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"How you get so big, eating food of this kind?"
Page last updated:  12 October 2010
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Although I didn't really start cooking until I was about 19, I had always enjoyed coming up with some sort of new snack creations when I was a kid.  After learning how to make a great Spaghetti sauce from my Dad, I started branching out with other sauces, and that led to new and different ingredients, as well as different styles of cooking.  Now I enjoy a wide variety of styles and types of food, although I'd have to say that Italian is my favorite.  I especially like creating different sauces, although that's typically a French style (whaddya know--the French are actually good for something).  Anyway, I decided to create this page to share some of my favorite recipes, along with some of my creations (if it's not my own recipe, I'll give credit where credit is due).  For you Star Wars newbies, I'll bet you didn't know Lord Vader was a fish fan, especially the wild Bass-like varieties found on the ocean world of Mon Calamari (okay, I made that up). "You don't know the POWER of the dark fish!"
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Assembling the gyros
20 September 2009
Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
The first time I ever had a gyro was at a Greek family-owned restaurant in Charleston, SC, and I fell in love with them.  Traditionally, a gyro consists of sliced lamb spiced with oregano (or marjoram) and rosemary, and served on pita bread, with lettuce, tomatos, and onion.  A gyro is also served with Tzatziki sauce, which is mostly a puree of cucumber and yogurt, with a subtle hint of fresh mint and garlic.  If you've never had a gyro, then you just haven't lived.  Incidentally, the Greek pronunciation for gyro is "YEE-roh," and tzatziki is "tsat-DZHEE-kee".

This recipe comes from Alton Brown via
FoodNetwork.com, but I've made some adjustments for my own personal taste.  Additionally, I've changed the meat ingredient from lamb to pork.  Why?  Because lamb isn't readily available at the major supermarkets here.
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Elise building a gyro
However, pork has great flavor just like lamb, yet doesn't have the sinewy strands and gristle that all too often plague even the best cuts of lamb.

I served the gyros "buffet style," so that each person could build their own gyro using whatever fillings they liked.
Straining the onions Seasoned pork in the meatloaf pan
Tzatziki Sauce:

16 oz. Plain Yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsps Red Wine Vinegar
6 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into a sieve and strain out the juices.  Scrape the sieve and place the puree in a bowl, and add about 1/3 cup of the strained juice back to the puree.  Stir to blend well, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.  Yields about 1.5 cups.

1.5 lbs ground lamb (or pork)
1.5 cups chopped yellow onion
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp dried marjoram (or oregano)
1 Tbsp dried rosemary, ground in a spice grinder
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe to the right)
Shredded lettuce (red leaf, green leaf, or Romaine)
Halved grape tomatos
Red onion slices
Feta cheese, crumbled
Pita Bread
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Gyro meat:

Process the onion in a food processor for 10-15 seconds, scraping down the sides, and repeat until a paste has formed.  Remove the onion puree and squeeze through a sieve until almost all of the juice is removed.  Discard juice.  Return the onion to the processor, and add the lamb (or pork), garlic, marjoram (or oregano), rosemary, salt, and black pepper.  Process for several minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the mixture has become a fine paste.  Press the paste into a meatloaf pan, and bake at 325 F for about 65 minutes (until meat's temperature reaches 160 F).  Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to sit on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, so that the juices settle.  Slice the meat as thinly as possible, and serve with Pita bread, Tzatziki Sauce, halved grape tomatos, sliced red onion, and shredded lettuce.
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10 April 2009
Steak a la Mexicana
About 15 years ago I had this great dish at "La Hacienda" restaurant in Houston (on Memorial Parkway).  It was pretty easy to duplicate, and it's a favorite of mine and my cousin Jaime.  Not for the weak-tongued, this spicy entree is composed of beef sirloin strips, onions, bell peppers, a tomato-based sauce, and plenty of jalapeno and serrano peppers.  Very similar to carne guisada, but with larger pieces of meat and of course the hot kick of the chiles.  Top it off with a dollop of sour cream and serve with refried beans, Mexican rice, and a plethora of flour tortillas!

