Jan 032012

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own American kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. Learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. You do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret though.. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Fresh ingredients is the key to an authentic Italian meal. Fresh herbs like basil can be purchased in most chain grocery stores. You don’t have to grow it yourself or even stop by a farmer’s market. Fresh basil, fresh garlic and some good quality extra virgin olive oil and you are well on your way to success.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. For now check out this extremely easy “Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco” that is posted on my site – more will come later.

Nov 282011
 CQ-Pear gingerbreadcake
 1/3 cup (75 mL) plus 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil, divided
 1 can (29 oz or 540 mL) pear halves
 1 pkg (18.25 oz or 510 g) spice cake mix
 2 tsp (10 mL) ground ginger
 3 eggs
 1/2 cup (125 mL) molasses
 1/2 cup (125 mL) Butterscotch Rum Sauce or Caramel Sauce
  1. Brush Stoneware Fluted Pan with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil using Silicone Basting Brush. Drain pears using medium Stainless Mesh Colander; blot pears dry with paper towels. Using Utility Knife, slice four of the pear halves lengthwise into quarters for a total of 16 slices. Arrange pear slices in a circular pattern over bottom of pan. Place remaining pears in Food Processor; cover and pump handle until smooth. Spoon pear puree into (1-cup/250-mL) ; add enough water to puree to measure 1 cup (250 mL).
  2. In large Bamboo Fiber Mixing Bowl, combine cake mix, ginger, pear mixture, eggs, molasses and remaining 1/3 cup (75 mL) oil; whisk until well blended using Stainless Whisk. Slowly pour batter into prepared pan. Microwave on HIGH 10–12 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Carefully remove pan from microwave; cool cake in pan 10 minutes.
  3. Center Large Round Platter over pan and carefully invert; remove pan. Drizzle sauce over cake.
Yield: 16 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 250, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 240 mg, Carbohydrate 43 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 3 g

Cook’s Tip: To bake in a conventional oven, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare batter as directed; bake 40–45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.

Nov 212011


2/3 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. cranberries
4 tsp. cider vinegar
1/3 c. dark raisins
1/4 c. chopped pecans
2 tsp. brown sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 1/4 lb. wheel of Brie cheese
1 loaf French bread cut in thin slices or party
loaf pumpernickel bread


To make chutney: In a heavy saucepan combine water and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Add cranberries, vinegar, nuts, sugar, ginger and garlic. Boil slowly, stirring until thick, 5-10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. It will keep in refrigerator up to 1 week or it can be frozen. To serve: Place Brie on the Medium Round Stone with Handles. Spread chutney over top of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 5-10 minutes watching carefully so as not to melt brie, just to soften it. Serve with slices of bread or top your leftover turkey sandwich. I don’t know about you but my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Nov 202011

Here is another way to use up those holiday leftovers. You can even entertain guests with this one and they will be impressed every time. I promise.


  • 2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1green onion, sliced thin (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons honey dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.
  2. In bowl, combine turkey, 1 cup of the cheese, celery, green onion if using, cranberries, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the 2 packages of crescent rolls; separate into 16 triangles in a circle on a large pizza pan or stone with wide ends 3 inches from the edge of pizza pan and points towards the outside. Points will extend off the edge of the pan(depending on size). Arrange the remaining triangles in the center of the pan, matching wide ends with triangles already in placed. The points will overlap in center.
  4. Using small rolling pin(or small round jar or drinking glass), roll over seams of triangles where wide ends meet, making a smooth surface for filling. Don’t seal center triangles.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop filling evenly over the dough in a continuous circle.
  6. Beginning with the last triangle placed in center of pizza pan, bring point of triangle straight across filling. Next, bring point of the opposite outside triangle diagonally across filling, covering point of previous triangle. The filling will show.
  7. Repeat, overlapping points of inside and outside triangles to form a wreath. Tuck the last end under first.
  8. Brush top of wreath with egg white.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Turkey Cranberry Wreath

Nov 202011


Here is a great way to use up those left-overs. Everyone is going to have different leftovers so how you follow the recipe depends on what you have left. It is quite simple – Make a sweet potato crust and mix chunks of turkey with your green bean casserole and then spread it over the sweet potato crust and top with the fried onions. It may not be gourmet but it will satisfy your family especially the kids!

CQ- TurkSweetpotpie

Ingredients 1 Can (24 ounces) sweet potatoes, drained

2 Tablespoons margarine, melted

1/4 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Vegetable cooking spray 2 Cups COOKED TURKEY, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 Can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat and reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup 1 Package (9 ounces) frozen French-style green beans, thawed and well drained

1 Can (2 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1/2 Teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons canned fried onion rings, crushed

1 Can (8 ounces) cranberry sauce, optional

  1. In medium bowl blend sweet potatoes, margarine and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. In 9-inch pie plate, lightly sprayed with vegetable cooking spray, line plate with potato mixture to form a pie shell; set aside.
  2. In medium bowl combine turkey, soup, beans, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into prepared shell. Sprinkle onions over top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes or until hot. Serve with cranberry sauce, if desired.
Oct 312011




