The Guardian

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nicky's Panini

Nicky's Panini
OK so since I added Kristian's Panini, of course my Nicky wanted his own. So here it is and if I must say so myself, it is very scrumptious!!! You go Nicky!!
4 slices of toasted or grilled Italian Bread
Olive Oil to brush on bread before grilling on both sides
8 slices Fresh honey roasted Turkey Breast
4 slices Fresh American cheese sliced
handful Wrinkled Potato Chips
4-6 Roasted Peppers (Previous Recipe Blogged)
Small handful Fresh Basil Chopped
Low Fat Mayo or Honey Mustard ( His favorite is Inglehoffre Honey Mustard)
4 Sliced Mini Pickles
A sprinkle of salt and pepper to grill and taste
Slice 4 pieces of fresh thick Italian bread. Brush each piece with Olive Oil and salt and pepper on both sides. I like my panini grilled, so I would grill them in a grill pan (George Foreman) and get them nice and toasted with grill lines. After they are grilled be ready to build panini and mangata!! Add the Mayo or Mustard (your choice) , Pickles, Turkey, Cheese, Chips, Peppers, and chopped Basil. In that order. Then Sit down with a glass of white wine or Iced Tea and Eat!! Enjoy!!! 

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup
1 Bag of Dried Peas
2 Carrots Peeled and Sliced
2 Medium Onion Diced
Handful of Parsley
salt & Pepper to Season
7 Pieces of Cooked Ham sliced and diced
Handful of Fresh Parsley
2 Containers of Chicken broth of your choice
2 Knorr cube chicken flavored cubes
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves whole and peeled
Seasoned Ham packet that comes with the dried peas
Grated Parm cheese (optional)
I used a bag of dried peas and set them in water for 24 hours. I covered them completely with water and drained and rinsed them when soaking was finished. Then I added the olive oil and garlic to a soup pot until the oil and garlic came to a slight sizzle. Then I added the peas and tossed for a minute in the oil and garlic. Then I added the diced onions, carrots, chicken broth, seasoned pack and ham. Then I added salt and pepper to season. Let cook for 30 minutes on medium heat and keep stirring so that nothing sticks to the pot. Add the chicken cubes and parsley at this time and bring to a low heat and cook for another 30 minuets. The chicken broth should evaporate and make a nice thick soup. I like the Parm cheese in my soup when I serve it but then again I like Cheese on seafood!! OH THE HORROR!!! hahaha Be your own judge!!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Italian "Gravy" with Spare Ribs and Meatballs

