Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food Network Auditions, Utube Videos and Italian Southern Fried Chicken

A few weeks ago I was contacted by casting producers to make an audition tape for a show on The FoodNetwork called Home Cooks. They were back for season 2 and somehow my information landed on one of the casting producers desks. I probably submitted an email last year and completely forgot all about it, no matter, it was very exciting to be contacted asking me  to audition.

 My husband and I were traveling at the time. When we came back, making the tape was on my mind. I knew I had limited time to get my audition tape in. What could I make? Looking in an empty refrigerator I'm thinking, Carbonara, because all I have is an egg , a piece of cheese, bacon and an onion. (There's always spaghetti in an Italian household!)
I contacted the producers with some questions and was told to please not submit a pasta dish. Oh great, there went my Carbonara.  If you haven't tried my recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara you really should.

I had to rethink everything, was tired, did not want to go shopping and became very flustered knowing that I only had the one day to get my tape into producers if I wanted to be considered for casting for this show.

I knew I had to make some magic happen. I decided to make Aunt Roses' Italian Southern Fried Chicken.  I could make it with ease and more importantly I had all the ingredients to get it going. There's always some chicken parts in the freezer!

This is nothing like Perini Fried Chicken (a little shout out to all my Texas friends, Hi Y'All!) Perini Fried Chicken is in a league of it's own, however so is Aunt Roses' Italian Southern Fried Lemon Chicken.
The link below is my unlisted UTUBE Audition. It is the link I sent to the producers. Watch it and you can see me in action. If you hit the links above you can get the list of ingredients to make the dish. It is finger licking good. Try it with some crusty bread dunked into the lemon and garlic sauce. It is amazing.

A few days later I was asked to come in with a dish for an in person tasting interview.
This was the dish I brought with me. It is one of my specialties. I also like to make it as a Veal Chop.
This was a double cut pork chop stuffed with spinach, asiago cheese, and prosciutto, served with a cheesy polenta cake and  roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and red onions. The sauce spooned over the pork chop was a red wine and shiitake mushroom sauce.  I had the best dish in the room. I knew it, and the people around me knew it.  I felt confident, and was proud of what I put on my dish.

I really felt good about my in person audition. In the past I have been very intimidated by producers,  their questions and become a stammering idiot. It also happens while I'm on tape. I loose my words and my mind, and forget what I'm talking about. I forget to breath. LOL!  Being filmed does not come natural to me! However, cooking, creating and being in the kitchen is very natural to me,  it's  part of my soul and who I am and why I am who I am and if they had given me the opportunity I know I would have overcome my camera shyness.
I didn't get the call that they said might come. I walked out of that audition with my head held high knowing I gave them the best of me! 
I'm just wondering if the Dave Matthews look alike who made the Deviled Eggs got the call. I mean, really! Who brings Deviled Eggs to a Food Network Audition? Just asking...
We'll see when the show airs!

Love you all!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving. 
This recipe for stuffing is a favorite for many. 
When my children were younger and in elementary school I used to make Turkeys for each of their classes, stuffing and all. I got a reputation as the Turkey Lady, and I must admit I rather enjoyed it, reputation and all.

Sausage stuffing 

2 large yellow onions - chopped (diced)
2-3 stalks of celery - cleaned and then cut into strips and then chopped (diced)
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped fine
1-2 pounds Italian sweet sausage 
2-3 bay leaf
Rosemary leaves (fresh or dried)
1 stick of butter
Chicken stock (2-3 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bag seasoned bread cubes (pepperidge farms makes a good one)

Take the sausage out of the casing, crumble it so it is in small pieces and cook in a frying pan until cooked through. Because sausage has fat you usually will not have to add any fat to the pan before cooking. If you feel like it needs it,  add a little bit of olive oil if you have it. 
When the sausage is browned and cooked through set it aside. 
In a stock pan melt the stick of butter on low  heat. Add onions, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook until the onions become translucent. Do not brown the onions. Add half of the chicken stock, the Rosemary (if using fresh, use a nice sprig of it, if using dried use a tablespoon.)
Let it simmer on low for 1/2 hour.
In a large bowl, or in the baking dish your making the stuffing, mix the cooked sausage, bread cubes and the onion, celery mixture. Add the rest of the chicken stock, it should be moist, not too wet. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree preheated  oven until heated through, approx 45 minutes.  If you like a crunchy top take off the aluminum foil for last 15-20 minutes of baking time. 
If you enjoy mushrooms you may add them. I would add them while cooking the sausage. Personally, I think this "dressing" has so much flavor that the mushrooms get a little drowned out. However, if you'd like to sweeten it up a little, add a small chopped apple to the stuffing right before baking. 