Yield:  5 servings
Steak a la Mexicana

1.5 lbs top sirloin, 1-inch thick, sliced thin against the grain
Marinade for sirloin (instructions to the right)
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced in strips
1 small green bell pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1/3 cup ancho chile paste (instructions to the right)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, diced
1 large fresh serrano chile, seeds and stem removed, diced
1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatos
1 (15 oz.) can stewed tomatos, drained and sliced in half
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 Tbsps ground cumin
1.25 sticks butter
coarse-ground Kosher salt, to taste
sour cream, for garnish
several sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
Marinade for sirloin:

juice of 2 large limes (including pulp)
2 Tbsps Hot Sauce
3 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground cumin

In a gallon-sized ziploc bag, mix the ingredients thoroughly and then add the sliced sirloin.  Seal & knead the bag to ensure the beef is well coated with the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before use.

Ancho Chile Paste:

3 ancho chiles (dried poblano chiles)
1 cube beef bouillion
2 cups water

Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles, and chop them into 1/2" chunks.  Place everything in a medium saucepan and and boil for about 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until nearly all of the water has evaporated.  Pour the rehydrated chiles through a sieve, and press out excess water.  Add the chiles to a small food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
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Steak a la Mexicana:

Melt the butter in a large Dutch Oven on medium heat.  When the butter begins to sizzle, add the bell peppers, jalapeno, and serrano, stirring frequently to sautee, about 2 minutes.  Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are nearly translucent.  Add the garlic, ancho chile paste, crushed red pepper flakes, and cumin powder, and cook for 1 minute more.

Drain the marinade from the beef (discard the marinade), and add it to the Dutch Oven, stirring frequently with a spatula to avoid scorching.  After about 3 minutes, add the tomatos and tomatos sauce.  Stir well, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, then taste for salt, adding as necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro for garnish, along sides of Mexican rice and refried beans, with plenty of flour tortillas.
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13 September 2008
Eh Cumpari....Homemade Pizza
The dough is from the Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna, 1975.  Enjoy the Godfather Waltz while you make this dish!

Pizza Dough
(makes enough for 2, 14" pies)

1/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 F)
1 pkg active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 tsp dried Basil

Pizza Sauce & Toppings

2 cups Pizza or Spaghetti sauce (divided in half)
4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (divided in half)
Toppings:  Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Pancetta slices, grilled Chicken,  tomatos, black olives, mushrooms, bell pepper, red onion, etc. etc.
Pizza dough rising
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Pour warm water into a large warm mixing bowl, sprinkle in yeast, and stir to dissolve.  Mix in 2 cups flour, the salt and sugar.  Add lukewarm water, oil, basil, and oregano, and beat until smooth.  Mix in remaining flour and knead on a lightly floured board until elastic.  Shape into a ball, turn in greased bowl to grease all over, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Punch down dough, divide in half, set one piece aside, and roll the other into a circle about 15" across (for a pizza-pie pan) on a lightly floured surface.  Alternatively, roll into a rectangle to fit on a baking sheet, as shown below.  Place rolled dough onto a greased baking sheet or pizza pan, and firm-up the edges by hand.  Brush the dough (including edges) with olive oil, then spread 1 cup of sauce evenly inside the edges of the dough.  Sprinkle each pie with 2 cups Mozzarella, then top with your favorite veggies and meats.  Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese per pie, then bake, uncovered,  for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the edges of the dough are golden-brown. 

Serve with a Mediterranean-style salad of Red Lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, black olives, hearts of palm, red bell peppers, and feta cheese, topped with a Balsamic vinaigrette.