Italian Gravy with Spareribs and Meatballs
Hello Y'all!! Well so this weekend I entered into a meatball contest so I  had to make a full pot of gravy and meatballs and bring them to the contest in a crock pot.  So that gave me a great excuse to take step by step directions on how to make Italian Style Gravy and the losing Meatballs...hahaha...In my defense, the rules stated to enter the meatball WITHOUT gravy and no one listened to the rules EXCEPT me!! Of course mine lost, everything tastes better soaked in gravy for three hours..hahahaa...Now I know the secrets to winning this contest and I will be prepared next year!! hahaha....Ok so this recipe comes from my mom (a little tweaked, I'm sure) no real Italian cook has EXACT recipe directions...haha...It's always "A little bit of this, with a little bit of that."...This is my base for many things like Beef Stew, Pasta Fagoli, different soups, Lasagna, Baked Ziti and so much more. Actually when I do make Baked Ziti I use the leftover meatballs and crush them into the mixture with the motz cheese, pasta and gravy!! That will come later this week, I'm sure.... First we will start with the Spare Ribs and Beef Chunk and then once the gravy is cooking, start the meatballs and then add them to the gravy. Follow the pictures from bottom to top as far as the directions go. So I hope this helps you. Enjoy!!
Ingredients for The Gravy:
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 whole large Garlic Cloves
Gravy meat from butcher (mine included 4 Pork Spare Ribs and a piece of Beef)
Handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Lowry's Garlic Salt to taste
 2 large carrots peeled only (leave whole)
1 large sweet onion or two small ones
a handful of whole Basil leaves
2 cans of tomato paste- plain
3 cans of Diced San Marzano tomatoes (2 1/2 Blended and 1/2 can of diced tomatoes) plain flavor!!
Directions For The Gravy:
Start with your biggest stainless steel pot and add the olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, and gravy meat until meat starts to cook and sizzle. Then turn meat over to sizzle the other side. Then add 1/2 of the parsley,  a bit more salt and pepper and the Lawry's. At this time, blend ( in a blender) the diced tomatoes and add to the meat mixture. Leave a 1/2 can of diced tomato un-blended and add them in whole. Add the onions, carrots, basil, tomato paste and the rest of the parsley. Let this simmer on a med-low heat for 20 minutes, with lid on stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Then turn heat to low and watch for bubbling. At this time you will have to stir it again. In the meantime, start your meatballs. From the time of adding meatballs into this gravy, you could have your gravy cook on low for up to two hours (on very very low heat). It will be ready long before then but the flavor really develops the longer it cooks on a very low temperature. That's just my opinion!!! and NEVER ADD SUGAR!! UGH!! hahahaha!!
Ingredients for The Meatballs:
For the pic above I used 3 lbs of meat. I cook a lot of gravy because I use it all week long. However I made three pounds of meatballs for the meatball contest. I usually use 2 lbs...hahaha... I know, I know what a difference!! haha....
3 lbs of Veal and Pork Ground in equal parts. ( From Butcher- LOMBARDI'S In South Philly on Packer Ave)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Lowry's garlic salt
Handful of parsley
2 eggs
handful of Parma Cheese
1 cup of Bread crumb- Fresh Italian bread crumbs from the same butcher.
3 hotdog potato rolls soaked in milk or water and then ring out liquid----funny right??
Vegetable Oil to fry
Add everything together in no real order and mix into balls about the palm size. Picture is above. Once meatballs are nice and rolled fill a frying pan with the oil and start frying baby!! I use a non-stick pan because I've noticed that the meatballs will stick to a stainless steel frying pan. You want to put enough oil that the meatballs aren't immersed in oil but the oil is 1/2 way up the meatball's side. Turn occasionally and then once cooked add immediately to the pot of gravy that is already simmering. No need to blot oil off, just slowly let it drip off from the slotted spoon into the frying pan as you bring the meatball to the gravy. Once all the meatballs are cooked, let the gravy simmer altogether for about 45 minutes on a very low heat. This gravy could be cooked longer if you'd like and then turn off heat and then re-simmer once you are ready to use on your pasta.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beef Stew- Italian Style

I decided to make beef stew. It's my brother Hank's, , favorite dish!! See how I plugged my very talented niece!!! hahaha...She rocks socks!!! OK let's get back to the Beef Stew!! My brother uses Filet Mignon, however my beer pockets used pre-cut beef strips from the supermarket..hahaha...This stew does not take long to cook, maybe 1 hour from start to finish. Like I used to cheer from my cheerleader days, "Oh you can do it, put your mind to it, buckle down, buckle it, do it, do it!!"...hahaha This dish is wonderful served with garlic bread or fresh Italian bread. It's a great "dunk" dish!!...Very filling and totally comfort food! ...Let's get started! Enjoy!
2 pounds of beef strips
salt & pepper to taste
A handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
Lowry's Garlic salt (To taste) about 1 tablespoon
3 Cups Fresh Made Gravy- recipe to follow
2 Carrot Sticks chopped into circle pieces (raw or cooked)
1/2 Bag of Frozen peas (32 Ounce Bag)
3 Medium brown potato's peeled and cut
1/2 Can of Chopped tomatoes (tomato's only, no juice)
4 Bay Leaves
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Whole garlic cloves
Handful of Parmesan Cheese to Garnish serving dish (Grated or Shredded) ..NEVER FROM A CAN!
Start by using a 12 quart sauce pot. This way as the ingredients start to pile into the pot, you will always have enough room. On a medium heat, add the Olive Oil and garlic cloves. When the oil starts to wave and garlic starts to sizzle, add the cut beef strips. Mix occasionally with a metal spoon or spatula. I find that a metal spatula moves the meat around better and the metal spatula will not "Melt" like a plastic spatula will...That bothers me so much! Once the meat is about 80% cooked, add the salt, pepper, garlic salt, the parsley and the bay leaves. Wait 5 minutes and add the gravy. Now here is the tricky part!! My gravy was already prepared from the night before (when I made the Cavatelli) It already had the cooked carrots and whole cooked onion in it. I discarded the onion but feel free to chop and add it if you'd like. I like cooked onions myself but this original recipe does not have onions in it so I discarded mine. It's up to you!! That's the beauty of cooking!!   Wait about 5 minutes and then add the frozen peas. Wait 5 minutes and then add the potato's. The potato's cook fast and will turn too mushy if added too quickly. I like a firm potato...haha...That sounded funny!! But really, it's your preference! Let everything cook for about 30 minutes on a med-low heat. It can be left on the stove on a low simmer and re-heated when the Hubby or Wifey comes home!!! When ready to serve garnish with the Parmesan Cheese to each serving in equal amount & Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bolognese Sauce- With Cavatelli