I will look for some pictures to add to this post later. 
Don't forget, you can always email me if you have any questions!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You can stuff it!

Pork... I'm talking about stuffing Pork! You may stuff whatever you want!

 This dish can be made with any chop you like. It would be just as delicious with a nice double cut Veal Chop, a Chicken Breast (please, on the bone) or perhaps a chicken thigh. We love that meat on the bone! It's always sweeter!

My husband loves Pork Chops! He came home with some beautiful double cut chops from the butcher the other day. They were gorgeous! Breading these beauties was out of the question. However, the idea of stuffing them appealed to me.

I started by making a stuffing using spinach. I sauteed spinach in a pan with 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1/2 white onion, also chopped and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
Once the spinach wilted I let it cool and rough chopped the mixture. To the spinach, onion and garlic I added 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of shredded  soft Asiago cheese and 1/4 cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs.

Make pockets in each of the chops and filled it with the spinach mixture. Seasoned each chop with salt, pepper and rosemary (on both sides).
Get your pan ready to cook your chops. Let it get hot and add  2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook the chops on med/high heat on each side for about 4-5 minutes. They will release easily when they are ready to turn.
Take the chops out of the pan and place them on a baking sheet and finish them in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.

While the chops are finishing make your sauce.

There should still be some of the oil and butter in the pan. Cook some sliced mushrooms and diced pancetta in the pan. When the pancetta is cooked deglaze the pan with whatever wine you have open, no wine, no problem, use some broth, no broth, use some water. Make sure you get all that crispy good stuff from the bottom of the pan. If it needs more liquid add it, and maybe just another little pat of butter. Taste it and season it if it needs more seasoning.
A little fresh chopped parsley and sage adds nice notes to this dish.

I served it on a bed of sauteed broccoli slaw.  It was perfect! It was delicious!  Enjoy!

Buone Appetito!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pork Chops stuffed 3 ways

Pork Chops and Sauerkraut was never my favorite meal growing up. To this day it hasn't been a favorite in my house, either.  My go to when cooking  Pork Chops  has usually been to cook them with  peppers and onions.

While shopping these chops called to me. They were thick cut and I knew that they would be perfect for stuffing.

The stuffing I used was a mushroom, sausage and spinach stuffing. Truth be told everything used for the stuffing was something that was a "must go" in the refrigerator. "must go" is a euphemism for left overs!

I had some left over mushrooms that I mixed with left over sausage and put it in the food processor and pulsed it a few times. To that mixture I added some grated cheese, a wedge or two of laughing cow cheese, ( I absolutely love this cheese) fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

I made a pocket on the side of the pork chop and first stuffed it with the cooked leftover spinach and then stuffed it some more with the mushroom and sausage mixture.

I then heated up my frying pan getting it nice and hot, added 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of butter and browned the seasoned pork chop (salt and pepper) on each side.

Once they were browned, they were cooked in a 350 preheated oven, on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes more.
While the stuffed pork chops were finishing in the oven I deglazed the frying pan using the juice from the sauerkraut and a little touch of white wine. Then I added the sauerkraut and cooked it a little more.

When the pork chops were cooked through I plated the pork chops right on top of the sauerkraut.
It was absolutely delicious. I could have eaten bowls of the sauerkraut, it was that good.  The pork chop wasn't bad, either! In fact, for something made on the fly, it is one of my favorite pork chop dishes that I have ever made!

Buon Appetito

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Grapefruit of Wrath

I have never thought of myself as a Gin drinker. I'm more of a Vodka kind of gal who has also been know to throw back a few Scotch and sodas. (Those were my redhead days!)

I remember my first cucumber martini, in Oxford, Ohio and thought "This is delicious!" and asked the bartender what kind of vodka he used. Imagine my surprise when told it was Gin! But, I don't drink Gin...and then I didn't think much more about that as I ordered another one!

While vacationing in Spain my husband and I noticed that in every establishment we visited with a bar, the variety of Gin was sublime! On the roof top of the Ohla Hotel in Barcelona I was introduced to a Cucumber and Tonic Cocktail. The Ohla Hotel bartenders are known for their cocktail skills. The Bar Manager, Guiseppe  Santamaria was a finalist for Best World Class Bartender Spain 2012.
The drink was delicious and refreshing. Made with Hendricks Gin, sliced cucumbers and a pour of tonic (from those little bottles) is a perfect match.  We had several on the roof top that day!

