Tag Archives: #recipes

Getting Greek…

The worst part of the lockdown was not being able to travel. We love Europe and all the different foods and flavors you find there. Greece was one our favorite trips. We spent time in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini (our hotel in Santorini was insane, check it out here).

Anyway, since we can’t be in Greece right now, we’re cooking up a simple Greek lunch. Souvlaki! This dish could not be easier. Many people like to use chicken thighs for this recipe, which are more flavorful but hubby only likes white meat so I use skinless, boneless breasts which I cube up. In a bowl I add about 2 cups of white wine, about 2 tablespoons of oregano, a tablespoon of EVOO and salt & pepper. Whisk this marinade well and then add the cubed chicken. You can marinate for an hour or as long as overnight. I then removed chicken from the marinade and put in shallow baking pan and baked in my oven for about 25 minutes (until there is no pink in the middle of the chicken).

I served the souvlaki with a salad, warm pita bread, fresh feta cheese (IMO Bulgarian goat feta is the best if you can find it.) and a side of freshly made tzatziki sauce. To make the tzatziki I use Greek Yogurt (I like the Fage brand, 0% fat) which I strain before using so it really thickens up. I add minced, peeled & seeded cucumber, garlic powder (fresh garlic is too strong, I’ve been told…) salt, pepper and a ton of fresh minced dill. Stir in all ingredients and let it set in a bowl in fridge for about 20 minutes).

You can make a sandwich with all of these yummy ingredients or if you’re on keto just plate it with the sides and no bread.

Let me know if you have questions!

Shrimp & Grits…sort of

One of the dishes I used to like to order when I was on the road was shrimp & grits. This was not a dish that I grew up with or one that I made, until recently (of course with my own spin on it).

To make my version of this dish I prepared some polenta (follow the instructions on the bag). I use chicken broth (or you can use vegetable broth) instead of water – this gives the polenta a richer flavor. When the polenta is nearly done cooking (remember to stir, stir, stir) I add about a tablespoon of mascarpone, which makes the polenta creamy and yummy. Remove from heat and prepare the shrimp.

In my wok (or sauté pan) I steam some fresh broccoli rabe for about 7 minutes (again I steam this in chicken broth, which removes some of the bitterness). Strain and refresh with cold water. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, drizzle with a little EVOO and set aside.

Now, back to your wok or sauté pan. Add a little EVOO, when warm add some fresh minced garlic and either fresh chopped onion or scallion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add fresh, cleaned shrimp and sauté until just pink. I usually have mint & basil growing on the patio, so I would mince some up and toss in towards the end of cooking.

Now to plate this baby. Spoon polenta on the plate, top with shrimp and a helping of the broccoli rabe. I garnished with fresh avocado. You can drizzle with EVOO and viola!

Pro-tip: you can use any type of protein and/or veggie for this dish. Chicken would be great or LOBSTER…broccoli or zucchini noodles would work too.

Stuffing

I’m the first to admit that the harder something is to find, the more I must have it. Case in point is the Martin’s cubed potato bread I need to make my Thanksgiving stuffing. It’s either abundantly available or scarce.

The stuffing is always a hit on Thanksgiving (I only make it once a year so everyone’s dying for it by November LOL). Here’s all you need to know to make this yummy side dish:

Ingredients:
2 sticks salted butter
1/4 cup EVOO
1 stalk of chopped celery (leaves included)
1 large sweet onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 bags of Martin’s potato bread
2 cups of chicken broth
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 cups of chopped roasted chestnuts
1 cup of dried craisins
1 cup sauteed mushrooms
Salt, pepper
Coarsely chopped thyme, sage (fresh if you can get it)

How to:
In a large pot heat EVOO add 1/2 stick of butter cut in chunks. When butter has melted add celery, onion, carrots (AKA the “trilogy”) parsley and saute until softened. Add additional 1/2 stick of butter (this is not low cal!) when melted, add potato bread and mix to incorporate. Turn heat off and add chicken broth, eggs and milk (add additional milk if mixture is too dry). Add chestnuts, craisins and mushrooms (you can totally skip these if you like) and season with salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Your mixture should have a loose consistency. Turn mixture into deep baking pan and top with small pats of remaining butter and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 (when top is golden brown your stuffing is ready!)

Pro-tip: I throw whatever I have on hand in the stuffing. This year I had extra butternut squash-which I cubed and sauteed with the rest of the veggies. You can totally customize this to what you and your family like.

Before and after baking the stuffing. The end product should be savory and creamy.

Fabulous Falafel

After a busy Saturday we wanted something easy but yummy for dinner, signal the falafel! Super easy, tweakable recipe with a nice side of tzatziki to pull it all together. I’ll start with the tzatziki, which I could literally eat a bowl of just by itself! I have found with this sauce it’s best to strain the yogurt for a few hours or overnight. This allows for the yogurt to really thicken up and have a creamy consistency when mixed with other ingredients. It’s not necessary, but I do think it improves the final product.

Tzatziki:
I use Fage 0% yogurt (17.6 oz. container). I like the taste and consistency (and it’s closest to the yogurt we ate in Greece!) If you have time, strain overnight (just plop yogurt in a sieve over a bowl and let it rest in the fridge). Mix in the following ingredients:

1. Handful of minced fresh dill
2. 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced fresh garlic
3. (Optional: 1 chopped scallion)
4. Salt & pepper to taste

That’s it! Mix it all together and you’ve got a yummy traditional Greek side. Now for the falafel.

