Monday, April 29, 2013

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Penne with Browned Butter, Tomatoes and Arugula

1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
In a high-sided skillet, whisk the butter over medium heat until melted. Simmer until foamy. Continue to cook until the butter has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper and stock.  Add the pasta, dressing, arugula, tomatoes, Parmesan and pine nuts. Toss until coated.  Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Adapted based on recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Make Ahead Sunday: Pulled Pork 3 Ways

Pulled Pork
  • boneless pork shoulder roast (7-10 lbs), trimmed with excess fat discarded then cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks,
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine (may sub water or stock
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
Preheat oven to 325.  Season pork with salt and pepper. I like to use a baking sheet to work pork in batches while searing. Drizzle dutch oven with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium/high heat.  Sear meat in batches (~2 minutes per size until lightly browned and meat lifts without sticking).  Don't worry about cooking it through.  Once you've seared all the meat.  Deglaze the pan with wine or water, removing all browned bits from the bottom.  Stir in garlic, shallot and lemon then return meat to the pan.  Cover and bake in dutch oven for 2 hours.  Remove pork from pot using slotted spoon and allow to cool 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet. Once cooled, shred using 2 forks.  Return meat the juices and divide into portions for other dishes.

Here are a few options:

Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork (~2 lbs)
1 or 2 chipotle in adobo, chopped (seeds removed if desired)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 bottle beer
Add all.  Simmer over low/medium heat until sauce is reduced.  Serve on corn tortillas with chopped cabbage, cilantro and sliced avocado.  Garnish with cheese if desired.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Combine pulled pork with your favorite BBQ sauce and ~1/2 of a beer. Simmer over low/medium heat until sauce is reduced. Serve with Coleslaw

Pork Fried Rice
  •  2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine ~1 lb pulled pork with 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger.  Simmer ~5 minutes to combine.  Set aside.
In extra large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. peanut oil until very hot. Add scallion whites and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add eggs and scramble until set, 45 seconds; transfer to bowl.  Stir in rice, peas and 2 tbsp soy sauce and stir fry 2 minutes. Stir in pork. Top with scallion greens.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Make Ahead Sunday: Double Stuffed Shells

  • 1 pound jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 cup (4 oz) baby pasta shells
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 lb italian sausage, castings removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound thawed frozen spinach, squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  1. Preheat the broiler. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the jumbo shells until al dente. In a smaller saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the baby shells until al dente. Drain separately, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Spread the jumbo shells out on a work surface.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, brown and crumble sausage.  When fully cooked, deglaze pan with wine.  All wine to reduce by half then add garlic, spices and tomatoes. Allow to simmer over medium heat for ~15-20 minutes.  Add in 1/2 cup reserved pasta water; season with salt and pepper. 
  3. In a bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, 1/4 cup pasta water and parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stuff the jumbo shells with the spinach mixture.  Arrange in a greased 9x12 baking dish.  Fill in between shells with small shells and top with sauce then mozzarella cheese.  Store to make ahead.  On the night you want to serve, preheat oven to 350.  Bake 30 minutes covered, 20-25 minutes uncovered.  
Adapted based on original recipe by Rachel Ray Mag 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hummus Sesame Noodles with Glazed Asian Chicken

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 3/4 cup hummus
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 lb snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the hummus, chicken broth and soy sauce. Toss the hot pasta with the hummus mixture and let cool about 15 minutes.
  3. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to loosen the noodles. Mix in peanuts, sesame seeds, snow peas, scallions, and chicken.
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
Combine all ingredients into a heavy duty zip lock bag and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.  Heat wok or large skillet to med/high heat.  Add chicken and sear (~3 minutes on each side).  Add remaining marinate and allow to reduce/thicken while chicken cooks though (another ~3 minutes).
Serve over pasta.

Adapted based on an original recipe by Rachel Ray

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I forgot to take a picture, but this was heavenly!



  • 1/2 cup butter, melted 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted 
  • Chopped walnuts, toasted (optional) 

  1. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in apple slices and 1 cup walnuts. Spread into a greased 13- x 9-inch pan.
  3. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Frosting; sprinkle with walnuts, if desired.


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened $
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Banana Muffin with Mascarpone and Walnuts

Didn't change a thing on this one - YUM!

  • 1 pound jumbo pasta shells (16 pieces)
  • 1 cup (4 oz) baby pasta shells
  • 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound thawed frozen spinach, squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta (about 12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  1. Preheat the broiler. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the jumbo shells until al dente. In a smaller saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the baby shells until al dente. Drain separately, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Spread the jumbo shells out on a work surface.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, ovenproof skillet, toss the tomatoes with 3 tbsp. EVOO. Broil for 15 minutes. Remove, then stir in the garlic, herbs and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water; season with salt and pepper. Lower the oven to 350 degrees .
  3. In a bowl, toss the baby shells with the remaining 1 tbsp. EVOO. Stir in the spinach, ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup pasta water; season. Stuff the jumbo shells with the spinach mixture; arrange in the skillet atop the sauce. Top with the remaining parmesan, cover and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Recipe by Giada Di Laurentis 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Asparagus and Zucchini with Toasted Walnuts

This is a quick, easy and fresh side!

1 zucchini, shredded using a grater
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
Cavendar's all purpose greek seasoning

Melt butter over low-medium heat.  Allow to brown slightly then add walnuts.  Toast ~2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add asparagus and cover to simmer ~2-3 minutes.  Add zucchini and seasoning.  Simmer another ~2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve immediately

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Greek Salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp cavendar's all purpose greek seasoning
1 tsp dried oregano
Mix all and let stand. I also used the dressing to marinate some chicken, which we grilled and served with flat bread, hummus and the salad.  It's also great on sandwiches.

1 seedless cucumber, halved and sliced
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1/3 cup feta cheese
Toss all of the above with a small amount of dressing