Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Zuppa Toscana II

Here's a similar, yet different and easier version of Zuppa Toscana (Tuscan Soup) that I’d previously posted. This one-pot soup is copied from an Olive Garden Tuscany soup recipe. Five minutes to prep, 40 minutes to cook. And that's it. Serves 6.

Oh, and it is delicious beyond belief! Comfort food.


  • ITALIAN SAUSAGE, 16 ounces
  • BACON, 8 slices cut into lardons
  • ONION, ½ large, diced
  • GARLIC, 2-3 cloves, minced
  • CHICKEN BROTH, 3½ cups (28 ounces)
  • WATER, 3 cups
  • RUSSET POTATOES, 5 medium, thinly sliced
  • CRUSHED RED PEPPER FLAKES, crushed, 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • KALE, 4 cups chopped
  • PARMESAN CHEESE, grated, to garnish


  1. Brown sausage in a large pot.
  2. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add bacon to pot and cook until crispy.
  4. Stir in chopped onion. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  5. Stir in minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  6. Add chicken broth and water to the pot. Add crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper if desired.
  7. Add thinly sliced potatoes and the cooked sausage to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  8. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Add the kale to the soup, and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Stir in the heavy cream and let heat through.
  11. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hawaiian Pasta Salad

This is a wonderfully light, cold, tasty and filling dinner with very little work involved—most of it is chopping. I didn’t have bow-tie pasta and I didn’t want to go shopping, so I used some left-over rotini pasta.

Advisory: This recipe makes a helluva big bowlful, enough to feed at least 6 people.

  • ROTINI or BOW-TIE PASTA, 8 ounces
  • PINEAPPLE (CRUSHED), 1 14-ounce can, juice reserved
  • RED PEPPER, 1, diced
  • HAM, 2 cups, diced
  • GREEN ONION, 1, chopped
  • PINEAPPLE CHUNKS, 1 14-ounce can, for topping


  • MAYONNAISE, ½ cup
  • SOUR CREAM, ¼ cup
  • DIJON MUSTARD, 1 tablespoon
  • CIDER VINEGAR, 1 teaspoon
  • HONEY, 1 teaspoon
  • GARLIC POWDER, ¼ teaspoon
  • BLACK PEPPER to taste

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Chop the red peppers, ham and green onions.
  3. Add the pineapple and mix.
  4. Make the dressing.
  5. Mix everything together and refrigerate to cool and meld the flavors.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Honey Garlic Butter Salmon

It’s surprising what four simple ingredients will do when combined in the right proportions and poured over a side of salmon.

Service this dish with whatever sides strikes your fancy. A fresh garden salad, any kind of vegetables (sliced and buttered carrots are great) and some simple potatoes or rice in any form will do wonders for your meal.

  • BUTTER, ¼ cup
  • HONEY, ⅓ cup
  • GARLIC, 4 large cloves, crushed
  • LEMON JUICE, 2 tablespoons
  • SALMON, 2½-pound side
  • SEA or KOSHER SALT, to taste
  • BLACK PEPPER, cracked, to taste
  • LEMON SLICES, for serving garnish
  • PARSLEY, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a large piece of foil, big enough to fold over and seal to create a packet.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the honey, garlic and lemon, and whisk until the honey has melted through the butter and the mixture is well combined.
  4. Place the salmon onto the lined baking tray. Pour the butter/honey mixture over the salmon, and using a pastry brush or spoon, spread evenly over the salmon. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and cracked pepper.
  5. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon to cover and completely seal the packet closed so the butter does not leak.
  6. Bake until barely cooked through (about 10 minutes).
  7. Open the foil, and broil for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the top.
  8. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with lemon slices.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Italian Wonderpot with Scallops

I wondered why they called this a "Wonderpot." Now I know. It's wonderful—wonderfully easy to make, wonderfully fast to cook, and wonderfully tasty!

The only actual work you have to do, besides opening a couple of cans, is slice up an onion.

You can slice up fresh garlic if you want, but I used crushed garlic from a jar.

The actual cooking is ridiculously easy. Although, next time I make this, I think I'll use fresh baby spinach.