Ingredients:
1 Large can of chickpeas (28 oz. – I like the Goya brand)
2 scallions chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon of each: Cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
A few tablespoons of flour to bind up mixture

First mash up the chick peas (I don’t like them too mushy-you don’t want hummus! I leave a few chick peas just slightly broken to give it a rustic texture). You can do this by using a fork or a immersion blender. Once this is done, add all ingredients but the flour and mix very well. After mixing sprinkle in a bit of flour – just enough so that you can form a ball or patty from a tablespoon of the mixture. Once you have the right consistency you can form the mixture. I make patties not balls because I pan fry them rather than deep fry. I feel like the patties cook more consistently.

In a sauté pan, heat about 1/2 inch of EVOO, add patties (don’t overcrowd the pan). Once in oil leave them alone for about 3 minutes. Flip when golden brown. When second side is cooked, remove from pan and place on plate lined with paper towels.

Serve with a side of the tzatziki and a salad and you have a great Mediterranean dinner!

Just for the Halibut

We have a good friend that is a boat captain. A few times a year he is hired as the captain of a fishing boat in Alaska (chartered by the rich and famous LOL). He has great adventures there, and always brings us back fresh fish that he’s caught during these trips. There is no comparison to what he brings us, the halibut, the salmon…it’s just amazing. The colors are bright and the flavors super fresh. I try to prepare whatever he’s brought us simply so that the true flavors shine through. Here’s how we made the halibut a few nights ago.

Halibut in a light beer batter:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of flour with 3/4 bottle of beer (dark lager works well, but whatever you have on hand will work) whisk well until blended (mixture should be thinner than pancake batter, adjust mixture as necessary). Season with salt & pepper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
  2. Cut fish (in this case halibut) into thick strips (see pic below).
  3. In heavy saucepan heat about 1/2 inch of EVOO.
  4. Remove batter from fridge, whisk a bit to make sure everything is blended together. Then dredge each fish strip into batter.
  5. Carefully drop each coated fish strip into hot oil. Do not move for about 2 minutes (otherwise you’ll tear off the batter and probably tear the fish). After about 2 minutes (bottom should be lightly browned) flip fish over and finish cooking other side. When fully cooked remove fish from oil and place on paper towel lined plate, season with pepper and lemon. Voila!

This evening we served this with lemon infused fingerling potatoes and fried mini eggplants that we found at the farmer’s market.

Bounty of the Sea

An easy midweek dinner for us is seafood pasta. I’m all about fresh ingredients, prepared simply and this is definitely one of those dishes. I’m always tweaking recipes so, particularly for this dish, there are no rules. For the seafood, I’m lucky to have a good seafood monger near me in both NY and Clearwater. So far as what seafood to buy? I get maybe 3 or 4 small portions of whatever seafood looks freshest when shopping.

Let’s get this dish going.  For today, let’s say I just bought 1/2 dozen clams, 1 pound of shrimp and a small piece of cod (my favorite).  This is how you pull it together:

  1. Bring large pot of decently salted water to boil.
  2. In large saucepan sauté 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/4 cup of diced sweet onion.  Add 2 cups of water with 2 bullion cubes to saucepan and bring to a boil.  Drop in clams and lower flame.  When all clams are open (discard any that do not, or you’ll get bad clam belly LOL), drop in shrimp (I clean, devein and remove tails, but I know folks also like to keep the tail on).  When shrimp turn pink, drop in cubed pieces of cod and continue to cook on low flame until cod is cooked through (about 4 minutes).  Cod will fall apart, this is perfectly fine as it will thicken up the sauce. 
    Pro-tip: I sometimes use lobster tail, flounder, grouper – buy what looks freshest and prepare in the same way. 
  3. Put your pasta in rapidly boiling water (we like a Barilla Bucatini – it’s a thick spaghetti with a hole in the center – but fettuccini, spaghetti or whatever you like will work).  Cook until al dente  (about 9 minutes – do a taste test – you can always cook it more, you can’t cook it less…)  Using a spaghetti scoop put pasta in saucepan with seafood mixture adding water from the pasta pot as necessary to create the thickness of sauce that you want (we like about 2-3 scoops of pasta water).    
  4. You can add cooked broccoli rabe or sautéed spinach for a fancy touch.  Garnish with chopped parsley, grated cheese, salt & pepper and that’s it! 

The prep time for this meal is under 30 minutes so it’s a great weeknight go-to.  Enjoy!

Pizza Pizza

No one delivers better than mom…

Growing up in Queens there were strong pizza affiliations – Carlos’, Sal’s, Ben’s, Newpark, dare I mention Big Bow Wow…yes, I’m that old (barely). In any case, it’s fun sometimes to try to create a masterpiece pizza. Who doesn’t like playing with the dough, and creating their own pizza? Truthful moment – my homemade pizza comes out excellent about 40% of the time…true I cook in two very different environments (NYC gas oven, Clearwater convection electric) but I just can’t quite figure it out. I have tossed many a pizza whose crust is half baked and cheese either burnt or not cooked, or both. So I’ll spare you a disingenuous sharing of a recipe here and leave you with one of my pizza success story pictures. I wish you luck and invite you to share (please) any pointers here that I can build on. I know someone has this figured out!