Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recipe Review: Giada's Penne With Braised Short Ribs

I love meat and I love pasta!  So, when I saw this recipe on Giada's cooking show, I knew it would be a winner and oh my goodness, it is better than I could've imagined!

This recipe has you slow cook short ribs in your dutch oven in a red wine and beef broth sauce.  The meat literally falls off the bone, so shredding it for the pasta is a snich!  You simply skim the fat off the sauce and puree it in a blender, toss it the with the meat and penne and that's it!

My husband took seconds and asked if he could take the leftovers for lunch to work tomorrow.  So it is a crowd pleaser!   This dish is so flavorful with the richness of the red wine, tomatoes, onion and garlic!  The shredded beef sticks to the edges of the penne pasta and creates a wonderful texture.  This is a filling dish that is flavorful and is the total definition of comfort food!  It is sort of like a twist on your typical meat and potatoes, but this twist is one I am sticking with!

I highly recommend you give this easy recipe a try.  Most of the cooking takes place while you are doing others things, so there is no need to feel overwhelmed or think the meal is going to take you all day.  I always encourage people to take some time to make good meals, you don't have to be a gourmet cook to make something that you and your family are going to love. What makes meals great is the passion you put into them!  The more and more you do it, the easier, more fun and creative cooking gets!  Get in the kitchen and mangia!

P.S. Be sure to add some Parmesan cheese to this dish and I of course added some crush red pepper!  Amazing!!!!  Thanks, Giada!  Below is the link to here recipe:


Hearty Minestrone Soup

Well, about two-weeks ago, sunny Southern California was experiencing some late Spring showers and it was the perfect opportunity to make one last batch of homemade soup before the Summer season with all the bbqing rolls in!  So, I thought what the heck, why not make some homemade minestrone soup!  I refused to look at one recipe and made this from scratch and wrote it down as I went along, I have to say I was very pleased and satisfied with this hearty meal! 

Again, bare with me, I decided to do this blog after I did some cooking, so soon pictures will be up!

What you'll you need (Ingredients):
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 6 stalks of celery diced
  • 6 cloves of fresh minced garlic (your see that this ingredient is a staple in almost all my recipes!)
  • 6 carrots, washed, peeled and cut in small rounds
  • 2 yellow onions peeled and diced (I usually used Maui onions because they are nice and sweet!)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of dry red or white wine (I used Pinot Grigo the first time, but you can easily use a red, I usually just make sure it is a good bottle)
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh minced basil
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh minced oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes, plus an additional 1/2 can or 14ounce can
  • 1 can (15 ounces) of drained chickpeas
  • 1 large can (30 ounces) of kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper (you can tone this down a bit if you don't want a kick)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package of pasta shells (I use medium for the hearty texture, but some folks like the smaller size shells)
  • Large pot for soup
  • Large pasta pot to boil shells

OK, you've shopped, now what!:
  • Coat pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil and heat
  • Add celery, onion, garlic and carrots and saute for about 5 to7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and carrots and softened
  • Add 1/2 cup of good dry wine--let this reduce for just a few minutes while boiling
  • Add chicken stalk
  • Add all herbs
  • Add crushed tomatoes
  • Add chickpeas, kidney beans (be sure that they are drained!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring all ingredients to a boil and then simmer on low for about 1/2 hour
  • In the meantime heat up some hot water in a pasta pot with some a drizzle of olive oil and salt to cook the shells
    • The last 12 minutes your soup is cooking boil pasta and drain (I add 6 cups of the pasta if I am using larger shells, the rest you can reserve for a small pasta salad or go for it and throw them all in there, but if you do that add a little more stalk in the beginning)
    • Immediately add hot pasta to pot of soup
  • Dish and garnish with lots of fresh Parmesan cheese and warm french bread!  This goes great with a glass of Chianti too!


Too Die For Chicken Tortilla Cassarole!

Ok, so I realized I should've taken a picture of this hot and bubbly out of the oven, but I didn't, so I will next time!  One of my favorite foods is Mexican!  I love the full flavor and the spices!  This is a great take on a Chicken Tortilla Cassarole:

#1) Roast your own chicken!  It is so much cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken breast and it is much more flavorful.  You can purchase a whole chicken for about $5 as compared to a small pack of boneless skinless chicken breast, which can run up to about $9 to $10
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit
  • Clean out cavity of chicken and pat dry
  • Rub skin (both sides) with the following:
    • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper
    • 3 tablespoons of Tex-Mex seasoning (I get this from my local farmer's market)
    • 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic
    • 1  tablespoon of oregano
  • Stuffed the inside of the cavity with 4 pealed cloves of garlic
  • Add one cup of chicken stock to your roasting pan (this helps keep the chicken most)
  • Check chicken periodically while roasting and add more chicken stock as necessary, I also added a bottle of Pacifico beer and it really gave a the chicken a great aroma and kept it moist.  I also baste my chicken periodically.
  • Chicken is done when your temperature thermometer reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit (insert in thigh of chicken, should take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • Let chicken cool at room temperature for about 45 minutes
#2) Once your chicken is cooled, begin removing the skin and set aside.  Shredded chicken meat and place in mixing bowl.  Add and mix the following ingredients to your bowl:
  • 2 cups of shredded mild cheddar and jack cheese (you can purchase bags of Mexican blend cheese at the grocery store)
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 8 ounce can of diced Ortega chilies
  • 2 of the garlic cloves you roasted, diced
#3) Assembling the Casserole
  • Purchase a bag of one dozen corn tortillas and slice each one into thirds.
  • Lay one layer across your greased pan and then spread a layer of your chicken mixture (about 1/2 of it)
  • Repeat with a layer of corn tortillas and topped of with the rest of your chicken mixture
  • Take the one additional cup of shredded cheese and topped over last chicken mixture
#4) Top with crunchy tortilla strips
  • Take about 4 corn tortillas and cut into strips
  • Heat a frying pan with a oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Season oil with salt, pepper and Tex-Mex seasoning (a few dashes of each)
  • Fry tortilla strips until crispy
  • Drain on paper towel
  • Crunch over casserole
Now you're all set!  Pop casserole into the oven (be sure it is at 375 degrees) for about 1/2 hour or until bubbly throughout the top and enjoy!

You can serve this with rice and beans and a dollop of sour cream!

P.S. I reserve the chicken cavity and place it in a medium size pasta pot and fill with water (almost completely full) and pour in the drippings from the roasting pan.  Bring to boil, skim off fat and you  have an amazing homemade chicken stock!  I used this for the Spanish rice I made and it was delicious!  Also, you can freeze the left over stock for future recipes!

I also used the 2 additional garlic cloves that were roasting in the chicken to put in my Spanish rice recipe (that one is coming soon!)