Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

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1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
16 ounces chicken broth
1/4 white wine

Romano cheese grated

1. Remove the outer leaves and stems of the Brussels sprouts, rinse with water and cut in half (If very large Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters), set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Gently put the Brussels sprouts into the boiling chicken broth. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With a small strainer, remove the
Brussels sprouts to a bowl and set aside. Keep the chicken broth to use when preparing the risotto.
3. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and onion, saute until tender. Add the pancetta and cook a few minutes more, until golden. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and cook until
lightly toasted, continuously stirring while cooking. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine is absorbed.
4. With a ladle, spoon the chicken broth in the pan one ladle at a time until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle of chicken broth. Continue Until you have the last ladle of
chicken broth to add, then put the Brussels sprouts in the pan at the same time as the last ladle of chicken broth. Cook until rice is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. At this time taste the risotto, if a bit too hard, cook a few more minutes until more tender.
6. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Romano cheese on top.
7. ENJOY! – “Risotto” is the new rice!

This recipe is one that originally came to me from an email newsletter I subscribe to called Sunday Pasta, which sends different recipes for Sunday dinner.
The website is garrubbo.com.

The combination of Brussels sprouts and pancetta in risotto piqued my interest enough to attempt to prepare this recipe. But the recipe was for twice the amount then I wanted to make, so I took the liberty of adjusting the ingredient amounts to half. My preference was to use chicken broth and Romano cheese in my version of the recipe and I eliminated the pepper.

The traditional Sunday dinner is disappearing from my own family’s dinners. Sunday dinner was sacred at one time. Dinner time was late afternoon, no one played with their cell phones and the meal would last for 3 hours. Whether dinner was at home or at an Italian restaurant it was never rushed. Just a few weeks ago, I tried to plan for my kids and grandkids to come to a Sunday dinner at our house in the upcoming weeks. Well, Sunday will not work out because of prior commitments, but Saturday will work. At this point, I am thrilled to have the family for dinner no matter what day of the week it is. Times are different but the value of sitting down to a meal together with generations of family remains the same. Of course, Sunday Pasta will be served!

ZUCCHINI TOTS

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Olive oil

4 zucchini, grated

Salt

1/ 4 cup Mozzarella, shredded

3 eggs, beaten

1/ 2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/ 4 cup Romano and or Parmesan cheese

1/ 2 teaspoon basil

1/ 2 teaspoon oregano

1/ 4 onion, minced

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

  1. Oven 400 degrees
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then brush foil with olive oil.
  3. Place grated zucchini in a colander (place in the sink) and add a few sprinkles of salt. Toss the zucchini and salt a few times and then let it sit. After 5 minutes or more, place tossed zucchini on paper towels to drain excess water.
  4. Place the drained zucchini to a large bowl. Add beaten eggs, mozzarella and grated cheeses, Panko crumbs, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  5. With your hands, form zucchini into 1-inch approximately sized tots. Place tots onto oiled cookie sheet leaving a bit of space between tots.
  6. Bake 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven. Turn tots two times during baking, to get a golden brown color on both sides. Serve warm or hot.
  7. Optional – After completely cooled, you can place in a Ziploc bag and freeze for future use.
  8. 6.   ENJOY – It’s not Potato Tots it’s Zucchnini Tots!

 

If you work in Manhattan or Westchester or anywhere, buying lunch every day can be very expensive.   My daughter, Mia, who works in Manhattan and I, who works in Westchester, bring our lunches to work as often as possible. 

Our lunches don’t necessarily fit the norm all the time for regular packed lunches. Today for example, Mia took some baked ziti with a side container of marinating home grown tomato slices and some corn cheddar muffins.  She loves to take my homemade chicken soup, potato patties, eggplant or spinach balls, etc.   You get the picture; you never know what is going to be in that brown paper lunch bag.  Mia tends to eat small portions.  So, she will either split her lunch into two days or she will share it with her co-workers.  That is where these zucchini tots come into play.  I made so many zucchini tots last week; I gave her quite a few to take to work.  Being Mia, she shared them with her two co-workers, Jessica and Kendyl.  Mia would definitely tell me if she liked or disliked something I made.  Well, there was no reason to worry if she liked the zucchini tots because they were such a big hit that her co-workers asked for the recipe. Happily, she not only liked the zucchini tots but asked if there were any zucchini tots left over to bring to work for lunch again.  That is all I needed to know to make these zucchini tots a part of my personal recipe collection. 