Bolognese Sauce
Tonight I decided to make a Bolognese Sauce because my very dear friend, Catherine Cantlin, asked me for the recipe that was on the Profile picture for my Facebook Page called Sunday Night Dinner. I had pasted that picture before really doing the blog so I never really took step-by-step pictures on how I made it. So I decided for her and everyone that post the steps with a new fresh batch of Bolognese. This is actually a very easy, fast and filling dinner for any mom or dad who works but still wants a homemade meal for their family. The reality is the base (gravy...pic shown above) can be prepared the day before and put in the fridge in the same pot and lid that it was cooked in and just put on the stove top to reheat until ready to add to the "meat" portion of the Bolognese. I don't use beef ground because I personally don't like the "dense" taste so I used ground pork in the Bolognese above. I do however make my meatballs with Ground Pork and Veal ...ONLY! Again, it is just my preference. You be your own judge!!! Enjoy!!!!
2 Frozen bags of "Scaramuzza's" fresh frozen Cheese Cavatelli (16oz bag)
Salt & Cracked Pepper to Season
Fresh Parsley- Handful Cleaned & Chopped
2 Tablespoon Lowry's Garlic Salt
8 Whole Cloves of Garlic peeled (not sliced or cut) 
2 Cans of organic diced tomato's- Puree 1 can only plus 1/2 can of water
2 lbs Ground Pork
1 large Sweet Onion Chopped
4 medium Carrots Chopped
6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Large Carrots Whole (for gravy, scraped of it's outer skin, of course)
1 Large Sweet Onion Whole (for gravy, peeled of course)
1 Full Handful of fresh Basil (for gravy)
4 Bay Leaves
1/4 cup of Parma Cheese ( The real thing)


First I started making the "gravy" I know some people call it sauce but they are all from New York....hahaha... OK so let's get started. using a 12 quart pot, add 1/2 the Olive oil to the pot and add 4 garlic cloves. Wait until the the oil and garlic starts to sizzle then add one Large Whole Sweet onion and 2 Whole carrot sticks. Let the oil simmer at a medium-low heat until garlic is golden (not burned)....Then add 1 can of purred tomato's and 1 can can of whole diced tomato' plus one 1/2 of a can of water, add salt, pepper, Lawry's Garlic Salt to season. Let simmer for 10 minutes and then add 1/2  of the chopped parsley and 1/2 of the whole fresh Basil and let simmer for another 10 minutes.....This sauce can be used for sooooo many things!!!! OK let's get back to business!! HAHA.... Now let's start the meat sauce! Are you Ready???? I think you are!!! Let's go!

Meat Sauce:

OK so let's get started!!! In a large Stainless Steel Boiling pot add the rest of the Olive Oil and Garlic and simmer until warm. Add the Ground Pork and cook until fully cooked. I use a metal Spatula because it chops the pork meat up very thoroughly and it will not scrap up my Stainless Steel pans. At this point I add the Chopped Carrots and 1 Large sweet chopped onion (picture above), Salt, Pepper and the rest of the Parsley and Bay Leaves. Let this saute for 25 minutes on low heat. Allow to simmer for 12- 15 minutes. Add the "gravy"portion by the ladle to the meat mixture. I added 5 full  ladles. You can add what you think is the right consistency. It should not cover the meat sauce completely. The consistency should be more meat than sauce.  Your sauce is ready to add to almost any Pasta. I used Cavatelli because I like a full bodied pasta. Do Not forget to pick out the Bay leaves.