Hendricks and Tonic at the Ohla, Barcelona made by Luca from Luca.

 When I came home from Spain I quickly went out and purchased myself a bottle of Hendricks to make my own cucumber and tonic drinks!
Hendricks and Tonic made by me!
At this moment you are probably wondering "Is she ever going to tell us about the new drink, The Grapefruit of Wrath?"  Well, here it comes.
Every night before retiring to my room I would go into the bar at the Ohla Hotel just to watch Guisepee make cocktails. They were beautiful! Every drink he made was a work of art! He probably got tired of me asking him, "what's that? OMG, what's that?" while sitting there drinking a plain ol' Hendricks and Tonic! His assistant handed me the bar menu so I could choose one the drinks that I was admiring for myself.
I choose the Grapefruit of Wrath. It's dangerously good!
award winning drink made by Giuseppe SantaMaria, Ohla, Barcelona
Martin Miller Gin, with a muddled wedge or two of pink grapefruit,  mixed with fresh squeezed lime juice, poured over crushed iced, with a drizzle of Creme de Cassis,  then finished with fresh mint and a sprinkle of sugar. So delicious!
 My Version of the Grapefruit of Wrath 
Finding the Martin Miller Gin was not so easy. So I had my liquor store special order it for me. I am now the proud owner of a case of Martin Miller Gin.  Hey, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! LOL! Everyone that I have been introducing this drink too has fallen intoxicated with it! I don't think my case of Martin Miller is going to last that long!
Here's a clip of Guiseppe making the cocktail for me. 

Here's how I made my version of this great cocktail. 

Cut a pink grapefruit in circles. Remove the skin and any seeds. Take a slice or two and muddle it. Pour into a glass with ice cubes, add Martin Miller Gin,  and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and shake it all up until ice cold. Pour back into a glass, top it off with Creme de Cassis,  and garnish with fresh mint and a sprinkle of granulated sugar. (and  blueberries if you have them.)
My sister keeps saying that this is a delicious summer drink! I say it's a delicious and refreshing drink for anytime!




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pillsbury Million Dollar Recipe Contest

 Pillsbury Million Dollar Recipe contest!

Click on the link I've provided and enter some recipes of your own. There are so many products to choose from and work with!
Hey, you never know, and like they say "you've got to be in it to win it". It could be something that you've been making and enjoying that could win you a nice chunk of change!  LOL! So go ahead, and enter! Good luck!

I had a package of Pillsbury Chocolate fudge ready to bake cookies and played with these for the contest, and then I discovered that these cookies were NOT on the list of ingredients! Oh well, I quickly adjusted my recipe and went on to make some other delicious sweets and have submitted the recipe for them.


1 package of Pillsbury cookie dough, ready to bake, or roll
1/2 cup sweet unsalted butter
3 - 4 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
9 ozs semi sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For bar cookies

Line a 9 x 9 or a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so you have a 2 inch overhang on each side.
Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Press cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared pan so that you have an even layer. Bake for 10 - 14 minutes depending on the size of the pan you are using.

Take out of oven and let cool.

Make a peanut butter filling using one cup of peanut butter, 3 cups - 4 cups confections sugar and 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted sweet butter (room temperature).  With an electric mixer on high speed whip peanut butter and butter until smooth, add confectioners sugar one cup at a time. Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract when mixing.

Using a spatula spread peanut butter mixture over cooled cookie mixture. Place in the refrigerator while making the ganache.

Place the chocolate pieces into a bowl that is heat proof.
In a small sauce pan heat heavy cream to a simmer.
Pour heavy cream over the chocolate pieces and let stand for about 2 minutes.
By hand, mix until the cream and the chocolate are smooth.

Pour this chocolate ganache over the peanut butter layer, sprinkle with sea salt and let chill for one hour or more.

Cut into 2 inch squares and Enjoy!

If you want to make cookie sandwiches, bake the cookies as instructed on the package.
Let cool on a wire rack.
Take one cookie so the bottom of the cookie is facing up. Fill with the peanut butter mixture. Top with another cookie so the top is facing up and dip into the ganache. Place on  cookie sheet lined with parchment paper  and let the ganache set. For a quicker set place the cookie sheet with dipped cookies into the refrigerator for 10 - 15 minutes.