Pictured:  (Left) Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Pancetta, Tomatos, Black Olives, Mushrooms, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper.  (Right) Grilled chicken, Pancetta, Tomatos, Black Olives, Mushrooms, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper.
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04 March 2008
Crab, Spinach, and Ricotta-Stuffed Manicotti in a Truffled Alfredo Sauce
Having received a bottle of White Truffle-infused Olive Oil for Christmas, I've been searching for some recipes to use it with.  This is a very rich and decadent recipe that I adapted from Emeril Lagasse's "Shellfish-Stuffed Spinach Cannelloni with a Truffled Balsamella."  I changed it mostly because his recipe would be pretty expensive to make, and more time-consuming than I wanted.  But my version turned out very well, and I'll definitely be making it again soon.

Makes about 12 manicotti.
Crab, Spinach, and Ricotta-Stuffed Manicotti in a Truffled Alfredo Sauce

1 box Manicotti Shells
16 oz. Imitation crabmeat, coarsely chopped
1 cup steamed wet spinach, then squeezed semi-dry
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
15 oz. Ricotta cheese
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper to taste
1 jar Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce
1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream (unsweetened)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp White Truffle-infused Olive Oil
Preparing the ingredients
The Crab, Spinach, and Ricotta stuffing
Prepping the ingredients

The finished stuffing of crab, spinach, ricotta, and herbs

Heat a large sautee pan over medium heat, and add the butter and olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onion and sautee until halfway done.  Add the crabmeat and garlic and continue to sautee for about 2 minutes.  Remove the mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, lemon juice, parsley, basil, and oregano.  Mix well, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Boil manicotti according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, coat the bottom with the Truffle oil.  Add the Alfredo Sauce, heavy cream, and parmesan, and blend well.  Heat on medium, stirring frequently, just until it begins to bubble, then turn heat to low.  When manicotti is done, drain and then transfer back to boiling pot, and cover with cool water (just enough to cover and keep wet).  Stuff the cooked manicotti with the crab mixture, and line them in a greased glass baking dish.  Cover them entirely with the truffled alfredo sauce, and bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes.  Serve with salad and garlic bread....Enjoy!
Janine serves a portion of Mexican Lasagna
12 January 2008
Mexican Lasagna
One night about two years ago, I was "hankering" for some chicken enchiladas.  But I was far too lazy to actually roll up the enchiladas.....so instead I invented this new recipe, which I call "Mexican Lasagna."  It's basically chicken enchiladas, except that they're not rolled up....the corn tortillas are left flat in the dish, like you would prepare traditional Italian Lasagna noodles.  The recipe is quick and simple, and everyone seems to enjoy it.

Saute the chicken in the butter.  When halfway done, add the onion, garlic, jalapenos, Chili Powder, Cumin, and salt.  Continue to saute until the chicken is done.

In another sacuepan, heat the Enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, chilli powder, cumin, and salt.  Blend well.

When the chicken is done, remove from heat, and begin the layering process.  Spread some enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9" x "13" baking dish, then layer 6 corn tortillas across the surface, evenly.  Spoon about half of the chicken mixtute on top, then spoon some sauce over that.  Now add about a third of the cheese on top.  Continue this process for the second layer.  On the third layer, just spoon sauce and then top it off with the remaining cheese.  Bake at 300 F for about 20 minutes, then serve.

3 large chicken breasts, cut to 1" cubes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh jalapenos, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp salt

2 cans Enchilada sauce (Red, mild, about 15 oz each)
1 can Tomato sauce, 8 oz.
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp salt

18 corn tortillas
16 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded & divided in half
4 oz. Monterry Jack cheese, shredded
Layering the Mexican Lasagna
Beginning the layering process for Mexican Lasagna
Enchilada sauce and Chicken on the range-top
Enchilada Sauce & Sauteed Chicken Mixture
Cucumber Slices stuffed with Herb-Cream Cheese, and topped with Smoked Salmon and Fresh Dill
10 December 2007
Cucumber hors 'douvres
I was looking for a light yet savory appetizer for an upcoming Christmas party a while back, and I stumbled upon this hors 'douvres recipe from KraftFoods.com.  It seamlessly blends fresh vegetables with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon.  I served it up to Julie, Janine, and Dad, and they all devoured the plate within minutes!  It combines the crunchy texture of fresh cucumber slices with the smooth and creamy flavor of herb-infused cream cheese and smoky salmon, topping it off with the slightly tart fresh dill.  This is a really beautiful appetizer on the plate, and your guests will be amazed with the flavor.

