I had planned to grill turkey sausage patties for dinner the other night, but we didn’t have gas for the grill. It was time for plan B. Plan B? Hmm, what would that be? As I scolded myself for not going to the grocery store that week, it hit me… why not utilize the Nueva Cocina rice I received for review?!
Rice + turkey sausage. It was practically an instant meal. I sauteed the turkey sausage patties with some chopped red bell pepper and then added in the rice. No extra seasoning or flavor was needed because the rice was so incredibly flavorful on its own.
Well, maybe I did end up adding some hot sauce, only because I love me some spicy.
Following is a quick recipe, if you’re looking for an easy dinner idea. But even if you’re just looking for a side, I highly recommend the Neuva Cocina Mexican Rice. You won’t be disappointed. The classic Mexican dish (original to the Oaxaca region of Mexico they tell me), combines onions, garlic, traditional Mexican seasonings with corn, tomatoes, carrots and roasted Poblano chiles. This isn’t your standard box of rice!
- 1 box of Nueva Cocina Arroz a la Mexicana (Mexican Rice)
- 3 servings of turkey sausage (I used patties)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (or any pepper you have on hand; I just liked adding a veggie of sort)
- Cook rice according to the box directions
- Saute turkey sausage until cooked through
- Remove sausage from pan and cut sausage into bite size pieces
- Add sausage back into pan and add bell pepper; continue to saute for another five minutes
- Add cooked rice into sausage and peppers, mix
- Serve with hot sauce (optional) and enjoy!
I’ve been making quite a bit of pasta lately. Not only have I had a lot of great ingredients on hand, but pasta is a quick dinner fix on week nights. It’s one of those foods that is fun to get creative with–there are no limitations if you ask me. From different sauces, to veggies, to seafood and meats, you’re likely to have something to spice up a pasta dish.
Recently, Allen’s sent me a couple samples of its Popeye Spinach for review. I don’t traditionally buy canned spinach, so I was interested to give it a shot. Combined with a few other ingredients, it made for a delicious pasta recipe!
What you need:
- 2 servings of whole wheat pasta; I love Wegmans’ Super Pasta
- 1/2 cup Popeye Spinach canned
- 2 tbsps Bella San Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves (I’m officially obsessed with Bella San Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes and I’ve been using them in and on everything.)
- 1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes (your standard dried version)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano Cheese (plus extra for serving)
- Combine spinach, sun dried tomato halves and garlic in food processor
- Add 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese
- Heat spinach pesto mixture in a pan; once heated toss in pasta and chopped sun dried tomatoes
- Serve with extra cheese and enjoy!
I received a fun tip from Nueva Cocina on what to do with those pumpkins that you didn’t get around to carving. It’s creative and healthy, so I’d thought I’d pass it along!
Tip: Don’t toss those pumpkins, use ‘em to make something yummy!
Here’s their recipe:
PUMPKIN FIESTA RICE
What you’ll need:
- 1 Package of Nueva Cocina® Mexican Rice Mix (of course you can use the rice mix of your choice)
- 4 small pumpkins (3 for serving purposes and 1 for recipe ingredient)
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 2 to 3 small pumpkins, depending on serving size, for baking or steaming
Cut pumpkins in half, leaving the rind on. Remove seeds and strings. Rub pumpkins with olive oil and some salt. Place halves on baking sheets with rind side up. Place a small amount of water in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. If you prefer to steam the pumpkins, place halves in steamer with rind side up. Steam until meat and rind are soft.
Combine 1 Cup of pumpkin meat, peeled and cubed with all the ingredients in a package of the Nueva Cocina® Mexican Rice Mix and follow the cooking directions on the box. When done, serve the rice in half of a small pumpkin for an excellent presentation and great added texture and flavor.
Note: I haven’t tried this recipe. In fact, I’ve yet to try any of Nueva Cocina’s products before now, but I like the sound of them – they are 100% natural – which means only premium ingredients with nothing artificial added and no preservatives. Plus, I dig Latin flavors. I’m expecting some review samples and will report back soon!
