Monday, April 23, 2012

Stuffed (Half) Peppers with Curry Rice

Stuffed peppers weren’t a regular part of my mother’s repertoire for supper (remember, she never calls it dinner), but she did make them every once in a while, and when she did I considered it a treat. I remember how good the peppers smelled as they cooked on the stovetop. I never really thought about making stuffed peppers myself. It always seemed like so much work—removing those pesky, little pepper seeds, preparing the meat, stuffing them, standing at the stove turning each pepper so they fry on all sides while making sure the meat stayed in. Pfft...Too much trouble. But recently I was at my mom’s and she said, “I made stuffed peppers last night. Want one?” I couldn’t resist and all it took was one bite to remind me how delicious they are. I noticed that instead of cutting the top off and stuffing the whole pepper, she cut it lengthwise and stuffed each side. “It makes like a boat and it's so much easier to fry just the one side,” she said. OK, I was convinced to give it a shot. She stuffs her with ground beef but I used ground turkey, so use whichever you prefer. I wasn’t sure if this would be a hit with the boys so I also made a big pot of cheese tortellini and spinach soup…just in case. Let’s just say I have leftover soup! —Diana

You’ll need:
4 or 5 peppers, green, red or a combination, cut lengthwise, de-seeded and stem removed
1 ½ pounds ground meat, turkey or beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 box Goya Curry Rice with Carrots and Onions, prepared as directed (or use your favorite rice)
1 onion, cut in slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese, as much or as little as you like
Pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning
Worcestershire sauce, a few shakes of the bottle
Olive oil

In a bowl, season the meat with the pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, cheese, and whatever else you may like. Be creative! Add 4 or 5 spoonfuls of the cooked rice. Use your judgment on how rice much to add. Put the remainder of the cooked rice to the side. 

Stuff the peppers. Go twice around a large heated skillet with the olive. When the oil is hot add the peppers and cook until the bottom is a little charred. Remove the peppers from the pan. Some people like to clean the pan and put in fresh oil, but I like to use the oil that is now flavored with the pepper and add the garlic and onions. Let that cook for a minute or two and then add the diced tomatoes. Put the peppers back in the skillet, cover and cook on medium-low for about an hour (or until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the peppers are tender).

Put the rice in a bowl, add a pepper or two, and top with the tomatoes and onions. You won't even need a knife! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes

When I feel creative I go to Corrado's Family Affair in Fairfield and browse the amazing fruits and vegetables to see what I can come up with. I just pick things up, throw them in my basket, and figure out what I'm going to make when I get home. During this particular visit I bought broccoli rabe, chicken tenderloins, and an amazing balsamic glaze.  It took me about five minutes to come up with this dish. I gave myself a pat on the back and watched as my husband ate and said, many times over, "This is great!" Ahhhh...a job well done.Go me!  —Lisa

You'll need:
1 package (about 7 pieces) chicken breast tenderloins
2 heads fresh broccoli rabe
1 basket grape tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1 bottle of balsamic glaze
Olive oil
Red wine

Cut the ends of the broccoli rabe and cover completely in water and bring to a boil until it wilts.

Meanwhile, go two turns around a deep frying pan with oil and add 1 clove of the sliced garlic. When the oil gets hot, throw in the tomatoes, whole, and cook until they just pop. Add some red wine to the pan, just enough to deglaze the bottom. Add salt and pepper to the chicken tenderloins, put in pan and fry lightly.

In another frying pan, go one turn around the pan of oil and add the remaining garlic. Add the broccoli rabe and the chicken broth. Cook until tender.