 I boiled salted water and added 2 bags of frozen Cavatelli. When the pasta is boiling, I get a pasta serving dish and add 2 ladles full of Bolognase sauce to the bottom of the serving dish. Then I wait until pasta is finished being cooked. Then I ladle out the cooked pasta onto the Serving dish and add 2-4 more ladles of the meat sauce to the pasta and add the Parma cheese to top. Add a sprinkle of Fresh Parsley if you want to. It does make for a wonderful presentation


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken Cutlets

Chicken Cutlets
Tonight I made an Italian favorite...Chicken cutlets, salad, garlic bread, and sauteed broccoli. Well, at least its my kids favorite!!! It is a safe, go-to meal when you know your going to be working late or running late or shopping to hard!! hahaha....The cutlets can be done ahead of time up until the breaded stage and then put in the fridge until ready to be fried. I have left them in the fridge up to 12 hours before ready to use and they were fine and actually I found that they fried better. They stayed neat and did not lose breading when frying. The cutlets above where fried immediately after breading so you be the judge. I use one egg per pound but that's just me. I will give a shout out right now...I sometimes use "Lombardi's Prime Meats"  located on 1801 Packer Ave, Phila, Pa 215-334-1212.... Ask for Anthony, he rocks!!! They actually make them pre-breaded and they are wonderful!!!! So wonderful for a working mom!!! FYI!!!
My recipe is as follows:
2 lbs Chicken Cutlets (In the picture above I used tenderloins) otherwise known as Chicken Fingers
Salt and pepper to season
1 handful of Parm Cheese
2 Eggs
2 Cups Un-Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Handful of fresh Parsley
Vegetable Oil to Fry (about 2 cups)
 Take chicken and clean thoroughly. I use 1 egg for every 1lb of Chicken. So since I used 2 lbs of chicken cutlets , then you will use 2 eggs. Crack two eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper to season. Add the handful of cheese, then add the handful of fresh chopped parsley. Mix well. Add cleaned chicken into the egg mixture and let sit (At this point you could fridgerate the chicken until you come home from work or wait until breaded and then refrigerate until ready to fry) Place Bread crumbs into a separate bowl and then drench egg soaked chicken into the bread crumb mixture until evenly covered and then place into a separate bowl or dish. (If you refrigerate, always remember to cover with plastic)
 If you use "Lombardi's", (that it is fry ready) then you won't have to egg and bread crumb, just put into the refrigerator.... When you are are ready to fry, put oil in a coated frying pan on medium and wait until the oil "talks". When you think the oil is hot enough, it should "wave" like the bay and not the sea..... That's what I mean about talking. At this point add the chicken and the oil should "sing". You will know that it is ready. The pics are above are depictions of frying and breading. Place finished fried chicken onto a strainer that is either lined or has lining under it... (which is what I prefer) It dries out better and does not look oily. Place the finished chicken on a serving dish when dried out and not oily (about 8 minutes). Then you can serve or keep covered until ready to serve. Enjoy~~....

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fried Dough

Fried Dumpling Dough
So if you looked at my Chicken Dumpling Soup, then you saw how wonderful the dumplings turned out. So if you made too many, like I did....Then you can fry them in vegetable oil and sprinkle them with sugar and powdered sugar or cinnamon. Every kid will love them and devourer them.... My Niece Brianna ate them up!! So here goes:
3 Cups of Flour
11 Ounces of Milk
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Extra Cup of Flour for mixing
1 1/2 Teaspoons of salt
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 Cup of White Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Cinnamon

In a mixer with dough attachment, add flour, milk, baking powder and salt. Mix until a firm dough ball. Add more flour if necessary. Let sit for 15 minutes or until all equipment is cleaned. On a floured surface, cut dough into 2" strips and use a floured rolling pin to flatten strips into 1/4" thick pieces of  dough. Cut strips into dough squares, just like picture above. Place dough into a floured baking sheet until ready to use. Then add Vegetable oil to frying pan and heat to med-high heat. Add dough strips and fry until golden brown, turning frequently. Pull finished cooked dough onto a strainer that you have situated on top of a cooking sheet. Sprinkle generously with white sugar, letting the excess sugar fall onto cookie sheet for easy clean-up.... Once everything is cooked place cooked dough on a serving dish and sprinkle 1/2 with Cinnamon and 1/2 with powdered sugar. Enjoy!!!