1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup(s) ketchup
1/3 cup(s) cider vinegar
1/4 cup(s) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup(s) tomato paste
2 tablespoon(s) sweet paprika
2 tablespoon(s) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon(s) yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
4 pound(s) boneless pork shoulder blade roast (fresh pork butt), cut into 4 pieces
12 soft sandwich buns or ciabatta rolls, warmed



In 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow-cooker pot, stir onion, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper until combined. Add pork to sauce mixture and turn to coat well with sauce.
Cover slow cooker with lid and cook pork mixture on low setting as manufacturer directs, 8 to 10 hours or until pork is very tender.
With tongs, transfer pork to large bowl. Turn setting on slow cooker to high; cover and heat sauce to boiling to thicken and reduce slightly.
While sauce boils, with 2 forks, pull pork into shreds. Return shredded pork to slow cooker and toss with sauce to combine. Cover slow cooker and heat through on high setting if necessary.
Spoon pork mixture onto bottom of sandwich buns; replace tops of buns.

Oct 312011


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 ribs celery from the heart of the stalk and leafy tops, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, 4 to 5 sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cups white French wine, 1/3 bottle
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1 pound extra-wide egg noodles


Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes, remove with slotted spoon.

Heat a pot of water to boil for egg noodles.

While bacon crisps, scatter 1/2 cup flour on a shallow dish. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper and add to flour. Toss the chicken to coat and shake off the excess as you add it to the hot bacon drippings. Lightly brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side then remove. Add to the pan the celery, carrots and onions as you chop them. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook vegetables 5 to 6 minutes to tenderize them. Scoot vegetables off to the sides of the pan forming a well. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the well and melt them whisk in 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk wine into roux, shake pan to combine then stir in stock. Add chicken back to the pan and stir in the onions. Simmer the chicken 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Oct 272011

Summer squash, like zucchini, and winter squash are versatile vegetables to use in cooking. Summer squash have thin, soft skin, while winter squash have hard skin and inedible seeds that have to be scooped out. Winter squash, such as butternut and acorn squash, can last up to a month in a cool storage area. Otherwise, they should be used within 2 weeks so warmer room temperatures won’t dry the squash out. This vegetable is high in fiber and vitamins A and C, as well as a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium. If you’re wondering how to bake squash, it’s easy. Cut lengthwise and remove the seeds before baking at 350°, about 45 minutes. There are other methods for cooking with squash too. Follow the same preparation steps – cut lengthwise and remove the seeds before cooking a squash in the broiler or steaming it on the stove.

Oct 252011

by Jean Smith Lanoue on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 1:17pm

by Jean Smith Lanoue on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 1:17pm




Baking powder 1 tsp ¼ tsp baking soda plus ½ tsp cream of tartar

Buttermilk 1 cup 1 cup plain yogurt or 1 tbsp vinegar plus milk to
equal 1 cup, or 1 tbsp lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup

Cake Flour 1 cup 1 cup minus 2 tbsp sifted all purpose flour

Chocolate 1 ounce 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tbsp butter or margarine

Cornstarch 1 tbsp 2 tbsp all purpose flour

Corn syrup 2 cups 1 cup granulated sugar

Cream, light 1 cup 1 ½ tbsp butter plus whole milk to equal 1 cup

Cream, whipping or heavy 1 cup ½ cup butter plus whole milk to equal 1 cup

Egg, yolk 2 yolks 1 whole egg (can be used for baking but not for
piecrust or a sauce)

Egg, whole 1 egg 2 egg yolks (for baking, 2 egg yolks plus 1 tbsp
water) OR if just one egg short for a recipe substitute 1 tsp of

Garlic 1 clove 1 tsp chopped garlic, ½ tsp minced garlic, 1/8 tsp
garlic powder, ½ tsp garlic flakes = ¼ tsp granulated garlic, ½ tsp
garlic juice

Herbs, fresh 1 tbsp 1 tsp dried herbs

Honey 1 cup 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar plus ¼ cup liquid

Lemon juice 1 tbsp 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

Milk, skim 1 cup 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk plus ¾ cup water

Milk, whole 1 cup ½ cup evaporated milk plus ½ cup water

Molasses 1 cup ¾ cup granulated sugar

Molasses 1 cup 1 cup light corn syrup (makes light coloring)

Mushrooms, fresh 1 lb. 12 ounces canned mushrooms, drained

Mustard, dry 1 tsp 1 tbsp prepared mustard

Sour cream 1 cup 3 tbsp butter plus buttermilk or yogurt to equal 1 cup

Sugar, brown 1 cup 1 cup granulated sugar

Sugar, granulated 1 cup 1 ¾ cup confectioners' sugar (do not
substitute for baking)

Tomato juice 3 cups 1 ½ cups tomato sauce plus 1 ½ cups water or 1 can
(6 oz. size) tomato paste plus 3 cans water, dash salt and dash sugar

Tomato sauce 1 cup 1 can (3 oz. size) tomato paste plus ½ cup water

Yogurt 1 cup 1 cup buttermilk