Tuesday, March 27, 2012


This is the baking dish Grandma Rose used to make the pizzagaina. The dish, as well as the tradition of making the Italian pie on Easter, was passed down to Lisa
"Pizzagaina—the 22-pound (OK, maybe not 22 pounds, but close) Italian pie our Grandma Rose would make every Holy Thursday to be eaten on Easter Sunday. I was lucky enough to watch her many times making it as well as take her from store to store to buy the many, many ingredients needed for this holiday delight (or "heart attack in a pan," as we used to call it). We’d go to one bakery to get the dough (we now use pie crusts), then another store—usually Fiores in Hoboken—to get the cold cuts, and then the grocery store to get the eggs and cheese. It was quite an afternoon Once all the ingredients were in hand, the fun began. She spent hours rolling out the dough, cutting up the cold cuts and mixing, mixing, mixing. What I remember best was the smell that would fill the house and make my mouth water. She would start it on Thursday night and when we woke up on Good Friday, all we wanted was a piece of that pizzagaina. But, as all good Catholics know, you can’t eat meat on Good Friday so we had to wait until Saturday to sneak a piece. But it was a race to the table on Easter Sunday when the entire pie was up for grabs. Although I now make the pizzagaina for the family, I only go to one store for my ingredients. I do, however, make it in the same baking dish my grandma used."—Lisa

You'll need:
2 lbs ricotta cheese
8 eggs, whole 
1 egg white for wash
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
2 tbsp black pepper
1 lb mozzarella, cut in cubes (Fresh tends to fall apart so used packaged. I prefer Polly-O.)
4 oz salami
4 oz soppressata
4 oz capicola
5 roll out pie crusts

Grandma Rose with Lisa's son Jimmy, now 20.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the ricotta, eggs, parmigiana cheese, pepper and mozzarella in large bowl.  Cut the cold cuts in cubes or small strips. Combine with cheese mixture.

Take 2 of the pie crusts and form to cover the bottom of rectangular baking dish. 

Pour mixture into baking dish. Cover with remaining pie crusts, rolling sides over top to make a ledge.  Brush with egg wash. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off oven and let sit for two more hours. 

Remove from the oven, let cool, and cover with aluminum foil. If cooking in advance, refrigerate. We always ate it cold, but some people like to warm it to take the chill out. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jill's Summer Bruschetta

"I dont know about the rest of the world, but down in Memphis it's 80 degrees and sunny. We tend to skip spring in the south and although its technically the beginning of Spring, we are in Summer mode already! People are out running and the smell of people firing of their grills fills the neighborhood. Here is a recipe I love in the warm weather—my summer bruschetta. It can be a side dish that you bring to a cookout or it can even be a light lunch. It's deliciously healthy so it will help you get summer ready without sacrificing any taste." —Jill
 You'll need:
Your favorite crusty bread (whole grain, wheat or ciabatta)
1 can organic northern beans (in my grocery store, the organic beans are actually cheaper)
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 small container yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 roma tomatos, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

Mix all ingredients in bowl and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill. 

Slice the bread thin on the bias. (Slicing on the bias gives you more surface area, which means more room for the bruschetta!)

Toast in oven under broiler for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Flip, and toast other side. 

Top bread with bruschetta. Add an squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil and enjoy! Goes great with a cold beer or your favorite glass of vino. Ah yes...it's almost summertime! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shrimp and Broccoli

I was really in the mood for Chinese Shrimp and Broccoli, but not in the mood for the salt and MSG, so I decided to make my own. The recipe is so simple that I even had time to have a dance party with Eliza in my kitchen while it was cooking. It was so delicious that both Abigail and Eliza ate the broccoli and asked if we could have it every week! —Jennifer

You'll Need:
2 dozen medium-sized shrimp
1 bushel of broccoli, cleaned and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup water
1 tbsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Brown Rice (You can use white rice as well)

Go 3 to 4 times around a large skillet with olive oil. Sauté the garlic. Place broccoli in skillet with the garlic
Add water, garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Cover the skillet.

Time to prepare the rice. I use Uncle Ben’s Boil in a Bag to keep my life as simple as possible. But you can also use a rice cooker or steamer.

When the broccoli is tender and a nice shade of deep green, add the shrimp.  Make sure you don’t over cook them. When they turn that beautiful shade of pink, they’re done.

Serve over the rice. Voila! A healthy, delicious alternative to take-out.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Colcannon (Irish Lasagna)

This recipe for Colcannon (Irish Lasagna) was sent in by Cousins fan Judy Deubel Mastrangelo: "Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish typically served mixed together in a bowl, with or without bacon. I tried it served this way a few years ago in an Irish Pub on St. Patrick's Day and re-created it at home. Enjoy!"