1 cucumber, about 9" long, peeled, and cut into slices
     (you should end up with about 12 pieces)
1 pkg Garden-Herb or Onion-Herb Cream Cheese spread (8 oz.)
1 pkg Smoked Salmon slices, about 6 oz., cut in 2" sized pieces
1 pkg Fresh Dill leaves, about 1 oz.

Take each of the cucumber slices and core them with a melon-baller or small spoon, almost to the bottom.  Fill the cavity with about 1 and 1/2 Tbsps cream cheese.  Top the cucumber with a slice of smoked salmon, and then insert a 1" sprig of dill into each cucumber slice.  Serve cold and crispy.
Swedish Meatballs! 01 October 2007
Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles in a Sour Cream Gravy
When I was just a kid, and before I ever began cooking, I did enjoy some TV dinners.  One of my favorites was "Stouffer's Swedish Meatballs."  I still enjoy this microwavable dinner to this day.....it's just so easy to prepare and enjoy.  However, I've always been curious as to how to create it on my own.  Thankfully, Alton Brown on the Food Network has supplied a very good approximation to this recipe, albeit, without the noodles and sour-cream gravy that Stouffer's provides in their delicious TV dinner.  So I've made several modifications to Alton Brown's recipe, so that I could re-create Stouffer's recipe.  Here is the result, and I must say, it's a damn good re-creation!  Tasty, Baby!

5 slices fresh white bread
1 cup bread crumbs (plain)
1/3 cup whole milk
3 Tbsps butter, divided
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
a pinch plus 1 and 1/4 tsps kosher salt
1 pound ground beef, 80% lean (or ground darkmeat turkey)
1 pound ground pork
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsps cornstarch, plus 2 Tbsps cold water (in a paste)
3 cups beef broth, plus 1 tsp salt added to the broth
juice of 1 lemon, plus 1/2 tsp zest of the lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
16 oz. Egg Noodles

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl, with the bread crumbs, along with the milk.  Set aside.

In a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbps butter.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt; sweat the onion until soft and translucent.  Remove the onion from the pan and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350-F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread/milk mixture, ground beef, pork, egg yolks, salt, pepper, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, and onions.  Using your hands, blend eveything well.

Shape the mixture into 1.5-inch-diameter balls.  Place them on wax paper.  You should end up with about 24 meatballs, as seen below.
Heat the remaining butter in the same saute pan over medium heat.  Add half the meatballs and sear them until browned on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Remove the seared meatballs to an oil-sprayed ovenproof dish.  Continue searing the remaining meatballs until all are done. 
24 Perfect Meatballs, on wax paper
Once all meatballs are seared, place the overproof dish of meatballs in the pre-heated 350-F oven for about 20 minutes.  Do not discard the remaining cooking juices from the saute pan.

Boil the Egg Noodles according to the package directions; about 8 to 12 minutes, then drain.

Using the same saute pan for the meatballs, decrease the heat to medium-low and add the flour to the pan, about 1 oz. at a time, whisking constantly, to begin the rue.  Continue adding flour and whisking until the rue is done, with no lumps.  Begin adding the beef broth, a ladle-full at a time, whisking constantly.  Add the lemon juice and zest, still whisking constantly.  Now add the cornstarch/water paste, and continue to whisk until almost the desired consistency is reached.  Add the heavy cream and continue to cook on low heat until the gravy has reached your preferred consistency.  Remove from heat, and add the Sour Cream, whisking thoroughly to blend.