On a large plate, place the broccoli rabe and put the chicken and tomato mixture on top. Squirt the balsamic glaze on top (as much or as little as you like).  Delicious!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Warm Beet Salad Topped with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Before you cringe with flashbacks from your childhood about pickled beets, please indulge me a bit.  The night before the NYC Half Marathon, my sister-in law and I went to a small, amazing Italian Restaurant in Manhattan called, Angelo’s.  Before we ordered our pasta entrees we decided to take a risk on the warm beet salad.  After all, beets are supposed to be good for you, and we could use all the power food we could get before running 13.1 miles.  Well, we gobbled it up like someone was about to take it away from us.  It was delicious. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to recreate the tangy, warm beets, topped with creamy goat cheese and sprinkled with just enough crunchy walnuts to make you forget you’re eating healthy.  Take a risk, and trust me on this one. ~Jennifer
What you’ll need:
3 Fresh beets(yes, we’re cooking them from scratch)
Goat Cheese( I used Chavrie fresh goat cheese)
Heats of Romaine Salad
Chopped Walnuts
1/2 sweet onion(you can use a red onion as well0
Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Powder

Cut off the tops of the beets, leaving some of the root on for boiling.
Here’s a tip, the greener the leaves of the beet, the riper the beet itself so look for those bright green and red leaves.
Save some of the leaves to mix in your salad.
Boil water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of honey.(The beet will take on the salty, sweet while boiling)
Place the beets in the boiling water.  Cook until tender.
Place in an ice cold bowl of water to stop cooking and begin peeling the skin off the beet.
Cut into thin slices

Salad dressing:  1/3 of a cup of EVOO, and ¼ of a cup of Balsamic Vinegar.  Add two teaspoons of honey to sweeten and whisk together.

Chop up the hearts of Romaine & the onion.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of garlic powder over the leaves and incorporate the beet leaves.

Top the salad with the beets. Crumble the goat cheese and the walnuts on top.
Add the dressing and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tomato, Eggplant and Mozzarella Stack

There is something about the warm weather that makes me crave tomatoes. I went for a run today, and all I could think about was tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. But I wanted to try something new so I decided to roast some campari tomatoes and stack them on top of a slice of grilled eggplant. It looked and tasted like an appetizer you would get at a restaurant, if I say so myself. It was amazing! —Jennifer

You'll need:
Campari tomatoes (really any tomatoes will do)
1 eggplant, medium sized
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp garlic powder

Slice the tomatoes so they can be stacked. (Keep the tops for decoration.)
Skin and slice the eggplant. Coat the eggplant and tomatoes in the oil and garlic powder.

Mix together to make sure both sides of the tomato and the eggplant are covered.
Grill the eggplant and the tomatoes.

Lay the grilled eggplant on the dish and stack the tomato with mozzarella, another layer of tomato, and finally add the top.

Sprinkle basil on top. Drizzle the oil and balsamic vinegar over and around the stack and enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Eggplant Rollatini

My husband Arnold LOVES eggplant parmigiana, as do I.  The task of making it, however, not so much.  I usually make on a Sunday when I have a lot of time.  I have to make the gravy, slice the eggplant, bread it...blah, blah, blah. So when I saw the eggplant sliced already at Corrado’s in Fairfield, I jumped on the chance to make the eggplant, with a little change. 

I breaded the eggplant with breadcrumbs like I usually do, but then just flash fried them. What does that mean?  I heat the oil and leave the eggplant in until they are almost light brown. I didn’t want to over cook them so they were too stiff to stuff and roll.  Then, always having a jar of my favorite gravy frozen, I defrosted that and made eggplant rollatini. Make some spaghetti on the side and this meal is fit for a Sunday afternoon, but in half the time! —Lisa

You'll need: 
1 pkg sliced eggplant
Seasoned breadcrumbs
1 container (16 oz) ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup sugar
1 package mozzarella, sliced
Homemade gravy or...UGH...your favorite jarred sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bread the eggplant and flash fry (almost brown).  Set aside to cool.

Combine the ricotta cheese, the egg and sugar.  Mix well.

When eggplant is cool to the touch, take each piece and put the prepared ricotta cheese in the middle.  Roll each piece up and place in baking dish, seam side down.

Top each piece with a slice of mozzarella and gravy. You can add some grated cheese, too, if you like.  Bake until the mozzarella is melted.  Serve with spaghetti and use the extra gravy. Mangia!