Monday, March 16, 2015

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Kale and Basil

I know St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and you're expecting me to post an Irish recipe.  But let me tell you a little secret....  Since my forefathers came from Italy and Sicily, I've come to think of Basil as the Italian Shamrock.  Why not?  It's green, pretty and the best thing is, it's good to eat.

So, for those reasons I'm sharing an Italian pasta dish that promotes "green" with our favorite herb, Basil.  In addition, you might be expecting spinach in this dish, but we're upping the health benefits by using Kale instead.

Garlic Chicken  Pasta with Kale and Basil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 tablespoons Joe and Son’s EVOO, medium intensity

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound farfalle or penne pasta

8 ounces of young kale leaves, washed and dried with ribs removed…chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

1/4 cup Joe and Son’s Sicilian Lemon Balsamic vinegar

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, combine garlic, pepper flakes and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until garlic is golden, about 1 minute.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and cut into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the garlic/red pepper oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat until oil is just beginning to show movement (Don't overheat the oil.)

Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned and cooked.
Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to boiling water and cook until tender but still slightly firm (al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to the pot.

Stir in chicken, kale, basil, lemon Balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese and the rest of the garlic mixture. Add some reserved pasta water if needed if you find the pasta too dry for your taste.

Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Enough for 4 servings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Salmon in a Fresh Tomato Sauce

To say I love pasta is an understatement.  I love pasta, noodles, name it.  Maybe it's because we grew up having it for dinner every Sunday and every Wednesday.  Any way, it's a love that remains with me.

However, that doesn't mean I enjoy having the same pasta dish over and over again.
We enjoy Cream sauces, Marinara sauces, Bolognese sauces, Garlic and EVOO sauces and Seafood sauces over our pastas. Some are thick and hearty and some are light and fresh.

Pasta sauce prepared quickly this way with fresh tomatoes allows the fantastic flavor of the salmon to come sneaking through the sauce with each bite.


                Salmon in a Fresh Tomato Sauce

                          Over Penne Pasta 


3/4 pound penne or other tube pasta

1/4 cup Joe and Son’s Milanese Gremolata  EVOO (divided)

1 pound skinless center-cut salmon fillet in one piece (rinsed and dried)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3-4 canned anchovies, chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced ( or more, if you love garlic)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 pint grape tomatoes

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup finely sliced basil leaves

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until it's barely al dente. Drain, reserving about 1 1/4 cups of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the Milanese Gremolata EVOO. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over high heat until browned on both sides but not cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and pour off the oil in the skillet.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the EVOO to the skillet along with the garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper. Cook over low heat until the garlic is soft and lightly browned in spots, about 1-2 minutes.

 Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the skillet and bring to a boil, gently crushing the tomatoes. Add the cooked pasta, olives and capers and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the liquid is slightly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the salmon to the skillet and break it up into chunks. Cook, tossing  until the salmon is nearly cooked through and the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes.

Add more of the pasta cooking water if the sauce is too dry.

Stir in the basil, transfer the pasta to bowls and serve.

Serves 4.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chicken Breasts in a French Sauce

This is a simple, rich dish that's quick and easy to prepare.  I like to serve it with roasted potatoes and a side of asparagus.  Not only is it tasty, but it's pretty to look at.  I think  that presentation influences the way the taste of the dish is perceived.  Don't you agree?

Now, this time I've made this with chicken breasts, but I've also prepared this dish with boneless chicken thighs.  In both cases, I've left the skin on, but I suppose you could uses skinless chicken pieces.

Chicken in a French Pan Sauce
1 tablespoon Joe and Son's Herbs de Provence Olive Oil
4 chicken breast halves, skin on
1/4 cup Joe and Son's Lavender Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chives
12 ounces of sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon flour
 salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the Herbs de Provence Olive Oil.
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and sauté, skin side down, for about 5 minutes or until golden.  Remove the chicken and place in a roasting pan.
Add the onions, garlic and chives to the same  sauté pan, cook for about 5-6 minutes over low heat and spoon them over the chicken pieces. 
 Now sauté the mushrooms until they release their juices and it has evaporated.  Spoon them over the chicken pieces.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done.
Using the original sauté pan, add the Lavender Balsamic Vinegar.  Over low heat, stir and scrape to loosen the browned bits.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the vinegar has become thicker and is coating the spoon.
 Stir in the mustard. Add the chicken broth and stir. Combine the flour and cream and stir until smooth.  Add the creamed mixture to the pan; cook for another 2-3 minutes and serve over the cooked chicken.
Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chocolate Ripple Pound Cake

Don’t you just hate it when you really like something you’ve bought and then the company decides not to make it anymore? That happened to me many, many years ago and I spent a lot of time looking and searching and had no success. I’m talking about Sara Lee’s chocolate ripple pound cake. Gosh, I loved that cake!!!

I finally gave up looking and decided to make my own version. Let me tell you, I hit the jackpot! I’ve been making this recipe for about 25 years and my family never gets tired of it. This cake may come from a cake mix, but it tastes like it’s from scratch.

Whenever I serve this cake, I’m asked for the “secret family” recipe and my friends are astounded to learn the basis is a cake mix.  Using the Butter Infused Olive Oil rather than vegetable oil adds a richer, more buttery taste.

There are several variations* which I’ll mention later. But for now……

Chocolate Ripple Pound Cake


Basic cake instructions:

1 box of yellow cake mix…. (I happen to prefer Duncan Hines)

1 (3.4 oz.) package vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

4 large eggs

1 cup water

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup Joe and Son’s Butter Infused Olive Oil

Set aside for the chocolate portion:

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup (+ or -) of Nestle’s Quik chocolate drink powder

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan.

Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, almond extract, water and oil in large bowl. Mix well.  Taste to see if you'd like a stronger almond taste and add accordingly.  WARNING: Too much almond extract could result in a bitter taste.

Transfer about 1/3 of the yellow cake mix to another bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract to the mix. By tablespoons start adding the Nestle’s Quik to this portion of the mix. Keep adding the chocolate powder and stirring until the mix is dark brown and seems as though it will not absorb any more powder.

Now you have 2 bowls of cake mix…Start by pouring about ½ of the yellow mix into the Bundt pan, followed by all of the chocolate mix and then topped with the remaining yellow mix.

At this point, run a spatula once or twice through the batter to create a swirl pattern.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake on wire rack 25 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely.

*Orange cake mix with chocolate almond extract
*Strawberry cake mix with chocolate ripple...add almond extract