Chicken Marsala

This is one of my favorite dishes to order when we go out to eat Italian. So when I saw this recipe in my Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate Spring 2012 magazine I knew that I had to try it. I never knew it was so easy to make. We all loved this recipe! It was just as good as what I order at our favorite Italian restaurant! Will be making this many many more times to come. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
  • 8 thin chicken breast cutlets
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Garnish: chopped parsley

  1. In a large nonstick saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove from pan, and set aside.
  2. Season chicken breasts on both sides with garlic salt and black pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In same pan, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook chicken breasts, in batches, 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. (If browning too quickly, reduce heat to medium, and add oil if needed.) Remove chicken from pan; set aside.
  3. Deglaze pan with wine, using a wire whisk and stirring briskly to loosen brown bits from bottom of pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock and butter, whisking to combine. Return chicken and mushrooms to pan, and cook until heated through. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with pasta!

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DIY Furniture polish

I had to take a time out from cleaning to share with you this recipe for DIY Furniture polish. I have to admit, I’m starting to become addicted to this whole DIY world. I love the idea of making my own all natural products at home. Besides for the fact that it’s better for my family’s health and the environment and it costs way less, It’s fun! This recipe doesn’t make a lot so you can double or triple it if you would like, but it goes a long way. I’ve been polishing everything in my house for the last two days. From my table, kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, to my stainless steel appliances. My kids better watch out I’m on a rampage ( a little olive oil and vinegar couldn’t hurt, right?) I came across this recipe in one of my Allyou magazines. I don’t think I will ever buy furniture polish again. It gave the wood a light shine but cleaned it at the same time and even though I could smell the vinegar, I didn’t mind. I buy olive oil and vinegar in bulk and I have a lemon tree in the back yard so this literally cost me pennies to make. So here it is, DIY furniture polish!

You’ll need:

  • Funnel
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Plastic squirt bottle
  • Microfiber cloth

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (or lemon oil)

Instructions:

  • Using funnel, pour olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice into bottle. Shake well to emulsify. Squirt polish onto microfiber cloth and rub onto finished-wood furniture. Always go with the grain and evenly distribute polish. Remove any excess polish with a clean cloth.

 

Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella

My Aunt Johnnie brought this Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella salad over to one of our family dinners and we all loved it! I had never tried Panzanella salad before but had been curious about it for a while now. I thought that the bread would get soggy and yucky and that didn’t appeal to me at all. The bread in this salad was delicious and even though it absorbed some of the flavors it still stayed crisp arround the edges. The bread with the fresh tomatoes, artichokes and olives was wonderful! Aunt Johnnie adapted the recipe from one of Giada De Laurentis’.

The ingredients are:

  • 3 cups 1-1/2 inch-cubed Ciabatta bread
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts in water (it looks like halves or quarters)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 3 large red tomatoes, cut into wedges (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup pitted black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup manzanilla olives, halved
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until golden brown at the edges, about 6 minutes total, turning every 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bread from the grill and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and basil to the bowl and toss to combine. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

Grilled Shrimp And Sausage Skewers With Smoky Paprika Glaze

We had a summer kick-off BBQ with the family last Sunday. Of course sun, swimming, and lots of yummy food was involved. I made these Grilled Shrimp And Sausage Skewers With Smoky Paprika Glaze. I found the recipe in an old Bon Appetit magazine (June 2010). Shrimp and sausage are great right? Well this smoky paprika glaze just threw it over the top. You could really taste the smokiness from the paprika and the fresh thyme and garlic. Not your typical kabob, so much flavor. Everyone loved this!

I adapted the ingredients slightly to our taste.

The ingredients are:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 12 1-inch long pieces kielbasa sausage
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Special equipment

6 long metal skewers or 3 long bendable ones

  1. Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, vinegar, salt, and black pepper in medium bowl to blend for glaze. Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.
  2. Alternately thread shrimp, sausage pieces, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion wedges on each of 6 long metal skewers. Arrange skewers on large rimmed baking sheet. (Do Ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill skewers and bowls of glaze separately.)
  3. Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from 1 bowl. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Arrange skewers on platter. Serve with remaining bowl of glaze.

Romaine salad with crispy prosciutto and homemade garlic croutons

I know I post a lot of sweets on my blog (my weakness for sure), but we do eat healthy foods as well. Like everything else in life there has to be balance, right? I do like to bake and make rich foods, but we also eat a lot of stir fry, fish, fruits and veggies. My kids get some kind of fresh fruit in their lunch and some type of fresh veggie with dinner every day. We also love salads and could eat them daily, my daughter even prefers a salad for her school lunch over a sandwich. I’m going to post a couple of salads that I have made recently for you. The first one is a Romaine salad with crispy prosciutto and homemade garlic croutons. I adapted the recipe from one in an Everyday Food magazine.

The ingredients are:

  • 1 loaf of fresh bread with garlic, (I get mine from Costco), cut into chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 9 slices prosciutto
  • 3 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay prosciutto on another baking sheet. Bake until both are golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl add romaine, croutons, prosciutto (crumbled), beans, and scallions and toss to combine.

