Monday, February 7, 2011

Mi Amore

February, the month of LOVE!  The month of red roses, cute little bears and hearts.  I love red and roses, but I could do without the chotchkie stuffed animals and any heart within a heart within a heart anything!  The color red is sensual, sexy and delicious!  Stirring hunger within each of us.  The Chinese associate the color red with luck.  Their weddings are draped in it.  We need to celebrate red and all that is associated with it...including Valentine's Day.  I know there are those out there that think the day is a cliche.  What's wrong with having a day dedicated to romance?  Dedicated to making your loved one feel even more special.  It's a day dedicated to giving back to each other.  We should embrace this little gem of a holiday!  Show your love to your friends and family.  Whether it's giving a poem, a simple, "I LOVE YOU," flowers or a little taste to entice the buds of your soul, give yourself the gift of giving amore to your loved one.  For me, I have always shown my love (no matter what day it is) by cooking for the one I love.  Making something special that tells the other person you LOVE them brings joy to my heart.  Watching your Honey enjoy the dish you've created is priceless.  It's so rewarding!  I'm sharing with you a couple of my favorite sensual dishes.  Rich, yes!  But, after all, it is Valentine's Day.  Revel in the richness for such a special night!  A spicy pasta followed by decadent chocolate molten cake.  You two lovebirds will feel like Lady and The Tramp!

Papperdelle with Spicy Italian Sausage in a Vodka Cream Sauce
6-8 Servings

1 lb. Papperdelle pasta (I like to use the yellow pepper papperdelle from Pike Place)
1 lb. Spicy Italian Sausage
1 Vadalia Onion
1 Large Red Pepper
1 medium Orange or Yellow Pepper
2 cloves Garlic - Crushed (if your both eating it, you'll love kissing each other)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 pinch of crushed red pepper
1 jar of your favorite Vodka Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Boil water in your pasta cookware.  While water is heating, heat 1 to 2 Tbs. Olive oil in a large skillet.  Remove casing of Italian sausage and separate into 1 inch pieces.  Brown sausage in Olive oil until cooked through.  Chop onion and bell peppers into 1 inch pieces and add to sausage.  Saute on medium heat until peppers are almost cooked through, or aldente.  Boil pasta and cook until just underdone.  Add Vodka tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and heavy cream.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add aldente pasta to Italian sausage vodka cream sauce and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  To serve, add a generous portion to plate.  Drizzle with fresh olive oil and shaved Parmesan cheese (use your vegetable peeler to make shavings).  Enjoy!

Now, I have to be favorite papperdelle is homemade fresh pasta made with my own two hands.  If you have the time it will truly be a game changer.  I have always used Mario Batali's fresh pasta recipe, and it is outstanding!  And, for such a lovely occasion, why not?

Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes (Recipe by Joy of Cooking)
8 Servings

Worthy of an elegant dinner party, these flour less, ultra-rich, sauce-in-the-center chocolate cakes are baked in a muffin tin and served warm.  You can make the batter ahead, scrape it into the muffin tin, and cover and refrigerate overnight before baking.  Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees F.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter and sugar 8 muffin cups.  Heat, in the top of a double broiler or in a microwave on medium, stirring often, until melted and smooth:

6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Remove from the heat and sift in:

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Stir until smooth.

Beat in a medium bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form:

4 Large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tatar

Gradually add, beating on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry:

2 Tbs. sugar

Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.  Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cakes are cracked on the top but still gooey in the center, 7 to 8 (a minute or so longer if the batter has been refrigerated prior to baking).  let sit for 2 to 3 minutes; the cakes will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan.  Place a rack over the cakes and invert to unmold.  Serve hot, accompanied with Whipped Cream and fresh Raspberries (optional).  Enjoy!

It has been said that chocolate is a mood enhancer...after eating this, I can't see how you wouldn't be seeing hearts in your lovers eyes!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The battle continues!  I'm still throwing away food.  Granted, not nearly as much, but I can't seem to find the perfect balance.  No matter how much I plan, sometimes the week gets away from me.  Between travel, impromptu dinners out and sometimes a lack of interest as to what's in the fridge, there is still food ending up in the garbage disposal or trash.  One of my biggest problems is the amount of food I'm making.  It's hard cooking for one.  I'm working on trying to decrease the quantity of food I'm creating.  Just a few weeks ago ground turkey was on sale for 1.99 per package.  Great deal!  I bought two.  I made a delicious taco meat and veggie mixture that I could use for breakfast, lunch and dinners.  Egg beater omelets with taco meat for breakfast, taco salad lunches, and taco's for dinner...using my resources well.  Versatile dishes that span the day and week offer variety for the soul!  One of my favorite new recipes (thanks to my boyfriend, Kevin) is Chicken Chili.  It's the best I've ever tasted, and a recipe I can reduce for just me.  I even made it for everyone on my most recent vacation to Sundance, UT.  There were 5 of us in a cabin and we enjoyed the chili for 2 meals!  The chicken chili would also make beautiful enchiladas, taco meat mixture or an exotic casserole for later in the week.  Or, turn it into an outstanding chicken tortilla soup by just adding more broth and tortilla strips.  I hope you find as much joy in this recipe as I do.

Chicken Chili

6 Chicken Breasts
64 oz. Chicken Broth (reduced want to control the salt!)
1 Large Vadalia Onion - diced
3 cloves Garlic - crushed
2 Poblano Peppers - small dice
21 oz. Diced Green Chili's
3 large jalapenos (add 1 to 2 more if you like your chili with a kick) - finely dices
1 can Navy beans - drained and rinsed
30 oz. White Hominy - drained and rinsed
1 Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy package
1 Tbs. Cumin (add more if you like the smoky taste)
1 Tbs. Oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Bring the 64 oz. of Chicken broth to a boil.  Add the chicken breasts and diced onion.  Cook chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.  When the chicken is cooked though, take them out and place on cutting board.  Shred chicken breasts using a fork to pull chicken apart.  Whisk Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy mixture into chicken broth to remove lumps.  Place chicken back in broth.  Add garlic, poblano peppers, diced green chili's, jalapenos, navy beans, hominy, and spices, except cilantro.  Simmer chili for 30 minutes.  Add chopped cilantro.  Serve with diced tomatoes and sour cream.  (I prefer using plain fat free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream)  To make into enchiladas, decrease the liquid slightly.  After rolling into tortillas, top the enchiladas with green enchilada sauce.  To make soup, increase the liquid amount and added tortilla strips for a delicious chicken tortilla soup.