Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup is one of the few soups that both of us will eat.  It even gets eaten as leftovers, which if you know either one of us, you know that leftovers are rarely served around here.  But hey, that keeps the neighbors happy!

It starts with a chicken broth, so I am good.  It has meatballs which keeps the husband happy.  I also like that it has spinach in it, and this is about the only way I can get him to eat dark greens.  He loves salad, but only if it has no spinach or kale in it. In case you were wondering, I do have to pick those things out of any salad mixes they may be in.

I have read somewhere along the line that the carrots in this soup are for luck.  There are not really enough of them to affect the flavor, so leave them out if you prefer.  I keep them in because it is another way to get vegetable into our diets.

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Aglio Olio with Mushrooms

A long time ago I had a friend that loved to cook Italian foods.  Spaghetti Aglio Olio, a.k.a garlic pasta,  and a red meatless “gravy” were the only two thing I ever cooked with that friend.

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that I can never leave well enough alone in a recipe and have taken liberties over the years to adjust this recipe to my own preferences.  I think this is the way most folks cook Aglio Olio, as no two recipes ever seem the same.

The way I learned to cook Aglio Olio was to start with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies.  I know that the anchovies are supposed to melt into the sauce and provide a rich flavor.  I find it leaves too fishy of a taste for me and have chosen to not use them.  If you like that flavor, all you have to do is add 4 to 6 anchovy filets to the cold skillet with the garlic and oil when you first start the dish.

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Flat Bread Pizza

Flat Bread pizza when made on homemade flat bread, creates a very crispy crust.  This crust does contain yeast, unlike our thin pizza crust recipe.  Both are good, but this one can be made on very short notice if there are flat bread rounds in the freezer.

If you have read the flat bread post, then you know I make these quite a bit and freeze them just for pizza making.

This is not as easy as our other recipe for thin pizza crust, unless you have premade these flat breads and pull them out of the freezer.  Then it IS easier than thin crust pizza.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is the perfect marriage of summertime eggplants and Andy’s Favorite Pasta Sauce.  This can also be made with jarred pasta sauce, and Lord knows I have used jarred sauce before when I was too lazy or busy to make homemade.  No really, lazy is the better reason.

One trick I learned long ago, and even use with homemade sauce is to add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce to extend and pasta sauce you are using.  Unless you are mixing it with less than 16 ounces of pasta sauce, you should not notice a huge difference in taste.  I like how it thins out the sauce for this recipe, as I don’t care for a big stiff glop of sauce on my eggplant or chicken Parm.

Eggplant may seems kind of intimidating, and I confess I was intimidated the first time I ever took a knife to one.  Now, I have never ventured outside my box on eggplant, I only use it for a fried version of eggplant Parm.

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Meatballs

Meatball subs are in the regular rotation during football season at our house.  They can be made with frozen meatballs and jars of marinara sauce, homemade meatballs with marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and homemade sauce, or homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.

I have made them in all of the combinations above and I am not ashamed.  Even if you tell me how great the sandwich was you just ate, I will let you know I used frozen meatballs and which brand of jarred sauce I used, if I did.

The secret to great meatball subs using frozen meatballs is the cooking method.  Slow, slow, slow.  You can cook them on a stovetop, in a crockpot, or in a low temperature oven.  You just need enough sauce to cover the meatballs and a little water.  If I am using a jarred sauce I add about a quarter cup of water to each jar, this normally takes 2 jars when I cook for a party, replace the lid and shake the water in the jar to get out the last of the sauce and pour it in.

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Margherita Pizza

Margherita pizza is one of my favorite summertime foods. It tastes the best with garden fresh tomatoes and basil. Generally, I am overrun with basil and looking for ways to use it. This year I bought a mint plant and a chocolate mint plant. They were both impulse buys since I have absolutely no clue what to do with them besides use them for photo props and making mint tea. Maybe I will learn how to make a mint julep this summer. Any suggestions for using it up in cooking I’d love to hear. Sorry, I kind of drove off course didn’t I? Back to the margherita pizza.