I served this salad with a simple red-wine vinaigrette, (red-wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste). This recipe makes a big salad you could cut this in half or even in a third.

Olive Oil Cake

This Olive Oil Cake was so good. It was moist and the orange zest gave it a light fresh taste. I found the recipe in an old BonAppetit magazine ( september 2009) but it says in the magazine that the recipe is from Abraco Coffee Shop in Manhattan. Normally I would have been thinking of a way to make this dessert more decadent, by adding a glaze over the top, but I really enjoyed the simple fresh taste of this cake. I had another piece this morning with my coffee, YUM!

The ingredients are:

  • 1-1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 3/4 cup organic whole milk
  • 1/2 cup mild-flavored organic olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

(I did not have all organic ingredients and substituted them for what I had on hand and my cake still turned out great so don’t worry if you don’t have organic ingredients it will still turn out fine.)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Oil and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, olive oil, and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk egg mixture into dry ingredients. Transfer to prepared pan.
  3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Invert pan to remove cake. Cool completely, top side up.

 

Eggplant Parmesan

Here is a good recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. I have to say, not as good as grandmas but still very good. Now only if I could get my grandma to write down some of our families traditional Italian recipes I’d be happy, but older Italian women don’t follow recipes for Italian food they just make it like their mom taught them. Well that’s at least how it is in my family….. This recipe was very tasty and could be adjusted however you like it, more cheese, less cheese, more sauce, less sauce. I adapted the recipe from the cookbook How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. If you don’t have this book yet I would go get it. I have already gotten so many good recipes out of it and I have at least 50 others marked to try…… The ingredients are:

  • 2 medium-to-large eggplant (2 to 3 pounds total)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Flour for dredging
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Cups Basic Tomato Sauce (I made a very easy and quick tomato sauce but you could use what ever sauce you like)
  • 2 Cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Peel the eggplant if the skin is thick or the eggplant is less than perfectly firm (as you can see I left the skin on). Cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  2. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Start with about 5 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium – medium high. When the oil is hot (a pinch of flour will sizzle), dredge the eggplant slices, one at a time, in the flour (I season my flour with salt and pepper), shaking off the excess. Place in the pan, but do not crowd; you will have to cook in batches. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned, then drain on paper towels. Add more oil to the skillet as needed.
  3. Lightly oil a baking dish, then spoon a little of the tomato sauce into it. Top with a layer of eggplant, then a thin layer of each of the cheeses. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. End with a thin layer of the cheeses.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling hot.

(I served the eggplant with a simple green salad.)

Shrimp, My Way

 

Here is another recipe out of my cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. We all really enjoyed this shrimp recipe. The Cumin in this gave the shrimp a southwestern flare and I loved the chunks of garlic in it. The ingredients are:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 or 4 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers (I used 4, YUM!)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, in the 20 to 30 per pound range, peeled, rinsed, and dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh spicy paprika (I had regular paprika so I used that)
  • Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish
  1. Preheat the broiler and adjust the rack so that it is as close to the heat source as possible.
  2. Very gently, in a large, broad ovenproof skillet or baking pan, warm the olive oil over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Put the garlic in the oil and cook for a few minutes, still over low heat, until it turns golden.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Stir to blend and immediately place under the broiler. Cook, shaking the pan once or twice and stirring if necessary, but generally leaving the shrimp undisturbed, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly. This will take from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of your broiler. Garnish and serve immediately.

Flavored oils and vinegars

I was looking through my, the best of Martha Stewart Living Holidays book and I came across directions on how to make flavored oils and vinegar. I have been wanting to try this for a while now, so today I gave it a shot. I have yet to find out how the oil and vinegar are going to taste ( seeing that they have to rest for about three weeks), but I think that they are beautiful!

I plan on making and giving a lot of homemade gifts this Christmas and I think these will definitely be one of the many that are given. If I can part with them! They look so pretty up on my counter!

It says in the book to buy decorative new containers, or reuse old bottles. I bought these bottles new, they came three in a pack and were $6.99. I don’t know if that is a good price or not but the bottles are fairly large. Then it says to clean the bottles, put in two Tablespoons of uncooked rice, add hot soapy water, and shake vigorously. Now I’ve seen other recipes saying to boil the bottles first but I wasn’t sure if that applied to these decorative type of bottles so I just went with Martha’s directions. Next it says to Wash and dry herbs, and place three or four generous sprigs in each bottle. Using a funnel, fill bottles with oils or vinegar until herbs are completely submerged. Cork or seal bottles; they’ll be ready to use in three weeks.

In my bottles I used:

  • rosemary, pink peppercorns, and olive oil. The pink peppercorns really look pretty in the bottle with the rosemary.
  • Garlic, green onions, lemon zest, and red wine vinegar. It says to only use garlic with vinegar as it can cause bacteria to grow if used in oils.

These combinations are my own, since I like these flavors, but you could also use:

Hot peppers, tarragon, thyme, sage, dill, and black peppercorns.