1 pound potatoes, cooked and drained  (I prefer Yukon Gold)
1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 large yellow onion, chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked well and crumbled
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 stick salted butter, divided in half, plus 2 tbsp butter, cut in pieces
1 cup whole milk or Half & Half
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Spray an oblong pyrex dish with Pam. 
Mash potatoes with 1/2 stick butter, milk and black pepper with electric mixer until smooth. 
Spread half the potatoes in the bottom of the pan.  
Melt remaining 1/2 stick of butter in frying pan. 
Add cabbage, onion and caraway seeds. Sauté until soft and reduced.  
Spread on top of potatoes.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon evenly over the cabbage.  
Top with remaining potatoes.  
Dot top of casserole with reserved butter.  
Bake until slightly browned.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Darn Good" Chili Bake

I bought this package of “Darn Good” Chili Mix at the Christmas Tree Shop (yes, the Christmas Tree Shop) because, well, it looked, “darn good!” But I knew there was no way it would be enough for my husband and son. So I took some egg noodles and shredded cheese and made a chili bake. And you know what? It was darn good...and filling, too! —Lisa 

You'll Need:
1 Package No Yolk Egg noodles
1 package Bear Creek “Darn Good” Chili Mix
About 3 cups shredded Mexican mix cheese
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
7 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook egg noodles according to package. Drain and put aside.
Prepare chili mix according to package. 

Spray a baking dish with no-stick spray. Put egg noodles in the pan and top with the prepared chili.  Top with shredded cheese and bake until the cheese is just bubbly.

Serve with your favorite chips and a dollop of sour cream. I like to serve cornbread with it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tomato Soup with Mini Meatballs

This is one of those "I only have certain ingredients so I need to figure out a way to make something spectacular" situations. I wanted soup because I was feeling under the weather. My husband (who doesn't eat veggies) will eat my tomato soup so I was trying to make a tomato-based soup with a little something more. I'm always trying to make dishes high in nutrients and flavor and low in fat and calories. I came up with tomato soup with mini meatballs and arugula, topped with croutons and roasted kale.

The soup base is the easiest part. Just follow the recipe for our Grandma Rosie's "Gravy" (see below) or use your own favorite red sauce. 
Once the gravy/sauce is cooked, add one large box of organic, low-sodium chicken stock and two bay leaves. Let simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. You can stop here if you just want a great homemade tomato soup. For something more, I added mini meatballs.(Use the July 7, 2011 meatball recipe on the Cousins in the Kitchen blog. For a healthier alternative use turkey meatballs.) Follow the recipe, but instead of frying the meatballs roll 1- to 2-ounce-sized meatballs and drop them into the hot soup like a dumpling. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high until meatballs are cooked through. 

Top with your favorites. I use chopped fresh tomato, a scoop of fat-free plain Greek yogurt (or you can use sour cream), croutons (I make my own but store-bought work, too), a dash of hot sauce and, if you really want to impress, add some fresh arugula and/or a large piece of roasted kale. Fresh, healthy and full of flavor. I was feeling better instantly!—Jill

Grandma Rosie's "Gravy":
2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced

1 small white onion, sliced
1 parmesan cheese rind (you can use 1/2 cup parmesan cheese)
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup dry red wine

Puree whole tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Set aside
Drizzle a few teaspoons of olive oil in a large sauce pot.
Add garlic clove and onion. 
Sauté for about 4 minutes until onions are slightly translucent and garlic is cooked but not burned.
Add tomatoes and parmesan rind. Stir.
Add oregano, basil and wine.

Stir and let simmer for 1 hour on medium/ medium low heat.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rigatoni with Broccoli Rabe and Turkey Sausage

"I tried out this recipe on my in-laws and they loved it. Although it’s made with turkey sausage it’s not too heavy, and the heat of the sausage works well with the broccoli rabe. It’s a great dish to impress because it looks like it took a lot of time and hard work but it really doesn't. Shhh...don't tell the in-laws!" —Jennifer

What you’ll need:
1 box rigatoni
1 bushel of broccoli rabe
1 package of hot turkey sausage (or you can use sweet or a combo)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Boil the water for the pasta. Cook according to directions.
Clean the broccoli rabe.
Brown the turkey sausage in a frying pan or on the grill. 
Remove sausage from pan and let rest before cutting into pieces.
Place garlic in pan.
Rough chop the broccoli rabe and sauté with the garlic and olive oil. (I go three times around the pan with the EVOO for the sauté).
Cook until the leaves get a deep green and the stems are tender.

When the rigatoni is cooked, slice the turkey sausage and add to the rigatoni and broccoli rabe.  Mix together well, as the broccoli rabe has a tendency to stick together.
Add salt and parmigiano reggiano taste. Enjoy...and don't forget the Italian bread!