I’m not much of a baker. That is until apple season comes along. For some reason every fall after an outing in the orchard, I’m compelled to make something sweet. Perhaps it’s the concept of picking something fresh from its roots and assisting in its evolution into a new form. Without a garden of my own, it’s rare I get to have my hand at this.
What you’ll need:
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 small apples, peeled and shredded (I used Macs)
- 1 cup chewy caramel candies
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
Procedure for cupcakes:
- Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°
- Line a mini cupcake pan with baking liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth.
- Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples and hazelnuts.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until almost full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely (note: if you’re making normal size cupcakes, you want to cook for 25-30 minutes)
- In a small, microwavable bowl, combine the caramels and cream. Microwave for 1 minute at medium power, then stir; repeat in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth.
- Let cool. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes.
- Sprinkle with more hazelnuts.
Note: I’d try a different frosting if I were to make these again. The caramel was a little sticky to bite through at first, but then after 24 hours it started to soak into the cupcake and didn’t look quite as pretty. I’d recommend a light amount of cream cheese frosting.
A dear friend of mine recently visited Boston with her husband and spoiled me with gifts and attention. An “engagement gift” of sorts, she not only treated me to a delicious dinner at Tico in Boston, but she bought me a wonderful assortment of Italian favorites including a fine bottle of Chianti, homemade orecchiette pasta and Frantoia Olive Oil.
In addition to some amazing ingredients, Katie’s husband, John, selflessly handed over a family recipe for Pesto Genovese (proper pesto terminology, as pesto originated in Genoa, Italy) along with a recipe for preparing it with orecchiette pasta, smoked gouda and sun dried tomatoes. Yes, this is just as amazing as it sounds. And good news for you, he even gave me the OK to share it on my blog.
So thank you, Mrs. & Mr. Napolitano, for a fun visit, delicious treats and the timeless gift of an authentic Italian recipe.
I can’t do his recipe justice in my own words, so this comes directly from him. While it doesn’t follow my standard recipe “flow,” I think this is plenty comprehensive. Plus now you can learn a thing or two because he lends some expert tips.
- “Take 60-70 basil leaves and chop/crush them down. Food processor or mortar and pestle will suffice. Just be sure not to use high speeds for long durations if using the processor as it could alter the photochemical properties of the leaves. Something an older paisano man once taught me.
- Add three to four cloves of garlic to the processor, and then 2-3 tablespoons of lightly toasted pignoli (pine) nuts. Crush them down…and add some good olive oil.
- Then add a tablespoon of pecorino romano and a tablespoon of parmigiano reggiano cheese to the mixture. Then add some more olive oil along with salt and fresh pepper until it renders the right consistency and flavor of your pallet.
Now the final ingredient……
- 1 teaspoon of cream cheese. Mix it in and you will notice the pesto take on a more creamy consistency while countering the pugnancy of the garlic.
- Add pesto to the cooked pasta…..preferably orechiette or gimelli. Then add 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes(cut into julienne stips) and 1/4 cup of aged or smoked gouda cheese cut into dice sized cubes into the pasta. Finally top with a little fresh pecorino romano cheese and some lightly toasted pignoli nuts with each serving plate.
- Serve right away and pair with a light malbec or nebbiolo red wine.
I have to say, this was an incredible dish! I didn’t have parmigiano, so I used solely romano, and I think it was still perfection. It was rich and filling, and goes great with some fresh Italian bread and a salad.
Note: This recipe actually came from John’s Mother’s family, the Monteverdes in Genoa. So kudos to them for a fantastic family recipe!
It’s official. Fall is here. What else can you do but embrace it?
OK then. Hello football. Hello cute boots. Hello apple picking. And hello fall foods! Introducing the first recipe of fall: Portuguese pumpkin seeds (a twist on the traditional roasted pumpkin seeds).
What you’ll need:
- A pumpkin with all its seeds.