Remove the meatballs from the oven, place them atop the noodles, then cover everything with the gravy.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve.  (Optional tip:  grated Parmesan cheese goes very well with this dish.....provide some if your guests like it)

Yield:  6 servings of 4 meatballs each, with noodles, or 4 servings of 6 meatballs each, with generously heaping portions of noodles.
17 September 2006
Kahlua Pie
I really have never been much of a dessert-eater, but since I recently switched to diet sodas, I've been craving sweets about once a week lately.  So to make sure I had a sweet representative on this page, I've added the recipe for Kahlua Pie.  It's a very simple recipe, but be sure to freeze it for about 2 to 4 hours.  You can make it without the liqueur, but why be boring like that?  Live it up!  This recipe is originally from
KraftFoods.com, but I've changed it just a bit.
1            Chocolate ready-made pie crust, 9"
1 pkg.    Vanilla instant pudding mix (4-serving size)
1 Tbsp.  Instant coffee granules
1/4 cup  Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1 cup      cold milk
2 cups   Cool Whip whipped topping (thawed)
Chocolate Sauce for drizzling

Place pudding mix, coffee, Kahlua, and milk in large bowl and beat with wire whisk until thickened (about 2 minutes).   Gently fold in the whipped topping.  Pour into the pie crust, drizzle with chocolate sauce, and let freeze 4 hours or overnight. 

Tip:  Protect your pie in the freezer by using the plastic cover from the ready-made pie crust.  Just invert the cover and re-seal around the edges of the aluminum pie plate.
Kahlua Pie
Stuffed Shells; Left: Crab & Artichoke in Marinara.  Right:  Turkey & Ricotta with Mozzarella.
14 January 2006
Stuffed Shells
This is always a classic dish; you can stuff anything you want into the shells, and everyone will be happy.  Pictured here, I have on the left: Shells stuffed with crabmeat, artichoke hearts, and bacon, covered in Marinara Sauce.  On the right:  Shells stuffed with ground Turkey, Ricotta, and Parmesan, and covered with Mozzarella cheese.  I served the crab-stuffed shells with extra Marinara Sauce and served the Turkey/Ricotta shells with Alfredo Sauce.  But of course, you can mix-and-match whatever fillings and sauces that you like.  I'd recommend a jarred variety for the Alfredo Sauce.  Homemade Alfredo sauce, without the right equipment (like a double-boiler), will take a very long time, and invariably won't be as smooth as you'd like.  For the Marinara Sauce, I just use a variation of my own Spaghetti sauce, without ground beef.
Marinara Sauce
(makes about 4 cups)

2 cans (14.5 oz.) petite diced Tomatos
2 cans (8 oz.) Tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) Tomato paste
1/2 cup Dry Red Wine
1/2 cup chopped Onion
5 or 6 Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup chopped Bell Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 slices Bacon, finely chopped
1 tsp dried Basil leaves
1 tsp dried Oregano leaves
1/2 tsp dried Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp fresh chopped Parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Begin cooking the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.  When it's halfway done (about 2 minutes), add the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic, and sautee until the onions are translucent.  Move the sauteed vegetables to a deep saucepan and add the remaining ingredients; stir well to ensure the tomato paste is blended into the sauce.  Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.
Shells Stuffed with Crabmeat, Artichoke, and Bacon
(makes enough for about 16 shells)

Personally, I'm allergic to crabmeat, so I use imitation crabmeat.  However, feel free to use the real stuff if you can. 

Because the ingredients don't bind well, you need something to hold it together.  In this case, I used tomato paste, because I needed a dairy-free dish for my sister Elise, who's lactose-intolerant.  However, I would prefer to have used mozzarella, and suggest you do the same if you don't have a lactose issue.  Just substitute 4 oz. (half a brick) shredded mozzarella for the tomato paste, and omit the salt.  You'll need it to melt slightly so that it acts as a binder, so microwave everything together in a bowl for about 45 sec - 1 min.