 “Sharing is Caring” really means, “Do you have any extra zucchini tots?”

Somebody Else’s Dad – Charlie’s Artichokes

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This original recipe Charlie got from his son Aaron

3 or 4 pkgs of Frozen Artichoke hearts (I used Birds Eye)

Burrata cheese (I like the imported Italian. He didn’t specify)

Green & Purple Basil (Purple is hard to find)

  1.  Deep fry artichokes in oil (I used olive oil) until kind of crispy on the edges (You don’t have to thaw them first). Dry artichokes on paper towels and then salt them.
  2. Top the burrata with the artichokes and rough chopped fresh basil
  3. Drizzle basil oil on top of all. (I used high quality EVOO).  (To make the basil oil – blanch a good amount of basil for 15 seconds. Ice flash it. Let it dry and then blend with olive oil in a food processor.)
  4. Garnish with crunchy sea salt on top.

 

Charlie’s recipe

3 cans whole large artichokes drained & dried very well on paper towels. (water & oil don’t mix!)

(I used canned whole artichokes in water. DO NOT use the marinated artichokes that come in a jar.

They won’t work in this recipe.)

2 pkgs imported burrata.

(Belgioso makes a good domestic one that comes in a larger size so 1 of them is good)

Fresh basil – chiffonade cut

Olive oil for frying

Good Olive oil for drizzling

Fleur de sel or sea salt or kosher salt. Not regular table salt.

Fresh ground pepper

 

  1. Fill a cast iron skillet with approximately 1/2″ of olive oil. Heat olive oil until smoke point. (I didthis on my outdoor grill. It keeps the splattering out of the kitchen)
  2. Add the artichokes to the hot oil in a single layer. Deep fry until crispy on the edges. I used 2skillets so you will need to fry in batches if you only have one. Drain well on paper towels.
  3. Arrange artichokes on a platter. Top with hunks of burrata. Add the chiffonade cut basil.  Drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt to taste. Fresh ground pepper to taste.
  4. That’s it. Enjoy.
  5. Note: Aaron called for the artichokes on top of the burrata.  I put the burrata on top of the artichokes. It looks better IMHO.
  6. Note 2: You could easily add a drizzle of balsamic too but I did not.

 

Good friends  like Charlie and Laurie are hard to come by, so we consider ourselves twice blessed to have them as neighbors too!

Our friendship began in 1983 when we purchased our homes whose back yards are diagonally across from one another.  We are only separated by a small path that I hope will never be closed as long as we both shall live.  As our new mortgages began, so did living on tight budgets.  My two children did not have a swing/play set in our yard but Laurie and Charlie’s yard, had one of those huge wooden play gyms.  With persistent persuasion I convinced my son to go down to Laurie and Charlie’s yard and meet their children and possibly be invited to use their play set.  It worked and my children enjoyed their play gym for years.  With a house that is situated on a cul-de-sac street, Laurie and Charlie’s street was perfect for our mutual children’s sports and games, unlike my busy street.  All of their children are grown and so have ours, and the play set is gone from their yard, but Laurie, Charlie, Tom and I still get together as often as we can, whether with a group of friends or just the four of us.