- Crushed red pepper to taste – look for Gonsalves or Star brand, a back up option which is found at most grocery stores is Pastene’s brand. This is a wet, refrigerated version–not to be confused with the dried crushed red pepper.
- Rinse pumpkin seeds clean removing all pulp and strings, pat dry
- Toss seeds in crushed red pepper, so they are coated fairly evenly
- Lay seeds on a greased baking pan and sprinkle with salt
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, cook for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally
- Cook until they are crispy and start to turn light brown, even if you are think they are done, give them another couple minutes. If they aren’t fully cooked, they will soften and not be nearly as yummy.
These are a great snack and perfect for bringing to work to munch on in a plastic bag. Let me know what you think! Any other fun spins on traditional roasted pumpkin seeds?
Please note that I did not come up with this recipe. This was borrowed from my fiance and his Portuguese culture.
I was in the mood for both seafood and Mexican, but tacos or fajitas weren’t going to cut it. While I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to go in, I decided to just creative with some ingredients in the fridge.
The evolution of the dish was a natural progression– spicing up favorite Mexican ingredients like lime and cilantro with a kick of bottled beer. The result? Delicious “drunken” cilantro shrimp. Quick, easy and light!
It’s a great option when you’re craving Mexican, but aren’t craving some of the fatty and heavy ingredients (I’m talking to you cheese and sour cream!).
What you’ll need: (for 2 servings)
- 1lb of shrimp, peels on (this helps the shrimp to absorb and saturate the flavors)
- 1/4 cup of light or Mexican beer (or your beer of choice)
- 1/4 cup chicken broth (I used bouillon)
- 1 tbsp light butter (optional)
- Lime juice, fresh or bottled
- Handful of cilantro
- Ground cumin
- 1/2 red pepper chopped
- 1/2 small white onion
- 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Hot sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 2 servings of rice
- Sliced avocado
- Refried or black beans, optional
- Marinate shrimp (peels on) in fresh lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro (marinate for up to 24 hours, but if you only have 30 minutes, then that works!)
- Saute onions and garlic in EVOO first, then add peppers after they start to soften
- Add chicken broth or bouillon
- Bring to a boil, add light butter and beer; simmer
- Add fresh squeezed lime or 1/2 tbsp bottled; add cilantro to taste
- Add dashes of hot sauce to taste
- Add shrimp and cook for 5-8 minutes covered, uncover and simmer
- Serve over rice (and beans optional)
- Add extra cilantro and sliced avocado as garnish; include hot sauce on the side for extra flavor and heat!
In the spirit of summer, I decided to use up some peppers in the fridge by throwing them on the grill. To spice it up, I added a little cheese and ham. The result? An awesome summertime app.
What you’ll need:
- 1/3 cup Thin sliced deli ham
- 1/3 cup Shredded 2% part-skim cheddar cheese
- 2 large bell peppers, cut in half OR 8-10 mini bell peppers (see image to the right), all peppers should be cleaned and de-stemmed; if you use the minis, do not cut in half. Cut off the stems and remove the seeds and inside flesh.
- Hot sauce (optional)
Procedure: (It doesn’t get much easier than this)
- Chop up the ham, mix with cheese
- Stuff inside of peppers
- Grill on medium-low for approximately 10 minutes; keep an eye on them so they do not burn; the peppers are done with they start to soften
- Serve warm with hot sauce drizzled over them or on the side for dipping
Note: I prefer the minis, but didn’t have a decent photo to post. They’re cuter and make for better finger food.
I’ll get right to it.
What you’ll need:
- Green beans, washed with tips trimmed (use as many as you would like)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Minced garlic; 1 1/2 tbsp per 2 servings of beans (this is one of the few dishes where I use a jar of garlic vs. fresh)
- Add green beans to a pot with enough EVOO as if you were going to saute them; add just enough water to cover them
- Cook the beans on medium, partially covered (tilted top) until the the water evaporates
- Add 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic per 2 servings of beans and cook the beans for another 25 minutes (or more) until they are soft and start to brown and crisp (or to your liking)
A shout out to Ryan for teaching me this recipe!