  • OLIVE OIL, 2 tablespoons
  • FETTUCCINE, 12 ounces
  • SPINACH, frozen/chopped (or fresh), 8 ounces
  • DICED TOMATOES, 28-ounce can
  • ONION, 1 medium, sliced
  • GARLIC, 4 cloves, sliced
  • BASIL, ½ tablespoon
  • OREGANO, dried, ½ tablespoon
  • RED PEPPER FLAKES, ¼ teaspoon
  • BLACK PEPPER, freshly cracked, to taste
  • SEA SCALLOPS, frozen, 1 cup, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • PARMESAN CHEESE, 2 ounces, grated or shaved

  1. Add four cups of vegetable broth to a large pot.
  2. Break the fettuccine in half and add it to the pot along with the canned tomatoes (with juices), olive oil, spinach, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Make sure the ingredients are submerged under the liquid, place a lid on top of the pot, and then turn the heat on to high.
  4. Allow the pot to come up to a full boil over high heat, then remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium.
  5. Allow the pot to continue to boil over medium heat, without a lid, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Stir the pot every few minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom, but avoid over-stirring, which can cause the pasta to become sticky.
  7. Just before serving, stir in the scallops, let sit for a minute or so.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan before taking to the table.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Braised Chuck Pot Roast

I first made this in college, when I heard that all you had to do was rub a chuck roast with the contents of a Lipton dry onion soup mix packet and pop it in the oven for a. The key words that applied were "easy, "cheap," and "tasty."

The more I made it, the more I embellished the recipe: Browned the meat, added veggies, added spices and thickened the gravy. The more I learned about food and cooking, the more fun turned into interesting science.

And over all those years—about 50 now—this is the first time I'm writing down the recipe. Can you believe that?

  • CHUCK ROAST, 3-4 pounds
  • OLIVE OIL, 3+ tablespoons
  • CARROTS, 3-4 medium, peeled, cut into 2" pieces
  • ONIONS, 2 medium, wedged
  • RED POTATOES, 5 small, halved
  • ROSEMARY, ½ tablespoon, crushed
  • THYME, ½ tablespoon, crushed
  • BEEF BROTH, 14.5-ounce can, or equivalents 
  • FLOUR, 2 tablespoons
  • COLD WATER, ¼ cup

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
  2. Lightly sear the onions in olive oil in a Dutch oven and set aside. Repeat with the carrots and potatoes separately.
  3. Brown the roast on all sides, then rub the onion soup mix into the top. Add the vegetables into the Dutch oven, and sprinkle in the rosemary and thyme. Pour the beef broth over everything.
  4. Cover tightly. Cook on the middle rack for two hours, then remove the carrots and potatoes into separate serving dishes.
  5. Bump up the heat to 300°F and cook for 1½ to 2 hours longer, until the meat practically falls apart. Cut the roast into chunks and arrange in a flat casserole.
  6. Make a flour slurry and thicken the remaining liquid in the Dutch oven. Pour over roast chunks. Serve with the carrots and potatoes. 

That's it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Here’s a Chinese restaurant favorite that was a big hit on the kitchen table the first time I made it.

You’re going to have leftover sweet condensed milk, but you can use it to cream your morning coffee, or spread it on Saloon Pilot crackers (my late father-in-law's favorite).

  • WATER, 1 cup
  • WHITE SUGAR, 2/3 cup
  • WALNUTS, ½ cup
  • MOCHIKO, ½ cup
  • MAYONNAISE, ¼ cup
  • LARGE SHRIMP, 1 pound
  • HONEY, 2 tablespoons
  • SWEET CONDENSED MILK, 1 tablespoons
  • VEGETABLE OIL, 1 cup (for frying)

  1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and add walnuts
  2. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain and place walnuts on a cookie sheet to dry.
  3. Whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy, then stir in the mochiko to a pasty consistency.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Dip the shrimp into the mochiko batter, then fry in the hot oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels
  6. In a medium serving bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, honey and sweet condensed milk. Add the shrimp and toss to coat with the sauce.
  7. Sprinkle the candied walnuts on top and serve.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Slow-Cooker Beer Beef

Beer gives this moist chuck roast a special flavor, especially when combined by the herbs, spices, and tangy vinegar imparted by Italian dressing.

If you end up with a lot of sauce liquid when the beef is done, do what I did. I reduced it by about half, then thickened it a bit with a flour slurry, using about a tablespoon of all purpose flour whisked in a quarter-cup of tap water until smooth.

  • CHUCK ROAST, 1, three-pounds
  • SALT, ½ teaspoon
  • BLACK PEPPER, ¼ teaspoon
  • GARLIC, 4 cloves
  • RED ONION, 1, sliced
  • BEER, 1 cup (drink the remainder of the bottle as a reward)

  1. Place the chuck roast into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle the roast with the salt and pepper. Place the garlic cloves on top of the roast. Add the red onion, then pour over the Italian dressing and beer. Place the bay leaves on top.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8-10. Don’t open the lid during the cooking time. 
  3. Discard the bay leaves and cut the meat into large chunks.
  4. Smash the garlic with the back of a fork and stir the garlic into juices.