During our marriages Tom and Charlie cooked on occasion, also did most of the grilling.  Laurie and I basically prepared the weekly meals and all the holiday dinners while raising our families.  Somewhere along the line, our roles switched.  As our children got older and more independent, the moms moved away from the kitchen and the husbands moved in.  My husband now usually prepares dinner every week night and I cook more on the weekends.  Along the way, Charlie got very into wines.  He built a wine cellar in his house and start exploring the pairing of foods with certain wines.  He gradually progressed into cooking at a more advance level.  Now there is no stopping him!  I bought my husband one year an espresso 2 tier old fashion coffee pot for use on the stove.  Charlie got himself a commercial equivalent huge espresso machine.  I remember one occasion when I was at their home for a meal and was generously pouring balsamic vinegar over my salad, only to hear that it was very good aged Italian balsamic vinegar that cost around $40.00 a bottle.  My balsamic vinegar comes in a 2 pack from Costco and is very economical.  Tom and I get to enjoy being treated to delicious meals at their home all the time.

The first time Charlie prepared this artichoke dish was for a group of us at his home on New Year’s Eve.  Everyone loved it.  Charlie used his son, Aaron’s, recipe that evening.  Charlie again made it was for me when he and Laurie came to our house for an intimate dinner with just the four of us.  Charlie made it a bit different, but I didn’t’ notice since it was still amazing.  When I asked for the recipe and if I could put it on “Somebody’s Mom”, Charlie was very enthusiastic.  As I was reading his recipe, I came across the cooking term chiffonade cut. While I assumed it had to do with cutting the basil leaves, I still had to look it up. Charlie you are definitely above and beyond me with culinary skills and I want you to know how much I appreciate and respect it.

Charlie your are a neighbor, friend and chef all rolled it to one! We support you in all your cooking adventures and are literally right behind you reaping all the benefits!

LENTIL SOUP

DSC050011 16-ounce bag of Lentils

4 smoked ham hocks

8 to 10 cups Chicken stock

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

Celery leaves, chopped

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can of petite cut tomatoes

Basil, Oregano, Parsley

Salt and pepper

 

  1. In a flat dish, sort lentils a handful at a time. Remove anything that is hard or a different color. After sorting lentils, place them in a bowl and add water. Rinse and repeat. Set the drain lentils on the side for later. (Option – I soaked my lentils for an hour in water, then drained them.)
  2. In a deep pot, add olive oil to cover the bottom, about 2 tablespoons. On a medium flame, add chopped onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until tender. Add salt and pepper along with basil, oregano and parsley. Cook a few more minutes.
  3. Add ham hocks and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook 1 hour, until ham hocks become tender.  Stir a few times.
  4. Add lentils and canned tomatoes, continue to cook for another hour.  Serve immediately with bread on the side if desired.  Serves – 8.  Option – garnish with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
  5. ENJOY –  Hearty and Healthy with Lentils a plenty.

 

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Lentil Soup was never a favorite of mine growing up.  Unfortunately for me, my mom loved it and made it all the time.  I have a vivid memory of me sitting with a bowl of lentil soup in front of me at the dinner table after everyone else had finished dinner and left the table.  My unfinished bowl of soup remained in front of me for a very long time, before I was allowed to leave the table.  

Years later, when I was teaching American cooking, the talk of lentil soup came up.  One of the lady’s husband’s had requested her to learn how to make lentil soup for him.  Mom gave me her recipe and I taught the cooking class how to make Lentil soup.  Recently, I asked my husband if he liked Lentil Soup and he said he did.  In honor of the New Year, I decided to make it for him.  Searching high and low through all my recipes, my mother’s lentil soup recipe was nowhere to be found.   I was saddened by the fact that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mom for the recipe.  

My memory is pretty good and I knew the main ingredients, lentils, ham hocks, chicken broth and some vegetables.  For sure, I remembered sorting through the lentils first.  When I first did this many years ago, I would find a few tiny pebbles mixed in with the lentils.  Recently, sorting through the lentils I only came across a few, about 12, discolored lentils that I removed.  It is written right on the back of the bag of lentils – “Sort and clean lentils.”  With another statement boldly printed also – “Lentils are a natural agricultural product. Despite use of modern cleaning equipment, it is not always possible to remove all foreign material.  Sort and rinse lentils before cooking.”  Sorting the lentils for me seems very relaxing and in a way a little bit therapeutic. 

