, including both leaves and tender stems
1/2 cup plain corn nuts
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco


Directions:


Cook the corn by leaving it in the husk and either microwave it on high for 10 minutes, bake it at 425 for 30 to 40 minutes, or - as the original recipe calls for -  put it on the grill for about 25 to 30 minutes. (I've done this all three ways. When I did it on the grill, the husk caught on fire - so keep some water close to put out the flames.) 


Squeeze the juice out of one of the limes, and combine the juice with the onions, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Set Aside.


Husk the corn and cut the kernels off the cob, by holding the cob straight up and scraping down with a knife. In a large bowl combine the kernels, corn nuts, cilantro and lime/onion mixture. Transfer it all to a serving platter and top with crumbled cheese. Use the second lime to squeeze some lime juice over the top.




Squash Blossom Zucchini Soup - Recipe Adapted from My Mexico City Kitchen by Gabriela Camara 




Ingredients:


2 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium zucchini
4 cups chicken broth or 2 (15 oz.) cans chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried epazote or Mexican oregano
1 chopped zucchini flowers plus some whole ones for garnishing


Directions:


Over medium low heat, saute the onion in the oil until it is tender. Add the epazote or oregano and cook an additional 30 seconds.


Dice the zucchini and add to the onions along with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat so the mixture is simmering. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.


take off the heat and divide between four serving bowls. To each bowl add 1/4 cup zucchini flowers and serve.


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Monday, July 29, 2019

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce


Caroline and Adam have been renovating their Chicago suburban kitchen for what must seem to them an eternity. For several months they have been without a stove, oven or sink. In fact, there is only one room in their whole downstairs that isn’t gutted. As a result they turned an upstairs bedroom into a makeshift kitchen, using a toaster oven and microwave to get by. To help them out, I made a few frozen meals so all they had to do was defrost, then nuke or bake. One meal Caroline requested was chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. Don’t let the sour cream in the filling scare you off- there’s just enough of it to bind the chicken and onions together and the tomatillo sauce supplies tartness to offset the richness.


Ingredients for the Tomatillo Sauce:



12 small to medium tomatillos
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and tender upper stems
1 small to medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons canned green chili peppers
1 large clove garlic, put through a press
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt or less 



Directions:



Husk the tomatillos by pulling the papery skins off. Wash and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. Place cooked tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic and peppers in a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds to a minute until all ingredients are combined. 



Heat oil in skillet over medium high until it shimmers. Pour the blended tomatillo mixture into the hot pan. The liquid will hiss and start to boil. Give it a stir and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.



Add in the chicken broth and stir well to mix it in. Continue to let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and if needed add the salt. If not, discard it.


Ingredients for Eight Chicken Enchiladas:

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed.
1 cup diced white or yellow onions
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 large flour tortillas
1 Batch of tomatillo sauce from recipe above
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Directions:



In a bowl, mix the chicken, onions, sour cream, salt and pepper together.



Ladle just enough tomatillo sauce into a 9x13 baking dish to cover the bottom. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese on top of the chicken in each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up and place seam side down into the baking dish.



Pour the remaining tomatillo sauce over the top, reserving about 1/2 cup for serving.



Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until tortillas are browning and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro leaves as a garnish.



Friday, July 19, 2019

Tomato Chickpea Stew


Around our house, everyone knows I can throw together a meal in minutes. Maybe it's years of practice but I know the real secret is opening a can! Lately, chickpeas have become one of my favorite cans to open. I know many people think that it's a cheat not soak beans and cook them for hours, but who has time for that? Canned goods have great nutritional value as long as you don't see a lot of additives on the label ingredient list and they taste just about the same as fresh. This recipe includes three cans to open - but it also involves fresh kale! So, I don't feel too guilty about making this fast and yummy stew.


Ingredients for Two Large Servings:



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package of cubed ham or 1 cup of left-over ham, cubed
2 good sized cloves garlic, put through a press or finally minced
1 (14.5 oz.) cans beef broth
1 (16 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped 
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Directions:



Place olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ham cubes. Saute the ham for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow all sides to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for 30 more seconds.