1 pkg (8 oz.) imitation crabmeat, finely chopped
1 can Artichoke Hearts, extra small size, chopped
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled Bacon
1 can (6 oz.) Tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt

Blend everything together in a medium bowl.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of Marinara Sauce into a large glass baking pan and spread evenly (so the shells won't stick to the pan).  Stuff the shells with the mixture and line them up in the pan, then top with several cups of Marinara Sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, then serve!
Shells Stuffed with Turkey & Cheese
(makes enough for about 24 shells)

I use ground Turkey in this because it's leaner than beef, but feel free to use ground beef or crumbled Italian Sausage if you prefer.

1.25 lbs ground Turkey, cooked & cooled for about 10 minutes
16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, shredded & divided in half
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)
1 tsp dried Basil leaves

Place Turkey, ricotta, half the mozzarella cheese, the Parmesan cheese, and Basil  in a bowl and blend together well, then stuff into cooked shells.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of Marinara Sauce into large glass baking pan and spread evenly (so the shells won't stick to the pan).  Place shells in pan, then top with the remaining Mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, then serve with either Marinara Sauce or Alfredo Sauce!
07 January 2006
This next selection is a variation on a recipe in The Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna, 1975.  Although the orginial recipe is good, I prefer it a little richer, so I've increased the cream and reduced the milk.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Yield:  6 Servings

2 bunches Asparagus, washed & trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup water
2 cubes chicken bouillion, crushed
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsps butter
2 Tbsps flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Click to Enlarge:  Cream of Asaparagus Soup
In a medium saucepan, add the asparagus, water, and bouillion, and boil (covered) for about 10-12 minutes, or until asparagus is very tender.  Add the asparagus and cooking liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Melt the butter in another saucepan and add the flour to make a rue.  Add the milk and cream and heat to almost boiling, whisking nearly constantly.  Stir in the puree and S&P, and simmer for several minutes, until heated through.  Garnish with asparagus tips and serve.
06 January 2006
Here's a recipe that may come in handy....my favorite marinade for steak!  Over the years, I've used many, MANY different steak marinades, but I created this one about 3 years ago and loved it so much, I've used it ever since.  It's really simple, and always leaves the meat juicy and flavorful, yet preserving that great steak flavor!  I've used it with beef (Filet Mignon, Ribeyes, NY Strips, Sirloin), with great success, and also with pork chops and chicken breasts.  I haven't tried lamb or goat, but I suppose you could give it a try.  I wouldn't recommend this for fish steaks (tuna, swordfish, etc). 

If you'd like a smoky flavor, add some water-soaked mesquite or hickory chips to the fire; if you don't have a charcoal grill, you can still have a smoky flavor by adding a few tablespoons of "liquid smoke" to the marinade (found in the condiments aisle at the supermarket, usually near the barbecue sauces). 
Click to Enlarge:  Bryan's Best-Ever Steak Marinade!
Best-Ever Steak Marinade
This recipe will make enough marinade to cover 2 Filet Mignon steaks.  For more or less marinade, adjust amounts proportionally to just cover the meat in a bowl/dish.

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
several dashes Cholula or Tabasco Hot Sauce
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1 cup Dry Red Wine (if it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to cook with)
Rub one side of the steak with several dashes of hot sauce, then sprinkle half the garlic and onion powders, and pierce gently with two fine-tined forks (for tougher steaks, pierce more firmly and more often).  Repeat on the other side of the steak.  Fill a medium-sized bowl or tupperware dish with the remaining ingredients, and whisk thoroughly.  Add the steaks to the marinade and allow to sit, covered and refrigerated, for about an hour for Filets; 2 hours for Ribeyes, Strips, T-Bones, and Sirloins; 4 hours for tougher steaks; overnight for London Broil or Brisket.