After writing up a rough draft of a lentil recipe, I called my sister-in-law, Susan, who is a great cook, for her opinion and advice.  She whole heartily agreed with me on my lentil soup recipe.  With Susan’s approval I felt confident and ready to cook lentil soup.

 Tom, my husband, enjoyed his 2016 New Year Lentil soup.  Lentils for the New Year symbolize money, prosperity and good luck.  All good things!  Another good thing, I ate two small bowls of Lentil soup, and really enjoyed it.   

I miss my mom every day.  Not finding her recipe made me realize how much I want to talk to her and how frustrated I get because I can’t.  Don’t take your mom for granted.  Give her a call, listen closely to her voice and most of all get her recipes, write them down and keep them in safe.  There is no sound more soothing and comforting as a mother’s voice. 

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Carrot Bread

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Carrot Bread

  • Difficulty: easy
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DSC04578

1 cup finely grated carrots
2 eggs
1 / 2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 1 / 2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 / 2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 / 3 cup oats
1 / 2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, oats and baking soda in a bowl.
Sift together. In a larger bowl, beat butter or margarine, add sugar. Then add eggs, milk and vanilla. Gradually add in carrots.
3. Add flour mixture slowly to the carrot mixture. Lastly, stir in walnuts. Spread batter in loaf pan.
4. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until golden. Test with a toothpick until it comes out clean from the bread. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, loosen around the edges with a butter knife and then remove bread from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Optional – Double the recipe and make 2 loaves. Serve one now and freeze the other. This recipe freezes well!
6. ENJOY! – Delicious and nutritious!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com


Years ago, a reader requested some healthy snack recipes for her children. This carrot bread is a perfect example of a healthy snack for kids as well as a great breakfast bread or afternoon tea bread.

Having 3 children of my own, I know how they can have bottomless stomachs when it comes to eating. My son, Tom, was the ultimate eating machine. He was born hungry. My first child came into this world at 9 pounds and 13 ounces. The nurses came to see who had this big baby. One of the nurses commented, “You didn’t have a baby, you had a man”. The doctor said to feed my child every 4 hours but Tom wanted to eat every 2 hours. It has been that way ever since. Mind you this son of mine had a hard time gaining weight as a teenager. He was 6’3’ and his built was slender, still is; lucky him. One time when Tom was about 12 years old, I was woken up at about 3:00 am in the middle of the night from the sound of humming. There was Tom in the kitchen eating big bowl of cereal. His reasoning was he woke up hungry and had to eat at 3:00 am. Do you know the saying, “Feed me, I’m yours”, well it is true. It is very hard for a mother not to feed a hungry child at any time, day or night.

Providing healthy snacks for my son and 2 daughters had been a challenge for me. When I was growing up the only thing I was allowed after school was a small sweet and then nothing else until our 6:00 p.m. dinner. I remember it was torture to wait those 3 hours until dinner was ready. My mother always kept celery and carrots cleaned and in the refrigerator for a ready snack all the time. I followed this practice with my own children. The only difference with mom and me is that I let my kids dip their celery and carrots in salad dressing. After dinner and after dessert, the kids were always still hungry. “You can have some fruit”, was always my answer. The simple things in life are usually the easiest answers.

Fast forward to present day and some things never change. Whenever I go to my son, Tom’s, home I bring food, whether cookies, macaroni and cheese, chicken soup, etc. I never go empty handed. But,just recently, I went to his home immediately from work and arrived to babysit my grandkids without bringing anything. My grandson, Tommy, after a hug and kiss, said, “Tima, did you bring me anything to eat!”
When I said not this time, he let out a big disappointed cry of, “Ahhhhhhh,I’m so hungry!” Like I said, some things never change, like boys and their bottomless stomachs.