I have seen this made several different ways. Some use a red pizza sauce, some use white sauce, others garlic. I like mine best with a garlic infused olive oil base with juicy red or yellow tomatoes providing the tomato flavor. I make my own garlic infused oil by slicing 2 or 3 garlic cloves thinly and putting it in 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven proof small dish, like a ramekin. I place this dish in the oven as it is preheating for the pizza. I take it out when I can smell the garlic.

In the winter when the tomatoes aren’t so juicy and delicious, I add a spoonful or so of pizza sauce to the base. (Or I skip it altogether and go with a regular pizza.)

Any pizza crust will do too. I prefer my thin pizza crust recipe for this recipe, but have been known to use the prepackaged ones when I am being lazy or just don’t have time. Continue reading “Margherita Pizza”

Italian Beef

Here I go again with another recipe designed to cure a craving for a food that I can’t seem to find outside of the Chicago area.  There, Italian beefs were easily accessible at almost every pizza or hot dog place.  You can search high and low outside of that area and never find one.  Finding a good Chicago style hot dog is also another challenge.

These are nowhere near an original Italian Beef that can easily be found in that area.  Those are made with beef roasts cooked to rare in a flavorful broth, then sliced into thin perfection pieces of meat.  The meat is dipped back into that wonderful broth and slapped onto a sturdy Gonnella roll (which are unfortunately only available in and around the Chicago area grocery stores). Continue reading “Italian Beef”

Favorite Pasta Sauce

Spring officially started at my house a month or so ago.  It had nothing to do with the date, the slew of singing birds in the area, the baby bunnies the dog loves to chase, or the budding trees.  Spring at my house gets started with the first potted fresh herbs sitting on the patio table.

Unfortunately, they had to spend their first night in their new home hiding under the patio table since we had tornadoes in the area.  Tornadoes are more of a spectator sport in Oklahoma, but tender young plants don’t do so well in gusty winds, heavy rain, and hail.

It has been a chillier than normal spring and none of the herbs have done so well this spring.   Fresh basil and parsley are key ingredients for my lasagna and spaghetti sauce. At this point, it will be weeks (maybe months) before I can harvest enough of both for a huge pot of sauce.  I like to keep a healthy supply of sauce (and other things) in the freezer for quick meals on busy nights.  It helps break up the monotony of sandwiches.  Continue reading “Favorite Pasta Sauce”

Orzo with Asparagus or Peas

Orzo with Asparagus or peas is an easy recipe that can be altered to suit the meal you plan to serve it with. I have successfully used beef broth in place of chicken broth for beef based main dishes. I have changed out vegetables without an issue as well. You could even add some protein and turn it into a one pot main dish.

This version of orzo looks like you worked hard and kind of reminds me of risotto without all the hard work. When I think of risotto I hear Gordon Ramsey in the background talking about incompetence. His shows may have scarred me for life and scared me away from ever attempting to make risotto. I’ll stick to orzo.

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Chicken Marsala

Disclaimer: I do not claim that this recipe is authentic, or tastes like anything you get in a restaurant. This is simply the way I make it at my house and the way we like it at my house.

This version of Chicken Marsala is a great way to change up the monotony of chicken in my house. I cook a ton of chicken. Well, maybe not a ton since that would be 2,000 pounds. Chicken with rice, chicken on salad, chicken in soup, chicken parm, grilled chicken wings, baked chicken wings…..

On second thought, maybe I have cooked at least one ton of chicken in 30 years, that’s a little more than 1 pound a week. But I digress, I’m not the mathematician in the family (that would be Ron, math and science are his thing).

I like to cook this recipe because it is fairly simple and is something I can start and simmer until it’s time to eat. The slower the simmer, the longer it can sit. It’s easily served with angel hair mixed with a little olive oil and garlic, orzo and asparagus, or even wild rice.

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