BTW, I wouldn't recommend using the wine pictured.  That's a bottle of Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for $90 to $120 per bottle!  I just didn't have any other bottles on hand for the picture.  Instead, use a decent-quality Cab or Merlot from California; you can get some nice ones between $5 to $15 from just about any supermarket.
13 June 2005
Let's get started!  For my first selection, I've chosen a dinner I made a couple of weeks ago....it turned out really well and everyone liked it.  The entree is Palpatine's Portobellas, with sides of Rogue Squadron's Rice and Solo's Stuffed Tomatos.  Okay, I won't always give them hokey names like that, haha.
Southwestern Chicken-Stuffed Portobellas
Yield:  4 servings

4 large Portobella Mushroom caps, cleaned
1 large Chicken breast, chopped as finely as possible
2 1/2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
3/4 cup Cilantro, finely chopped and divided
1/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsps crumbled Bacon
2 Tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus more for brushing)
1 Tbsp Ancho Chile Powder
1 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Southwestern Chicken-Stuffed Portobellas
Brown chopped chicken in 2 Tbsps olive oil over medium heat.  When halfway done (about 2 minutes), add the ancho chile powder, cumin, and salt.  Cook until done.  Heat oven to 350 F.  In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, 2 cups of cheese, bell pepper, bacon, 1/2 cup of cilantro, and the onion.  Brush the tops of the mushroom caps with olive oil, then invert and fill the caps (gill side) with the chicken mixture.  Place the caps, filled side up, on a large cookie sheet or baking dish.  Top each with the remaining cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the mushrooms are done and cheese is golden brown.  Remove from the oven, top each with the remaining cilantro, and serve.
Sausage and Fontina Stuffed Tomatos
Sausage and Fontina Stuffed Tomatos
Yield:  4 Servings

4 large Roma tomatos, bottoms sliced just to stand up, and tops sliced to gut them.
1 cup Swedish Fontina cheese, shredded & divided
1 cup chopped Sausage (fully cooked pork or beef is best)
1/2 cup stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm or Stove Top)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup Yellow onion, finely chopped
Gut the tomatos and heat oven to 350 F.  In medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the stuffing mix and water together on High for about 45 seconds.  Add the sausage, 3/4 cup of cheese, and onion; mix well.  Stuff the tomatos with the mixture, and place them in a greased meatloaf pan.  Top with the remaining cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes or until tomatos are done and cheese is golden brown, then serve.
Riso Baldo con Peperoni Rossi Dolci
(Sweet Red Pepper Rice)

Yield:  4 servings

This is a homemade version of a brand of rice that my Aunt Von brought back from Italy.  Baldo rice is an Italian grown medium- to long-grain white rice.  You should be able to find it at large supermarkets or specialty food stores, or you can use another medium- to long-grain white rice if you prefer.  Although the recipe, in appearance, resembles Spanish (or Mexican) Rice, it tastes much sweeter and has a very mellow flavor.
Riso Baldo con Peperoni Rossi Dolci (Sweet Red Pepper Rice)
2 cups Baldo rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup Dry White Wine
1/2 large Yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
3 Tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsps butter
1 Tbsp margarine (in addition to the butter)
1 Tbsp Sweet Paprika
1/2 tsp Ancho Chile Powder
4 or 5 threads Saffron
salt to taste
In medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  In a separate pan, sautee the onion and bell pepper in the margarine over medium heat.  When halfway done, add the rice, ancho chile powder, paprika, and saffron, and allow the rice to toast while the onion and bell pepper finish sauteeing (stir frequently to prevent the rice from scorching).  When the onions are translucent and limp, add the wine and allow it to boil off.  Next add the stock, a ladle-full at a time, until the right cooking amount is reached (about 3 cups).  Stir well, cover, and let steam, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, then cream the rice with butter and Parmesan cheese.  Add salt to taste, and serve.
"....and the sea shall grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home...."
--Christopher Columbus