I hope you enjoy! They were delicious!

Here are the pictures of the cookies and bar cookies that I made.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Hello friends,

It's been awhile since I last posted anything. I've been waiting for something new and exciting to show you.

Back in December I came across this recipe for Culurgiones shared by The Tasting Table.  Check out the link I provided and watch these two chefs in action making these delicious stuffed pastas.   I looked at the recipe and kind of became obsessed by it, but you all know how December can get, crazy with shopping and cooking for the holidays. So the recipe was placed on the back burner for a later date.

That later date was this past Sunday. While waiting for yet another snow storm I decided that it would be a great day to get my kitchen aid machine out and attempt to make these stuffed pastas. I am so happy that I did.

I decided to do some homework to find out a little more about these pasta's/stuffed ravioli from Sardinia. Here's what I found out. The CooksInfo.com had some great information on Culurgiones.

The Culurgiones are usually made for The Feast of the Assumption (August 15th) and on All Saint's Day (November 1).
They are a stuffed Ravioli and are usually 2 - 4 inches long and 1 -2 inches wide.
They are formed to resemble a grain of wheat.
The traditional filling is potato, pecorino, and mint or basil, depending on the town you are from.
In some regions sauteed onions are added to the filling.
A tomato sauce is usually served with this dish with freshly grated Pecorino.
Towns especially known for their Culurgiones are Lotzorai, Villagrande Strisaili, Osini, Ulassai and Jerzu.

I made the Culurgiones adapted from the recipe offered by Chef Adam Leonti. Just as he changed the recipe to his tastes I changed the recipe a little to adapt to my taste. Rather than make them with a tomato sauce I made them with the brown butter sauce. It's something my mother would have done.

It took these 2 Chefs three months to get the folds right. I'll keep practicing my folds and eventually mine might look like theirs, but the taste was delicious and surprisingly very light! 

Here's the recipe from The Tasting Table.

Yield :
6 servings
Prep Time:
1 hour, 55 minutes ( took me longer...)

Cook time:
5 minutes

Total time:
2 hours (took me more like 4!) It's the folding!!!

3/4 Pound ( 2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) semolina flour
5 ounces  (2/3 cup) water  ( it needed a little more)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano (I used 1/2 cup Pecorino and 1/2 cup Parmesan)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
15 mint leaves, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Brown Butter Sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter
salt and pepper
2 ounces Pecorino al Tartufo or Pecorino Romano (I used half Romano and half Parmesan)
1 heaping tablesppon finely minced mint leaves
( I added one smashed clove of garlic)

Make the pasta. Combine the semolina flour water and salt in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium until smooth. Add a little more water if necessary.

Take out of mixer, cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 3 sections. One section at a time put through your pasta roller. If you don't have a pasta machine you can use a rolling pin. Put through the machine until you have a thin smooth layer of pasta. I worked it until I got to number 5.

Make the filling by steaming the potatoes until fork tender. While still warm smash them, or use a ricer to make them smooth. Add the cheese, olive oil, mint and egg. Season with lots of freshly ground pepper. The recipe suggested 25 turns of the pepper mill. Add 2 pinches of salt, taste and adjust seasoning.

Sprinkle your work surface with a little semolina flour and lay your pasta sheet down and cut 4 " circles out.  Stuff the circles with a scant tablespoon of the filling. Fold the pasta sphere so it looks like a taco and pinch it closed then take that fold and push it towards the other side of the stuffing. Keep doing this until you reach the other end. This confused me. I did not get my folds right. You can also just make ravioli and crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork.
After I made them I searched UTube. You can find dozens or videos to learn how to make them. It's more like a braid than a fold.

Make the sauce by melting the butter over medium to high heat until brown solids form, about 5 minutes. Don't let it burn. Lower the heat and keep warm.

Boil the pasta for 2 1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and arrange on a dish. Drizzle the brown butter sauce (or tomato sauce if you prefer) over the Culurgiones, sprinkle with some freshly grated cheese and top with minced mint leaves. Serve and enjoy!

Here are some pictures of the process of making the Culurgiones. I'm going to be making them again, just so I can get the fold right!  Here comes the braid.

Buone Appetito!

potato mixture

pasta dough

rolled into log

cut into 3 sections

after rolling out cut into 4 inch circles

stuffed and folded over like Taco

simmering in boiling water

before cooking

cooked and ready to eat!