The breads I make like this carrot bread, provide a great snack. Instead of candy or chips, a slice of bread is delicious and filling for a child or an adult. Bake, bake and bake some more. The house will be warm and their tummies will be full, at least until the hungry cry of, “Mom, can I have something to eat!”

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR QUICHE

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Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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DSC042681 head of broccoli florets
2 9-inch deep dish piecrusts
1 1/ 2 cup Durkee French Fried onions
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
8 extra large eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon margarine, softened

1. Oven 425 degrees. Punch fork holes on bottom and sides of piecrusts. Bake 10 minutes. Take out piecrusts and set aside to cool.
2. Spread softened or melted margarine in the bottom of the piecrusts with pastry brush.
3. Cut broccoli up into bite size pieces. Steam broccoli florets. Place broccoli on paper towel after steaming. In a large bowl, place broccoli florets, French fried onions and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Toss and mix together. Split the broccoli mixture between the two piecrusts evenly.
4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with milk. Pour mixture over broccoli mixture in piecrusts. Sprinkle 1/ 2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top of each quiche.
5. Pour 1/2 cup of half and half evenly over the cheddar cheese on each quiche.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 325 degrees and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes longer.
7. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
8. ENJOY – Quiche and Brunch go together like icing on a cake!

 ©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com 

Every Sunday I cook. Sunday left overs are perfect for work week lunches. My daughter, Mia, and I bring our lunch to work a majority of the time. Every office now-a-days has a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, etc. Some even have mini kitchens available for employees to encourage brown bagging lunches. When employees bring lunch, they usually eat at their desks which means less time away from the office.

Quiche of any kind is Mia’s favorite choice for brown bagged lunch. I never make one quiche at a time. I prepare two. One can be frozen or used for lunch for work. Salads also make great lunches. My Sunday dinner will always have a huge salad. Leftover chicken or steak cubed and added to a salad makes for a heartier lunch. Throw in some leftover steamed asparagus or broccoli and it is almost a complete meal.

Sunday dinner is really all about what are we bringing to lunch on Monday and Tuesday. There is nothing better on a Monday morning, rushing for work, knowing that your lunch is packed and ready to go!

Stuffed Zucchini with Artichokes

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4 large zucchini
olive oil
1 /2 onion (small), chopped
1 14 ounce can whole artichokes in water
2 t0 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
1 /2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1 /2 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Oven 350 degrees
2. Wash zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon scrape out the inside of the zucchini
shell carefully starting in the center, leaving a shell for filling later. Steam the shells in
the microwave for 2 to 5 minutes. Place on paper towels to absorb water from steaming.
3. In a large frying pan, add olive oil to semi cover the bottom, use medium heat.
Add chopped garlic and onion. Cook a few minutes. Add scooped out zucchini.
4. Drain water from artichoke can. Cut up artichokes into bite size pieces. Add to frying pan, and
continue cooking. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper, sauté until everything is tender.
4. Turn off heat and stir in grated cheese and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. If too wet looking,
sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time, more grated cheese and/or bread crumbs.
5. Spoon mixture into zucchini shells and place stuffed side up on an oven pan or cookie sheet. Bake
20 to 25 minutes. Then turn oven to broil and broil for 1 or 2 minutes to brown the top, keeping
an eye on the zucchini, they brown quickly. Serve immediately.
6. ENJOY! – Zucchini and artichokes were meant to be together!

If you love zucchini and artichokes as much as I do, you will love this recipe. Combining the right vegetables is like combining the right guests for a meal. One will compliment the other.

I entertain frequently and I enjoy bringing people together to my table. Sitting people together over a meal usually means there is no loss for conversation. All that I need to get strangers to converse with each other, is to talk about what I am serving. I am fearless in cooking and try new dishes on friends and family all the time. This is definitely a great way to break the ice and get the conversation going. I encourage comments and feedback on the new recipe that was prepared. Whether they love it, hate it or have no opinion, it gets everyone talking.

Don’t be afraid to try a new dish and or to bring people together the next time you entertain. Either way the results may surprise you. Just sit back and enjoy the conversation as well as your company!