Pour in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits that might be clinging to the bottom.



Then gently stir in the chickpeas, chopped kale, tomatoes and pepper.



   Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn it back down to medium low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes.



  Ladle into soup bowls and serve.



Monday, July 1, 2019

Tortilla Pie


This is an old family favorite that's got it all in a wedge: taco meat filling, seasoned black beans, avocado and lots of melted cheese! It's a bit of a weeknight show stopper but easy enough to throw together in a hurry. I found that when I needed to bring a casserole to someone, it was a great option since it's different from the typical lasagna everyone else makes.


Ingredients:



1 pound ground beef
5 tortillas large (10 inch) or 10 small (7 inch), flour or corn
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (15oz.) can black beans
1 ripe avocado
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
*Taco seasoning mix, store bought or make your own
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves


*To make your own taco seasoning mix combine 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.


Directions:



Pour tomato sauce in pan and add 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning.


Stir the seasoning into the tomato sauce and place over medium heat until it simmers.


Turn the heat down to low, stir occasionally and let it simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


Drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning.


Peel and scoop the avocado in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning and mash together.


Brown hamburger over medium heat, drain grease. Stir in 2 cups of the tomato sauce into the cooked hamburger.


Assemble the Tortilla Pie 


(If using small tortillas, cut filling amounts in half & make two pies)


1. Smear 1/4 cup around the bottom of the pie pan. Place a tortilla on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 the meat mixture on top. 



2. Put a second tortilla on top and spread black bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. 



3. Cover with a third tortilla and ladle on the rest of the meat sauce.



4. Place the fourth tortilla on top and spread the avocado mixture over the surface.

Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.



5. Put the 5th tortilla on top and pour remaining reserved tomato sauce mixture on top. 

Bake for 30 minutes.



6. Put remaining shredded cheese on top of stack, return to oven and bake 5 or so minutes more until the cheese on top has melted.



7. Sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.


Cut tortilla pie into fourths and serve.



Sunday, June 23, 2019

Un-Bagel Breakfast Salad


Late last summer in our travels out east, we found ourselves in Portland, Maine. Bon Appetit had just named it as the “Restaurant City of the Year” and a deli, Rose Foods, got a big mention by the magazine. I played into the hype and talked Roy into going there for breakfast. We split the large-sized Classic Nova Bagel Sandwich. I had a coffee and Roy had orange juice. The total bill was a bit pricey at $25. Was it delicious? Yes! The cold smoked salmon was so good with the capers, cucumber and dill, that I could have ordered another one and eaten it all by myself. When we got back home, I found myself craving the flavors, but didn't want to indulge in the carbs. I figured a brunch salad situation might work. I've served this a couple of times when the girls were home, and it seemed to be a big hit. Whole Foods and even Costco are good places to get smoked salmon. And fresh dill -if you have it on hand- makes this alternative breakfast even better. 


Ingredients for Four Salads



4 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon and 1 whole lemon, sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

5 oz. bag or tub of spring mix salad greens

1 small cucumber

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

8 oz. sliced smoked salmon

4 teaspoons capers

*2 teaspoons everything bagel seasoning


Directions:


*Use prepared everything bagel seasoning or mix up a batch of your own and save what you don't use here for something else: 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt.


Make the jammy eggs: fill a sauce pan with water; bring it up to a boil; gently lower the eggs in the water; boil 7 minutes; plunge them into ice water; wait 2 minutes and peel. Set aside.


Whisk together the olive oil, 1/2 cup lemon juice, dill, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.



Thinly slice the cucumber and half the tomatoes. Set aside.


Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Set aside.


Assemble the Salad



Divide the salmon among four serving plates - or put on one large platter.


Place the 1/4 of the greens next to the salmon on each plate.


Arrange 1/4 of the tomatoes and cucumbers on each plate.


Cut each egg in half and place two halves on each plate.


Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.


Smear a tablespoon of mayonnaise mixture on the edge of each plate.


Place a couple lemon slices on each plate.


Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of everything seasoning over the eggs, greens, cucumbers and tomatoes.


Put 1 teaspoon capers on top of the cucumber slices.